Eileen Watson was awarded an MBE for Services to Education.
THE former Vice Principal of Ashfield Girls High School has spoken of her pride after she received an MBE for services to Education in the Queen's New Year's Honours list.
Mrs. Eileen Watson, who taught at the school for 38 years, has lived in Lambeg for more than 30 years.
The local woman, who was also the Head of Pastoral Care at the school, said: "I was totally shocked when I found out, I couldn't have been more delighted. I really feel very touched by it."
Eileen said the honour was something that would have filled her late parents, May and Sam Wright, with pride.
"I always remember my father telling me about a colleague who was awarded an MBE and my father thought it was the most fantastic award possible. If my father's looking down on me now he'll be thrilled," she said.
"My three sisters are absolutely over the moon about it."
Eileen, who retired from Ashfield last summer, is now preparing to attend Buckingham Palace with her husband and their daughter Victoria, who is a teacher at Botanic Primary School, later this year.
Eileen continued: "I just retired in June so it's a big adjustment. I loved my job and I miss the girls. My husband, Edward, and I both retired. He worked for the South Eastern Education and Library Board, so one way or another the whole family is involved in education. We are just enjoying spending some quality time together.'
Speaking about her time at Ashfield, Eileen said: "Originally I was Head of Physical Education, however, my main interest was the Pastoral Behaviour Management side of things. I was Vice Principal and Head of Pastoral Care with a specialism in behaviour management, not that we had very much to do in Ashfield. I always found the parents and girls worked really well for us. It was a pleasure to work with the families of East Belfast.
"Ashfield Girls is a really highly rated school, we've had fantastic success with the girls at A Level, I can honestly say, hand on heart, that working there has been a real pleasure for me."
Eileen was also heavily involved with performing arts at the school, organising school trips each year for 160 people to England to take part in the National Finals, where Ashfield were crowned champions on four occasions.
"We had great fun," said Eileen. "I had great fun in my working hours and equally pleasure after hours."
Eileen was the Principal Moderator for Physical Education with the CCEA and she still continues to be in a post with the CCEA as a revisor.
The local woman is still in contact with her former pupils via Facebook and she made such an impact upon her pupils over the years that they organised a special get together at the time of her retirement.
"When I retired the past pupils got together after one of the fathers
rallied the girls on Facebook. I knew nothing about it because I wasn't
on Facebook then, but my husband took me
out one evening and we ended up at a hotel and the past pupils were all there," Eileen explained.
"We had the most amazing evening."
A spokesperson for the school said the Board of Governors, staff and pupils were 'delighted to learn of the well-deserved recognition given to Mrs Eileen Watson for her services to education'.
"Mrs Watson gave 38 years of unstinting commitment and dedication to
the school's pupils
and community and it is only just that all the wonderful work receives recognition.
"Eileen Watson was an outstanding teacher and her dedication to spreading learning and providing opportunities for all by organising Rock Challenge, developing the Pastoral system within the school and a myriad of many other activities throughout her career; and always going that extra mile is a resounding example to everyone."