Caretaker sweeps away rivals to win

John Murrell of Polegate Primary School, East Sussex County Council Caretaker of the Year November 21st 2012 E47085N

John Murrell of Polegate Primary School, East Sussex County Council Caretaker of the Year November 21st 2012 E47085N

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A school caretaker has brushed off competition from across the county to be crowned East Sussex’s best.

Jon Murrell, who works at Polegate Primary School, was named East Sussex County Council’s Caretaker of the Year after being chosen from a long list by the local authority’s head of children’s services Matt Dunkley.

And, having been presented with his trophy, he has been busy building a cabinet to keep it in.

Mr Murrell was put forward for the prize by the school’s business manager, Ivy Scarborough, who described him in her nomination as an “outstanding” caretaker “who really doesn’t know the words ‘can’t be done’.”

And his entry was also backed by a host of pupils – among whom Mr Murrell is hugely popular. One wrote to the county council saying, “Every school needs a Mr Murrell,” while another said that not only was Mr Murrell an “extraordinary caretaker” but he was also a “great footy ref”.

Mr Murrell beat Robert Burchett, of Holy Cross CE Primary in Uckfield, into second place and was given his cup at the annual general meeting of the county’s caretakers, held recently – seeing him get a rousing round of applause from all his counterparts at the area’s other schools.

Cllr Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council’s head of education, was full of praise for the winner and the job done by caretakers in general. He said, “The effectiveness of a school depends on many things, but it is certainly vitally important that a school is safe, warm and clean – a place where pupils and teachers can teach and learn.

“We hold this competition every year and I’m always delighted to hear how our school caretakers, often unsung heroes, really go the extra mile and make a major contribution to the running of our schools.

“We know schools appreciate their caretakers, this award is simply about making sure they get the county council’s thanks and praise too.”