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Jude Tanner

Jude Tanner recently retired after eight years as nursery nurse at St Woolos primary in Newport, Gwent.

The "amazing" Jude retired in July, but not many of the staff knew.

"Where's Jude?" they all cried in the first week of the new term. Heather Vaughan, head of the 204-pupil nursery and school, had to tell them Jude "didn't want a fuss" and so had left with little ceremony.

Part-time Year 4-5 teacher Jo Barton, who nominated Jude for our flowers, chocolates and champagne, says Jude was no ordinary nursery nurse. "As well as her normal duties she was a stalwart of the sewing club, chief organiser and maker of costumes for the Christmas productions, ever-patient chivvyer of borderline Year 6 pupils through their maths Sats, and dispenser of tea and sympathy to all and sundry."

"She even went on our annual four-day residential outdoor pursuits course, climbing mountains and building shelters with the best of them."

Heather Vaughan says the self-effacing Jude had time for everyone and always put other people's needs first. "She was really a caring, surrogate grandmother to many of these children. Nothing was too much trouble and she always had a listening ear - especially for the older children."

She says some former Year 6 pupils would come back to see Jude for a chat after they'd transferred to secondary school.

One year Jo Barton was lucky enough to have Jude assigned to her class full-time with a statemented pupil. "I didn't know I was born. Things were done even before I knew they needed doing. And such a cracking sense of humour. What will we do without her?"

It seems they won't have to worry. Jude's hoping to be back in the school soon, this time for one day a week and in a different capacity: to help with reading and maths.

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

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