School dinner lady retires after 33 years
Staple Hill Primary School lunch break supervisor Joy Bennett with children from Year 5 Zephaniah class and deputy head Matthew Hillier-Brown
SHE has helped hundreds of children in over three decades as a dinner lady, but it is now time for Joy Bennett to put her feet up at lunchtimes.
The lunch break supervisor first started working at Staple Hill Primary School 33 years ago, when her son Jody, now aged 39, and daughter Amanda, now 42, attended the school at its previous site on the other side of Page Road.
Joy said: "It was Mr Kemble, the headmaster at the time, who phoned me up about a job going as a dinner lady. I thought he meant cooking the dinners, and I panicked before he said I'd be looking after the children.
"I've been here ever since, and I've seen a lot of changes.
"I'll find it so strange when I retire. I'm going to miss the children terribly – they've been a big part of my life for a long time – and the staff."
Joy is now looking forward to being able to take her two-year-old granddaughter out on day trips.
She lives in Staple Hill and often sees former pupils who recognise her.
One former pupil, Kelly Harris, became one of her colleagues.
Joy said: "Now she's a dinner lady herself – it's a strange old world!"
Before she retired Joy was supervising children in the school's Zephaniah Year 5 class, who made her a farewell card and gave her flowers in a leaving presentation.
Deputy head teacher Matthew Hillier-Brown said Joy's 33 year career at the school was "an amazing achievement" and she had set a great example to the children.
He said: "The children genuinely adore her – they speak so highly of her because she's so kind and caring.
"She's just a lovely person to have around the school and shows off our school values in abundance.
"Every single person at the school helps make the school thrive, and Joy is a major part of that.
"She will be hugely missed by all the children and adults."