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“I’m the General Assistant at Willoughby Public School, I do all the handy work – whatever needs doing. I’ve been here for 10 years. There have been a lot of changes since then. The school has grown. The teachers come and go but they’re all great. Michelle Verhagen (Acting Principal) is brilliant. And now there are more changes coming which will hopefully be good. I’ve also noticed there are now a lot more Harrys! There used to be just me and now there are so many. Teachers call out ‘Harry’ and I look around and they’re not talking to me, they’re talking to one of the kids. It’s a name you never heard before and now it’s the in thing. The school does have a great community feel. The P&C do a wonderful job, it’s been run so well since the first day I came. The kids and parents are friendly. I’m not allowed to stand and talk to the kids but they always say hello. They’re lovely and they come back later on sometimes after high school and they’re taller than me and they’ve got beards! Yeah, they’re fantastic the kids. In fact in my opinion the whole school is very good. On the 24th of August it’s my last day here. I’m retiring to Queensland to spend more time with my daughter and grandkids. My wife and I are planning on travelling around a bit as well. My job is being advertised but it’s very hard to find someone to take my place. They need lots of checks – police check, Working with Children Check, Department check, otherwise they just can’t work here. The safety of the kids is the most important thing. Retiring was a very hard decision to make. My wife is retiring too and she kept on asking me when I would. I’ve loved every minute here, the students, the teachers, you couldn’t ask for better people. They’ve always treated me like one of the school staff. There’s even a lady across the road, Mrs Burke, who invites me in for a cup of tea and a chat. I sometimes go and mow her lawn. It’s just very neighbourly. The school itself and the parents – I can’t thank them all enough. It’s going to be a sad day when I say goodbye. But I’ve made the choice now and I’m almost 66 so it’s about time to do something for myself and spend time with the grandkids.” HARRY WILSON, GENERAL ASSISTANT, WILLOUGHBY PUBLIC SCHOOL

Please see the WL Facebook Group for the community’s messages to Harry (click here: Willoughby Living Facebook Group and search ‘Harry’)