A SMILING new face is welcoming pupils and parents to Hay-on-Wye’s primary school.

Mrs ‘B’, aka Mrs Alexine Bartholomew, is the school’s new headteacher, and warmly greets everyone in the school playground at the start of each day.

She fills the “big” shoes of Fiona Howard, who retired as head in the summer after a 20-year career at the school.

The new head, who lives in Bwlch and is pleased to say her great great grandfather was born at number one in Hay’s Church Street, has spent 29 years working in education. Hay primary is the fifth school she has worked at.

She described her first few days as “the most positive you can imagine.”

“Everyone has been so welcoming; children, staff and parents and that’s been really lovely.

“Also because we are the only school in Hay I’m keen to meet local business people in the community. I have been out and introduced myself and will continue to do so over the month. People in the community were very welcoming.”

She added: “Because Mrs Howard did such a wonderful job and was here so long and was born and bred in Hay I have got big shoes to fill.”

However Mrs B feels a strong connection with the town and is looking forward to meeting the many cousins and relatives in her large family, descended from her great, great grandfather, William Price.

She said she already loves the town and everything about it. Since moving to Powys seven years ago she has visited often and enjoys attending the annual Hay Festival.

Her mind was made up to apply for the headship after she paid a visit to the school.

“Fiona had been very generous with her time and I had a walk around the school. Just the feeling and ethos then made me think I really think this is a place I could be very happy.

“If my decision was based on the building, no, but what they do here is testament to the skill and loyalty of the staff.”

She said work could start on the promised new school building next February and a 48-week build was tabled.

It will be a fresh start, however Mrs B has begun as she means to go on; a warm and visible presence in school and the community.

She doesn’t have a mantra, but says she often thinks of a quote from American writer, Maya Angelou: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Mrs B added: “It’s about how you make people feel; about inspiring and motivating and making people feel welcome. Children feel safe and staff are empowered to do their job properly. That takes you through in life and you feel respected and worthy.

“When children are having a challenging time they need to know we care about them. If I have anything in my mind, often I think of that quote.”