Two members of staff at Jones Memorial Primary School are celebrating their retirement this week after chalking up more than 69 years in the school between them.

Mrs. Claire Elder, Primary two teacher and Mr. Oral Graydon, Building Supervisor will be leaving the profession after 35 years and 34 years service respectively.

Principal Mrs. Sandra Isherwood said: “On behalf of all our pupils, I would like to wish Mrs. Elder a fond farewell. As a teacher she touched the hearts of many children and helped them make amazing progress throughout their time at school. We are sad to have to say goodbye but wish her all the best for a long and happy retirement.”

She continued: “Mrs. Elder has spent 35 years imparting the right skills and knowledge onto the students, hundreds of adults throughout Enniskillen and beyond have fond memories of their time in her class. The learning gained in Mrs. Elder’s class has served so many people well and helped develop the young people into who they are today. The Board of Governors, staff and pupils all express their sincerest gratitude to her for all contributions to realising the educational programmes and development of the school,” Mrs. Isherwood added.

Mrs. Elder, who is from Enniskillen has a history with Jones Memorial which goes beyond her teaching days. She said: “This was my primary school, I started here when this school opened in 1969 as a little Primary two pupil and on my first day apparently I came home and told my mum that I’d love to be a teacher there some day so low and behold 15 years later there I was in exactly that same classroom on the other side of the desk.”

But what will Mrs. Elder miss most about the school? “All of the staff are my friends from the youngest to the oldest. All the children, the children are amazing. I will definitely miss Jones Memorial. The school is very special and has always been a caring school. We really care about our pupils. It has been a huge part of my life because I came here as a pupil and then I came back as a teacher and my whole teaching career has been here. All 35 years have been here. So it’s a huge part of my life and it will always be in my heart.”

Mr. Graydon has worked in Jones Memorial for the past 34 years, making sure the building is secure and the classrooms are clean and tidy. He said: “I enjoyed my time working at the school with the children. I’ll miss the company and the children in the school, the ones I’ve got to know over the years. I also got on very well with all the staff, they were very kind to me.”

Sharing that in his retirement, he hopes to take up some hobbies and do a few odd jobs around the house, Mr. Graydon added: “I also hope to get away on a break.”

Mr. Graydon noted that over his 34 years working in the school, he has seen a lot of changes: “I’ve worked with six different principals and I’ve seen a lot of staff coming and going over the time. There’s pupils coming back with their own children.”

“I will always have fond memories of my experience at Jones Memorial School. Working with all the staff was very good and the children and doing gardening and various jobs around the school. I wanted to thank everyone who donated towards my gift and for the wonderful evening I had at the Killyhevlin Hotel,” Mr. Graydon concluded.

School principal Mrs. Isherwood said: “Mr. Graydon has been an icon to generations of children in the school. His own children also attended the school. No-one leaves their primary school and can’t remember their school caretaker. He has made an outstanding contribution to the school since his first day as caretaker in 1986. His attention to detail and love for the school is visible in every nook and cranny. He knows the school like the back of his hand.”

She added: “We wish to thank him for keeping our school building in such good shape over the decades and especially for putting the heating on an hour earlier during those cold winter mornings!”

Pupils made two special farewell videos which were shown to the staff to show their outstanding contribution to the school since they first took up post.