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Thirty years of hot dinners

PUBLISHED: 17:52 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:24 03 July 2010

Laura Bagshaw

WHEN Judy Harvey stepped in as a cook at Cliff Park First School to cover for illness she never thought for a moment it could be the start of a long, enjoyable career.

WHEN Judy Harvey stepped in as a cook at Cliff Park First School to cover for illness she never thought for a moment it could be the start of a long, enjoyable career.

However, more than 30 years later, Judy has become a well-known and friendly face to the hundreds of pupils.

And on Friday, Mrs Harvey, 61, hung up her apron for the last time to retire.

More than 50 friends, family and former colleagues gathered in the school hall at Cliff Park First to celebrate.

Mrs Harvey said: “My big fear was that nobody would be here.”

When she started work at the school in 1977 she was paid £1.05 per hour with a laundry allowance of 37p. Judy left Cliff Park in 1988 to go to Hillside First School in Bradwell but it wasn't long before she was back in the Cliff Park kitchens.

Mrs Harvey said the best thing about her work was the children.

“It's what school is all about,” she said.

“At lunchtime today I was amazed to see all the children eating their meals because it makes you realise how many meals I have cooked over the years.

“It's a very enjoyable job although it has changed a lot. It seems to have gone full circle really. We do more healthier, freshly-cooked meals now but that's how it used to be. The children like fruit, but they still love their chips, who doesn't,” she laughed.

Mrs Harvey added: “I can't believe it has been 30 years, it makes me feel old but I'm trying my best not to be old.”

Several colleagues paid tribute to her “sterling” workm including Dorothy Allen, cook account manager at Norfolk County Services.

She said: “Judy has been completely dedicated to her job and has done sterling work. We wish her all the best for her retirement.”

Mrs Harvey is married to Rob and the couple have two sons, Chris and Phil. They have six grandchildren.

And she is looking forward to a holiday in Switzerland.

“I went there on a school trip when I was 15 but I didn't enjoy it because I got homesick. So I have always promised myself another holiday there and this time I will enjoy it.”

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