Letters: Dee Hillyard

Sadly, our Mum Dee passed away in Northampton General Hospital on 19th February aged 88 years. She had been admitted to hospital following a routine Doctors appointment at Bugbrooke Surgery. Mum was well known in Heyford as she spent 22 years as a school dinner lady at Bliss from the early 70’s to 1997. As a family we still have the newspaper article from the Chronicle & Echo with a lovely photo of Mum with some of the children. The article said she hung up her apron the day before her 65th birthday!

The Prattler also featured a full-page piece written by then teacher Jill Langrish about Mum and all that she experienced at school. (Reproduced below). The lovely comments we have received from past pupils has been really comforting. Especially those messages about wobbly teeth, grazed knees, ‘seconds’ at lunchtime and lots of reassuring hand holding.

Mum was born one of nine, in Kislingbury, and leaves behind her older sister Daph (Faulkner) who still lives in Church Street. When she married Dad (Alan) in 1959 they started married life in Heyford and never left. They lived first at the B&B in Church Street and then in Church Lane where they had Sheena and Mark before moving to Furnace Lane where both Paul and Sara were born. This was the family home, at number 72, until Mum & Dad downsized in 2008 to their lovely bungalow at 5 The Pound. They used to say that they had the best view in the village, out across The Green.

We have lovely memories of Mum and Dad going off to play bingo at the village hall when we were young. Mum also enjoyed a game of cards and kept this tradition going on Christmas Day until a few years ago. It was something she took seriously!

She will be truly missed and we are sure many people have many memories of Mum as she used to walk up and down Furnace Lane, with her shopping, and would stop to chat on the way.

Sheena, Mark, Paul & Sara.

From Spam Fritters to Hula Hoops

Twenty-two years ago on 20 October 1975 a new dinner lady joined the lunchtime staff of Bliss Charity School, a staff that included Mrs Clarke, Mrs Faulkner and Mrs Nial. The new dinner lady was Mrs Dee Hillyard and she was appointed to a temporary post with one month’s probation.

Her duties were to work in the kitchen preparing the food and then serve it to the children. At that time the teachers supervised the children in the school hall but in time, this became the responsibility of the dinner ladies together with clearing away plates and cutlery, wiping tables and sweeping the floor. Then it was out to the playground, in winter to button up coats and help fingers into gloves, and in summer to shelter from the sun and allow trips to the drinking fountain. The playground crazes of Hopscotch, Skipping, Tig, Tazos, Football Stickers and Marbles have all been part of Mrs Dee Hillyard’s “lunchtime diet” over the years.

As the years passed so another area of the hall was developing, that of the packed lunch group. Now the dinner ladies had to open Thomas the Tank Engine lunch boxes, peel back yoghurt tops and pour drinks from flasks. These ‘picnickers’ became more numerous and in March 1992 the school kitchen finally closed, the
kitchen staff departed and lunchtime supervision was left to the three dinner ladies.

But whilst the weather outside remained as unpredictable as ever, the children, like their choices of food changed term by term, year by year. With hundreds of children, Dee Hillyard has watched their games, enjoyed their secrets, marvelled at their appetites and perhaps been surprised by their table manners!

Mrs Dee Hillyard has lived in Nether Heyford for over 30 years and is a mother of four children, Sheena, Mark, Paul and Sarah. When these children grew up she acquitted a new set of children to enjoy – her grandchildren Kelly, Ben and Louise. Several years ago Dee’s husband Alan was very seriously injured in a road traffic accident. It was a difficult time for her and her family but time, patience and care resulted in a full recovery for Alan Hillyard. Although Dee had a few days absences from school at the time of the accident she was soon back at work. We all admired her strength and fortitude at such an emotional time.

So, sadly on 20 June we will be saying goodbye to Dee as she retires on her 65th birthday. We are Bliss School, staff, parents, governors and above all the children, who will miss her very much. We would like to say “Thank You” for the past 22 years. We hope you have a very happy birthday and an even happier retirement. You certainly deserve it, especially the lunchtimes.

Jill Langrish

Article from The Prattler – 1997

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