CHILDREN and staff from a Kidderminster school will be saying an emotional goodbye to their much-loved headteacher who is retiring after more than 30 years at the helm.

Worcestershire’s longest serving headteacher Val Weddell-Hall will officially retire from her role at Franche Community Primary School at Christmas.

She has been in charge at Franche for 34 years and clocked up more than four decades as a head of schools in the county.

Mrs Hall said: “I feel so very honoured and proud to have had the opportunity of being involved in the growth and development of both our school family and the site for 34 years.

“It has been so wonderful to see generations of children flourish as they learn, succeed and grow into adulthood, and then over time to see their children join the family of Franche.

“I love our school and the children, who have always provided me with many lessons throughout my life; their thoughtfulness, generosity, kindness, respectfulness and pride in their families and our school - and most of all their enduring sense of humour.”

She will now spend more time with her family, including five grandchildren.

Her impact on generations of children has drawn much praise and she was awarded an OBE for her outstanding services to education in 2004.

Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier said: “On behalf of thousands of children and families across Wyre Forest who have benefitted from Val’s dedication, commitment and love of teaching over the many years that she has given to Franche Primary School, I would like to say a huge thank you.

“As we grow up and look back at our formative years, there is always an inspiring teacher who has encouraged and supported our young minds to reach our full potential – this is Val’s legacy.”

Chairman of Governors Lee Wright added: “Val is unique, a real one-off, with a huge personality and boundless energy.

“She has been devoted to this school, working very long hours and through every holiday to ensure the best possible outcomes, facilities and opportunities for all our children.

“We will miss her enormously but she is leaving a great legacy in the shape of the primary school she has created and the leadership team she has developed. This means the school is being left in the excellent hands of teachers who share her vision and drive.”

Current deputy heads Elizabeth Dixon and Dominic Simpson, will step up to share the headship on an interim basis, ahead of a recruitment process beginning in the spring.

Mrs Hall will provide on-going support until a new permanent head is appointed.

The news prompted tributes to flood in on social media from former pupils and parents of children currently attending the school.

Parent Andy Faulkner said: “She has been at Franche for many years and done absolute wonders for the school, parents and the pupils.”

Ex-pupil Kazzandra Bishop added: “My parents brought me in to see you just before I started and I can remember how inspired I felt. You just had this amazing energy and connected with every single child as naturally as breathing."

People are invited to share their memories of Mrs Hall by emailing comments and photos to