Helen Perry (60) is the School Administrator for Blackawton Primary School.

She is about to retire after 26 plus years working there.

She was born on a farm near the village, went to the school herself, her children went and her grandchildren will be doing so.

Helen remembered what it was like: “It was a much smaller school when I came here.

“It’s been extended out over the years.

“I think there were three classes maybe four.

“Small classrooms, obviously chalk and slate to start with.

Helen remembers some of the early teachers: “My first teacher was a Mrs Evans, that was in the infant class.

“The headteacher was Mr Gerry, there was Mrs Pine and so I can remember a few of them,

She remembers it being reasonably strict but a nice place to come to school.

How did she make that transition from being a pupil to working there?

“It’s through my children really when they started to come through pre-school, he first one came into school and when the third one started, I began to do some volunteering teaching sewing to the children to start with the little baby in the carry cot.

“This would have been around 1993 or 4.

“Around this time the headteacher Mrs Kinder said we’ve got an opening for a TA (Teaching Assistant).

“I did this for a couple of terms then another year in the classroom before starting in the office.

Blackawton Primary School
Blackawton Primary School (Richard Harding)

“I was part time for six or seven years.

“I worked alongside Christine Tucker who was here and then she became the Business Manager when we became a federation, then we became an academy and I became full-time.

Helen has seen some changes:

“When I was here it was around 80, when my children started it was around 90 ish then it shot up to around 120.

“The playground here was around double the size, the hall’s come out and they’ve made classrooms up above.

“It became a popular school when Jennie Kinder was here as she was very into music, art and practical work.

“We’ve got pupils from places such as Dartmouth, Kingsbridge and around.

Helen then spoke about Blackawton: It’s a very community-minded, and vibrant village compared with some coastal villages like Dittisham that have a lot of retired people

“A lot of people move here because of the school and the facilities and there is a lot going on.

“There’s a church, a community shop and a pub called the George Inn.”Helen has spent around 23 years in the office and describes the role:

“Dealing face-to-face with parents, answering phone calls and queries and after so long I know a lot about the school.

“I help the staff out, do a lot of the finance stuff, invoices and the data from the tests.”

What does she love most?: “It’s the community and the staff, the children, it feels like a family.

“I’ve got four grandchildren and they will all be coming to the school.

“I may even help out in the classroom once a week.”