Thanks for doing a brilliant job

10th March 2006 at 00:00
In a former life Tony Tazey was a miner, working in the Kent coalfields around the seaside town of Deal. When the pits shut he worked in an office for the AA, but nine years ago he found a job which suits all his talents - site manager and caretaker of South Deal primary school.

Tony is a people person, well known in the local community, who serves as a staff governor and a founder member of the parents and friends association at the school. But he's also intensely practical and will turn his hand to anything, from putting up shelves to unblocking toilets.

He cycles or walks to work at this one-form entry primary, built in the 1960s like the housing estate it serves. The premises are kept "spotlessly clean" with lots of homely details such as hanging baskets and plants in tubs; children help in "green gangs", picking up litter and doing other useful jobs. Tony is a keen sportsman and supports a teacher who runs football, cricket and cross country training. Out of hours he organises trips to Premiership football matches for parents and their children.

Cheerful and friendly, he "gives his time freely" and is a huge support to staff and pupils, according to headteacher Neil Wright, who nominated him for our flowers, champagne and chocolates.

"Tony endears himself to everyone round here, from children to HMIs." An inspection of the school in 2004 included comments about the positive atmosphere at South Deal.

"Mr Tazey has done a lot for our school in the past few years," pupil Alicia Potter wrote to Friday magazine. "We've become fond of him and he's fond of us too."

Sadly, the future of the school is uncertain since the birth rate has fallen and Kent County Council is discussing a merger of schools. But the local community is needy (one third of children receive free meals) and travelling a mile to another site is impractical for young families. Tony is busy with newsletters and a campaign to keep South Deal open. "No decisions have been taken yet," says Mr Wright, "but we know this community has needs and Tony understands that better than anyone."

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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