A LONG-standing headteacher at a ‘popular’ high school is retiring.

Anthony McNamara has been in charge of St Augustine’s RC High School in Billington for 18 years and is to stand down at the end of this academic year.

Mr McNamara told how the headship of the Elker Lane school became his ‘dream’ job after watching Yanomamo, the musical, at King George’s Hall, co-written by former head of music Peter Rose.

After securing a deputy head post in St Augustine’s School in Oldham and applying for other headships, the position at the popular Billington high school was advertised.

He applied and was given the job in Easter 1994.

Southport-born Mr McNamara, who was one of nine children, said he had inherited a good school and his greatest successes included securing linguistics as a specialism and becoming a leading-edge school.

The 60-year-old had studied English, Spanish and Portuguese at universities in Portugal, Spain and Mexico and completed an MA in Latin American Studies in the USA.

Before moving back to Lancashire with his wife Valerie, from Rishton, the couple worked for the United Nations.

Mrs McNamara will also be retiring as headteacher of St Joseph’s RC Primary School, in Preston, after nine years this summer.

Mr and Mrs McNamara helped set up the telecommunications system in Angola after the civil war and they worked in the port of Lobito as English, Spanish and Portuguese translators.

Mr McNamara said he has built on the school’s ‘family’ ethos and his three children Anthony, Siobhan and Niamh went there.

He said: “I am enjoying the job, I am very, very sad to be leaving St Augustine’s.

“It was the job I always wanted. It was a good school and the challenge in this school was that people are so conscientious and so capable.

“It is very much a family school and it has continued to grow. Children want to come here, we are over subscribed.

“I still really enjoy watching lessons, teaching is great.

“But I wanted to make the decision to retire while I can still enjoy my retirement.

"The school holds good memories and if I am invited back for a play, I would love to return.

“It is a very, very demanding job and I want to be certain that I am doing it the best way I can.

“Currently I feel 100 per cent but I don’t want to lose that stamina and want to spend some of it on my retirement.”

Mr McNamara, who lives in Whalley, said he will be travelling with his wife.

He added: “Throughout this time I’ve had the privilege of working alongside pupils, parents, governors and colleagues in a very special school community.”

Mr McNamara began teaching in Haringey, London, and then moved on to St Angela’s, Palmers Green in London.

He was appointed head of English at St Peter’s in Bournemouth, before moving back north.