Students share the love for admired canteen volunteer
BERYL King was queen for a day at St Anthony's Primary School Kingscliff last month.
A much-loved canteen volunteer, Beryl has been at the school three times a week for almost a decade so when she celebrated a milestone birthday on May 18 her "St Anthony's Family" were out in force.
"The highlight of this week has been the unbelievable milestone of our beautiful canteen worker extraordinaire Beryl King," deputy principal Mick Kennedy told the school population.
"This lovely woman, who is admired and loved by all in St Anthony's Community, turned an amazing 90 years old. We have been blessed to have had the presence of her at our school for many years."
Beryl, who had a party with friends and family on her birthday on the Saturday, was honoured with a celebration by her young customers on the Monday.
She said she moved from Lismore to the Tweed to be close to her daughter and eldest granddaughter and decided to help at her great grandson's school nine years ago.
Even though he has moved on to high school in Murwillumbah, Beryl is still a much-loved fixture at the canteen and right-hand woman to canteen manager Ellen.
"I couldn't wish for a nicer place to be - I'm here Monday, Wednesday and Friday," she said.
"I love helping people, I wish I could do a lot more but that's life."
No stranger to the food service industry, Beryl, who was born in Casino in 1929 and has lived mainly around southeast Queensland and northern NSW, left school at 14, starting her first job at a cafe in Redcliffe during World War II.
After marrying in her 20s and having two daughters, she moved around before settling in Lismore more than 30 years ago.
After working at cafes, she retired and eventually found herself employed at the Uniting Church Coffee Shop where she worked until the move to Tweed.
"I still have a lot of friends in Lismore," she said, adding that she still kept in touch with them and several had come over for her party.
And while most 90-year-olds probably wouldn't want to be doing canteen, Beryl loves it and also loves when the kids introduce her to their parents while she's out shopping.
It has also helped her as she coped with the grief of losing her eldest daughter Elaine two-and-a-half-years ago to brain cancer.
The school loves her too, with principal Lynne Pull explaining they had asked her to accept a little money for her work but she wouldn't hear of it.
Instead, the school finds ways to spoil her including throwing a special assembly for her on the first Monday after her birthday.
Mr Kennedy said it was quite a morning. "As Beryl entered the stage in the Cola to the tumultuous roars of the grateful student population she was overwhelmed," Kennedy said.
"Students performed a number of songs dedicated to Beryl and gifts were presented to show the admiration we all show to this wonderful woman," he said.
"We hope that Beryl will continue her dedicated service to our school for many years to come because the common phrase of the wonderful day was consistently: 'what would we do without her!'"
So while Beryl's family was officially two daughters, five grand children and nine great grand children - her St Anthony's family swell that considerably