Having arrived at Lee Infant and Nursery school drenched in a downpour to meet the headteacher, Julie Roche, the immediate offer of a cup of coffee from the kindly administrative staff was more than welcome. Moments later I was sitting with
Julie and her deputy head, Margaret Rochon, hearing, among other things, that the school prided itself on welcoming everyone, something I’d already discovered!
Eager to tell me all about the school, I quickly realised how committed Julie was, how much she valued every member of staff, how much they cared for the children, all they’d achieved as a team during her two years as head and what they aimed to achieve in the future. The school had recently received an excellent Ofsted report and are among the nation’s top 20% in Reading, Writing and Maths. Not satisfied with that, her aim in the next Ofsted inspection or as soon as possible thereafter is to become an outstanding school. Such was the enthusiasm of everyone I met, I’ve no doubt the aim will be realised. To me it already seemed outstanding.
The school values based on LEAP (LEAP to success at Lee!,) are linked to the United Nations Rights of the Child (UNICEF) which aims to see that children are enabled to become enthusiastic learners, excellent communicators, active and healthy and part of the community. Before they progress to the next stage of education, the entire staff aims to help each child to be independent and resilient, collaborative in relationships, self-aware and equipped with learning skills for the 21st century bearing in mind that no one knows what changes will occur in the future.
Wanting above all for the children to enjoy learning, without sacrificing high standards in basic skills they are encouraged to learn through play and group activities. The school welcomes all children including those with particular needs who are cared for by specialist teachers and support assistants. In addition to the normal curriculum, there are numerous clubs including Karate, Dance, Cooking, Gardening, and Yoga. Taking over what was once the Sure Start centre, existing staff also run the Club in the Hub which provides breakfast and after-school care. The service has been extended to offer a school holiday club. More information on this and all the school offers can be found on its website: https://www.los-infants.co.uk/
Although it is a County and not a Church school, like the adjoining Juniors, Lee Infant and Nursery has close links with St Faiths where, as well as holding their harvest service in the church, they welcome visits from our ‘Open the Book’ team, assembly talks from our vicar Paul Chamberlain and visits to the church building when learning about the town’s places of worship. Similarly the church watches over the school with the vicar and two congregation members on its Governing body.
From the moment I met her, Julie stressed that she wanted me to write about the school and not about her although, after some gentle persuasion, I did mange to learn that she is married with three grown-up children, grew up in Thanet, Kent, with her sister, attended grammar school and trained at Sussex University. I also discovered that she prefers coffee to tea, counts Rudyard Kipling as one of her favourite writers and, although she rarely has time for television, enjoys watching Strictly Come Dancing while she’s doing the ironing. Wanting to know how she came to settle at Lee, she told me it was partly her love of being close to the sea that brought her along the coast to Lee. I’m glad it did. Rarely have I met such a committed, enthusiastic and caring head teacher and staff and I look forward to a future visits.
An Enjoyable Diet for the New Year
January articles often focus on the latest diet for shedding those extra pounds gained over Christmas. As a change I thought I would write about a shop which sells bread rolls, cakes, cream buns and all those treats that many of us enjoy throughout the year.
The New Cottage Loaf in the High Street is managed by Pauline Thurling who not only caters for the people of Lee but also donates to various good causes including St, Faith’s church. Pauline is the fifth of seven siblings, 3 boys and 4 girls. Her father was a civil engineer but worked as a teenager for Green’s Bakery, Gosport so perhaps baking was in the genes! Pauline, who has always lived in the Gosport area, was educated at Bay House Comprehensive and subsequently spent 17 years working for the Wing family at the Stoke Road Gallery which specialises in picture framing, artwork and art materials. She still remains friends with the family and caters for the annual children’s Christmas parties which the family provides at Community House, Old Road, Gosport, a local charity.
Now married to Ian with 2 children, her career was to take various routes before she finally settled for the catering business. Ian and his brother Roy had both studied at Highbury College gaining their City and Guilds diplomas, Ian in Restaurant Management and Roy as a Chef. Eager to use their skills they started in business together, at first working from home providing sandwiches for various clients and later, acquiring an empty shop in Brockhurst Road and creating the ‘Varieties’ sandwich bar where Pauline joined them. Approached by Vector Aerospace (now Standard Aero) to cater for their workforce, the business grew eventually supplying factories, shops, vending machines and other outlets.
After 8 years and wanting a change, Pauline trained as a phlebotomist and worked for the NHS in local clinics, hospitals and surgeries for the next 3 years. I couldn’t help wondering how many armfuls of my blood she might have taken during that time! Her career however was to take another turn when Ian spotted an advert for The Cottage Loaf and acquired it. Needing by now to care for her aging parents (her father refers to her as a proper Florence Nightingale) and her unwell brother, Pauline required more flexible hours and so left the NHS and returned to the catering world by joining Ian and Roy in their latest project. Between them they now run two shops, one in Gosport where Roy manages the catering side and helps out as chef and The New Cottage Loaf in Lee where Ian runs the business side while Pauline manages the shop.
Pauline was keen for me to express her gratitude for the way that the residents of Lee have continued to support the shop after the change of ownership, and to the existing staff for their ongoing support. As a token of her gratitude to the senior citizens of Lee, she also offers a 10% discount for purchases made on Thursdays.
How she manages to balance family and work requirements and still look so young amazes me. It was a pleasure to meet her. Before I left I asked if she took orders for individual items and, of course, she does. So I ordered a fruit cake (my secret passion) which few shops seem to sell these days. So, delighting in a delicious fruit cake, here’s wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year, and even if you did eat too much over Christmas, a little of what you fancy does you good and I’m sure The New Cottage Loaf will be able to provide it.