Friday Hero

10th January 2003 at 00:00
Jenny Woods is the secretary at Harrowden middle school in Bedford.

Jenny is a terrific organiser - which of course goes with the territory - but last year she excelled herself with a grand school reunion. More than 450 people attended the celebrations last summer, with a 97-year-old ex-headteacher as guest of honour and former pupils travelling from North America and Europe, as well as from the surrounding streets of Bedford.

"It was very exciting," says headteacher Cheryl Salmon, who nominated Jenny for our flowers, champagne and chocolates. "Some people just arrived at the door on the day because they'd seen a link on the Friends Reunited website." Jenny had involved her whole family - "sisters and sons" - in the organisation, which helped things run brilliantly.

Harrowden, a 360-pupil, nine-to-13 middle school, was opened by the Queen six years ago after an amalgamation of two other middle schools. Jenny had worked in one of the previous schools and lives nearby, so she has tremendous local knowledge. Now she's chair of the school association, which pays for rewards to motivate pupils. This year they are also aiming to buy a minibus.

Jenny is full of energy and ideas and recently set up her own catering service for school events and staff training days. She's a friendly host; new young teachers often stay with her until they are settled in Bedford. So, when this multicultural school decided to employ a teaching assistant from Japan, Jenny offered a home to the new recruit. The scheme has been so successful that a second Japanese teaching assistant will join the Harrowden community this term - and she's staying at Jenny's.

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