11th January 2008 at 00:00
Dorothy Winner and Thelma Stokes did everything together - till now. The two sisters are both kitchen assistants and cleaners at Northgate High School in Dereham, Norfolk, with more than 75 years' service between them.

At New Year, Mrs Winner, 71, was awarded an MBE for her 39 years of dedicated service. But The TES got there first, recognising both their efforts in 2003 with flowers and champagne in Friday Magazine's Bouquet of the Week.

Mrs Winner, 71, will be thinking of her younger sister when she accepts her MBE. "There's no jealousy," said Mrs Stokes, 68, as they cleaned up after school dinner.

So how do they handle so much time in each others' company, when many families struggle just to get through Christmas Day?

"We don't have time to talk because we're so busy in the kitchen."

Mrs Winner said: "If there was friction, one of us would have to leave. But we get on really well."

Cycling into school on the first day of term, Mrs Winner struggled to concentrate on the road as parents and former pupils tooted their horns and waved to congratulate her. In the canteen, the pupils bowed and curtseyed.

Headteacher John Smith said it had been a struggle deciding which sister to nominate because they have both contributed so much.

Mrs Winner was overwhelmed on learning of the award, saying she was just ordinary.

But Mr Smith said: "She's as deserving as any footballer or business leader."

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