LIL HANGS UP HER APRON AT 81
Great grandmother hangs up apron at 81
LIL Smith never planned to be a cook, but when a member of staff at her daughter’s school rushed out one morning asking for help, she agreed to chip in for the day.
That moment sparked a career spanning nearly half a century, starting with 26 years at what is now Wood End Park Academy.
Now Mrs Smith has hung up her apron for the last time, having retired as head cook at St Bernadette’s Catholic Primary School, in Uxbridge, where she has been serving up meals for more than 22 years.
Great grandmother Mrs Smith, 81, of Dorset Avenue, in Hayes, said: “I’ve loved it here, but I am enjoying being able to have a lie in.
“Although I officially started at 8.30am, I liked to get there early to avoid all the children with their bags and things, so I used to get up at 5.45am and leave the house just before 7am to get in before the rush.”
The school, in Long Lane, organised a farewell tea party for the ‘ super cook’, who joined as head cook in 1992, taking three buses to work each day come rain or shine.
Throughout her time at the school, she and her four staff prepared up to 180 meals each day, plus an extra 100 or so on Fridays – fish finger day.
Head teacher Catherine Moss said Mrs Smith’s ‘innovative approach to good homemade food’ made her a star long before Jamie Oliver entered the healthy school dinners debate.
She said: “Her food is always wholesome, well thought-out and delicious.
“But her contribution to the school has been more than simply nourishing young minds and empty tummies.
“As an evacuee, her experiences of being billeted first to Wales, and later to Berkshire, have proved an invaluable and rich source of history to the Year 6 children, who each year are invited to spend an afternoon with her hearing about her war time reminisces.”
Before having children herself, Mrs Smith, who was born in Victoria, London, worked as an administrator for the Foreign Office, in a building in Whitehall.
She left when her first child, Martin, now 57, was born. His sisters, Wendy, 56, and Sue, 55, soon followed.
At her leaving party on Wednesday, February 11, bingo-lover Mrs Smith was presented with a bouquet of flowers, a Marks & Spencer gift voucher and a bottle of Baileys, while also enjoying home-made sandwiches and cakes.
Head teacher Mrs Moss said: “She is a hard act to follow.”
n GOODBYE: Lil Smith with teacher and pupils from St Bernadette’s Photo by Katie Lamb www.buyaphototms.co.uk WL150818