Popping in to help out for a few days turned into a lengthy career for one popular Moseley Park staff member – who is preparing to retire after nearly a quarter of a century of serving lunches to hungry students.
Mary Shutt, who is a familiar face behind the sandwich counter in the canteen, will leave for a well-earned rest at the end of this term.
It will mark the end of a career that started by chance in the mid-1990s when she was asked to help out a friend.
She said: “I knew the catering manager at the time, who was called Kate Palmer. She was a friend of mine and she asked me to come to help out because they were short staffed. I turned up and never left – here I am around 24 years later!”
Being part of the school community has been a highlight for Mrs Shutt, whose own children also attended Moseley Park.
She said: “It’s been lovely being with the students every day – and watching them grow from little ones into young adults. All these years later I still see a lot of them in town with their own children. Moseley Park is a real part of the community and I’ve really enjoyed being here.
“My two children both came here too – my daughter Rebecca, who’s now 40, was head girl, and my son John-Paul , who’s 37 was also a pupil. Both of them went on to university after they left – it’s a really good school and it’s been a privilege to be part of it.
Mrs Shutt has seen plenty of changes during her years serving school dinners to the hungry hordes – but has remained a friendly face behind the sandwich counter.
She said: “I’ve seen lots of nice staff come and go over the years and literally thousands of students. I’ve served food at all sorts of locations around this school – including a tuck shop out of the window into the quad in the 1990s,” she added.
Retirement is now beckoning and Mrs Shutt will be spending more time with her family. She said: “I’m not yet sure what I’m going to be doing with all the extra hours I’m going to gain. I’ll definitely be spending time with my husband, who’s older than me, and keep him company. I also have two grandchildren – aged four and six – to keep me on my toes!”
But she will always have fond memories of Moseley Park and the friends she has made during her time here.
“I’ve been to other school kitchens over the years where it’s dark and depressing and they have no windows – it’s so cheerful and light here at Moseley Park and we have really nice views over the green – it’s a lovely place to work,” she said.
“I’ve served an awful lot of lunches in my time. It’s going to be very hard to say goodbye.”