Reluctant 'caretaker' retires from Highgate primary school after 21 years

Troy Bunbury is 'sad' to be leaving St Michael's Primary School in Highgate where he's been site manager for two decades

Troy Bunbury is 'sad' to be leaving St Michael's Primary School in Highgate where he's been site manager for two decades - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

The end of term is approaching and one staff member in Highgate is "a bit sad" about that.

Troyton Bunbury is retiring as site manager at St Michael's CoE Primary School, in North Road, after serving the community for 21 years.

Troy Bunbury is 'proud' to have worked as St Michael's Primary School's site manager

Troy Bunbury is 'proud' to have worked as St Michael's Primary School's site manager - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

The school's executive head, Geraldine Gallagher, said "his large boots will be very hard to fill".

Troy, who moved to England aged 11 and later forged a career as a mechanical engineer, said: "I saw an advert for a "site manager" in 1996 at St Mark's School in Holloway and thought 'you mean a glorified caretaker. I don't want to be a caretaker' but my wife Shevonne told me 'it's a job' so I took it."

In December 2000 he made the move to St Michael's and has "mixed feelings" about leaving.

"When I arrived here I was blown away by the volume of people, especially the parents' association, which was organising the Christmas fair. I was met at the front gate by Veronica Day and I felt so special. 

"She welcomed me to the school, showed me around and put me to work the same day," he said.

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"I was pleased to see the involvement of so many people."

Over the years his role has ranged from "menial jobs to sitting in committee meetings discussing what's best for the school".

The father-of-three has many happy memories including a fundraising ball at Alexandra Palace: "My wife was pregnant and dancing to Tony Hadley who was singing live."

Troy Bunbury is 'sad' to be leaving St Michael's Primary School in Highgate where he's been site manager for two decades

Troy Bunbury is 'sad' to be leaving St Michael's Primary School in Highgate where he's been site manager for two decades - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

The 60-year-old was on hand for fundraising quizzes and competitions, pre-Covid bonfire nights and "the school's best kept secret" – the St Michael panto: "In one particular show I played [rapper] Tinie Tempah."

Living on site – and having to move when he leaves – he was on hand one Sunday when there "was an emergency in the village" and he received a call to open the school so an emergency helicopter could land in the grounds.

Troy oversaw major projects in the school, including the installation of solar panels in 2009 and the renovation of the school kitchen and creation of the Barbara Smith art room.

During Covid lockdowns he was "at the front line" as the school remained open to key workers' children.

It's all a far cry from where he was born in Guyana.

He and his sister were  raised by his aunt as his parents had moved to the UK.

Aged 11, on a "dismal, grey, overcast day" he landed in Luton where he joined his parents and days later enrolled at Ashmount Primary School in Crouch Hill.

He said he was "spoilt rotten" by his parents "as they felt so guilty leaving us".

He trained as a mechanical engineer, got a job at British Telecom and "rose through the ranks".

"I worked in Buckingham Palace installing payphones and prisons installing payphones," he said.

Redundancy forced the change in career. 

"I feel proud of what I've achieved here. I'm proud of my daughters who came through the school," he said.

"I have mixed feelings about leaving, a bit sad. This has been my life for 21 years but I've a few things to do. I will care for my sister and my father and then I'll see. I won't move far from here though." 

Geraldine Gallagher, executive head, said: "I have had the pleasure of working with Troy for almost nine years.

"During his time at St Michael’s Troy has been instrumental in the development of the school.

"His commitment and tremendous work ethic have ensured that the school is consistently maintained to a high standard and he has facilitated numerous great events for all of the school community during his tenure.

"He takes great pride in every aspect of his work. Troy will be greatly missed by the past and present community of St. Michael’s.

"His large boots will be very hard to fill."

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