Kettering dinner lady, 80, retires after 42 years' service to infant school she attended as a child

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She’s helped more children than she’s had hot dinners

The year 1981. England won the Ashes, Wimbledon champ John McEnroe shouted ‘You cannot be serious!’, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer – and Lynda Capps started working at the then Park Infant School in Kettering.

Over the intervening 42 years, Mrs Capps has seen teachers, pupils and parents come and go, firstly working as a cleaner then as a dinner lady.

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But she only retired on the understanding her association with the school, begun as a four-year-old pupil, will continue in a voluntary role.

Lynda Capps to retire after 42 years as a dinner ladyLynda Capps to retire after 42 years as a dinner lady
Lynda Capps to retire after 42 years as a dinner lady

Now 80, Mrs Capps has been struggling with eye issues and has needed time off work – but she won’t let retirement slow her down.

She said: “I will miss the children. I have always said that even if I’ve done something useful for one child that’s good. It’s all about helping.

"The best bit about the job is the children – helping them, playing games.”

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Mrs Capps has supervised three generations of Park Academy pupils and her two daughters were pupils. She thinks the children have become more outgoing over the years and are encouraged to express their opinions more.

Headteacher Sarah Powell with Lynda Capps retiring from Park Infant School in KetteringHeadteacher Sarah Powell with Lynda Capps retiring from Park Infant School in Kettering
Headteacher Sarah Powell with Lynda Capps retiring from Park Infant School in Kettering

She said: “The school has changed. We have had two extensions and got much bigger. The toilets used to be across the playground.

"The job has become involved with health and safety and safeguarding. When I first started a lot of children went home for lunch. We started with five dinner ladies – now there are ten. The biggest change was when all the children had hot dinners. I think that the food has got healthier too.”

Pupils presented flowers, cards, a bouquet and a book containing hand-drawn self portraits by the more than 250 pupils

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Current headteacher Sarah Powell, also attended Park Infants as a child bid a fond farewell to her old dinner lady – Mrs Capps.

Ms Powell said: “Lynda has been an extremely valued member of our school community and a great support to many.

"We will all miss her greatly and hope to see her in a volunteering role in the future. We wish her an amazing retirement.”

Mrs Capps added: “I’ll be back.”