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Dyllis Fairhurst

Thanks for doing a brilliant job

At 8.30am every day, Monday to Friday, Dyllis Fairhurst arrives at work.

Nothing remarkable about that, you might think, except that Dyllis retired 15 years ago.

Dyllis, now 79, used to be the caretaker at Legh Vale primary school in St Helens, and loved the place so much that, after retiring, she returned as a volunteer. Her tasks slowly multiplied to the point where she now has her own desk and job description and responsibilities that would keep someone half her age busy.

Dyllis runs the school uniform shop, organises theatre club coach trips to see shows in Manchester and Liverpool (which raise funds for the PTA), is a leading member of the Friends of Legh Vale association, accompanies classes on countless outings, collects the dinner money, oversees letters home and leaving gifts and takes children on guided tours of the church where she worships.

On top of all that, Dyllis has a talent that offices all over the UK are crying out for. "Perhaps her most famous role is queen of the photocopier," says Karen Tomlinson, key stage 2 manager at the school. "What Dyllis doesn't know about the copier is not worth knowing." Even more impressive, when it goes wrong, she can usually fix it.

As a centre of excellence for early years education, with a neighbourhood nursery on site and more than 400 pupils on roll, Legh Vale is "very large and busy", says Ms Tomlinson, who nominated Dyllis for our flowers, champagne and chocolates. "Without Dyllis, communication between the departments would be even more complex."

Headteacher Michael Hewlett says: "Dyllis involves herself in so many aspects of Legh Vale - it's a big part of her life. She's a credit to the school." And if and when she does decide to retire (again), Mr Hewlett says "we won't accept it willingly".

Is there an unsung hero in your school? Tell Sarah Bayliss, TESFriday editor, about him or her at the address opposite. Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer

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