Miss Lewis-Lavender hangs up her apron
15 July 2019
Miss Lewis-Lavender will take off her apron for the last time as she retires from Priory after 39 years.
The Lead Teacher for Food Technology began at Priory in September 1980 and is the longest serving member of staff.
She has had huge success at the school, helping students win local and national competitions and go on to be chefs or work in catering at top establishments.
One of the students Charles Smith, who is now Head Chef at Lords of the Manor, a luxury hotel in the Cotswolds, said: “I’m very grateful still to this day that Shelley allowed me to take part in the Food Technology course at Priory. It definitely gave me a great head start in my career as did the competitions, which helped me to win Young National Chef of the Year in 2011.”
Miss Lewis-Lavender said: “I feel I have done the school proud and inspired students to go onto different things. When I started, the career choices with Food Technology were catering or teaching but now there are so many more jobs and opportunities. I also don’t get asked ‘Do boys do cookery?’ anymore!
“It’s opened doors for me as well as I have had the chance to meet Ainsley Harriott, Mary Berry and Gordon Ramsey, among others - as well as James Martin who I have worked with the most.”
Miss Lewis-Lavender’s enthusiasm of her subject has inspired many students and she has taken part in some memorable events for Priory, always winning praise for her catering at various school events.
“For the Millennium our students took over Paul Heathcote’s restaurant and he opened our new Technology kitchens. I have catered for the opening of our new school gym, for the various ‘In Bloom’ competitions where we have used produce from our gardens and helped to organise Macmillan Coffee Mornings.
“I also worked as the school’s Community Engagement Co-Ordinator where I established links with the army, navy, police and ambulance which I am proud of as well as establishing links with our local colleges and businesses.
“Probably what I have enjoyed most is seeing my students enter competitions and go on to have careers in the industry. I entered the Rotary Chef competition for 15 years with different students.
“Emma and her sister Jane Rooke, when both were much younger than their counterparts, came second and third in the National Rotary Chef competition, and all the Rooke sisters enjoyed culinary success.
Emma, who now runs the Cow Shed in Penwortham, said: “Miss is the reason I am where I am. It’s been my dream to have my own café. Miss had a massive influence on all the Rooke sisters. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have got into cooking and be where I am.”
Other students, such as Charles Smith, have worked with the best such as Gordon Ramsey and Marcus Wearing.
Miss Lewis-Lavender lists her hobbies as gardening, interior design and shopping. Taking her dog, Treacle, on long walks is also keeping her busy but she is not giving up work yet.
“I feel like I am ready for a change and I may do something in event management or I might even start my own business.”
Headteacher Mr Eastham said: “I have known Miss Lewis-Lavender for as long as I have been here and she is a well-established member of staff.
“She has always been very passionate about her subject and has pushed her pupils and highlighted their talents by entering them for competitions over the years.
“She always creates wonderful spreads for any functions at Priory and it’s a well-deserved retirement after all her years of service.”
Head of Technology, Mrs Lawe said: “I have worked with Miss Lewis-Lavender for six years. In fact when I was a trainee teacher, she coached me and now I am Head of Department so it’s quite an unusual situation!
“She is so enthusiastic about her subject and has encouraged students to launch careers in the food industry.”