Friday Hero

12th September 2003 at 01:00
Noreen Gorton has been the school secretary at Tividale primary school in Sandwell for 30 years.

Noreen retired at the end of last term, but as an energetic friend and neighbour of the school she's bound to stay involved. Tividale's key stage 2 co-ordinator, Dave Waterworth, raved about her in his nomination for our flowers, champagne and chocolates, saying she'd been there "for a hundred years" and that she was "the most amazing secretary in the world".

Superlatives aside, the staff are depending on Noreen to continue as a one-woman travel agent organising their theatre trips, holidays and half-term breaks (Luxembourg last Easter, the Italian lakes next October).

Gorty's Tours, as they're affectionately known, have a popular reputation involving friends and residents of Tividale and a teddy bear called Roosevelt, who sends postcards addressed to the children from wherever he goes. (After a trip to Scotland he reappeared in her office in a kilt.) Noreen's skills as a bingo caller often come in handy on long coach journeys.

Pam Willetts, headteacher of this 456-pupil school, says: "Noreen is a delightful person, incredibly organised and kind-hearted - part of the fabric of our school. She also has very high standards."

She has served as a governor, has campaigned for a breakfast club and helped raise pound;10,000 for better play facilities. In her name she's left behind a cup for good manners which will be awarded in assembly every week. Noreen is known to many parents and grandparents of children at the school. As Dave Waterworth says: "She's been here since before dinosaurs ruled the earth." Of course they'll all miss her - but she'll be back.

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

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