Kath Wilson

11th March 2005 at 00:00
When Kath Wilson was a girl, she was a pupil at Flowery Field high school in Hyde, Greater Manchester. When Kath celebrated her 70th birthday in January, she was also marking an incredible record - of having worked at the school where she was a pupil for the entire 55 years since she left.

In the meantime, the school has changed its name to Hyde technology college, been amalgamated with three other local schools, and endured difficult times before emerging as the most successful secondary in its area, and among the top value-added schools in the country.

Kath has seen, and been through, it all. In fact she is older than the school itself, having started as a pupil there just a few years after it opened in 1940. On leaving, aged 15, she took a job on the staff and has worked as a caretaker or cleaner ever since.

"She absolutely loves the school; it's her whole life, and she would do anything for it," says headteacher Denise Spence, who nominated Kath for our chocolates, champagne and flowers. Kath, who is now assistant caretaker, organises table-top sales and fundraising events for the school and has brought in an estimated pound;10,000 in her years at the school.

Kath's own two children and many of her relatives attended Hyde (her sister Dot is currently on the cleaning staff), all of which has added to her attachment to the place. "The school is a big part of the community," says Denise Spence.

Pupils old and new all know the lady who has helped keep the place clean and secure for over half a century as one of their own. "When you refer to Kath everybody knows who you mean; there's only one Kath," says Ms Spence.

"She's a superstar."

Is there an unsung hero in your school? Tell Sarah Bayliss, TES Friday editor, about him or her at the address opposite. Flowers kindly supplied by Marks Spencer

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