She’s been an unofficial grandma to thousands of children over the years – but now school cook Lily Toogood is hanging up her apron.
Lily has been producing magical meals at Greenlands Nursery Infant School in Darnall for the last 22 years, and worked at the old Earl Marshal School for 10 years before that, starting as a kitchen assistant.
Now she is approaching retirement age Lily has decided to step down for good this half term – and staff, children and former pupils all made sure it was an occasion to remember.
School admin assistant Louisa Young said Lily had been inundated with cards, gifts and flowers.
“It came as a surprise to her – I don’t think she realised that we all hold her in such high esteem,” she said.
“Lily’s an amazing person, she has fought to make the lunchtime experience as enjoyable as possible and has carefully tailored the menus to the children’s personal tastes.
“She’s like a grandma to them all and she’s a simply wonderful cook – the staff all take school meals themselves.
“Her cheese flan is to die for with added vegetables and peppers.
“It comes round on the menu every third Tuesday and we always put in a triple order!”
Lily made the flan for one last time on her final day as a special treat, while the pupils enjoyed their own personal favourite, fish fingers.
Each of the school’s 21 classes made a giant farewell card with every child signing their name, and they all held classroom tea parties which Lily went to visit.
“Past pupils and former staff whose lives she touched also came in to say goodbye. By the end she had two car loads of presents, she had to come back to pick up the second batch,” Louisa said.
The haul included three especially made memory boxes in which many of the other presents can be stored, as well as a giant cake.
But while Lily may be gone after the half term break, she certainly won’t be forgotten.
Louisa added: “We’ve made sure that Lily has passed on all of her best recipes to her team, who have been wonderfully supportive – so we’ll still get that magical cheese flan.
“And we’ve also now named our cafeteria after her, it’s to be called Miss Lily’s Lunch Room. But it will still be very strange not to have her around.”