Sports teacher left 'overwhelmed' by primary school's surprise send-off
- Credit: Steve Adams
A sports teacher who has inspired young children for more than three decades was left "totally speechless" as a primary school gave him a surprise send-off.
For the last 31 years, Darren Gill has given thousands of youngsters across Norfolk and beyond the enthusiasm to play sport.
The school closest to his heart, however, is Langham Village School, near Blakeney, where he started out as a football coach back in 1990.
Having made the difficult decision to pursue his passion of becoming a full-time gun dog trainer, Mr Gill had hoped to make a humble exit on Monday, December 13 - his last last day teaching at Langham.
But his plan was foiled as he was suddenly ambushed during his late-morning class by staff, parents and pupils, all determined to give him a fitting goodbye.
The 50-year-old, who lives in Kettlestone, near Fakenham, was lost for words as he was showered with cards and presents.
He added: "I had done two sessions, and was just getting into a game situation in the third when all the children from the other classes started to come out onto the playground - which was unexpected.
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"Then I started to see former pupils, parents, staff, governors. I am not often lost for words, but I was totally speechless.
"It was really overwhelming that the school had gone to so much trouble."
A former apprentice professional at Norwich City, Mr Gill started coaching at Langham in the 1990s and soon became a permanent fixture, taking PE lessons on Mondays and Fridays.
Prior to Covid, he also ran a number of after-school and lunchtime clubs.
Over the years he has worked in primary schools from Glasgow to Hastings, and even promoted football in Florida, but nowhere has been more special to him than Langham.
He added: "In all honesty, I was hoping to just slide out at midday, wish everybody a Merry Christmas, and that would be that.
"I did not think when I went through the school gates this morning that something like this would happen.
"It was absolutely super. The amount of effort put in by the school staff was outstanding, and for the children to be so thoughtful with their presents and cards was beyond my wildest dreams."