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Former deputy head Nikki Haydon leaves Haverstock School after 43 years

Long-serving staff member admits she's 'in denial' about finally leaving after more than four decades

25 July, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Nikki Haydon with her grandson Finley

NIKKI Haydon – a pillar of Haverstock School for 43 years – has admitted she still feels a little bit in denial about the fact she is retiring tomorrow (Friday).

The former deputy head, head of English and community coordin­ator is departing at the same time as headteacher John Dowd, whose retirement was announc­ed earlier this year. “You have got to stop at some point,” she said. “When I knew John was going – I’ve worked under four heads – I couldn’t face starting again. I feel sad about it and a lot of me is in denial. It’s very odd to be 43 years in one place. I had two lots of three months out, both for my kids, but that’s it.”

Last Friday night, she was given a standing ovation by 300 colleagues at an end-of-year send-off alongside Mr Dowd, who has spent 19 years at the school in Haverstock Hill, Chalk Farm. Ms Haydon, who lives in Primrose Hill, said her first move is to get her Italian back up to A-level standard.

She hopes to start volunteering at the Roundhouse and Age UK, while spending quality time with her five-week-old grandson Finley. Unable to leave completely, she plans to continue working at the school at the weekends running film and bingo sessions for over-60s and tea dances.

“I could not bear to tell the 50 older people that they could not come at the weekends,” she said. “There are not many things for the elderly to do on the weekends. I make them strawberries and cream.”

Ms Haydon retired as assistant headteacher seven years ago but continued as a community partnerships coordinator part-time, building links between neighbouring primary schools and Haverstock.

She said: “There are lots of disadvantaged children in those schools, lots of free school meals, but the children were so enthusiastic about what became a wonderful project. Michael Rosen came every year. It showed how really important the arts are. It was so sad when money was cut for that. Now there is no budget at all for this kind of thing. It’s the arts subjects that are being cut now.”

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