A THORPE Bay teacher has left her school after a 42-year career.

Vivienne Cunningham, head of drama at Thorpe Hall School, was given a huge send off last week by pupils past and present at a party.

Mrs Cunningham, 63, said she wanted to leave to do more of her ownwriting and adjudication of drama festivals.

Having started off as a part-time speech and drama teacher in 1971, she continued to work for the school throughout the last four decades, in different roles.

Last Thursday there was a special celebration at the school in her honour.

She said: “I was overwhelmed by so many past students coming back without me knowing. It was great.

“They had also filmed all the children and staff singing a song for me as a tribute, it had been done in secret.”

Speaking after her last day at the school, she said: “I’ve worked there for 42 years and I still love it, it’s been a big decision to leave, but it’s another exciting stage of my life.”

Mrs Cunningham has taught hundreds of pupils, many of them – including former Busted singer James Bourne – have gone on to have successful careers.

“There have been amazing experiences that we’ve shared. One that stands out is from 2008 when we were the youngest group to perform at a drama festival in Douglas on the Isle of Man.

“I took a group of 24 children and we came away with two trophies and also won another award in which we beat the adult groups.

“That must be a highlight, I was so proud of them.”