A POPULAR Port Glasgow dinner lady has laid down her ladle and retired after 30 years.

Pupils and staff at St Francis' Primary have said an emotional farewell to Irene Rice.

Irene, 65, says she will sorely miss the school but is looking forward to a well earned break.

She said: "It's been easy to come to work here as it's such a nice job.

"I've enjoyed working with the children."

Irene, who is originally from Greenock but now stays in Coll Avenue in Port Glasgow, worked in the former Boglestone Primary School for 15 years before she moved to St Francis' Primary where she has worked for the past 15 years.

She said: "I've seen quite a few changes over the years such as the introduction of healthy eating.

"In Boglestone Primary, the food was brought in from another school but at St Francis there is a cooking kitchen.

"I've really enjoyed it.

"The girls I work with are great - it's a great kitchen."

Irene is looking forward to spending more time with her family.

Her husband William, 64, an offshore worker, is also set to retire next month.

The couple have three grown-up sons - William, 45, Steven, 42, and Michael, 38 - and four grandchildren, Carly, 21, Jayne, 19, Hannah, 17, and Andrew, 14.

Irene added: "We will be able to spend more time with our family.

"It'll be nice to have a break and take things easy."

The whole school hosted a special assembly to say farewell to Irene, presenting her with flowers and gifts while Christine Tannahill and the kitchen staff hosted an afternoon tea for her.

Irene said: "Everyone has been so kind and I want to say thank-you to all of them."