TRIBUTES have been paid to a beloved nursery nurse who worked at Havercroft Primary School for more than 45 years.
Betty Cooksey died on January 7 at Barnsley District Hospital, aged 88.
Born in 1924, Mrs Cooksey was first introduced to Havercroft Infants School, which later became Havercroft Primary, as a pupil in 1928. She then attended Felkirk Secondary Modern School where she became a prefect.
In 1942 she was taken on as an untrained teaching assistant at Havercroft Primary.
And after she married her husband Clifton in 1946 she trained to become a nursery nurse - which was no easy feat and involved taking three buses a day to study in Guisely to obtain her diploma.
But her dedication paid off and in 1948 she became a full-time nursery nurse at Havercroft Primary.
Mrs Cooksey spent most of her life in the Havercroft area and lived 200 yards away from the school where she taught.
She taught four to five year-olds at Havercroft Primary for 47 years, until she retired in 1989, aged 65. Many of her first pupils will now be in their 70s, and she taught several generations of the same family.
When she retired, the head teacher at the time, Michael Johnson, said: “Betty has been a part of the school within everybody’s living memory. No-one can remember the school without her.”
She leaves behind two sons and a daughter, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Mr Cooksey died in 1989, shortly before she retired.
Son Jon Cooksey said: “She absolutely adored those children.
“Mum had a great sense of the importance of education and what it could do for individuals and what it does for society, and the way education could improve ones lot in life.”
He said she was a transition for children in the step from home to school, and helped them with basic literacy, numeracy, and how to look after themselves, such as getting dressed.
Mr Cooksey added his mother becoming a teacher in the 1940s was “quite something” as women were expected to stay home and look after the children.