Wednesday 21 February 2024
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Toot Hill staff member honoured at The Queen’s Garden Party

From parties in the street, pageants and flypasts, as well as worldwide television coverage, there have been a lot of celebrations to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, but its also been a time to celebrate the hard-working, dedicated people of Britain.

Jill Horton, a long-serving staff member at Toot Hill School, which is part of the Nova Eduction Trust, was nominated to attend one of The Queen’s Garden Parties for services to education and young people, particularly her support for the most vulnerable students.

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She was nominated by Sandy Paley, Executive Head Teacher at the school, as she felt Jill always puts the needs of the students first and has undertaken new challenges to better equip the students’ needs, feeling her dedication has never faltered in the 15 years of working at the school.

“I nominated Jill in recognition of her years of service to the children at Toot Hill School,” said Sandy. “She truly is a most loyal and committed member of our school community, solely focused on caring for and helping our children believe in themselves and succeed.

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“At the time of nomination, Jill had worked at our school for just over 12 years (now 15), starting as an Admin Assistant and then after six years, she followed her heart to help children on a more face-to-face basis by joining our Student Services team, looking after the attendance and welfare of all children in our school.”

Jill was nominated back in 2019 but the original invitation was postponed because of the pandemic.

“I was overwhelmed to get the invite back in 2019 and then to have 10 days’ notice this year was both exciting and petrifying,” said Jill.

With such short notice and the panic of what to wear, Jill got to experience a once-in-a-lifetime moment mixing with people from all walks of life, all dressed in their finery from uniforms to morning suits to wedding outfits.

After all Jill’s planning, she got to stand next to a lady wearing the same hat as her and with the ever-changing British weather not being able to spoil the atmosphere, Jill and her daughter Emma were able to take in the stunning views and sample the variety of food on offer.

“I had no idea the palace garden was so huge,” Jill continued. “A stunning avenue of ageless oak trees leading down to a beautiful lake.

“The tea tent stretched the whole side of the palace garden filled with assorted sandwiches, wraps and an amazing variety of cakes – all sampled while listening to two brass bands continuously playing throughout the afternoon.

“I was chuffed to see William, Kate, Sophie, Edward and Beatrice but the highlight for me was the Yeoman of the Guard forming a guard of honour for the Royals.

“I’ll be forever grateful to Sandy for her support over the years, her lovely comments and for letting me feel like a Queen for the day. My daughter Emma and I did Toot Hill proud.”

Emma, who was her mum’s plus-one for the day said. “I know my mum is the best mum in the world, but to have someone else acknowledge it too is lovely and makes me so proud.”

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