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Winners... the school secretaries with warm, welcoming smiles.

ASK any head teacher who runs the school and they will say it is the school secretary.

They are the friendly face and have job descriptions which incorporate "anything and everything".

Theatr Iolo asked head teachers in Cardiff and the Vale to nominate their secretary for the 2009 School Secretary Award and the outcome was clear - behind every good head teacher is a good woman.

As a Theatre in Education company which tours schools in Cardiff and the Vale, the school secretary is our first point of contact and makes many of the arrangements required to ensure our visits run smoothly.

To show their appreciation, head teachers put pen to paper and wrote poems and wonderful heartfelt nominations.

They gave thanks to secretaries with 20 or 30 years' service or who have young families of their own and juggle responsibilities constantly but still manage to be the backbone of the school.

The winning secretaries - Pat Rennie, SuzanneWilliams and Nicola Fairbrother -were described as "the face of the school, welcoming visitors with a warm smile!" Roy Jefferies, head at St Mary's Catholic Primary, wrote glowing reports for Margaret Colley and Karen MacDonald, saying, "As mothers themselves they always put their jobs on hold when a child needs comfort, help and support or a bit of TLC.

"With 19 languages spoken in the school, they make each parent feel at ease, especially those with little or no English."

The school's recent Estyn inspection notes that the administrative staff provide outstanding support to all members of the school community.

Andrea Taylor "used to take the dinner money and answer the phone and now she manages a budget of over a million pounds a year!" says head teacher at Trelai Primary, Lesley Leckie.

Nicky Webber, secretary at Millbank Primary, Ely, is retiring at the end of this term, having worked at the school for more than 20 years. She says "Criteria for the job? Having a sense of humour helps and being able to cope with some stressful situations also adds to the variety!" "The school couldn't run without her," says head teacher Kevin Hart at Llanedeyrn Primary about his super secretary Diane Thomas.

The winners were presented with flowers and Champagne at Oakfield Primary School, St Mellons, in front of the whole school and parents.

Due to a prior Christmas function, the winners were unable to attend a performance of Theatr Iolo's play for schools As The Sun Sets as guests at Chapter Arts Centre, so runners-up from St Mary's Catholic Primary School went along and had a great time.

Kevin Lewis Artistic Director Theatr Iolo


Kevin Lewis of Theatr Iolo, with winning secretaries Pat Rennie, Suzanne Williams and Nicola Fairbrother and children of Oakfield Primary
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 24, 2009
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