FOUR head teachers came together to mark the changing of the guard at a primary school which for decades has served the Armed Forces.

Current head teacher Jon Sykes will retire at Christmas after 15 years at Hipswell Primary School, Catterick Garrison, to be succeeded by his deputy Carolyn Ewbank.

To mark the occasion two previous head teachers were invited back to their old stomping ground, David Fishburn (1987-1991) and Sam Weston (1991-2005).

All four head teachers agreed that the strength of the school lay in the welcoming and friendly nature of the children who have to adapt to the comings and goings of a constantly changing pupil population as parents are posted around the world.

Mr Sykes said: “Around two thirds of our children are from a service background but the relationship between our military and civilian children is really special. Our children are so caring and welcoming that they help the new pupils settle in really quickly.

“They have also got used to saying farewell to their best friends and are really good at supporting each other after they have moved on.”

Miss Ewbank added: “In fact, I’d go as far as to say, you can’t distinguish the new children from those who have been here a long time.

“I have been here for three years as deputy head and know it very well. When I take the reins in January I hope to build on the positive progress the school has made during Jon’s headship and maintain its strong ethos. It’s why the military children who leave us choose to  come back here when their parents are posted back to Catterick.”

Mr Fishburn said: “I have very fond memories of Hipswell which was my first headship. It was a steep learning curve but I soon learnt that the strength of the school was the innovative staff I was working with. I had a great time.”

Mr Weston added: “For me, teaching was all about the children and I loved my time at Hipswell. Jon will find retirement strange at first but there is a whole new world out there for him to enjoy.”