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Principal Elizabeth Laffeaty-Sharpe cooks for pupils as Downham Preparatory School stays open

PUBLISHED: 14:48 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:54 01 March 2018

Since the snow hit, teachers and staff have been the caterers at Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery at Stow Bardolph. Pictured is principal Elizabeth Laffeaty-Sharpe serving Charlie Steel (5) his pudding. Picture: Ian Burt

Since the snow hit, teachers and staff have been the caterers at Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery at Stow Bardolph. Pictured is principal Elizabeth Laffeaty-Sharpe serving Charlie Steel (5) his pudding. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

While hundreds of schools were closed across the region because of the weather, one was determined to go the extra mile for pupils.

Since the snow hit, teachers and staff have been the caterers at Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery at Stow Bardolph. Pictured is principal Elizabeth Laffeaty-Sharpe. Picture: Ian BurtSince the snow hit, teachers and staff have been the caterers at Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery at Stow Bardolph. Pictured is principal Elizabeth Laffeaty-Sharpe. Picture: Ian Burt

Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery at Stow Bardolph, near Downham Market, has remained open despite the snow.

And when its caterers said they couldn’t deliver hot meals for pupils, its principal Elizabeth Laffeaty-Sharpe rolled her sleeves up and got cooking.

Mrs Laffeaty-Sharpe, 68, who founded the school in a former rectory in 1984, said: “There’s a downside to it - they want me to cook for them every day. They’ve all come in this morning and asked what’s for lunch.

“Yesterday we had a bolognese, a meat one and a vegetarian one with garlic bread. Today we’re having lasagne or pizza with salad and coleslaw.”

Since the snow hit, teachers and staff have been the caterers at Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery at Stow Bardolph. Picture: Ian BurtSince the snow hit, teachers and staff have been the caterers at Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery at Stow Bardolph. Picture: Ian Burt

Friday’s menu is due to feature sausages and mash. Mrs Laffeaty-Sharpe said the school and nursery, which is just off the A10, had remained open because many of their 160 pupils’ parents did vital jobs.

“We’ve got lots of parents who are paramedics, doctors or ambulance drivers,” she said. “If we close, they’ve all got to be at home looking after their children.

“We’ve got parents who do vital jobs who can’t do those vital jobs if we close.”

Downham artist Liz Murray, whose three-year-old daughter Florence has attended the school’s nursery for two years, said: “She’s been going since she was eight years old and she loves it. It’s a classic, traditional school.

Since the snow hit, teachers and staff have been the caterers at Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery at Stow Bardolph. Pictured is principal Elizabeth Laffeaty-Sharpe. Picture: Ian BurtSince the snow hit, teachers and staff have been the caterers at Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery at Stow Bardolph. Pictured is principal Elizabeth Laffeaty-Sharpe. Picture: Ian Burt

“The school has not only remained open with staff getting there at 7am, but whilst their catering services have closed the principal Mrs Laffeaty-Sharpe has cooked spaghetti herself to ensure the children continue to have hot dinners.

“This proves that communities can still function with literal grit and pride to keep things moving, this is true British spirit.”

The school was rated “outstanding” by Ofsted after its last two inspections in 2009 and 2014.

It has been based at the former rectory in the centre of the village, near the Hare Arms, since 1991.

Pupils enjoying their lunch at Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery, Stow Bardolph. Picture: Ian BurtPupils enjoying their lunch at Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery, Stow Bardolph. Picture: Ian Burt

It has won a clutch of awards, including the Norfolk Quality Assurance Scheme for Early Years Provision, Healthy School status and Investors in People.

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