Friday Hero

24th January 2003 at 00:00
Mary Mallinson is the caretaker at Blakehill primary school in Idle, near Bradford

Blakehill was a first school for 150 infants until a city-wide reorganisation that replaced Bradford's first and middle schools with primaries. Under changes that have spanned the past five years, the school has more than doubled in size from five classrooms to 12 and become a primary for 350 children with a planned roll of 400.

Throughout all the upheaval and constant building work, Mary Mallinson has been a rock, talking to builders, thinking ahead and absorbing masses of stress that meant the teaching staff and children didn't suffer. Deputy head Lynn Wright has nominated her for our flowers, champagne and chocolates, calling her "an angel in disguise".

At the height of the building programme the entire school - just a mile from Bradford city centre - was housed in temporary classrooms with resources stored in containers on the school field. Mary, described as "petite", was the only person who could manoeuvre the container doors and who knew where everything was. It is to her credit that when the new building finally opened, parents said they believed their children had been unaffected and had just kept coming to "normal" school.

Lynn Wright says Mary kept morale high with the encouraging words, "Just think how lovely it will be when it's finished". Well, now it is, and Mary continues to be an inspiration. "It's been a year since we opened and she's still got a list of snagging jobs for the builders. But she also knows the name of every child and they all go to her when they have a problem. She's a marvellous person and a treasure to work with." Thanks, Mary.

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