A stalwart member of a school community is retiring after more than 40 years service.

Jeanette Bearman has worked at St Francis Primary School in Gilchrist Way, Braintree, since 1971.

She started as a midday assistant before becoming the cook and then working as an early morning cleaner.

The 71-year-old of Arnhem Grove, Braintree, would have carried on working for many more years but retired to care for her husband.

She said: “I am very sad to be leaving, it is like a friendship.

“It is like a second home to me and I will miss them all, they have really been very very good to me, absolutely wonderful.”

Mrs Bearman is looking forward to a lie-in as she had to be up at 5am for the past 12 years of her job but said she will be in keeping in touch with her friends at the school.

She finished on December 21 after a celebratory lunch at the school on Thursday.