School cook Anita Moore’s job is more of a pleasure.

As well as putting her heart and soul into preparing meals for pupils at West Vale Primary School, Greetland, she gives up her free time to decorating the dining room with different themes to create a party atmosphere at mealtimes.

The children love it and vote with their feet and stomachs: 148 out of the 181 pupils eat a school dinner every day.

Now Anita, who lives in West Vale, has been recognised nationally. She is the extremely proud winner of the Cook of the Year title in the national Unsung Heroes contest organised by kitchen company CKDirect.

The awards celebrate the ‘dedication and hard work of the often-unseen men and women who strive to deliver outstanding catering and hospitality every day.’

To take the title, Anita had to beat finalists from as far afield as Surrey, Essex, Liverpool and Argyll.

She said: “It’s absolutely amazing, I can’t believe it. I was told that the school had nominated me before the holidays and that was enough for me, I was on Cloud Nine.”

School Cook of the Year Anita Moore at West Vale Primary School
School Cook of the Year Anita Moore at West Vale Primary School
 

Anita and her staff pride themselves on their healthy meals. Everything is freshly delivered, prepared and cooked on site. Chips only feature on the menu about once every six weeks.

There’s an international flavour, particularly when the pupils are studying other countries, but their overwhelming favourite is Thursday’s traditional English roast beef dinner with Yorkshire puddings.

Parents are often amazed by the variety of food their “fussy eaters” consume at school. Anita said: “We sit down at tables for a family dinner service, and Year 6s dish up. There’s no choice, it is a set menu, but the children have a big input into the menu and they are very mature about their food.”

Anita and her three children all attended West Vale Primary and grandson Jacob, 10, is currently a pupil.

She added: “I absolutely love my job, it’s fabulous.”

Headteacher Rachel Kemp said: “Anita serves fantastic food and runs a lovely dining room. She decorates it constantly for the children and is someone the school could not do without.

“We are all thrilled and proud she has won Cook of the Year.”