UNISON’s competition to find a star in Watford’s schools reached its finale on Monday as Mayor Dorothy Thornhill attended a local school to surprise a dedicated lunchtime assistant of 43 years.
Gladys Coldman, who has been a lunchtime assistant at Kingsway Infant School since 1974, won the Stars In Our Schools competition after being nominated by members of staff at her school. Over five decades Gladys has covered approximately 8170 lunchtimes, as well as being involved with school trips, helping youngsters to read and until only a few years ago was in the pool assisting in swimming lessons!
Gladys, who into her 70s still arrives at the school each day on her bicycle, was delighted to win the award and has no intention of leaving the job she loves anytime soon. On receiving the award Gladys said, “People ask why I haven’t retired yet. Why would I! I love working with the children. Whatever their circumstances it is great to be here to help them. There is so much that I like doing here, especially the trips. What I really enjoy is when I see children outside of the school and they run over to say hello to me.”
Having seen over 2500 children pass through the school Gladys is accustomed to meeting ex-Kingsway pupils who now have their own children, or even grandchildren at the school. “They always ask if I remember them but it is hard to keep track of so many pupils over the years!”
Mayor Dorothy Thornhill also presented the school with an award for having the most runners up in the competition. She handed awards to a number of support staff including a school cook who inspires children to try new foods, a superstar in the school office, two teaching assistants who go the extra mile on a daily basis and a caretaker whose newly created ‘forest reading area’, was a hit with staff and pupils alike.
School deputy head, Donna Byrne was thrilled by the award. “We were delighted to celebrate the achievements of support staff at Kingsway Infant School for the Stars In Our Schools awards. At Kingsway we take pride in working together as a team to ensure the very best outcomes for our pupils and encourage them to be the very best that they can be. All our staff work tirelessly and so hard and this is very much deserved recognition for them. We are so proud of them all.”
UNISON organiser Daniel Waghorn said “Too often the work that school support staff do is forgotten. By celebrating the stars in our schools like Gladys we are highlighting how support staff keep schools running and how they go beyond the call of duty on a daily basis to create safe, secure and successful schools. I’m looking forward to next year’s search for a new star in Watford’s schools!”