Friday Hero

29th November 2002 at 00:00
Keith Hayward is the caretaker and cleaner at Meadows primary school in Medley near Crewe, Cheshire.

Keith arrived in January with a reputation as a keen handyman, but already he's a hero. "The man is incredible - I've never come across anyone like him in my life," says head Linda Davis, who nominated him for our flowers, champagne and chocolates.

Staff have been astonished to see the changes Keith - who is said to have an "aesthetic eye" - has made to this village primary school in nine months: "Already he has painted most of the school, fitted a new kitchen and new work surfaces in the first aid room, and kitted out my little office with black marble-topped cupboards," writes Ms Davis. "A chief executive would be proud to work in it."

Keith always asks before he embarks on a "little project" but, even so, he's full of surprises. After one weekend painted lines appeared in the school car park (his son did that), the next, he'd fixed up lights in the outside storeroom. His wife Sandra helps him with the cleaning and was the school's lollipop lady for 20 years.

The school has 71 pupils and is in a former mining area between Crewe and the Potteries. The roads are busy and the M6 is within shouting distance, but most children live in the village and walk to school.

Everyone knows Sandra and Keith who, on top of all his DIY, has trained to drive the village minibus so he can help with transport to sports fixtures and on school trips. He's got a sunny disposition and everyone finds him friendly and willing. All that on 20 hours a week.

"We all know how many hours he must put in totally unpaid," says Ms Davis. "We really do appreciate him."

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