A DINNER lady and cleaner has retired after almost half a century working at the same Oxford primary school.

Beryl Chiddlington, 79, joined New Marston Primary School in 1964 long before most of the current pupils’ parents were born.

After serving school dinners and cleaning up after generations of youngsters for nearly half a century, Mrs Chiddlington, from Derwent Avenue, stepped down on Friday.

The great-grandmother, whose husband Ron, 82, retired as the school’s caretaker two years ago, said much of the school was unrecognisable from when she started there.

But one thing had not changed: the children still loved the bag of sweets she brought in every Friday afternoon.

She said: “The pupils are different and come from so many different places now. I’ve never cared where they came from or what religion they are – I have always got a little something for them. I have made a lot of friends over the years and seen quite a few characters.

“I’ve been there 47 years, and enjoyed it. A lot of the children I used to know at school live nearby, and whenever I walk down to the school people say hello.

“Once they say their name, I remember who they are and recognise their faces from when they were children.”

Mrs Chiddlington, who has four children and 23 grandchildren, also used to clean at Queen’s College, but had to retire from that role aged 65.

That led her to take up extra work in at the Copse Lane primary, helping as a lunchtime supervisor.

She said: “I’ve always had something to do all the time, so it is going to be a bit odd now.”

Headteacher Zara d’Archambaud said: “Ron and Beryl were just a brilliant team together.

“They both worked really hard, the children loved them and they were a real part of the school.

“They would take time to speak to the children”

Pupil Vania Gray, 10, said: “Beryl is very kind and has devoted her life to our school.”

Also leaving was Dereck Surrage, who served the lunches and helped in reading classes, and teacher Russell Wood, nominated for the Oxford Mail’s Teacher of the Year competition.