Colleagues have paid tribute to the headteacher of St Martin’s C of E Primary School in Cranbrook, Tania Beard, who is retiring today (Thursday, April 30), after eight years in the job.

Midweek Herald: The team from St Martin's Primary who completed the Commando Challenge last year, led by Tania Beard (back row, centre)The team from St Martin's Primary who completed the Commando Challenge last year, led by Tania Beard (back row, centre) (Image: St Martin's Primary)

Mrs Beard created the school ‘from the middle of a building site’ in September 2012.

With staff unable to give her a retirement presentation, because of the coronavirus lockdown, they have sent the Herald their tributes.

Acting headteacher Steph Harvey said: “She had the vision and determination to grow the school from 32 children who joined with her, to the 400 pupils who now attend.

“Her inspiration has impacted on so many lives – both adult and child.

“Tributes from staff recognise Tania as the individual who inspired them to re-enter the teaching profession, who challenged them to try new things and who nurtured them to be the best they could be.

“She has a resilience which is second to none, dogged determination and limitless energy - always the last woman standing. Tania was never ‘ruffled’ and has a bottomless pit of nurture and love for everyone she came into contact with.

“Tania is one of a kind; she will be truly missed and is irreplaceable - if I can do half as well as she did, I will be pleased.”

Teaching assistant Steph Mabbutt’s message said: “If they ever bring out a Superwoman film, you should go for the role - they won’t need a stunt double either.”

Dawn Chapman of the Exeter Consortium and Teaching School Alliance said: “She has always been so generous with her time, supporting us as a director of Exeter Supply Partnership, as a board member and vice chair of Exeter Consortium, regularly leading training for our schools and contributing to our teacher training programme.”

Marc Kastner from Devon County Council’s education department said: “I was deeply moved when she asked me to become a governor and immediately said ‘yes’, as I wanted to be able to add my personal support to the inclusive ethos that she had established across the school from parents, staff and pupils.”

The minister for Cranbrook, Rev Lythan Nevard, said: “She has given an amazing gift to Cranbrook. A school that is nurturing; that encourages children to learn and enjoy doing so; a place that is imbued with the love of Christ; a community where work is demanding but rewarding and staff practice support and care of each other - it is a really therapeutic community.”