THE long-serving principal of a Blackburn school is set to retire at the end of the school year.

David Whyte will step down from his role at St Wilfrid’s Church of England Academy more than 24 years after joining as a deputy headteacher.

Mr Whyte was appointed headteacher in November 2000, and saw the school rebuilt in Duckworth Street in 2004, and become an academy in July 2011.

In a letter to students, he wrote: “I will miss you all. The challenges some of you bring on a day-to-day basis, the gifts and talents you share on a daily basis, and the real buzz of youth and enthusiasm for life I witness from you each working day.

“I will also miss contact with the very supportive parents who, through their contributions to the Building Appeal, made the new St Wilfrid’s a reality, and the dedicated, supportive acad-emy staff and governors.”

Mr Whyte said he will spend more time with his family, and his growing number of grandchildren. He is also planning to imp-rove his fitness, so he can return to playing tennis and golf.

Chairman of governors at St Wilfrid’s, Canon Valerie Edge said: “David Whyte has been a highly respected, popular and energetic principal who has committed his professional life to providing a Christian education in Blackburn.

“Under his leadership, an iPad scheme will also be introduced in the new academic year. He will be greatly missed by everyone at the academy and I am sure everyone who knows him would want to join the governors in wishing him a long, heal-thy and happy retirement.”

Catherine Huddleston, the current senior vice principal, will take over as acting principal ‘to provide consistency and stability to the academy while the governors appoint a permanent successor.’ A thanksgiving service will be held at Blackburn Cathedral in the autumn.