A headmaster retiring from a thriving independent school in Liphook after more than two decades has described his time there as ‘magical.’

Phillip Evitt, the highly-respected head of Highfield School in Liphook – the prep element of Highfield and Brookham Schools – has retired after 23 years at the helm.

Mr Evitt, who was readily assisted in all aspects of school life by wife Jo, and whose four children were educated at Highfield, had special praise for his pupils.

He said: “Remembering they are children capable of doing extraordinary things is what made my time so extraordinarily magical. It’s seeing how much they do and achieve through their own energy when you give them the opportunity.”

And the affable head said his love of all things Highfield and Brookham was still as strong as it was when arrived from Dulwich Prep School in 1999.

He said: “This is a community that cares, supports, cherishes and nurtures, and I have always felt strongly that schools should be places of joy, wonder, enchantment, delight, challenge and risk taking.

“To have endless enthusiasm, genuine belief that everything is possible, that children can take risks, that they can say things, that people aren’t going to think they’re idiots is just so enriching, so enlivening and so wonderful.”

Mr Evitt, 63, cited dedicated teachers and staff “who love children, are passionate about them, and who want them to make a difference” as a major reason for his longevity at Highfield.