Monday 21 October 2019

Warm tributes paid to FCJ retirees

Ann Nolan (retiring school accountant), Frances Threadgold (retiring principal) and George Raleigh (retiring caretaker)
Ann Nolan (retiring school accountant), Frances Threadgold (retiring principal) and George Raleigh (retiring caretaker)

Brendan Keane

Tributes have been paid to three highly regarded staff members in FCJ Bunclody who recently retired.

At the school's annual awards ceremony the school Principal, Frances Threadgold, who herself was one of those retiring, took time to pay tribute to school accountant, Ann Nolan, and caretaker, George Raleigh, who were also retiring after many years dedication to the school.

Ms Threadgold said Ms Nolan worked 'out of the tiniest office in the school' yet was always able to immediately put her hand to any account, file or payslip asked for.

'She has an innate ability to remember where everything is and her work is meticulous,' said Ms Threadgold.

'Her attention to detail is incredible and she has been regularly commended by the Board of Management and indeed the department on how well she keeps our accounts,' she added.

Ms Nolan's three daughters, Lynne, Deirdre and Aine, all attended the school and Ms Threadgold expressed delight that Deirdre would be taking over the job from her mam.

'Ann has been involved in many areas of school life and has travelled to America with the orchestra,' said Ms Threadgold.

'She has been involved with the show for many years and has supervised students here,' she added.

'She has sold lockers, swept floors, made tea at the debs last August, helped at open day, and is always ready to come running -and I mean running - to lend a hand,' Ms Threadgold told those in attendance at the awards ceremony.

'To top it all she is great company, has a great sense of humour, and likes nothing more than a good laugh.'

Ms Threadgold said Ms Nolan had worked very closely with her through her 11 years as Principal and commented: 'She has supported me through many difficult times and worked all hours to get my accounts ready for the department and the board. Her honesty and integrity stand out for me.'

'She has minded the money for FCJ like if it was her own,' she added, before wishing Ms Nolan, her husband, Pat, her children and grandchildren the best of health and happiness for the future.

With regard to Mr Raleigh, who has worked at the school for 38 years, Ms Threadgold said that from the time he arrived in the school the two of them became very good friends.

'I loved his sense of humour and fun,' she said.

'He used to call me Mrs Guitar strings,' she added.

Describing him as someone 'at the very heart of the school' Ms Threadgold said he was known by all the students as the person to go to if you wanted to get a problem solved.

She recalled a story, from a long time ago, when a Home Ec class was asked what would happen if someone was baking a cake and the oven wasn't working properly and a student replied: 'You'd call George'.

'How right she was,' said Ms Threadgold.

'That's what we all do,' she added.

'George knows how everything works and where every switch and pipe is. He has a gifted pair of hands that can make anything, repair anything and play a tune on the banjo too.'

Describing him as 'a pure gentleman' Ms Threadgold said: He has a heart of gold and is quite simply the salt of the earth.'

'George and his late wife Agnes were a great team and I am delighted to have his family here today with him,' said Ms Threadgold.

As with Ms Nolan, a family tradition will be kept alive in the school as Mr Raleigh's son, Noel, will be helping to fill the void in the school left by his dad's retirement.

Ms Threadgold was also retiring and she commented on how fortunate she was to have worked in a school like FCJ Bunclody.

Expressing disbelief that her own 'graduation day' had arrived she thanked everyone who had made her life in the school so enjoyable including the FCJ sisters, students, teachers, staff, the senior management team, administration staff, Ms Nolan, Mr Raleigh and the school secretary, Nicola, for everything they did for her over the last 13 years.

'I also want to thank my family for carrying me through the tough times and my two friends, Bernie and Marie, who have known me since the first day I started teaching 33 years ago,' said Ms Threadgold.

'I have been charmed by all the kind words, cards, gifts, and hugs I have received and I will take lots of happy memories with me,' she added.

She told the attendees that the mass booklets were a keepsake and that she had designed them to help people through 'difficult days'

Ms Threadgold comes from a small village in Sligo and by her own admission also came from a very humble background.

'Neither of my parents ever went to second level education but my mother had the vision to send me and my two older sisters to a convent school for our education,' she told the attendees.

'That education has been my passport,' she added, commenting that both of her sisters are also teachers,.

Ms Threadgold said she was blessed with the people she had met in her life that kept her on track.

'I was no potted angel nor academic genius,' she said.

'My older sister's husband kept me focused as teenager, my husband, and soulmate John, was the wind beneath my wings, and my son Kevin and daughter Orla, my inspiration,' she said.

'My two long suffering friends were my confidantes and then Nicola my extra limb,' she added.

Ms Threadgold finished her final school address by offering words of inspiration.

'The message I want you to remember is 'you can,and you will',' she said.

'Don't stop believing in yourself and with courage and confidence you will get there.'

Enniscorthy Guardian