School honours bursar

Beryl Benstead
Beryl Benstead

A school has honoured a much-loved member of staff by starting an award scheme in her memory.

Beryl Benstead, 65, had been part and parcel of Southgate Primary School for 36 years – and staff and pupils were devastated when she died.

But they have ensured her memory will live on by introducing a weekly award for the child who “is noticed by their deeds rather than by shouting from the rooftops”.

Beryl, of Southgate, was taken ill at school one week before Christmas and, when her son Anthony went to check on her the following morning, she had passed away.

Describing his mother’s love for her role as school bursar, Anthony said: “I think it was being with the children she enjoyed the most. It was more than just a job to her – she really enjoyed it. She lived it. I don’t think she ever had any intention of retiring.”

Anthony, 43, and his partner Ayshea Skinner, 38, attended a memorial to Beryl at the school on Wednesday (January 15) and were proud that an award had been set up in her memory.

As staff and pupils at Southgate returned to school following the Christmas break, the realisation they would have to carry on without an important member of their community hit home.

A message from the school stated: “The school has stood for 56 years and Beryl was there for 36 of those years – she truly was an integral part of the community.

“She has seen three generations of families pass through the school as well as countless headteachers, governors and staff. The amount of people that attended her funeral is a testament to the high regard in which she was held.”

Describing Beryl’s ready smile and distinctive laugh, the statement added: “It is not often that we see an individual dedicate her life to one community – but Beryl did exactly that. She was a thorough professional who put the community before herself. She was always there for our children, staff, parents, carers and indeed anybody associated with the school.”

Another joy in Beryl’s life was her six-year-old grandson Samuel. His parents have offered comfort to the child, who misses his grandmother.

Ayshea said: “We’ve told Samuel that his nanny is now a star in the sky and will always be watching over him.”