Friday Hero

6th January 2006 at 00:00
Thanks for doing a brilliant job

Carol Fowkes is "one of life's givers" - she's busy giving from 7.30am at Cobden primary's breakfast club until past 8pm when she might just be leaving a meeting of the school governing body.

This is an inner-city primary school in the Farnley district of Leeds with 160 pupils. Headteacher Pauline Potter says lots of families have a steep hill to climb in the mornings, so the breakfast club now offers tea, coffee and toast to parents when they arrive. Carol Fowkes is there in the hall making sure the cereal boxes are full, the homework table is set out and there are games to play for the 30 or more regular children. Parents who used to stand outside in the cold now come in - there will be classes for them later this term. "It gives everyone a good start to the day," says Ms Potter, who nominated Carol for our flowers, chocolates and champagne.

As well as breakfast and lunchtime supervision, Carol works as a cleaner, covers for the caretaker when sickness strikes, and is a school governor; in an emergency she's the name people think of. She goes everywhere by public transport and will fit in a quick trip to town if needed. Recently, the infant nativity play - called "The Camel's Arms" - was short of bright blue fabric for the Virgin Mary; Carol found metres of the stuff on a flying visit to Leeds. She also came back with 30 metres of red felt for Santa's grotto. "Talk about going the extra mile!" says Pauline Potter.

Most recently, Carol "saved the day" with the school's new pet fish. "The children wanted a dog but we managed to persuade them that fish would be easier to look after."

No one could have imagined that the second-hand fish tank might leak and the fish would be gasping in a couple of centimetres of water when Carol found them. In a flash she'd topped it up, then found another tank. Soon the fish, which go by the names of Phyllis, Audrey, Lawrence and Charlie, were swimming around happily giving the reception area a relaxed feel. They are namesakes of four friends of the school - local residents from sheltered housing who come and talk to the children about the Second World War for oral history. No one would want them to go missing. "Carol's popped in at weekends to check on the fish - that's real devotion to duty."

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 above left. Go on, they deserve recognition. (Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer)

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