'Time for the next adventure' - last day for long-standing headteacher

Thurston Community College principal of 16 years, Helen Wilson, is leaving at the end of this term.

Thurston Community College principal of 16 years, Helen Wilson, is leaving at the end of this term. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The headteacher at a secondary school near Bury St Edmunds is leaving after 19 years there to embark on a new life in Devon.

Helen Wilson joined Thurston Community College as vice principal in 2002 and took over as principal in 2005.

Helen, who turned 55 earlier this year, is retiring as a headteacher, which was always her life plan.

"I want to leave while I'm still young enough to do something exciting with my life," she said.

Thurston Community College principal of 16 years, Helen Wilson, is leaving at the end of this term.

Helen Wilson said she had "pretty much loved every minute" of her time at Thurston. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

With a part-time job as a chemistry teacher at Exeter School and consultancy work in Suffolk for the Waveney Valley Academies Trust, education will still be part of her life.


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But there will also be room for hobbies old and new.

As a keen cyclist and walker, she has ambitions to bike across Dartmoor and Exmoor and to walk the South West Coast Path, which is 630 miles long.

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And, being close to the sea, she also wants to learn to paddle board.

"I'm certainly not ready to slow down," she said. "I'm very much looking forward to leaving the school to a new era of leadership really.

Thurston Community College principal of 16 years, Helen Wilson, is leaving at the end of this term.

Helen is moving to Devon where she will work part-time as a chemistry teacher and focus on her hobbies. She will also be doing some consultancy work for a Suffolk academy trust. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"I have had an amazing career here. I pretty much loved every minute of it."

She added: "My abiding memories will be positive. Time for the next adventure."

Helen was at the school when the sixth form moved to Beyton and they took on 900 new children in one hit, as part of the reorganisation of schools in the area.

"That was a fairly momentous time," said Helen. "We had 96 new staff rock up in September that year."

But she said when it came to her proudest achievements it came back to the students.

"That's why we are all here and working in schools - we want to give students the best possible educational opportunities they can have."

Thurston Community College. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Thurston Community College. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Helen, who has lived in Suffolk for 32 years, said education was always changing, but at the end of the day she believed it was still about "good teachers in classrooms building strong and positive relationships with youngsters" so they can go on and achieve.

As the end of her last day, July 16, draws closer, she said she had three main emotions: sad, excited and proud.

She referred to a quote by Winnie-the-Pooh author A.A. Milne: 'How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.'

She spoke of her pride in knowing that "as a team we have just created something very special here".

The new principal of Thurston Community College is Nicki Mattin, formerly headteacher at Spires Academy in Kent. 

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