Angela Matthews

23rd April 2004 at 01:00
Angela Matthews is the cleaner in charge and school kitchen assistant at St Egwin's CE middle school in Evesham, Worcestershire Like all our Friday heroes, Angela goes way beyond any official job description. In her case, pupils from the school council who nominated her would certainly add "good neighbour and best friend of St Egwin's".

Angela lives almost opposite the school, and 27 years ago became the lollipop lady, patrolling the busy crossing between her house and the school. "She didn't have far to travel to work," writes Stephen Cother, Year 8 member of the school council, who put her name forward for our flowers, champagne and chocolates.

Over the years she has become cleaner in charge and lends a hand in the school kitchen. The school, for 10 to13-year-olds, is on the outskirts of town and has extensive playing fields. Gardening is one of Angela's hobbies, and through her the school gets certificates every year from the Evesham in Bloom competition. In the holidays, when gardening club members are away, she waters and tends the flowers. This year sunflowers are the theme and the seedlings are growing already.

The Vale of Evesham is well known for its fruit trees, and St Egwin's has made a name for itself by planting a Living Plum museum - an orchard of many varieties - with the help of local agricultural students. The school is hot on recycling, composts all the school dinner vegetable waste and has pupils monitoring water and electricity consumption. It's going for gold in the next Eco Schools awards.

Angela is a delightful person, a friend to all, always cheerful, knowing the children and able to reprimand them effectively. "She's a kingpin here," says one insider affectionately. "Sometimes she's a grandmother figure and sometimes the ogre in the kitchen. We know where we are and we'd be lost without her."

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 amp; Spencer

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