IT is the children at Wonthaggi North Primary School that canteen manager Heather Wintle will miss most.
Heather has hung up her apron after 34 years to the date in the school’s canteen.
In 1986, when Heather first took on the role as canteen manager, her youngest son was a pupil.
Now, her youngest grandchild is in grade four at Wonthaggi North and is sad to see nan leave.
“I knew I’d be emotional about it, but I didn’t know when I handed my resignation in that it would be 34 years to the day from when I started,” Heather said last month.
“It’s quite eerie.”
Heather said she absolutely loved her time in the school canteen and the friends she made along the way.
“I had a lot of helpers. I couldn’t do it without the volunteer mums and fathers and the great staff,” she said.
Over the years, Heather has watched children’s appetites and attitudes about food and healthy eating change and evolve.
“Canteen lunch is a treat so it’s not like they’re eating it every day,” she said.
“Children’s diets have changed, they’re much more mature – you’d very rarely sell a pie these days.
“But I’m sure children will tell you their most favourite is hotdogs and they love my chocolate cake.”
A particularly fond memory for Heather was being invited to Packed to the Rafters actor Angus McLaren’s 21st birthday party.
Heather recalled telling a prominent makeup artist that she was Angus’ canteen lady when he was in primary school.
“I’ve gone to some weddings, some engagement parties and some 21sts,” she said.
“It was a real thrill to be invited to his 21st birthday.”
Wonthaggi North Primary School assistant principal Wendy Nicol said she was sad to see Heather go.
“Heather has a fantastic way with everyone,” Wendy said.
“She is a much-needed connection to many from our wider community and her care of all our children. She knows them and their families.”
Heather also contributed to the school as president of the Mothers’ Club and was instrumental in changing the group to the more inclusive name, Parents’ Club.
Heather will return as a volunteer in the school canteen when schools are back up and running, “much to the relief of everyone at the school,” Wendy said.