Standing ovation for Freda after four decades at same Burnley primary school

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Colleagues, pupils, parents and friends gave a standing ovation to a long serving member of staff who has retired after an incredible 42 years at a Burnley primary school


Administration assistant Mrs Freda White's request that she retire "without a fuss" was completely ignored at St Mary Magdalene's RC Primary because everyone wanted to give her a send-off to remember.

Mrs White, surrounded by pupils at St Mary Magdalene's RC Primary School in Burnley, where she is retiring from after 42 years.

Mrs White, surrounded by pupils at St Mary Magdalene's RC Primary School in Burnley, where she is retiring from after 42 years.

She was showered with gifts, flowers and cards at a special assembly held in her honour where everyone rose to their feet clapping and cheering.

Headteacher Mrs Bridget Parkinson described Mrs White as "marvellous" and someone who would be sorely missed at the school in Wellfield Drive.

She said: "Because Mrs White has been at the school for so long she knows all the families here.

"She knows all the parents, grandparents and children so well, I don't know how we are going to manage without her."

An office worker at the former Refuge Assurance Company in Burnley, Mrs White joined the staff at St Mary Magdalene's as a dinner lady in 1976 and then she worked in the kitchen.

After that she became a cleaner and was appointed as caretaker in 1984 and also helped out in the office two mornings a week.

Mrs White, who has two daughters, Vicky and Nicola, even enlisted the help of her husband Peter when the school was short of cleaners.

She said: "Peter had retired from the postal service so he said he would help out for a few weeks until I found someone else and he ended up staying for 15 years."

It was after Peter's death in 2011 that Mrs White decided she could no longer work as caretaker without her "right hand man" so she continued to work in the office full time.

Mrs White was the first person visitors to the school would see and her meticulous work ethic and strict regime meant that everything ran smoothly in the office, from chasing up late payments for dinner money to sending out letters about important events at the school.

She said: "I have always loved office work, it is what I was trained to do.

"People don't realise how much work there is to do in a school office but I have always loved it."

In her 42 years at the school Mrs White has seen several generations of pupils come through the doors.

She said: "I have watched them start in reception all the way through to the final year and many of them have returned for work experience through the years.

"At the moment we have five teachers and two teaching assistants who are former pupils.

"I have enjoyed every single moment of my time at St Mary Magdalene's, it has been a joy coming to work and I can remember the first time i walked through the doors as though it was yesterday."

At the age of 70, Mrs White decided it was time to step down and she is already making plans for her retirement, including spending more time with her grandchildren, Joshua (12) and six-year-old Charlotte.

She is also looking to improve her piano playing skills and will be knitting poppies which will be used to decorate the town later in the year to commemorate the end of the First World War.

Mrs White added: "I will be keeping closely in touch with the school and I have said I will return to help the children with their reading and also to walk them to church."