Old Buckenham dinner lady and former pupil Pauline, 82, retires after decades at school

Pauline Cattermole, with her dog Koockie, who has retired after 30 years as a dinner lady at Old Buc

Pauline Cattermole, with her dog Koockie, who has retired after 30 years as a dinner lady at Old Buckenham High School, the school she went to as a pupil. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

When years of homework, lessons and exams finally come to an end, weary students are often eager to dash out of the school doors.

Pauline Cattermole aged 14. Picture: SUBMITTED

Pauline Cattermole aged 14. Picture: SUBMITTED

And when five-year-old Pauline Cattermole joined Old Buckenham High School in 1939, she imagined that, one day, she would join the legions of pupils delighted to wave farewell.

Little did she know that she would one day be back in the playground, keeping a watchful eye over youngsters through her 30-year career as a lunchtime supervisor.

The 82-year-old, who lives at Oaklands in the village, celebrated her retirement earlier this month, marking the end of a decades-long connection with the school with saw her affectionately nicknamed Nanny P.

The grandmother-of-seven said: 'It was really wonderful - all the staff were lined up when I walked in and there was a great big bouquet of flowers. I thought I would just slip out of the door without much said.

Pauline Cattermole's ticket from when she went to Wembley at the age of 14 for the 1948 Olympics. Pi

Pauline Cattermole's ticket from when she went to Wembley at the age of 14 for the 1948 Olympics. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

'It's been such a big part of my life and I'll have such fond memories.'

When she started at the newly-opened Old Buckenham Area School school, Mrs Cattermole, who lived at Fen Farm with her farming family, quickly showcased a flair for athletics.

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Her speed saw her run the 150 yards for both Norfolk and England, a triumph which was rewarded by the school in the form of tickets to the Olympics in 1948.

Meanwhile, her good behaviour and grades saw the now great-grandmother earn the head girl badge in the same year.

Pauline Cattermole, with her dog Koockie, who has retired after 30 years as a dinner lady at Old Buc

Pauline Cattermole, with her dog Koockie, who has retired after 30 years as a dinner lady at Old Buckenham High School, the school she went to as a pupil. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

After leaving school aged 14, she worked on the family farm and at a factory, while she and new husband Douglas started a family at their Winfarthing home.

But after his death in 1982, Mrs Cattermole returned to her home village - and got back in touch with the high school.

'I was fed up and lonely and I was still young enough to want something to do,' she said. 'There were two ladies who told me about it and I managed to get in - and just stayed there.

'It was quite unusual starting work with children as I hadn't done it before, but it was wonderful.'

She quickly became a familiar face on the junior block playground and a hit with its pupils, who nicknamed her Nanny P.

Reflecting on her years at the school, Mrs Cattermole said things were 'very different' in her time.

'Everything was much stricter - the boys saluted the headteacher and the girls curtseyed, ' she said. 'There wouldn't have been a piece of mess anywhere.

'You can definitely tell the difference now, but it's still a great school - the teachers are absolutely magnificent. There's not one I could say a bad word about.'

Mrs Cattermole said she was 'very disappointed' to have to retire, but ill-health meant she needed to take it easy at home.

• Do you have fond memories of Mrs Cattermole? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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