Friday Hero

24th June 2005 at 01:00
At Common Road infant and nursery school near Pontefract, West Yorkshire, they have a caretaker who is anything but ordinary. Alan Thomas has been working there for six years and, in that time, staff agree he has transformed the place.

"It's just unbelievable," says Heather Tebbett, the foundation stage and Year 1 teacher who nominated him for our flowers, chocolates and champagne.

"Little did we know the immense skills he would bring with him. Not only are the daily caretaking jobs outstandingly dealt with but the extra little things he does are wonderful."

Alan has brought neglected areas of the school's large outside space back into use, revitalising an old pond, designing and planting a peace garden, putting up canopies to create an all-weather cycling track and recycling blackboards made obsolete by new technology to make an alfresco art area.

Inside the school, the wooden rainbows in every classroom and painted play train are evidence of his carpentry skills and there are umpteen other examples of his handiwork around the 240-pupil school.

Alan is an ex-colliery worker who was born and bred near the school in South Kirby. "We are in quite a disadvantaged area so everything he does is really appreciated," says Heather.

And when he's not turning his hand to odd jobs great and small, Alan enjoys a practical joke. On Red Nose Day, he added cartoon features to the staff photographs on the school noticeboard and Heather and her colleagues hope to give him a surprise of their own by announcing his Friday Hero nomination in assembly.

"There are so many fantastic things that he's done for everyone at the school," she says, "that we feel it would voice our appreciation for his unselfish and generous nature if he were to be a Friday Hero - because to us he is!"

We know there are heroes out there. Tell Sarah Bayliss, TESFriday editor, about yours at the address on the left. Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer

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