A SCHOOL caretaker off work with a broken arm has been honoured for her dedication after sneaking into the building and cleaning it top to bottom ahead of an Ofsted inspection.
Loyal Charmaine Caruana, assistant caretaker at Copnor Primary School, was named Unsung Hero at the Teach Portsmouth Awards celebrations last night.
A stunned Charmaine was handed the award by the editor of The News, Mark Waldron, at the event at South Parade Pier.
The evening recognised city pupils, schools and teachers for their dedication and excellence.
Speaking at the evening, Charmaine said: ‘I’ve been at the school for around 18 years, but have only been doing caretaking for five years.
‘To win this award is a fantastic feeling; I wasn’t looking forward to coming but I’m so glad I did.’
After her injury, Charmaine had to adapt to continue doing her job, but was determined to carry on regardless.
‘The ligament in my arm was damaged in the playground,’ she said.
‘One of the children were running around and bashed into me, poor little love.
‘There was no reason for me to not go in, unless I was laid out in hospital I would still be doing it. If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
‘I just had to learn to use my other hand instead.’
Headteacher Doug Brawley said Charmaine is ‘the most loyal member of staff anyone could have’.
He added: ‘She truly is one of the world’s great unsung heroes. She is a human dynamo with the strength of 10 people.
‘Charmaine had broken her arm and came to see me to say she wanted to clean the school ready for the inspection.
‘I told her that would not be possible as even if I had wanted her to, it would break health and safety regulations.
‘I came into school the next day to find the school immaculately clean as Charmaine had come in overnight and cleaned everything top to bottom.
‘Charmaine’s greatest strength of all is the pride that she takes in the school.’
Charmaine has also led on projects creating a pond and wildlife area for the children, and revamping the Year R playground.
Yesterday evening also saw Jeanette Leavers, medical welfare officer at Castle View Academy, win the Wellbeing Award for her use of the Red Box initiative to eradicate period poverty by providing women’s sanitary products which has led to improved attendance of young girls.
Laura Nerssessian, from Trafalgar School, receive the accolade for Outstanding Progress after attaining GCSE results which put her students in the top five per cent nationally.
As well as recognising the achievements of individuals, the awards also celebrated school groups who had made a real difference in the local area.
The school council at College Park Infant School took the Community Award after their two-year pupil-led campaign brought improved road safety after the city council implemented a one-way system on roads surrounding the school.
Councillor Suzy Horton, cabinet member for education, said: ‘(This) was an opportunity to celebrate so much of the fantastic work that takes place in our schools and colleges.
‘It was a chance to recognise and celebrate the work of those who are leaders in their field and go above and beyond in terms of the impact of their work.’