FRANCIS Baily School bade farewell to a school champion who has helped thousands of children over more than 30 years.
Denise Newport started her involvement with the school as a volunteer ‘mum helper’ in 1984 and joined as a staff member in 1987.
She’s served under four headteachers during her 33-year period and looked after countless children from foundation to Year 6.
“In recent years, when arriving at work, I see ex-pupils as parents bringing their children to school,” said Mrs Newport.
“I say hello to the parents, remembering them from when they were five, six or seven and now seeing their offspring going through.”
Mrs Newport said that she had so many memories over the years that to only list one or two would be unprofessional.
“Like anything in life, there’s been lots of laughter and lots of tears,” she said.
“I’ve been given opportunities to experience new challenges with the help of all my colleagues and most of all the pupils who have got me through things.”
Mrs Newport was given a send-off during a school assembly on April 28, where she received a tablet computer, a rose bush, a box of chocolates and a scented candle.
Addressing the assembly, Mrs Newport told the children to chase a dream and achieve something challenging in their lives.
She also presented the school with a teddy bear mascot complete with a knitted school jumper made by fellow teaching assistant Kathrine Claffey.
Headteacher at Francis Baily, Chris Davis, said: “Denise has been a true champion for Francis Baily and probably deserves to be called ‘Mrs Francis Baily’.
“She has been involved, in the widest sense, in the development of thousands of children through her teaching assistant role and many other roles she has held during her time with us.
“She remembers everyone and is always delighted to see ex-pupils, many of whom now have their own children at the school.
“Thankfully, Denise will retain some association with the school through her leadership of the 5th Thatcham Brownies, who are based here, and through her volunteering and attendance on school trips.
“Denise thoroughly deserves to take some time to herself and her family after so many years of dedicated and excellent service to so many Francis Baily families.”