Dinner lady Ellie Grimsey had the tables turned on her when she was served lunch at a Norfolk school.

The special lunch was to celebrate 50 years of feeding children at All Saints’ Academy in Stoke Ferry – a school run by the Diocese of Ely Multi-Academy Trust.

Ellie – who is not retiring – joined the school in 1968 as a midday supervisor, before becoming a dining room assistant in 1970 at a time when meals were brought in to school each day.

When the school moved to new premises in 1987 Ellie became catering assistant, followed by a stint as cook – a role she carried out for the next 14 years.

Since then she has been assistant cook at what is now All Saints’ Academy. It is estimated that during her career so far she has served nearly half a million school dinners to children. She is now serving the children and grandchildren of past pupils, working alongside her daughter Jane who is now the school cook.

To celebrate this achievement, Ellie joined children for a special lunch of roast pork and apple sauce, Yorkshire pudding, vegetables and fruit cheesecake. She was also presented with flowers by Amanda Massen, account manager at Norse Catering where Ellie is employed.

Amanda said: “We are enormously grateful to Ellie for the huge commitment and dedication she has shown to keeping children healthy by serving nutritious and balanced meals for half a century. She is a hugely popular figure in the school and plays an integral part in school life.”

Katherine Howe, Executive Headteacher of All Saints’ Academy added: “The school is really proud and privileged to continue working with Ellie and her daughter and thank them for daily providing us with lovely lunches. In the year that we are celebrating the bicentenary of having a school in the village the children have sampled some of the meals that Ellie cooked when she first started – a taste of real life history. We have a close school community and both Ellie and Jane have a special and central role within it.” 

Andrew Read, Chief Executive of DEMAT added: “Schools simply cannot succeed as communities without dedicated and much valued colleagues such as Ellie. Staff with many different roles and from many different organisations make up the wonderful tapestry of our schools. A big thank you from everyone at DEMAT.”