FORGET The Rolling Stones – a real legend headlined a Winchester school’s tribute concert to its retiring headmistress Penelope Kirk.

Mythical beast Sparkle the unicorn got star billing at the fairy-tale send-off for Prince’s Mead School’s outgoing head, which included entertainment from steel pan drummers, local band The Wanderers, school gymnasts and choirs, and welly-wanging competition.

But while Kirkfest revellers had to suspend their imagination over Sparkle’s suspicious Shetland-like ancestry, there was no mistaking the magical figure of more than £3,000 raised for Miss Kirk’s chosen charities, the Winchester Hospice, The Murray Parish Trust and the Timothy Pruss School in Tamil Nadu, India.

Charitable partnerships have been at the very heart of her work at Prince’s Mead.

Under her stewardship, the school community has supported their sister school in India since 2005, funding vital resources and, for the past six years, paying the salaries of some of its infant and junior school teachers.

After 16 years at the helm of the Kings Worthy school, Miss Kirk is retiring from a 38-year teaching career, having devoted her life to making education a fun and joyous journey.

Her vibrant personality, wit and flair for inspiring a love of learning has set many generations of children off on a life-long path of discovery. And her common sense advice and unwavering support will be treasured by the many staff and parents who have had the privilege of being able to call her their friend.

Miss Kirk said: “The joy of teaching is knowing that you make a difference to the life of a young person. I have nothing but profound gratitude for the opportunities I have been granted at Prince’s Mead, for the lasting friendships I have made, and for the privilege of watching the children blossom and prepare for their future.”