A Derby woman who has devoted over 30 years of her life to a local special school has been recognised for her achievement.
Staff and pupils at St Giles – both past and present - surprised Katy Elliott with a tea party, a moving performance from the school choir and dance club, and several cards and gifts made by the children.
There was also a picnic held on the school field with St Giles pupils.
“It was a complete surprise to me,” said Katy, whose family were also at the tea party.
“Each class made me a lovely card. I was completely over-awed.”
Katy was the first parent governor at St Giles School, on Hampshire Road, back in 1988. She was asked to become a governor by then-head teacher Pat Walsh, who was also at the surprise party with current head Clive Lawrence and previous head teacher, Pamela Thomas.
“My daughter, Magdalen, is a former St Giles pupil,” said Katy, “she was just five years old when she joined the school.
“I was asked to become a parent governor by Pat and, eventually, I went on to become chair of governors. I had no idea back then what work it would entail!
“It has been a fantastic 30 years working with St Giles. The staff at the school are wonderful; their door is always open and they often go above and beyond expectation.
“They helped to give Magdalen a great start in life. She’s now a happy young woman who has a very busy social life. She still lives at home with me but enjoys weekly aerobic classes and volunteers her time at Sound Bites café in Derby.
“Magdalen has kept a close connection with St Giles and my family have been tremendously supportive of my work with the school over the years.”
During her 30 years working – voluntarily – with St Giles, Katy has liaised with three head teachers, hundreds of children and countless members of staff.
The role of a school governor has changed significantly over the years and Katy says she is proud of having had a positive impact on the lives of so many youngsters in the city.
“When I first started at St Giles, you didn’t have quite as much responsibility as a parent governor to what the governors have today,” she said.
“The role has changed somewhat over the years.
“I’m now the chair of governors. This means that I have to mentor and deal with some of the more difficult situations which may arise.
“The children are always at the heart of every decision. And I’m most proud of having helped those children who have achieved great things at St Giles; opportunities which they may not have had before.
“The staff at St Giles are fantastic. Their door is always open and they often go above and beyond.
“The surprise party was just wonderful.”
Clive Lawrence, the current head teacher at St Giles, said: “Schools often find it difficult to recruit and retain governors, so it’s an amazing commitment which Katy has made to the school community.
“It has been a privilege working alongside Katy during my time as a Head teacher at St Giles. Katy provides a wealth of experience, support, guidance and challenge and I certainly look forward to many more successful years with Katy as our Chair of Governors.”