Thanks for doing a brilliant job

1st October 2004 at 01:00
Elsie Warburton goes to school every day. She isn't a teacher, or a pupil, but Elsie is always welcome at Wilson's endowed CE school in Over Kellet in Lancashire.

The school is just down the road from Carnforth station, scene of the classic film Brief Encounter, although Elsie's relation with the school has been anything but. She worked there for 33 years as a nursery nurse and, since retiring in 2000, has been, says headteacher Jo Williams, "on a personal crusade to share her love of reading and books with the children in our school".

Elsie visits the school every day and makes sure she reads with each of its 90 pupils at least once a week. She has become the school librarian, cataloguing its books on computer, and is always on hand to help out at events.

"The children look forward to their 'Mrs Warburton time'," says Ms Williams, who nominated Elsie for our flowers, champagne and chocolates.

"She takes under her wing those children who need her special patience, care and time. She always celebrates their progress, however small the step."

Sadly, soon after her retirement, Elsie's husband died unexpectedly. But she remains devoted to the school and, at 65, is learning to drive to make her daily journeys easier.

"The spare time she found she had and the love she had to share was brought to the school," says Ms Williams. "We are lucky. Elsie is quietly there for everyone and the children have their very own school granny. Her desire to unlock the magic of reading for the children is evident in their growing love of books.

"Elsie shies away from praise and is self-effacing, but all our lives - staff and children - are richer for having her as our friend."

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

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