JOE Walls St Peter's Catholic Primary School headteacher for 30 years is retiring to travel the world.

Mr Walls, 58, joined the school in Prospect Road, Marlow, in 1976 the days of "chalk and talk".

The school's teaching methods are almost unrecognisable since those early days as it now has an interactive whiteboard in every classroom.

But one thing that has remained the same is the school's community spirit which is what Mr Walls will always remember about the school.

He said: "Being a Catholic school, there's very much a family atmosphere here as well as a great parish spirit. We have all laughed together over the years and cried together over the years.

"I go out there and look at some of the people and realise I taught them and their children are now at St Peter's."

Mr Walls also praised his staff, the school's governors and the parents who this time last year raised £11,000 at an auction.

He said: "One of the things that will always stick out in my mind is the support we get from the parents. They will always rally round and organise events. And we have super staff."

Mr Walls, a father-of-two who is originally from Northern Ireland, was deputy head of St Peter's for 18 years before becoming headteacher there.

His last day will not be easy to forget as a special assembly and a champagne reception is being held in his honour.

He said: "Thirty years is a long time and a nice round number.

"I doubt very much that there's another headteacher in the area who has done more years than that and I don't think it will happen again. People tend to move on these days."

Of his forthcoming retirement, he said: "I'm planning to do some travelling. My wife Brenda's nephew is getting married in Brazil in November so that seems like a good excuse to do it. I have always wanted to go down there but never had a good reason to. And when I get to South America I might just keep going."