A primary teacher who has served since the mid ‘90s has retired after over 20 years’ service.

Deborah Emerson, who is 58 and lives in Chappel, joined St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School as a supply teacher in 1995 before starting a full-time role with the school in 1999.

But her involvement with St Teresa’s goes back further still, to when her own children – Hannah, Philip, Richard, and Isabelle – were pupils, whilst she organised the school book club.

A lot has changed in the 22 years Mrs Emerson has spent at the school – blackboards and Banda duplicators have been superseded by interactive whiteboards and photocopiers – but she singled out the school’s family ethos as an ever-present of her two-decade stint there.

“The overall feel of my time at St Teresa’s is that it has been like a family working here – it’s very caring,” she said.

“The whole time, the children are at the centre of everything, and I’m obviously going to miss it incredibly because I’ve worked here for a long time.”

There are numerous memories that stand out for Mrs Emerson, such as the school art displays around Colchester and the plays which St Teresa’s has put on over the years.

A particular story, when she was refereeing a netball game, stands out.

“One time, I was running a game of netball,” she recalls. “I remember blowing the whistle, and before I knew it a load of dogs came running in and joined the game – we had to put a fence up afterwards!”

But no teacher, however experienced, could have prepared for the events of March 2020, when coronavirus surged across the UK and forced schools into lockdown.

“We had to adapt really quickly,” she says.

“We had to learn things we thought we would never have to do – it was a very steep learning curve.

“But we got a really good system going and the children were absolutely amazing – we pulled together as a team so it was very calm considering everything that was going on.

Mrs Emerson intends to spend her retirement with her husband in the family campervan, and hopes to organise a trip visit Australia and New Zealand to visit two of her children.