Celebrating Blackpool dinner lady's 30 years of service

Linda Harris
Linda Harris
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Syrup sponge, pink custard, jam roly poly.... dinner lady Linda Harris has seen more than her share.

The 72-year-old welfare assistant is celebrating 30 years of lunchtimes at St Nicholas Primary School in Marton – not bad for a job she never wanted to start.

Linda signed up one lunchtime in 1987 and hasn’t looked back, overseeing thousands of break times and becoming a familiar face to generations of the same family.

“I didn’t want a job,” she joked.

“I had two boys who were at the school, someone I knew was in the post and was leaving and asked if I wanted it. It fitted in with my life at the time and I’ve never given it a second thought.

“When the boys were at school it was handy for holidays.

“I could walk the boys to school, walk back for work, and walk to pick them up – a lot of walking but I guess it’s kept me fit, I’m still here.”

Linda loves being part of school life and the chance to enjoy lunch times with hundreds of happy young faces.

She said: “The little ones are great.

“When I was 70 I went in with a badge on.

“One of the little ones asked how old I was.

“The seven looked a little like a one so I told him I was 10.

“He didn’t tell me I wasn’t so that was that.

“The children are so fantastic, it’s a lovely school.

“It’s great when they see me out and about in other places like the supermarket and they shout, look, it’s Mrs Harris.

“They seem amazed we have lives away from school!

Education has certainly changed since Linda began her life at St Nics and so has the school, with twice as many mouths to feed these days.

Linda said: “When the school got its Ofsted report one of the children asked if it had already been outstanding.

“We didn’t even have Ofsted when I started here.

“The ones from when I started have grown up and have families of their own, I’m on to my second generation of children now!

“The school has doubled in size since the 1980s, there’s two classes in every year now.

“But the kids are the same, they don’t really change.

“Children are still children, they don’t change that much.

“It’s still lovely to see their smiling faces.”

At 72 Linda, from Common Edge Road, might be forgiven for thinking of calling time on lunches.

But she’s having none of it.

“I cannot go on forever,” she said.

“But at the moment I don’t see why I can’t carry on for a bit longer yet.”

Headteacher Andy Mellor hailed Linda as an ‘incredible servant’ to the school.

He said: “I just wanted to say how incredible that it is that someone can work 30 years in one place. Linda has been a tremendous servant to the school and ambassador for the school.

“The role of welfare assistant is tricky in that it, by necessity, is in the middle of the day, so for 30 years Linda has had her day divided by her duties at St Nicholas.

“ She is much loved by the children and has a lovely calm supportive approach and always has a smile on her face.”