While many people don’t aspire to still be working when they reach the momentous age of 80, we have recently discovered that among the thousands of Department of Education staff are a handful of hard-working, spritely and much adored octogenarians.
Born in 1937 in Iowa USA, Phil Jackson spends his days nurturing the beautiful school grounds at Darlington Primary School – a school community that literally and figuratively is his family.
Mr Jackson celebrated his 80th birthday last month, an occasion that principal Lorna Woodley said was a proud moment for staff and students.
“Not every school has the opportunity to celebrate such a milestone with one of its staff,” Ms Woodley said.
“Mr Jackson is part of the family – his two grandchildren went to Darlington Primary School and his daughter-in-law is a cleaner at the school.”
Mr Jackson has been a part-time gardener at the school for the past eight years and while he shows no signs of slowing down, he is taking a well-deserved holiday back to the USA this week.
When asked if he has any secrets about how to live long and stay so healthy, Mr Jackson says the key is not to stress about anything.
Although we have been told his good genes could also be playing a part!
“His mother only passed away 18 months ago, having reached the age of 99! He appears to be well on track to follow in her footsteps,” Ms Woodley said.
“Mr Jackson’s son shares the same birthdate but, unlike his father, has already retired!”
The Department’s oldest employee, Derek Rutherford, will turn 84 this month.
Also working part-time as a school gardener, Mr Rutherford is not planning to hand over his tools at North Beach Primary School anytime soon.
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