On Saturday evening Banbridge Academy held a charity concert to bid farewell to its principal, Mr Raymond Pollock, who is retiring in just a few weeks time.
The concert featured performances from former pupils who have been successful in the music industry.
Proceeds from the concert were donated to Mr Pollock’s chosen charity, Diabetes UK.
Upper Bann MP David Simpson presented Mr Pollock with a pocket watch which was engraved with ‘In recognition of your service to education, From David Simpson MP, 29.11.2014’.
Speaking after the concert, Mr Simpson said: “For over 40 years Mr Raymond Pollock has devoted his life to the education and wellbeing of young people.
“His desire to see young people progress in life was evident and I know that his contribution to educational attainment has been widely felt by thousands right across Northern Ireland. Saturday night’s concert was a superb way to mark the end of an era within the school and I would commend all those who made it a huge success.
“Many people will be able to testify of the influence for good, the support and friendship that Mr Pollock has shown during their years of education and I know that society is a much better place because of the work that Mr Pollock has involved himself in.
“I wanted as MP to mark this occasion by presenting Mr Pollock with a token to thank him on behalf of the people whose lives he has touched. Mr Pollock has met me at doors of Banbridge Academy on many occasions and on my last formal visit it was an honour to be able to introduce the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to Mr Pollock and let her see the sterling work of the Banbridge Academy.
“A colossus in education is the best way to describe a man that has given so much to the progression and advancement of young people.
“The staff, students and former students of Banbridge Academy have been blessed with his leadership as their principal for 19 years and I have no doubt that a void will be felt for some time.
“However, the Academy is opening a new chapter and I wish the new Principal every success and I look forward to continuing the excellent working relationship that already exists with teaching staff within the Academy. I pray that God will richly bless Mr Pollock and his wife in the years that lie ahead.”
MLA Jo-Anne Dobson was delighted to return to her former school to wish Mr Pollock well in his retirement. “Raymond Pollock really is ‘Mr Banbridge Academy’,” she said. “In his nineteen years at the helm he has inspired thousands of young people, touching their lives and the hearts of everyone in Banbridge.
“It’s always a delight to return to my old school and what a night we all had and I pay tribute to Diane Robinson as musical director, along with her excellent team, for organising a spectacular evening of celebration.
“It was great to see former pupils, many of them performing on the world stage, return to the school to join us in paying tribute to Raymond and to stand as a testament to all his hard work at the school.
“As Mr Pollock told us ‘If you truly love your job, you will feel like you haven’t worked a day in your life’.”