School serves up a tea party for dinner lady’s retirement

Dinner lady Cynthia Cowley retires from St James and St John Primary school, Akeley.'130723M-E690
Dinner lady Cynthia Cowley retires from St James and St John Primary school, Akeley.'130723M-E690
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Children said goodbye last week to a much-loved dinner lady who has seen nine headteachers come and go.

A special assembly, tea party and presents marked the retirement of Cynthia Cowley from St James & St John Primary School, after 37 years.

Mrs Cowley, who also celebrated her 70th birthday on Sunday, told the Advertiser: “I was going to retire at 60 but I so love the job.

“I didn’t really want to give it up now, because I love it, but my husband John’s retired and we need a bit of time to ourselves.”

Akeley School opened in September 1975 and Mrs Cowley started work as a caretaker there in April 1976.

She has been a lunchtime supervisor for about 23 years, only giving up the caretaking role two or three years ago.

In 2009 Mrs Cowley was awarded an MBE for her commitment to education.

Nominating her, the then headteacher Sally Hughes wrote: “She is an amazing person to work with. She is an inspiration to anyone working in a school.”

And Mrs Cowley said her involvement with the school does not end here.

She said: “I’m not giving up on the school. I’ve been there right from the beginning. I can’t just walk away.

“I shall still be involved, perhaps on a voluntary basis.

“I’m churchwarden of the village and we have our church in the school. Every other Sunday we have a service in the school hall.

“It’s my job, it’s my church, it’s home from home.

“I shall miss the children and the staff because I’ve made some very good friends over the years.

“But it’s time for me and my husband to spend some time together. I’ve had my three score years and 10. We make the most of every day now.”