'Amazing' 95-year-old volunteer 'retires' from Boxgrove primary school

Phyllis Norrell was a student at the primary school but after 'moving away for work for a number of years', she came back. Picture contributed
Phyllis Norrell was a student at the primary school but after 'moving away for work for a number of years', she came back. Picture contributed

A 95-year-old volunteer has ‘retired’ from a village primary school in Chichester after 25 years of service.

The ‘most incredible lady’ Phyllis Norrell, known simply as ‘Nan’, has been coming into Boxgrove C.E.P School to listen to children read in 'Fox and Owl' Class.

Phyllis Norrell, 'Nan', being given a "Jar of Hearts" by a pupil. Picture contributed

Phyllis Norrell, 'Nan', being given a "Jar of Hearts" by a pupil. Picture contributed

Phyllis said: "The children have kept me going. I've always looked after children.

"They keep you young and they have given me such happiness. It's lovely to come in and see them all."

Phyllis, who was born in Boxgrove, was a student at the primary school but after 'moving away for work for a number of years', she came back.

She added: "When I was here (as a pupil) it was a very different village school but it's still a very happy little school.

A group of children recited a poem together which they had written especially for 'Nan', called 'This is a poem for Nan'.

A group of children recited a poem together which they had written especially for 'Nan', called 'This is a poem for Nan'.

"The children are all very happy here, just like I was when I was here.

"I live in the almshouses just next door so it was very easy to come back and pop in whenever."

Headteacher Kim Thornton spoke in glowing terms of 'Nan', saying that she feels 'privileged' to have known her.

She added: “Nan is just an amazing lady, so kind hearted and supportive.

Phyllis Norrell, 'Nan', pictured with pupils from Boxgrove C.E.P School.  Picture contributed

Phyllis Norrell, 'Nan', pictured with pupils from Boxgrove C.E.P School. Picture contributed

“She’s just lovely and the joy she has brought us all in school over the years has been fantastic.

“A few weeks ago Nan came and said to me that having recently turned 95 years old and with her eyesight failing she felt that the time was right to ‘retire’.

“As a staff we feel it is a privilege to know her and the children have great affection for her.”

The school held a surprise party for Phyllis to thank her for all her contributions over the last 25 years.

Mrs Thornton added: “We could not allow her to leave without a celebratory send-off.

“Nan came in as usual to listen to some children in Fox Class read and suddenly the whole school streamed in clapping.

“Nan initially was slightly bewildered before realising the wonderful applause was for her.

“Then a group of children recited a poem together which they had written especially for her (pictured).

“She was then presented with a framed copy of the poem which a child had illustrated and party games then followed. And would you know it, Nan won every game!

“The afternoon ended with Nan being given a 'Jar of Hearts', embossed with hearts in the glass and inside all the children had written a special message.”

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