Friday Hero

4th June 2004 at 01:00
Eileen Wild is the midday supervisor and a classroom assistant at St Peter's primary school in the London borough of Southwark.

This is a typical inner-London school, sited on the Walworth Road and just a stone's throw from the Elephant and Castle. The children come mostly from local estates and from a great mixture of backgrounds; 30 languages and dialects are spoken. Eileen and her husband live in a flat across the road from St Peter's and he is a lay preacher at the church next door. Both are hugely appreciated by the school, which in February celebrated Eileen's 25 years of devoted service.

"What would we do without Mrs Wild?" You can almost hear the cry go up from the playground of this one-form entry primary for three to 11-year-olds.

Jennifer Stephenson, a language teacher, asked the question in her letter to Friday magazine nominating Eileen for our flowers, champagne and chocolates. "She is a brilliant organiser and we hold her in the highest esteem," she writes. "She may shy away from the limelight but this is one occasion when she'll just have to allow her light to shine."

Headteacher Helen Dacey says Eileen gets involved in everything without being asked. When the Year 6 drama production needs costumes, Eileen is busy sewing; when staff or children need a listening ear, she's on hand.

"We are not a rich school," says Ms Dacey, "and in some cases there is great social need." So fundraising goes on all year to help pay for uniforms, school trips and outings. Currently Eileen runs an ice cream stall after school, trade that would otherwise go outside. But St Peter's children are also encouraged to think of others and regularly raise money for charity. "We remember the rest of the world too," says Ms Dacey. And Eileen is at the heart of that.

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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