A QUEENSFERRY teacher has swapped the classroom to spend more time with an acetylene torch creating unique metal sculptures.
Heather Gray, former deputy headteacher at Echline Primary School, has decided to take early retirement after almost 32 years at the school.
She never got the chance to say goodbye to pupils and staff at the end of session but despite this, she is looking forward to a new and challenging career.
Heather started teaching in Edinburgh in 1974 and joined Echline five years later. Continuing to work while bringing up four children, she held posts as a learning support teacher, senior teacher, assistant head and, finally, depute headteacher.
She also managed to fit in a two-year secondment with the city council’s education department to develop city-wide enterprise education and re-vamp their work experience provision.
During her years at Echline, Heather led the school to be the first Edinburgh Primary to achieve four Green Flags in the Eco schools programme.
She also helped develop links with the community through the world of work and financial education with local businesses, Hopetoun House and Greenferry.
Heather said of her retiral: “I am grateful to the Journal and Gazette for giving me this opportunity to say goodbye to the pupils, staff and parents at the school.
‘‘I have hugely enjoyed working with the Echline community and would like to thank everyone for the amazing support I have received this year and in the past. A wee bit of my heart will always be with Echline.
But retirement and an easy life is not yet for Heather for she will continue to work as a part-time consultant and trainer on a project developing school grounds funded by the Scottish Government.
And taking up a large part of her free time now will be metal sculpture. Known as Queensferry’s “Brazing Hussy”, many of her metal sculptures are on display locally in businesses such as Orocco Pier and The Boathouse.
She has also recently had her first public art commission to mosaic boulders for a park in Stevenston, Ayrshire.
She said: “I am excited about the new paths opening up for me. So no slippers and lazy days yet!”