Barnstaple and Hartland teachers to retire after chalking up more than 70 years’ service between them.

Two North Devon head teachers are retiring this month after contributing nearly 70 years' service to education.

Park Community School head David Atton has spent 41 years teaching in the county, and 29 at the secondary school in Barnstaple.

Kathy Tape from Hartland Primary has taught in Devon for 28 years.

They were among 12 retiring head teachers invited to a special garden party in Exeter by county council, schools chief, James McInnes, and head of education and learning, Sue Clarke.

Originally a chemistry teacher, Mr Atton, was deputy head at Great Torrington School before taking a similar role at Park School in 1986. He took over the headship in 1997.

He said: "Now is the right time for both the school and for myself to be handing over to someone new.

"The school is in good health and successful; the renewed leadership that new head teacher Gareth Roscoe will bring places it ready and prepared for the immense challenges and changes all schools will face in the next few years."

Staff, governors and ex-colleagues gathered at the Park Hotel for Mr Atton's retirement party on Friday evening.

He told them of his great respect for the school and all in its community.

"It is the fifth school I have taught in, but I quickly appreciated that it has something special in both a heart and soul that continues through the generations, continuously improving all that it can offer and achieve as it goes."

The school was judged 'good with outstanding features' by Ofsted in the summer of 2013 and praised by government for its GCSE results last year.

In retirement, Mr Atton said he intended to devote time to his children and grandchildren, including his eldest daughter, who lives in Barnstable, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

"It is a welcome coincidence that I shall now be able to visit Barnstable more frequently," he added.