Chris Buxton

19th March 2004 at 00:00
Chris Buxton has been the school secretary at East Haddon primary in Northamptonshire for 27 years.

She retires from this small village school at the end of term so there will be at least two vacancies to fill: secretary and part-time cookery teacher.

Every Wednesday, for as long as anyone can remember, the smell of baking has wafted into classrooms while Chris takes small groups of children for cooking lessons throughout the day.

"It was butterfly cakes today, and next week it might be vegetable crumble," says infant teacher Claire Truslove, who nominated Chris for our flowers, champagne and chocolates. Chris takes the children shopping for ingredients and helps Year 6 plan and prepare a leavers' lunch with invited guests. The school meals service was abandoned long ago by Northamptonshire, so events around meals are extra special.

Chris also hears children read and helps out in classrooms, as well as running the school office and being the "sunny personality" who meets and greets everyone. Claire is particularly indebted to her for making the school such a welcoming place. "This was my first teaching job and she was so friendly and kind; she sorted me out in every way."

East Haddon is a classic village school, with 72 pupils in three classes, housed in an old stone building dated 1790. But it is about to be transformed by new building - two new classrooms, disabled toilets, much-needed storage space and a medical room - part-funded by the county.

Chris, whose daughter Louise was once a pupil, has helped the whole school and its community raise an astonishing pound;50,000 with events including "hot dog lunches" and all-night sleepovers. "Everyone agrees she's a lovely person, so positive and kind."

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

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