Goodbye Grandad Ray - Pupils say farewell as volunteer hangs up his wellies after 20 years

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 November 2019

Ray Collins retires from volunteering at Sidmouth Primary School. Ref shs 46 19TI 4211. Picture: Terry Ife

Ray Collins retires from volunteering at Sidmouth Primary School. Ref shs 46 19TI 4211. Picture: Terry Ife

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A school gardener has hung up his wellies for the last time after 20 years of volunteering.

Ray Collins retires from volunteering at Sidmouth Primary School. Ref shs 46 19TI 4205. Picture: Terry IfeRay Collins retires from volunteering at Sidmouth Primary School. Ref shs 46 19TI 4205. Picture: Terry Ife

Ray Collins, known affectionately as 'Grandad Ray', was given a send-off by pupils at Sidmouth Primary School on Wednesday (November 13).

Staff, pupils and parents thanked the volunteer by throwing him an afternoon tea party and presented him with a special book of memories from pupils past and present. Sidmouth councillors, governors and retired members of staff, who heard that Ray has been volunteering widely for a great many years, not just to the school, also attended the event.

Ray Collins retires from volunteering at Sidmouth Primary School. Ref shs 46 19TI 4209. Picture: Terry IfeRay Collins retires from volunteering at Sidmouth Primary School. Ref shs 46 19TI 4209. Picture: Terry Ife

Mr Collins was given his nickname by the pupils at the Manstone Avenue site for his work developing the school grounds.

The gardener led a team of volunteers and staff to create the school orchard, pond area and raised beds and starting 'welly Wednesdays' with students.

Ray Collins retires from volunteering at Sidmouth Primary School. Ref shs 46 19TI 4207. Picture: Terry IfeRay Collins retires from volunteering at Sidmouth Primary School. Ref shs 46 19TI 4207. Picture: Terry Ife

Claire Fegan, head of school, said: "Ray is a wonderful role model for our children and it is great for them to see someone choosing to give their time and energy so generously.

"We talk a lot to our pupils about what it means to belong to a community and Ray is a perfect example of that."

Ray Collins retires from volunteering at Sidmouth Primary School. Ref shs 46 19TI 4210. Picture: Terry IfeRay Collins retires from volunteering at Sidmouth Primary School. Ref shs 46 19TI 4210. Picture: Terry Ife

She added the school have been fortunate to have a new set of volunteers who have taken over the helm, and welly Wednesdays would continue as part of Mr Collins's ongoing legacy to the children of Sidmouth Primary School.

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