Friday Hero

28th October 2005 at 01:00
Thanks for doing a brilliant job

She's terribly elegant and loves high heels, but she's the friendliest of people and cooks a tasty bacon and egg breakfast for Year 6 all through Sats week. Sylvia Hall, or "Sylv" as many people know her, is the glue that holds Four Acres primary school together; or, as one teacher describes her, the "golden thread" that runs through the place.

Set in the middle of the Withywood estate in Bristol, Four Acres is not without problems, but the past four years have been especially difficult, with three headteachers moving on in rapid succession. In the circumstances, you can see how a savvy school administrator would be worth her weight in gold.

"Sylv is the person who knows the community and how everything works round here," says advisory headteacher Wendy Marriott, who currently runs this school for 250 three to 11-year-olds. "She cares passionately about Four Acres and has a great desire to keep things running smoothly for the children."

"Miss 'All", as the children call her, describes herself as "just the school secretary", but her many talents make her much more than that. For 14 years she's been the school administrator; add to that the roles of dance club coach, school governor, listening ear and helping hand. Every summer she "gets her pinny on" and accompanies Year 6 on holiday to Somerset and produces wholesome home-cooking all week long.

The nomination for our flowers, champagne and chocolates came from Lilla Duignan, a teacher and artist who's worked on special projects at Four Acres. To Lilla, Sylv has "grace and calmness" and is always "beautifully and elegantly dressed", with a special liking for high heels.

"She is a lovely and welcoming presence in her domain, the office reception area, and always ready to help elsewhere in the school. She is not above filling toilet roll holders and is the woman who will always know if we have any 10mm black bookbinders in stock... or not. Her presence is somehow civilising as well as humorous."

Wendy Marriott is delighted to present the flowers in assembly today and says Sylvia's charity work in the Withywood and Hartcliffe areas is well known. Her husband is a primary head and her daughter a teacher too. "We work well together and I value her immensely."

Heroes are out there, but we need you to reveal them in all their glory.

Think of the person in your school - teacher, classroom assistant, governor, cook - who always goes the extra mile. Then tell us about them in a letter or email to Sarah Bayliss at the address on the left. Go on, they deserve recognition. (Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer)

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