Patrol lady Iris McAlister got the surprise of her life last Wednesday when she turned up at Millington Primary School for what she thought would be a normal afternoon’s work.
The Richhill mother-of-one was literally left speechless when a crew from UTV, including presenter Sarah Travers, appeared and presented her with a ‘People Like You’ award.
The award celebrate individuals who have made a difference and who go out of their way to help others.
Iris, who has been the patrol lady at Millington for nearly 20 years, was nominated by parent Louise Robinson for the extra care and help she gives her and daughter Rebekah.
Principal Mrs Heather Murray said, “Iris is always smiling and happy, despite working outside in all weathers. She goes out of her way to look after the children, bringing PE kit back to school if someone forgets it and looking out for children who need extra attention.
“She has given children lifts home if they need them and would never leave a child standing alone, if they are late in being picked up.”
The award was a well-kept secret in the school before the presentation. Said Mrs Murray, “UTV had phoned us and I said we would happily endorse everything Mrs Robinson said. Iris is very kind and caring and committed to Millington children.”
As well as Iris, Sarah Travers interviewed Mrs Murray, Julie Devlin, one of the kitchen staff, and six of the children who described what makes Iris so special.
Iris was presented with a bouquet from the school as well as flowers from Mrs Robinson, along with a huge card from the children, with personal messages.
She said, “It was a very big shock. I had no inkling of what was going to happen. I feel very proud and honoured and very appreciative.”
Iris, who is married to Simon and has a son of the same name, loves her work. She said, “I always enjoy being there. You build up a relationship with the parents and the children over the years.”