1949 : The wonderful school caretaker

31st August 1949

“The wonderful school caretaker”

Some of the children sailed boats. Others let their feet dangle in the water. Most just paddled. It was the first day of the school’s new paddling pool, and the pool was proving a big hit.

But although the children were doing the laughing and shouting, the person who was getting the biggest kick out of it all, was Sydney Hill, 52.

The paddling pool was the surprise Sydney had prepared for the 350 pupils at the Bond Road Infants’ School, Mitcham, Surrey, when they returned from the holidays yesterday. Officially Sydney is the school’s caretaker. Unofficially he is the school’s fairy godfather.

When he came to the school five years ago after ill-health forced him to leave his clerical job the school hall had no stage.

So he built one from wood and old junk – footlights, spotlights curtains and all.

There was a plot of land nobody could do much with. Sydney built an imposing lily pond and stocked it with fish.

Headmistress Miss H. F. Bird wanted a sandpit for the very small children. Sydney built it.

Sidney said yesterday : “I really love children: I get my greatest reward when I see the pleased looks on their faces”. Last week he and his wife organised a coach party to Eastbourne for some of the pupils and their parents.

Miss Bird said admiringly: “He’s a marvellous man; he doesn’t mind what he does for the children. We’re known as the ‘the school with that wonderful caretaker,’ you know.”

Sydney wasn’t listening. He was watching the kids enjoying themselves in his pool.

Source: The Daily Mirror, Weds 31st August 1949

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