A one-off favour turned out to be a fulfilling career for Pamela Mills.
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The 77-year-old, of Leyland, began her working life as a telephonist and office worker, but was soon lured into being a school cook by a neighbour.
She says: “A lady across the road asked me if I would work in the kitchen at Leyland Methodist School for a week. My son was at that school and so I thought I could do it for a week. When I entered the kitchen, I had never seen pots and pans so big, but I got on with it, doing the washing up.
“One week turned into another week and then I was asked to stay on another week. For the first year, when anyone was off, I worked in the kitchens at Leyland Methodist School and also Balshaw’s High School. Then I was asked to work at Leyland Central Kitchen in Golden Hill Lane for two weeks, as I had a good report from Leyland Methodist School.
“I was the general assistant, working from 7am until 3.30pm. Those two weeks ended up being 27 years, as a job came up. We were making 2,500 dinners a day, going to little schools that didn’t have a kitchen in areas like Brinscall and Mawdesley.
“In winter it was so cold, working with fresh vegetables and fish, which was freezing.
“The cooks used to shout down to us, asking if anyone could help them cook. I was often sent as I was the youngest and newest member of staff. I used to stir custard and sauces. I liked it as it was a lot warmer.
“A job came up as a cook and I applied. I enjoyed it, especially making cakes. I was there for nine years and I also worked in the office, doing the books.”
Whilst there, she was approached to take on a new role at St Mary’s Infant School, in Leyland, where she remained for 18 years, until she retired aged 55.
She adds: “Every day was a pleasure, I got to see the children and got to know their funny ways and what they didn’t like.
“I was at the first school in Leyland to do multiple choice, so pupils had three or four main courses and five desserts to choose from.
“My time in the school kitchens was very enjoyable and it taught me a lot.”
Pamela is pictured in white in the centre, front row, with all other welfare staff at St Mary’s Infant School, in 1989.
She adds: “This was the only school photograph I had taken. The headmistress, Annette Allen, said we had a school photographer and we should all have our photo taken.”