THREE women who between them have served a York village primary school for 88 years are hanging up their aprons.

Copmanhorpe Primary School has said goodbye to three special staff members, Marie Popely, Julie Appleton and Sylvia Jefferson, who have been serving the school for a combined 88 years, most recently on the cleaning team.

Sylvia Jefferson started working in the school kitchen in 1980, where she continued for 36 years. For the last 6 years, she has remained on the cleaning team, which she has been part of for many years. Sylvia has had two daughters Leslie and Linda and three grandchildren Chloe, James and Jack through Copmanthorpe School.

Marie Popely and Julie Appleton started working at Copmanthorpe in 1999, both have worked in the kitchen, as midday supervisors and cleaners.

Julie plans to remain as a midday supervisor for a couple more years, as her granddaughter Evie, is still at the school.

Julie’s children Philip and Christopher both attended Copmanthorpe School, as well as her granddaughter Evie, who will be starting Year 4 in September. Marie has had three children through Copmanthorpe School, Amanda, Mark and Christopher.

They all started working at Copmanthorpe through recommendations from friends and have never left.

Julie Appleton remarked that she has "loved being part of a team". Marie Popely agreed that they "couldn’t have worked with nicer people."

Sylvia said: "If it wasn’t for everyone being so nice, we wouldn’t have been here so long."

Jeanette France, the school's assistant head teacher for upper school, who has also been at the school since 1984, said: "They are all part of the Copmanthorpe School Community.’

Jenny Rogers, who was previously headteacher of Elvington Primary School from 2010 – 2015, started as head of Copmanthorpe School in September 2015.

She said: "As soon as I met Julie, Marie and Sylvia, I knew that the school was in safe hands.

"I knew that they loved the school as much as I did and would do anything to ensure its success.

"The pride they take in their work is astounding and helps to make Copmanthorpe School a great school. They all worked throughout the pandemic and Julie worked many additional hours to ensure the safety of the children and the staff.

"During times of staff shortages, Julie and Marie have started work at 6.30am to make sure the school is ready for the children – they really are an amazing team and we will really miss them." 

Julie, Marie and Sylvia are employed at Copmanthorpe School through the cleaning contractor Betterclean.

All three women are now looking forward to being able to spend more time with their grandchildren as well as other pursuits and interests such as gardening.

George Tuxford was the Copmanthorpe Infant School caretaker for many years and he still lives in the previous caretaker’s bungalow on the school site with his wife, Liz. Copmanthorpe Junior and Infant School were amalgamated in 2000 with Judith Rigg (the Infant School headteacher) becoming the head teacher of the primary school, until Jenny Rogers took over in September 2015.