“Thank you for doing all the stuff you have done for us” – were the words of Middleton Public School kindergarten student Kiara Thornhill on Friday.
She was talking to the school’s canteen supervisor Barbara Osbourne, who retired after 40 years of service.
The school held a special assembly to celebrate the occasion, where Barb was presented with a special cake, and cards and posters made by students from every class.
At the end of the assembly students cheered and rose to form a tunnel with their arms for Barb as she exited the school hall for the last time.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Barb said, “but after a couple of weeks I think it will, it’ll get lonely.”
Barb started at Middleton as a volunteer in 1976, when the Parkes Ladies Auxiliary operated the school canteen and she was the minutes secretary.
It was back when Vegemite sandwiches were 40 cents, a packet of chips 20 cents and a drink was 50 cents.
Barb became the organising secretary in 1977, then president of the auxiliary in ‘78-79, treasurer from 1980-81 and the canteen supervisor from 1983.
Her role became a paid position in 2002.
“Whatever my children have been involved in I’ve been involved in, from hockey to scouts to school activities,” Barb said.
Over the years she’s done everything from mowing lawns, collecting the school mail in the holidays to being involved in the school council, acting as fate secretary and doing the school banking.
“I used to move the sprinklers around the school – I’d turn them on after school at 4pm, at midnight I’d move them again and I’d turn them off at 6am,” Barb said.
But Barb won’t disappear entirely, she still intends to help the school out when they need it.
“I just won’t be doing as much...I’ve turned 70 so I’ve got to slow down don’t I?” She laughed.
“I love doing things for people..I just can’t sit at home and do nothing.”
Barb said she will miss the children the most. Her biggest highlight was being presented with the Director General Award in 1982 and a big change she’s witnessed is the focus on healthy food and how children are restricted with what they can eat.