A Crawley magistrate and former teacher at Northgate Primary School has retired from the court bench after more than 20 years.
Carole Hayward’s colleagues packed into Courtroom One to wish her well before proceedings at Crawley Magistrates’ Court started on her last day.
Retiring from being a magistrate is not something she would have done by choice but currently people aged over 69 cannot be a magistrate.
Mrs Hayward said: “I’m often asked, ‘Do you enjoy being a magistrate?’. It’s something that I have enjoyed.
“I found when I was appointed and over the last 20 years, you do have a real sense of purpose. I find it really interesting.
“I have learnt a lot and I have met a huge variety of people. I have felt a real sense of achievement sometimes and a sense of frustration quite often.”
She added: “We have training and guidelines, we listen carefully and try to reach the best decision. Also we try to ensure he or she does not go on to commit further crimes.”
Mrs Hayward, 70, first came to Crawley as a pupil at the Notre Dame Catholic High School and was a teacher at Northgate Primary School from 1976 to 1987.
She was appointed a magistrate at Mid Sussex Magistrates’ Court in Haywards Heath in 1990. When it merged with Crawley and Horsham courts in 2000 she began sitting more at Crawley. She has also sat on the family court bench.
Her work as a magistrate has also taken her back to Crawley schools.
She has taken part in ‘Magistrates in the Community’ which involves giving presentations at schools including Hazelwick, Thomas Bennett, and primary schools in Pound Hill primary and Broadfield.
She added: “Me and other magistrates explain what we do.
“We had a wonderful session in Pound Hill. Years back there was a magistrate called Gurdev Kalsi, a very well respected magistrate.
“We were talking to children, saying everybody from all walks of life can be a magistrate. I said we had Gurdev Kalsi on the bench.
“This little girl put her hand up and said, ‘He’s my grandfather’.”
Mrs Hayward, who lives in Staplefield, plans to get more involved in the South of England Agricultural Society and as a former deputy lord lieutenant, she is also involved in the Lord Lieutenant’s project to help build links between charities and business so they can befit each other.