Our caretaker is a superman

He is the man who “makes or breaks” the school. Without him, things begin to fall apart.But Dave Heaton is not the headteacher of Terrington St Clement Community School - he is the caretaker.

He is the man who “makes or breaks” the school. Without him, things begin to fall apart.

But Dave Heaton is not the headteacher of Terrington St Clement Community School - he is the caretaker.

Last night, Mr Heaton stepped out of the background to grab the glory as he was named Norfolk's caretaker of the year at a ceremony at Norwich Castle.

He swept aside the opposition thanks to some unequivocal support from teachers, parents and pupils at the 370-pupil school.

Headteacher Liz Hackett said: “In any school everybody plays their part, but if you were to say to me 'which is the person you least want to be off?' it's our caretaker.

“The school is almost as big as some of the small secondaries, which have more than one caretaker. He does it all on his own.”

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She added: “He has a fantastic sense of humour. Whenever we have dressing-up days he takes part. The children idolise him. They think he's lovely. One of the children made a poster for a display, showing him as Superman.

“You can replace me because there's a lot of people who can do bits of my job. If a teacher is off, we call in a supply teacher. But there's no one who can do Dave's job.

“He is an unsung hero. Historically, the caretaker was looked down on as one of the menial staff in the school. But the quality of the caretaker makes or breaks the school.”

Mr Heaton was the overall winner and top caretaker in a primary school. The best in a first school was Terry Sutton of Sutton First School, near Stalham.

Attleborough High caretaker Kenny Royden won the high school award, while the special award went to Tony Johnston of Alderman Jackson special school in King's Lynn.

The contest was organised by Norfolk County Services (NCS), a trading arm of Norfolk County Council. Anglia TV personality Helen McDermott presented the awards.

Peter Hawes, managing director of NCS, said: “It's great to see the level of support at so many schools for their school caretaker, many of whom, I know, work extremely hard for the good of the schools they serve. They are an essential part of a successful school, and often work way above and beyond the call of duty.”