Chailey Heritage Foundation has a reputation for staff spending many years with us. This April, Deputy Head, Sarah Otway received an appreciation award for being one of our team for the past thirty years!
Sarah began her career as the youngest teacher at Chailey Heritage School. She worked in the Pre-school Assessment Unit and remembers just how different things were back then. For one thing, staff weren’t all on one site as they are today. She was based in a part of the school which used to be on the common and is now a housing development.
She recalls how helping young people on and off buses took up a significant part of the day and how transportation had fewer of the safety features we have today. She also remembers the amount of lifting staff used to do.
“Hoisting and manual handling wasn’t in our vocabulary. Forty lifts a day, even when pregnant was common! I was surprised during my second pregnancy to have a risk assessment. I’d never heard of such a thing, let alone by someone called an HR manager!”
One of Sarah’s fondest memories was when she visited the newly opened Triangle soft play with young people from Chailey Heritage Foundation. While climbing nets high up, she describes how she got into difficulty.
“I was shuffling across the net with a young person in my care, the net holes were quite large, when unfortunately my bottom went through – rendering us stuck at height! The Physio had to come and rescue the young person then haul me back down, which was difficult on a wobbly net!”
Sarah also remembers one little boy who had exceeded all expectations and begun to walk unaided. “The office in the Pre-school Assessment Unit had no windows and one day while I was on the telephone to a local authority, he crept in, switched off the lights and disappeared giggling – leaving me in complete darkness, pretending all was fine!”
We thank Sarah for giving Chailey Heritage Foundation thirty years of her service, dedication and care, and congratulate her on such a wonderful achievement. We hope that she will make many more wonderful memories here in years to come.