Iris Sutter has been honoured for her decades of service as a Sunday School Teacher and Leader in the Methodist King’s Club (formerly Junior Christian Endeavour). After 34 years of dedication, this year, for health reasons, she has retired from these positions at Whitehead Methodist Church.
On Sunday 19th January she was presented with a gift from the Whitehead congregation by Rev Gary Millar (Iris requested this should be donated to Kids4school). Rev Millar paid tribute to the Christian spirit and selfless commitment Iris has shown to local children over the years.
In her youth, Iris trained as a history teacher, and her first post was at the Girls’ Model School in north Belfast. She and her family then lived in Carnmoney, where they attended Glengormley Methodist Church.
Iris left the Girl’s Model School in 1974 to look after her two young sons. Even though she now had two young children of her own to care for, Iris still wanted to give some time to other children in the community.
She asked if there were any vacancies for Sunday School teachers in Glengormley Church. But at that time, Glengormley had enough Sunday school volunteers, and since there were few places in Carnmoney where she could take her children to during the day, moving house became a priority.
Iris wasn’t unhappy, but wanted to have a more fulfilling life and wanted her children to grow up in a more rural environment. She prayed and asked God for His guidance.
In 1979 God answered her prayers and Iris and her family moved to Whitehead where they attended Whitehead Methodist Church. It was at their very first Sunday Service there, that Rosemary Briggs, the then Sunday School Superintendent, asked Iris if she would like to join them as a Sunday School teacher. Iris jumped at the chance.
She loved her work with children, most of all meeting them again when they were older, and seeing how they had developed and changed over the years.
During most of her 34 years as Sunday School Teacher and Leader of the King’s Club, Iris also had a full-time job as Head of the History Department and teacher in charge of child protection at Carrickfergus College.
Iris also finds time for charity fundraising work. Her talents are employed in making crafts and restoring antiques and collectables to sell at craft and antique fairs throughout Northern Ireland. She is active in fundraising for Marie Curie, Parkinsons UK, Kids4School, Sight Savers, and the Martin Trust for the Profoundly Mentally Disabled.
Although now retired and not experiencing the best of health, Iris is as busy as ever, and says there are not enough hours in the day. She is still repairing and creating items to sell for her charities, catching up with reading, and enjoying spending time with her two little grandchildren, Ben and Lucy.