PUPILS at Muckhart Primary School held a Surprise Tea Party event for one of their learning assistants who recently retired after 25 years of service.

Christina Sutherland left the school at the Easter break, after a long and varied career.

She had become known as the "backbone of the school", and was widely respected by staff, pupils, parents and the local community.

However, when she left, the staff had not had a chance to give her a proper send-off – something they fixed on May 3.

Headteacher Lesley McGlinchie said: "We held the event in the afternoon, and invited people from the village that she knows, and ex-parents and people she worked with.

"We managed to get in-touch with her daughter and it was a complete surprise.

"We got her husband and wee granddaughter there too, so she couldn't believe it when she came in.

"The children sang songs and had made poems to remember how she was special."

Lesley added that Christina loved the event, and described her departure as a "big blow" for the school.