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School chef hangs up her apron after 32 years and nearly four million meals

PUBLISHED: 06:00 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:47 25 January 2019

Andrea Welsh has recently left Langley School after working in the school's kitchen for 32 years. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Andrea Welsh has recently left Langley School after working in the school's kitchen for 32 years. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A boarding school chef who baked birthday cakes for international students and fought the Beast from the East to get to her kitchen is hanging up her apron.

Andrea Welsh is thought to have served some 3.9 million meals in her 32 years at Langley School in Loddon.

She left a job with the Royal Air Force at West Raynham to begin working in the school’s kitchens in 1986, commuting almost 80 miles a day from Cromer.

In that time the school estimates she has produced 10,800 gallons of custard and 2.1 million portions of cake, as well as cooking 1.6 million eggs and 2.1 million slices of toast for students’ breakfasts.

Mrs Welsh, 59, said a love of working with children – and baking – had kept her at Langley.

Andrea Welsh has recently left Langley School after working in the school's kitchen for 32 years. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAndrea Welsh has recently left Langley School after working in the school's kitchen for 32 years. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

“It was only going to be a two- or three-year job but I loved it so much, she said.

“I don’t have any children myself but I have enjoyed working with the children.”

Joe Campen, executive head chef at Langley School, said Mrs Welsh “will never be replaced”.

“She has been an absolute rock in the kitchen and keeps the traditions going,” he said.

Andrea Welsh has recently left Langley School after working in the school's kitchen for 32 years. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAndrea Welsh has recently left Langley School after working in the school's kitchen for 32 years. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

“She makes birthday cakes for all the children with English as an additional language (EAL) as they are a long way from home.”

Dominic Findlay, Langley School headmaster, said: “Because we are a boarding school it is a seven-day-a-week job sometimes. But Andrea is a lady with a smile on her face and a can-do attitude.

“Her biggest positive for me was when we had snow last year. The school was closed in March for a number of days but she made it in from north Norfolk because we needed someone in the kitchens as we had boarders here. If she couldn’t get home, she would stay the night.

“That for me is a sign of someone who loves their work and the community they are working with, and who wants to do her best for the pupils and staff in the school.”

Andrea Welsh has recently left Langley School after working in the school's kitchen for 32 years. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAndrea Welsh has recently left Langley School after working in the school's kitchen for 32 years. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Mrs Welsh was invited to attend the school’s final assembly of the autumn term in December, where she was presented with flowers, a weekend city break and a voucher for an afternoon tea for her and husband Gary.

In her retirement Mrs Welsh said she plans to spend more quality time with her husband and dedicate herself to voluntary work for local causes, including helping out at the community cafés at the Methodist churches in Cromer and Sheringham.

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