Service draws to an end for school cook

Retirement of St Robert's First School cook Diane Baty.
Retirement of St Robert's First School cook Diane Baty.

A school cook is hanging up her apron after almost 30 years in the kitchen.

Much-loved Diane Baty will retire from St Robert’s RC First School in Morpeth next month after serving generations of youngsters.

The popular cook has worked at the school for 18 years, following a near 12-year stint at Chantry Middle School.

However, she was not always set for a career in the kitchen and previously worked in an office at an opencast site.

“I left there when I had my first child, then had another child,” she said.

“The children went to school and one day I met a friend along Mitford Road and was telling her how bored silly I was. She asked if I wanted to do an hour a day in the kitchen at Chantry so I jumped at the chance.

“I did 12 years there, then went to Ashington Tech and did a year’s catering course, and then the job at St Robert’s came up and I’ve been there ever since. I absolutely love it.”

Mrs Baty says there have been some changes over the years, the most recent being the introduction of free school meals for all younger pupils, meaning she has an extra 35 for the daily dinner list.

But she was less than impressed with chef Jamie Oliver’s school meals’ campaign.

“Jamie Oliver did us no favours,” she said.

“I think he probably went to the worst schools in the country. We do about ten choices of veg a day. He was invited to come here for lunch, but he declined. He said we didn’t have a problem, but that didn’t come across on the television.”

Mrs Baty has enjoyed her time at the school, particularly in preparing special meals for Christmas and Guy Fawkes’ celebrations. But it is the children she will miss most.

“The kids are great. I’m like a long-lost grandma to them, even when the leave. It’s lovely getting a cuddle from a 24-year-old in the street,” she said.

“I’m very sad to be leaving, but I have a little grandson now so I will be busy with baby-sitting. One of the little ones asked ‘if you are going to retire, is he more important than us?’ and another one asked when I had finished looking after him would I come back. They are really funny.

“The children are absolutely wonderful and it is a lovely school so it will be a big miss.”

A Mass will be held for Mrs Baty at st Robert’s Church on January 30, at 2pm.