Receptionist at St Neots school retires after almost four decades

Longsands Academy, retiring Receptionist Sylvia Benwell, after 37 years, with staff and pupils,

Longsands Academy, retiring Receptionist Sylvia Benwell, after 37 years, with staff and pupils, - Credit: Archant

A long-serving member of staff at a St Neots school has retired after almost 40 years of service.

Sylvia Benwell worked as a receptionist at Longsands Academy for 37 years but took her last call on Tuesday as she heads into retirement.

The grandmother said: “My heart says that I still want to be at the school but my head says I should stop as enough is enough.”

The 70-year-old has watched around 11,000 children come through the school and teachers come and go with many becoming like an extended family to her.

“I now see grandchildren of kids that were once at the school and they say I remember you from when I was here.”


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Sylvia started off at the school on a week-by-week basis until she was employed full time in 1978.

“It felt like it was the right place for me to be, it felt like fate that I should work her,” said the mother-of-two.

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The Eaton Socon resident is one of the longest serving members of staff at the school followed by Mick Donnelly, the school’s head of geography.

Although Sylvia is retiring it doesn’t mean that she will be putting her feet up she plans to go to the gym, join some dance classes, go on holiday and spend time with her husband of 51 years John.

“I will also be popping back into school from time to time to see all the teachers that have become my friends over the years,” she said.

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