Longstanding staff: 42 years as a caretaker and site manager
Paul Holder has been a caretaker and site manager for 42 years.
Starting at the age of 19, Paul spent the first 5 years of his career as an assistant caretaker at Samuel Southall Secondary School (now Bishop Perowne CE College, Worcester).
In 1984, Paul was appointed caretaker / site manager at Cherry Orchard Primary School, where he has been for the past 37 years.
Back in 1984, Cherry Orchard consisted of just 7 classrooms. Over the years, with the development of new estates in the local area, the school has had numerous extensions and has more than doubled in size.
Seeing the pupils grow up
During his 37 years at Cherry Orchard, Paul has got to know many of the families who have attended the school.
“Many of the children currently attending the school have parents who I remember as former pupils. Many long-lasting friendships have been made over the years.”
Paul currently lives in the original school caretaker’s house (which still remains on the grounds of the 1883 original school site for Cherry Orchard). Being a short walk from the school is very useful for the 7am starts, to unlock the school gates, and any middle of the night call outs.
6 years ago, Paul gained an assistant, when Paul Handley (another Paul) was employed as assistant site manager.
Between them they manage the safety, security and maintenance of the school site, ensuring that Cherry Orchard is a well-maintained place to visit and work in.
Paul’s most memorable moment was in 2007. It was the last day of term and unfortunately, due to a severe storm, the school got flooded. Staff and emergency services had to help evacuate the school, carrying the pupils out through the storm waters, which were knee-deep in places.
Paul remembers how parents turned up the day after to help with the clean-up. Paul even cancelled his summer holiday to ensure the school was back up and running ready for the start of term in September.
When asked what has kept him in the role for all this time, Paul said, “Although it’s the same school, the place has constantly changed and evolved over the years. The role constantly changes along with the people. Pupils, families and staff have come and gone.” During Paul’s time at the school, he has worked with 8 different head teachers.
Paul said the role of site manager is more than a job; it’s been a vocation. He has gained so much experience over the years.
What it takes to be a good site manager
When asked what it takes to be a good site manager, Paul said, “You have to be devoted. I’m often awake in the middle of the night thinking about things that need doing. You need to have a practical understanding of all aspects of site management – electrics, plumbing and you also need to have an inquisitive mind to know how things work, so you can repair them.”
Being a site manager is not an easy job. There is much to manage and take care of. Site managers need to be professional and adhere to compliance and health and safety practices.
Making a difference
Paul admits that the job can follow a similar routine each day – unlocking, emptying bins etc - but it all adds to keeping the building running smoothly. However, there are often times when Paul gets to do something different, such as joining the pupils on history walks around the local area or building the stage and making props for school productions.
Paul will be hanging up his keys for the last time at the end of February, as he pursues a new part-time role, giving himself more time to devote to his many interests and his family. We offer our sincere thanks to Paul for his longstanding service.