Parents, staff, pupils and governors of Bonners Primary School at Maresfield were determined their caretaker would be singled out as East Sussex Caretaker of the Year for 2013 and their efforts have paid off.
Franco Barbarossa, who has worked at the school since 2005 and been a caretaker at other schools for many years before that, returned from a caretakers’ conference yesterday with a beaming smile and huge cup carrying his name.
The whole school community and villagers threw their all into his nomination. They had to hire a courier to transport all the letters of support and a life-size superman with Franco’s face superimposed on it.
It proved to be worthwhile, and a very emotional moment, when the head of school, Nicki Kaufman returned from a presentation ceremony to tell her colleagues: “That was the most lovely thing I have been involved in for years. Franco couldn’t speak and then he couldn’t eat. He is such a lovely man.”
Four children from the school hid out of sight with Nicki and classroom assistant Dawn Whitney at Plumpton Racecourse, the venue of the conference, until Franco was announced as winner. “I think he was more pleased to see the children than win the award,” said Nicki.
Right royal welcome
Back at the school everybody was getting ready to give their superman a right royal welcome. There were banners and balloons at the gates and the children were waiting in the playground to give Franco three cheers.
Everything seemed to conspire against the welcome proceeding smoothly with first rain, then hail, then a dustbin lorry and finally a TNT lorry delivery all arriving at the school.
But office manager Toni Birkbeck’s best laid plans worked well. Head of school Nicki arrived back 15 minutes before Franco and ten minutes later the whole school gathered in the playground.
Watch Franco’s arrival in an UckfieldNews.com video below.