Solihull dinner lady hangs up her apron after 44 years service

Veteran dinner lady Thelma Harradence has finally hung up her apron – aged 81.

The grandmother-of-two has been supervising the lunchtime break at Our Lady of the Wayside Catholic Primary School in Solihull for 44 years.

But now Thelma has finally decided to retire.

“I’m going to have to recover from the shock,” said widow Thelma, who was born in Handsworth and now lives in Shirley. “I think it will take a bit of getting used to.”

She said she planned to spend her retirement indulging her passion for gardening.

“It will be nice to have a bit of extra time to potter in the garden, but I will really miss everyone at the school,” said the mum-of-two.

“I love the school because it is one big happy family. The children are great and the staff are so kind.”

Thelma took the job when her son Michael started at the school more than four decades ago.

“It was perfect as it fitted around the children being at school,” said Thelma. “It never occurred to me to ever leave.

“I have enjoyed my time there very much and it has kept me active and young at heart.

“But I am 81 now so I think it is probably the right time for me to leave.”

Thelma was invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party with the Queen in recognition of her service four years ago.

A spokesman for the school said Thelma would be greatly missed.

“Thelma’s a fantastic lady and a real stalwart, she will be a hard act to follow,” he said.

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