‘Her custard was never lumpy’ - School cook retires after 33 years

Cook manager Linda Baker, pictured in her final week at Astley Primary School.

Cook manager Linda Baker marks her final day at Astley Primary School on Friday. - Credit: Submitted

A school cook retires on Friday after more than three decades of preparing meals for generations of children.

Linda Baker, 62, has worked as cook manager at Astley Primary School, in Briston, north Norfolk, since 1987. In recent years she has served many of the children of pupils she prepared meals for when she started the job.

“It’s an emotional week,” said Mrs Baker, who will be unable to enjoy a leaving party due to Covid restrictions.

Linda Baker pictured in her early years at the school.

Linda Baker pictured in her early years at the school. - Credit: Submitted

She clearly remembers her first day at the school.

“It was a very nervous day, but the staff were lovely. I’ve seen lots of changes and different headteachers, but the changes have been nice, because they’ve kept the job different.” she said.

Mrs Baker said she was looking forward to retirement, in which she will be able to spend more time with her family, and do some travelling.

“Hopefully after all this Covid, and I’ll be able to travel a bit more, and have unrestricted holiday time.” she said.

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Mrs Baker began her career in the catering industry serving staff and patients at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, before accepting the job of cook manager at the school.

Linda Baker pictured when she worked at the old Norfolk and Norwich hospital.

Linda Baker pictured when she worked at the old Norfolk and Norwich hospital. - Credit: Submitted

Mrs Baker has witnessed several changes over the years, as new food regulations came in, and she said school meals have become “more and more healthy.”

“We now do everything fresh at this school,” said Mrs Baker, proudly.

“As a former Astley pupil, I can honestly say her custard was never lumpy” said Mrs Baker’s daughter, Lisa Moody.

Mrs Moody added: “I am very proud of my mum working during the Covid lockdown to provide free school meals. Mum has always been there supporting me and my sisters with our families while still working to feed schoolchildren . She certainly is one in a million and always has a smile. 

Headteacher Jen Goakes said: “All the pupils and staff wish Mrs Baker a wonderful, well-earned retirement.  Not only has she seen her own children go through the school – her grandchildren too. An end of an era here at Astley.”
Karen Hunt, school office manager and friend of Mrs Baker, said: “I have worked with Linda for many years. She has always been adaptable in a constantly changing environment and we will all miss her. I wish her a very happy retirement.”

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