SHE is so ingrained in school life that she’s practically part of the furniture.
So when Gaynor Clegg had to go into hospital for a major operation there was no way she was going to be kept away from her beloved school for long.
For in the past 38 years the great-grandma has rarely missed a day’s work at Ravensthorpe Junior School.
And at the age of 71 there’s no sign of the dedicated playground supervisor putting up her feet just yet – despite a dodgy knee!
Gaynor, who lives on Field Lane at Ravensthorpe, was welcomed back by children and staff this week after being off work since January.
She had been struggling to walk and had to undergo a three-hour operation to have her right knee replaced.
But despite being told to rest Gaynor, who has eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter, couldn’t help herself popping into the school even before her official return date.
“I rarely have a day off,’’ she said. “Whenever I’ve had hospital appointments I’ve taken them in the school holidays.
“It wasn’t easy being off for so long. I was told to rest at home but I was bored to tears.
“So I kept popping in to do little jobs like the time sheets. I love my job and it’s absolutely fantastic to be back.”
Gaynor joined the school on October 2, 1972, after spotting an advert for the job. It was a modern school teaching older children but became a primary school two years later.
Gaynor is now senior lunchtime supervisor and still works five days a week, keeping a watchful eye on the school’s 421 children in the dining room, corridors and playground.
She also makes the tea and coffee on school parents’ evening and for nine years was responsible for the breakfast club.
Gaynor now runs the school tuck shop and has raised a massive £17,000 for school funds over the years.
Her husband Jeffrey, a retired electrician, also helps out at the school with DIY jobs.
Gaynor has looked after generations of families at the school, including her own three children, who followed in her footsteps by taking up roles in education.
Her sons, Darren and Dean, are both headteachers while daughter Dawn is a senior staff member at Holly Bank School in Mirfield.
She said: “It’s a lovely school, the staff are wonderful and like family,’’ said Gaynor.
“I love my bairns. Some of the things they say are so comical, like when I lost a lot of weight and one of the lads asked me if I’d had a boy or a girl!
“I’ve looked after the children’s mums and dads and, in some cases, their grandmas and grandads.
“My work keeps me fit. There’s no way I’ll be giving it up. When I pop my clogs I want my ashes to be scattered on the school field!”
Headteacher Neil Lockwood said: “She’s been champing at the bit to come back and it’s great to have her back and see that she’s well.
“All of her children have been through the school and now they are in successful jobs. I think she sees it as payback for the work that the school has done.
“Her dedication shows what she thinks of the pupils and how important the school is to her life.
“She has been of brilliant service to this school. The children look up to her and she is well-loved in the community.
“I don’t think she’ll be giving up work for a few years yet!”