Chapel-en-le-Frith dinner lady serves her last meal after 32 years

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Food may have changed over the years but the children are still the same, said one retiring dinner lady.

Una Bartley, 62, joined Chapel High in April 1983 when her daughter Amanda was four.

Now with grandchildren almost at high school age, she feels it is the right time to step down.

She said: “I have loved working here.

“Everyone starts this job when they have small children so they can have the school holidays but I never got the memo about leaving when they were old enough.”

Una has worked on both the old school site on Long Lane and the current site, also on Long Lane.

“When I started it was very different,” she said.

“We had two kitchens, one upstairs and one downstairs and food prepped on site - I could spend hours peeling potatoes and sprouts but now it is more fast food based.”

The catering used to be run by Derbyshire County Council but it is now externally contracted to Eden Foodservice.

“I miss the connection of being based locally but times changes and you just have to keep moving with them.”

And Una has been with the school for so long that people she fed as pupils are now working with her.

The assistant cook said: “Things have changed and faces have changed.

“ I have worked under four different headteachers and seen hundreds of staff changes but it will be the children and the camaraderie of the lunch time team I will miss the most.

“The children’s attitudes to life hasn’t changed in the time I have been here and they keep you young at heart.”

The canteen now serves pupils a breakfast before school, break time food and lunch, so Una’s day starts from 7.30am and finishes at 2.30pm.

“They are long days and you are always on the go but they have been worth it.”

Una said goodbye to staff and pupils on Friday, January 8, and plans for a quiet retirement with husband John

“I’m looking forward to doing more walking and being able to go on holiday whenever I want rather than waiting for the school holidays,” she said.

Una’s colleagues will miss her

Wendy Trelfa, unit manager of the canteen, has worked with Wendy for a year.

She said: “She knows this job inside out and with her eyes shut and when I first started it was Una who showed me the ropes.

“Whenever I had a question she was my go-to woman.”

“I will really miss working with and the children will miss her too.

“She has been part of so many children’s lives over the years and the kitchen won’t be the same now she has gone.”

Lynn Critchlow has worked with Una for 19 years.

She said: “ She is very good at her job and has such a good sense of humour we will all miss.”

Headteacher Simon Grieves said: “What Una does is a very full on job and she has served 900 children everyday for 32 years with a smile on her face which is quite an achievement .

“All the catering staff play such an important role in school life and Una will be missed.”