‘She’s like mum to everyone’ - huge fuss made of school receptionist on 70th birthday
Adoring children made a giant fuss of a beloved school receptionist in Ipswich described as “like mum to everyone” as she turned 70 while still working at the academy.
Pat Swann started at St Albans Catholic High School in Ipswich 35 years ago, when it needed some cover for lunchtime supervisors.
She quickly fell in love with the Digby Road school, which her children had attended, for its "lovely" and "really caring atmosphere".
Later becoming a receptionist alongside her lunchtime duties, she quickly became a stalwart who youngsters say hello to every morning and even talk to about their problems.
To many, she is described as "like mum to everyone" - but even though she is well beyond retirement age, Mrs Swann has no plans to retire because she loves working with the children at the school so much.
"It is just a lovely school with a lovely feel," she said as pupils broke into a chorus of "happy birthday" during assemblies.
"It's a really caring school and we do our very best for the kids every day. Everyone will do anything to help each other.
"Why wouldn't you want to stay? It's more like fun every day.
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"The kids can tell you anything and they do. They're all great. I treat them like my own."
Mrs Swann believes she has earned the respect of the youngsters "just by giving them the same respect as I would an adult and not talking down to them".
Each of her eight children attended St Albans Catholic High, as well as many of her 20 grandchildren.
And in September, one of her five great-grandchildren will start attending the school.
Of the students, she said: "They have all said 'happy birthday' to me and we had a special Mass at the chapel, which was full.
"I got a card from every form at school and they've all signed it.
"The Catholic ethos is still really important in schools - it's just about caring for each other and doing what you can for humanity."
Staff at St Albans Catholic High have taken Mrs Swann out for a birthday meal, as well as presenting her with flowers and a cake at school.
She also spent a day in London with her husband on her birthday on Tuesday, December 2 and another surprise is planned for her at the weekend.
■ Do you have memories of Pat Swann? Write, with your full contact details, here.
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