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Memorial friendship bench unveiled at Thatcham Park School

Pupils remember 'kind, caring and cheerful' staff member

Memorial friendship bench unveiled a Thatcham Park School

CHILDREN at Thatcham Park School unveiled a lasting memory of friendship for a former member of staff last week. 

The school’s finance officer, Nicola Dunbar, died in November last year, following a seven-year battle with a brain tumour. 

Mrs Dunbar had worked at the school for three years and one of her favourite moments was play-time, when she would open her office window to hear and see the children playing.  

Headteacher Alison Webster said that Mrs Dunbar was a great  supporter of friendship benches, which children feeling lonely or who are struggling to join in can use to make others aware. 

Children wearing hats to mark Wear a Hat Day collected money in aid of Brain Tumour Research and gathered in the KS1 playground to unveil the bench last Friday . 

The multicoloured bench includes the words ‘friendship brings beautiful memories’ in a tribute to Mrs Dunbar. 

Addressing the children, Mrs Webster said: “We are remembering a very, very special person who used to be a part of our school family. 

“Her favourite time of the day was play-time and I couldn’t stop her from opening the window as she wanted to see you and hear you playing.

“No matter what age you are, as you grow older you will always remember those special friendships; the ones you had at school.

“I know you will look after this bench really, really well.” 

A ribbon was cut by Mrs Dunbar’s friend, Lynne Doherty, watched by Mrs Dunbar’s parents and her husband Graham, accompanied by three cheers from staff and pupils. 

Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, Mr Dunbar said: “We miss her deeply.

“She loved coming to work and she liked to be busy, she enjoyed working at the school.”

He said his wife was “loving, careful, caring, kind and always cheerful. She was incredibly brave through the seven years of her illness and she never complained”.

Mrs Doherty (Con, Northcroft), who is West Berkshire Council’s
executive member for children and young people, said: “She will be missed and I think what Thatcham Park has done to remember her is beautiful.” 

Mrs Webster added: “She took great pride in her work, implemented a range of efficient systems, had a great sense of humour and ‘guarded’ the money pot with her life. 

“While not in direct contact with the children, she developed super relationships with both staff and PTA officers alike and is very much a ‘missing link’ for us all.”

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