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Maidstone dinner lady, 80, receives commemoration for 50 years of service at school's surprise birthday party


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A dinner lady was treated to a surprise birthday party after working at a school for five decades.

Polly Wilson, from Leeds, was shocked after finding pupils and staff at Leeds and Broomfield Church of England School had put together an afternoon tea for her 80th birthday.

Polly Wilson received presents from pupils and a commemoration for 50 years of service at the school. Picture: Sharon Clark
Polly Wilson received presents from pupils and a commemoration for 50 years of service at the school. Picture: Sharon Clark

She joined the school in 1972 and has served in a variety of roles, including a lollipop lady.

Polly said: "I absolutely adore the job, because I know all the children and they all know me.

"I thoroughly enjoy it, I did even when I was out lollipopping.

"I hate it when it comes to the summer holidays because you can't go in!"

However, her favourite job at the school was being a dinner lady, which she has now been doing for 25 years.

Polly posing with her plaque celebrating 50 years of service at Leeds and Broomfield Church of England School. Picture: Sharon Clark
Polly posing with her plaque celebrating 50 years of service at Leeds and Broomfield Church of England School. Picture: Sharon Clark

She said: "It's nice seeing mums and dads bringing in their children – when back in the day they went to the school – then those children eventually get married and bring their children in.

"People in the street have come up to me and said 'Hello Polly! How are you?'

"An old pupil asked me 'Are you still working at the school?' Then he pointed out two boys and told me those were his sons – I couldn't believe it."

The surprise party was held last Wednesday, June 15 – Polly's birthday – at the school.

Teachers and children had organised a large marquee in the field with cakes, sandwiches and tea.

The children of Leeds and Broomfield Church of England School organised a surprise party for Polly's 80th birthday. Picture: Sharon Clark
The children of Leeds and Broomfield Church of England School organised a surprise party for Polly's 80th birthday. Picture: Sharon Clark

Homemade bunting designed by all the pupils was hung around the tent.

Polly added: "I had a wonderful day – I didn't know anything about it.

"Nobody said anything, I hadn't had a clue on what was about to happen when I got there at lunchtime.

"I nearly cried and I thought, no I mustn't cry. It was something that I will remember for the rest of my life."

The Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Derek Mortimer attended, along with Polly's friends and family.

The Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Derek Mortimer, also attended the event. Picture: Sharon Clark
The Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Derek Mortimer, also attended the event. Picture: Sharon Clark

Along with presents, she was also awarded a plaque from the school for her 50 years of service.

Head teacher Fiona Steer said: "Polly is an integral part of Leeds and Broomfield and the local community.

"She thoroughly enjoys working at the school and we enjoy having her.

"She is hard working, listens and smiles all the time. We all wish her a happy 80th birthday and a big congratulations for working here for 50 years."

Even at the grand age of 80, Polly is still adamant that she won't retire.

"No, I won't go until they tell me I have to go," she explained. "My doctor said you have to keep the brain moving, because a lot of people think they will just retire and sit at home not doing anything."

"I think that's why I have reached the age that I am today.

"People say I will still be working even when I have a walking frame!"

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