John Norton

30th May 2003 at 01:00
John Norton is the office and premises manager at St George's C of E primary school, Battersea, in the London borough of Wandsworth.

This man is one in a million. He's at the centre of things, running the school's finances and admin from the office where his wife Christine also works. They live on-site as John is the caretaker too. And he maintains the school's computers, organises the summer outing, goes on the Year 56 holiday week, runs a summer sports day for all Battersea primary schools, and cherishes the school cat - called George, naturally. He's also a governor.

John's mother worked at St George's and he was a pupil in the 1950s. His children attended the school while he worked as a customer services manager at a car dealership. He became a governor in 1980, and in 1989 landed the jobs at St George's.

Only a few weeks ago a new head, Jan Hilary, arrived at the school.

Nominating John for our flowers, champagne and chocolates, she says she's been stunned and humbled by how much one person can contribute to the life of a school. "He's such a can-do person and maintains everything beautifully, with passion and commitment. This is a tough area but he's made the school a real flagship with nothing but the best standards."

The school serves the Patmore Estate where parents think of John as their local hero. "He's an important father figure and the children see him as someone on their side, someone they're totally secure with."

Jan admits that such a lifetime of involvement has the potential for the person to be a "dinosaur", but this couldn't be further from reality. "He's the life and soul of St George's and every minute he's trying to improve it." She's so pleased he's only 53.

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