A dinner lady who has clocked up 43 years at the same school has been rewarded for services to education.

Gaynor Clegg, who turns 76 in March, still works five days a week at Ravensthorpe Junior School.

She has been awarded the British Empire Medal for her decades of loyalty to the school.

Officially a ‘lunchtime supervisor’ she prefers the title ‘dinner lady’ and the mum-of-three is now looking after the children of youngsters she cared for when she started at the school on October 2, 1972.

“I couldn’t believe it when I got the letter,” said Mrs Clegg, who has eight grandchildren and three great-granddaughters.

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“I had to keep it quiet and couldn’t tell a soul.”

She didn’t even confide in retired electrician Jeffrey, 84, her husband of 58 years.

“I finally had to tell him on Sunday,” said Mrs Clegg. “I am due to go into hospital for a knee replacement and I thought if I’m not here and the news gets out I’ll be in bother.

“He didn’t know what to say but then he is a bit quiet. I’m the loud one. That’s what happens when you have to raise your voice to be heard above all the kids.”

Lunchtime supervisor Gaynor Clegg.

Mrs Clegg then confided in her family including sons Darren and Dean and daughter Dawn. All three are former pupils at Ravensthorpe school and Darren and Dean are now headteachers and Dawn is a staff nurse at the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield.

Even though she’s about to start her 44th year, Mrs Clegg has no thoughts of retirement.

“I do it because I love it,” she said. “I love the bairns and I love Ravy. We get a bad press but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Mrs Clegg ran the breakfast club at school for nine years, did the cleaning for a time and is also chief fundraiser.

She still runs the school tuck shop which sells just about everything, many items picked up at car boot sales.

Down the years she has raised £23,000 for school funds.

Mrs Clegg rarely has time off but missed school when she had her first knee replacement in 2011. Now she’s having the other done she’s not planning on staying away.

“They say if I have it done on the Friday I can be out on the Sunday and you have to exercise it,” she said. “They know I will puddle down to the school. I can’t stay away.”

Dinner lady Gaynor Clegg with pupils at Ravesnthorpe Junior School in 2011.