A PORT teacher who has spent 50 years in the same school both as a pupil and a tutor is finally retiring from the place that has been a constant in his life for so long.

Hugh Stewart, 61, never dreamt that when he left school the day after Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 that he would ever walk back through the doors of St Stephen's High School.

But that he did, after an interesting journey to becoming a teacher, which started on a bus, following a split decision that was to change his life forever.

Hugh said: "I had to do something that allowed me to spend time with my family.

"I had been ten years out of school, I'd worked in the shipyards, drove taxis and at that time I was driving buses for Clydeside.

"My daughter was going into hospital and I asked if I could go to see her but was told I had to finish my shift first.

"I was driving past James Watt College and there was a big poster saying 'Do you want to be a teacher?

"I pulled over by a bus stop and went into the college. It was an access to teaching course and I was told if I wanted to do it, I'd have to start the next day.

"I called the depot and told them their bus was parked in Nicolson Street and there was two old ladies on it. That was me, I'd given my notice."

Hugh went on to Glasgow University and earned an honours degree before starting off as a technical teacher and then principal teacher for support for learning.

He said: "I work with any kid with additional support needs, I've worked with kids with autism, ADHD, to ensure that these are not going to become barriers to their learning.

"We have seven pupil support assistants who go above and beyond and is recognised throughout the authority.

"We were practising GIRFEC (getting it right for every child) before it was rolled out by the Scottish Government."

Hugh has always remembered what teacher Betty Glancy, of the former St Mungo's, told him when she came to work him.

He said: "She told me, the things you say, pupils will never remember, the things you do, they will never remember, but the way you made them feel, they will never forget."

Hugh said: "I had one boy who was having difficulties and he was sent to the Mearns Centre as it was the only school available, but I took him back.

"He is a roofer now, has his own flat, his own car, a girlfriend. He came in a few years ago with a box of chocolates and told me I'd had saved his life.

"Things like that are really touching."

Hugh has had his own personal share of heartache.

He was blessed with four children Kerry, who works in The View children's home, Laura, who is a teacher at Craigmarloch, Ryan, who trained as a teacher but now works for the Celtic Foundation and beloved Jolene, who tragically passed away in 2000, aged only three.

Hugh had been appointed as the headteacher of Lomond View but decided he had to put his family first and returned to his old job.

He is now looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren Keira, eight, Grace, four, and one-year-old Niall.

He feels that it is the right time to retire, after suffering a stroke two years ago, and the sad loss of his dear friend, fellow technical and guidance teacher Paul Murray.

Holding back the tears, Hugh said: "That was the turning point for me."

Hugh formerly represented Scotland in swimming, and competed in triathlons and is keen to get back to his first love, sport, and would like to learn the piano.

He said: "I feel the time has flown by, it's really sneaked up on me. I am teaching third generations of families.

"I'm Port Glasgow born and bred and it's been an absolute privilege to teach in the school."