Kids praise work of winning caretaker

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

For Lochy Beckham, going to work is more than just looking after lawns and roses.

The St Mary's Catholic School caretaker has been named Rotorua's best caretaker. He said the children and teachers were the main reason he had stayed with the school for five-and-a-half years.

Mr Beckham has received the Keep Rotorua Beautiful Caretaker of the Year award during a special assembly and presentation.

"I started working at St Mary's because I wanted to do grass and roses and things like that," he said.

"But I think a lot of caretakers go to a school and end up staying because of the children and the teachers - it is a wonderful place to be."

He was awarded a certificate, a folder full of essays the children had written about him and a voucher presented by Keep Rotorua Beautiful co-ordinator Christine Findon.

Mr Beckham said the school had kept news of the award quiet and it was a nice surprise to be called up for the award in front of the whole school.

To be nominated for the annual award, primary school students from across Rotorua were invited to send in photos and short essays about why their caretaker was the best in the business.

Mrs Findon said she had received about a dozen stories from St Mary's pupils who praised the work of Mr Beckham - including tasks like keeping the pool warm and clean, protecting the grass and making the school litter free. "We run this competition every year at primary schools. It is designed for children to think about someone else."

She said it was also a great way to reward one of the community's unsung heroes.

A humble Mr Beckham said, during the award presentation, it was all thanks to the help of volunteer gardener Michelle Strathern and cleaner Justine Lewis.

Mrs Strathern said Mr Beckham did a lot more than just look after the grounds and was a bit of a father figure to some of the children. She said he would go out of his way to fix a skateboard or help with a pupil's project.

School principal David Macmillan said he was planning to get a sign made with Mr Beckham's photo on it and the words Caretaker of the Year underneath, to put up in the school. "He does a brilliant job. All the teachers appreciate what he does and I think that's played a big part in getting the children to send in their stories."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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