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End of an era at St Peter's

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

End of an era at St Peter's thumbnailPRINCIPAL John Campbell pictured last Friday as St Peter's P.S., kicked off the start of his retirement celebrations. The whole school dressed up as Master Campbell and he was surprised when he came into school.

IT'S the "beginning of the long goodbye" for the Principal of St Peter's Primary School, Cloughreagh, John Campbell.

The Mullaghbawn man, who has held the role for 22 years, has taken the decision to retire this summer and the school is hosting a number of farewell celebrations for the much loved Principal.

Looking back at his time in charge, Mr Campbell highlighted the new school build and securing the nursery unit as special memories.

However, as is life, there have been sad times as Mr Campbell recalled St Peter's teacher Olive McGinn, who sadly passed away following a fatal road accident as she made her way home from work in 2005.

Just a couple of years ago St Peter's went through what the outgoing Principal called a "big day" in the life of the school.

"We had a transgender child here who transitioned just a couple of years ago," he explained. "The day he became Andrew was big in my mind and I think it was big in the life of this school.

"I'm very Catholic in my outlook but if we believe in being Christian and including everybody, that was a big day in my career."

While admitting that he loves his job, Mr Campbell said that losing his sister Mary (59), who was a teacher in St Paul's, was a big factor in his decision.

"I do feel a bit tired and I don't mind saying that, life is busy and I'm not maudlin but my sister Mary died in 2016 and didn't live to retire. That's part of my decision.

"Of course, my wife retired at Easter as well so the two of us will hopefully have a bit of time together."

Mr Campbell first qualified as a teacher in 1980 and spent the first two years of his career in St Gemma's Secondary School in Ardoyne, Belfast, before moving on to Mullaghbawn Primary School.

Following a very memorable seven years at Mullaghbawn, Mr Campbell became a teaching Principal at Forkhill Primary School.

Another seven years followed before he took the reigns at St Peter's.

With retirement just a few months away, Mr Campbell said he doesn't have any plans lined up but will be taking a gap year to take some time out to enjoy life.

To mark the beginning of the school's farewell celebrations the pupils took park in a sponsored 'Walk and Talk' on Friday (April 20).

Meanwhile, on Sunday June 3, St Peter's is hosting a Community Fun Day from 1pm to 5pm in the school's playing field and on Friday, June 15, a Mass of Thanksgiving will take place in the Church of the Good Shepard in Cloughreagh at 10.30am and everyone is welcome to both events.

The celebrations will continue after the Mass with a farewell lunch in the Canal Court Hotel at 2pm.

Mr Campbell's farewell lunch is a ticket only event and anyone looking to attend should contact Amanda or Catherine at St Peter's on 02830 830 455.

Mr Campbell wished to take this opportunity to pass on a message to the "lovely people" of Cloughreagh.

"I remember speaking publicly for the first time as Principal at a Holy Communion and I made reference to Bessbrook," he said.

"A granny came up to me, who has since passed away, and she said 'just one thing, this ain't the 'Brook'. I loved it and that stayed with me.

"There's something special about the greater Cloughreagh area and the people here are exceptional.

"They have a great appreciation of anything you do for them, they are lovely people."

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