RETIRING teachers praised St Bernadette's RC Primary School's family atmosphere and loving community.

With around 80 years' of combined service, Anne Allan and Elizabeth Philliben put the chalk down and filed the jotters when children started their summer holiday last month.

Even before there were any pupils, the then freshly qualified Liz was the first to be appointed alongside headteacher Mr Short during the winter of 1977.

She was asked to set the school up in December, telling the Advertiser that there was very little to organise as many of the supplies had not come.

The youngsters had chairs, but no tables or desks until a lorry arrived with the furniture on a snowy and icy day.

Citing health and safety issues, the crew refused to unload the supplies in the adverse weather conditions so it was down to the teachers to get the job done.

Liz said: “We were just desperate for the kids to have something, you know, a table to sit at and work at.

“We said 'right, fine' so we went out and unloaded them ourselves.”

Anne joined the school a few years later and while she was acting headteacher for a short period in the late 90s, she always preferred working in the classroom.

She said: “I felt it was like being part of a family. It never really felt like work because I love working with children.

“It's a small school, you got to know all the children.”

Anne, who mainly taught in P1-4 said it would be hard to chose a favourite memory and added: “Even children who have long since left the school and are maybe in their 20s – their parents getting in touch and saying how much they thought of their their child's time in the class – that was very special.

“These children are now in their 20s, parents themselves and yet they remember being in P2 or whatever stage I taught.

“I just recall it as a very happy time in my life.”

Four headteachers and four decades later, the school has always been a welcoming place for Liz. She said: “It's always been a nice, small, friendly school where people got on together, the kids are lovely and the parents really nice, really supportive.

“It's been a great place to work.”

A special retirement mass was held to honour the teachers at St Bernadette's RC Church in town on Friday, June 28.

Anne and Liz were presented with cards and flowers by the pupils – the ceremony was led by the Right Reverend Stephen Robson, Bishop of Dunkeld.