Sunderland staff and students bid farewell to Fab Four of Portland Academy

Retiring from Portland School Sunderland, left to right; Ruth Masters teaching assistant,Dorothy Elliott Chair of Governors, and Irene Lanaghan Business Manager.
Retiring from Portland School Sunderland, left to right; Ruth Masters teaching assistant,Dorothy Elliott Chair of Governors, and Irene Lanaghan Business Manager.
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STUDENTS and staff are saying farewell to four dedicated colleagues who have served more than 100 years between them.

Portland Academy, which caters for secondary-aged pupils with special needs, is saying goodbye to teaching assistant Ruth Masters, business manager Irene Lanaghan, chairman of governors Dorothy Elliott and site manager Alan Cook.

Ruth is the longest serving of the four, having spent 41 years there.

After leaving school, she studied at college for two years before taking up her role as a nursery nurse at Humbledon School, which later became Portland School.

Fellow member of staff Rachel Chaffe said: “During her career, Ruth has seen Portland change from a school to a specialist college and now an academy.

“Ruth has also witnessed the provision changing from mainly health and medical support to educational.”

Irene, who joined the school 29 years ago, started at Humbledon School as an administrator, before gaining qualifications to become office manager.

Rachel said: “Prior and during Portland relocating to Chaplegarth, Irene was heavily involved in the administrative management in the build of the new school.”

Stepping down after 25 years is Dorothy, chairman of governors at Portland and a director of the Ascent Trust, the academies body covering four of Sunderland special schools.

In 2008, Dorothy was recognised for her hard work by being awarded Regional Governor of the Year in the National Teaching Awards. She was a founder member of Sunderland Governors’ Association and the Young Person’s Travel Group.

She has served on the National Governors’ Association, and holds posts on various special education working groups and school travel panels.

Alan joined Portland 12 years ago and has been instrumental in developing community links, including opening up its swimming pool for lessons.

Rachel said: “Irene, Dorothy, Ruth and Alan have been a true blessing to Portland.

“Although they have carried out very different roles at Portland, they have all shown the pupils and staff true commitment and dedication through their specific areas of expertise.

“They will be missed by the academy’s staff and students and we wish them all a very happy and enjoyable retirement.”