Farewell after 25 years of service

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A kitchen assistant at a Ripley school says she expects to shed a few tears when she retires after more than 25 years of service.

Kath Cooper said she will be sad to leave Ripley Academy at the end of this term but is planning on keeping busy during her retirement.

The 67-year-old, who is married to Ian and has a son called Michael, moved to Derbyshire from the West Midlands in the mid-1980s and took a job washing up in the academy’s kitchen.

Now she has a range of tasks as kitchen assistant, from preparing the deli cobs to serving on the till.

She said: “I came to school when we moved in the 1980s and I’ve been here ever since. I started off doing the washing up, then 10 years ago I became more involved in the meals.

“Twenty-five years has gone so fast, I can’t believe it. I’ve loved working at the academy and being in the kitchen. I enjoy being there and I want to carry on but retirement is one of those things that I’ve been putting off and I’ve got to finish sometime.

“I will be very sad when I go and I expect to shed a few tears, I’ve made some very good friends and I said to one of the ladies the other day that it’s like I’ve been married to them for 25 years.

“Since I started coming in early I’ve got to talk to all sorts of people, visitors, staff and the students who are lovely.”

Kath said a lot had changed in the academy’s kitchen since she first started working there.

She said: “It’s very different now. It used to be a lot harder work back then. We always had big pans on the go and I remember we used to have to rumble the potatoes to get their skin off. I always remember that they used to make gallons and gallons of custard too and when I first came we used to be washing 300 plates day.

“These days the children tend to go more for the sandwich option although Friday is always a popular day because that’s when we serve chips. The puddings always go fast too.”

Kath intends to keep busy in her retirement by doing some charity work and she has just become a grandmother for the first time.

Carey Ayres, principal at Ripley Academy, said Kath would be missed by everyone.

She said: “We will be very sorry to see Kath go, she has been part of the furniture here for so long and we wish her the very best in her retirement.”