A HEAD teacher who stepped down at the end of term plans to put her retirement to constructive use – building a new home in a different part of the country.

It was while watching an episode of the BBC's Escape to the Country one wet Sunday afternoon that Sue Griffiths hit upon the idea.

Mrs Griffiths, 62, retired as head at Bowes Hutchinson's Primary School, Bowes, near Barnard Castle, after 15 years, having earlier taught at Cotherstone Primary, another rural school in Teesdale.

She now plans to devote much of her time to the plot of land she and husband Philip, the retired managing director of a packaging company, bought at Hay-on-Wye, on the England/Wales border.

“I was ironing some shirts one very wet and windy Sunday afternoon while watching Escape to the Country,” she explained.

“It occurred to me that for the first time, we don't have to live somewhere attached to our jobs, so I thought let's be a bit adventurous and go somewhere we know nothing about.”

So, during a half term break, Mr and Mrs Griffiths went to have a look at their prospective new home, liked the look of the area and decided to design their own place.

The 44 pupils at Bowes Hutchinson Primary sent Mrs Griffiths on her way with a seed box and packets of seeds for the new garden during a Mad Hatters tea party to celebrate her retirement.

Of her teaching career, Mrs Griffiths said: “I have enjoyed my time. The children have been the best and my staff have been absolutely brilliant – we have been a really strong team.

“That is why the school is so successful.”

This has been recognised by Ofsted inspectors, who have rated Bowes Hutchinson's as outstanding.

As well as building a new home, Mr and Mrs Griffiths plan regular visits to see their first grandchild, who lives with their son and his wife in New York, and dropping in on their other son, who works in London.

Mrs Griffiths will be replaced by Mrs Chris Matthewman, who is moving to Bowes from Leicester, to take over as head in September.