Judy Cox

21st October 2005 at 01:00
It sounds like they've found a kind of museum curator at Oldcastle junior school, in the shape of Judy Cox. Officially, she's a learning support officer at this Bridgend school near Cardiff, but her ability to find props and artefacts to liven up lessons impresses everyone.

"Whenever we want an unusual or elusive object we just ask Judy," says headteacher Laurence Chilcott, who nominated this "bag lady with a difference" for our flowers, champagne and chocolates. "If it's not in her handbag, she knows where to find one."

Recently a class was short of Victorian objects to sketch. Popping home at lunchtime, Mrs Cox returned with a dining room chair, a teapot and some ornate crockery. When a picture of a native American was needed at a moment's notice Judy produced one - from that bottomless handbag.

Oldcastle has 221 junior pupils aged 7-11 and Mrs Cox first got involved as the parent of two boys and a leading mum in the local cub scouts. In her present job she takes responsibility for helping small groups, especially with maths, and is one of four learning support officers.

Around the school she cultivates plants, unblocks sinks and is completely undaunted by the photocopier. "If she can't fix it, that's when we send for the engineer," says Mr Chilcott. She's resourceful and active, but she's kind and patient too. "She'll drop everything to help us out."

Recently, Oldcastle juniors has been developing policies for healthy eating, for anti-bullying using peer support, and for becoming an eco-school. As a collector of stuff, it's not surprising that Mrs Cox is mad about recycling. "She hates to see things go to waste; she'll save anything and find a use for it," says Mr Chilcott. He thinks she'll be astonished to receive a Friday Hero award. "But no one deserves it more."

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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