Award-winning Cromer Junior School caterers make school dinners a fancy occasion

Food is fun at Cromer Junior School where the catering staff love nothing better than to dress for dinner.

On St Patrick's Day children are likely to be served their oat biscuits by leprachauns, on St David's Day there could be a Welsh dragon handing out the lamb-based shepherd's pie, and there's a good chance three witches will be presiding over whatever's bubbling in the kitchen cauldron for halloween next month.

Now the trio's efforts to make school dinners more appealing to the 242 pupils has been recognised with a top award.

They have been dubbed primary school catering team of the year in the 2011 Pride of Norse awards, run by Norse, the company in charge of Norfolk's school meals service.

'We get a lot more children in on theme days - they really enjoy it,' said cook-manager Mary Osborne who has worked at the school for 13 years.

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Head teacher Steve Godson said he was delighted at the team's success which was the 'icing on the cake' for Cromer Junior following a good Ofsted report.

'They put a lot into what they do - always going that extra mile,' said Mr Godson.

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Events such as dads' day and grandparents' day saw family members coming in to enjoy lunch with their child or grandchild who would often take them on a conducted tour of the school afterwards.

And last November North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb tucked into pasta bolognese with the children during national school meals week.

Mr Godson added: 'I don't think Mary realises how much of a contribution she and her team make to the life of the school.'

Mrs Osborne said she and catering assistants Petula Grey and Shirley Lightfoot had amassed quite a wardrobe of fancy-dress items and Petula was always on the lookout for additions at car boot sales.

Other outfits have included ballerinas, clowns, and top hats with veils to complement their red, white and blue costumes celebrating April's royal wedding.

The award was open to all 365 county primary schools and the Cromer team was especially pleased to take first prize after finishing as runners-up last year.

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