For nearly two decades, Judith Fardell has walked the corridors, taught in the classrooms and found respite in the staff room at Wells Hall Primary School.
But on Friday, the constant presence of the 58-year-old was brought to an end, as she bid farewell to children and colleagues to take early retirement.
In doing so, Mrs Fardell took the chance to look back on 17 years at the Great Cornard school – 13 as headteacher.
“Wells Hall will always hold such a special place in my heart and is an incredibly difficult place to leave,” said Mrs Fardell, who lives in Great Cornard.
“The companionship, support, care and dedication of all the staff is truly second to none.
“I will really miss the camaraderie of the Wells Hall family.”
To mark her last day, pupils and staff organised a surprise assembly attended by former students from Thomas Gainsborough School.
There was also a special play, which featured one of the school’s pupils filling the role of Mrs Fardell.
“It was a fantastic final assembly and it was a very emotional day,” she said.
“Some of the children were in tears during the assembly and I really had to try hard to keep it together.”
During her time at the school, Mrs Fardell has enjoyed countless school trips, sports days and plays.
She has overseen the increase in pupil numbers from 350 to 520 and seen staff levels rise to 80.
The school has also never fallen below the standard of “good” with education inspectors Ofsted during her leadership.
“The ethos has always been the same,” said Mrs Fardell. “To care for the children and give them a good start in life.
“I leave with such wonderful memories and will especially miss the children’s smiling faces.”
But Mrs Fardell will not be completely cut off from the school, which has been part of her life for so long.
She will still be teaching Year 4 pupils on Fridays and has even left a lasting legacy in the form of The Judith Fardell Friendship Award.
This will be presented to a Year 6 pupil at the end of the school year.
“The children always know the importance I place on friendship and the inscription says, ‘In order to have friends, you need to know how to be a good friend’,” said Mrs Fardell.
“That is something I have always believed in.”