From dinner lady to the red carpet

10th August 2007 at 01:00
Classroom assistant Lorraine Jones was chauffeur-driven in a limousine on loan from a funeral directors to pick up a coveted award for her long and dedicated service at St Helen's RC primary school in Caerphilly.

Aunty Lorraine, as she was affectionately known when she served school dinners, has come a long way since she first volunteered to help out in the school kitchen and with the children's reading more than 30 years ago.

Mrs Jones works with a group of five Year 2 and 3 children who are able to work at their own speed, thanks to her input. She applied for her first formal educational role, in charge of a group of special needs pupils, after 24 years' service.

She was presented with her award, Classroom Support Worker of the Year, at Cardiff's Marriott hotel on July 6. It is a new category in the New Directions Inspirational Teacher Awards, which have been running for three years. "I assumed I'd be going to the ceremony in the headteacher's car but they arranged a limousine and chauffeur which was free from the local funeral director," said Mrs Jones. "They lined the path to the school gate with the children's red jumpers and T-shirts as a red carpet. Seeing 300 children and staff all chanting 'Aunty Lorraine' is something I know I will never forget."

She has seen all kinds of changes in her 30 years at the school.

"Not many children are used to sitting at a table at home to eat any more," she said. "These days, children are so used to eating fast food with their fingers that the first time they cut a potato with a knife it's like they've won a medal."

The school has recently introduced "messy Mondays" for the infants, who don waterproof suits to play outdoors a by-product of the foundation phase for three to seven-year-olds.

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