Head swaps pupils for alpacas

Karen Hepworth-Lavery, head teacher of Heritage Park primary school -  who is retiring after 20 years  at the school. EMN-180723-185717009
Karen Hepworth-Lavery, head teacher of Heritage Park primary school - who is retiring after 20 years at the school. EMN-180723-185717009
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A head teacher has packed away her chalk for the final time - after leaving school to look after alpacas.

Karen Hepworth-Lavery has been head at Heritage Park Primary School in Stanground since it opened 21 years ago.

But on Tuesday she left the school for the final time as children broke up for the summer holidays.

Pupils made cards for Karen for her last day after two decades.

Karen said she would miss the staff and pupils at the school as she said her last goodbyes.

She said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my career in education and especially my time at Heritage Park.

“I have had the good fortune to work with some outstanding teachers and so many wonderful children.

“I will certainly miss the children and the staff of the school. I have so many fond memories but I am now looking forward to taking on a new challenge.”

Karen will now run her alpaca business in Maxey – after first having ‘an alpaca experience’ two years ago.

She now has 11 of the llama-like animals at the farm.

The business – called Mist Meadows – offers a range of alpaca experiences, including walking with alpacas and meet and greet sessions, and particularly specialises in providing bespoke packages for children and adults with a variety of special needs, including autism, as well as learning, social, emotional or communication difficulties. Because alpacas are naturally gentle and calming they are perfect for such work.

Karen will also be running an education consultancy business after 35 years being involved in teaching.

Her first headship was at Elton CE Primary School and from there she went on to take charge of Milton Road Junior School in Cambridge, leading that school into the Times list of the top 100 schools in the country.

Heritage Park was her third and final headship appointment and she has guided the school from an initial intake of 39 to the situation where now all seven year groups are full, with a waiting list for admission in each year group.

For the last six years Heritage Park has been rated by Ofsted as outstanding in all areas following an inspection in March 2012.

For more information about Misty Meadows alpacas, or to book experiences, visit https://mistymeadowsalpacas.co.uk/