FOOD is the fuel that helps children focus, be alert and learn in the classroom, so the role of a school’s chief dinner lady can not be understated.

Rifat Khanum, catering unit manager at Killinghall Primary School, serves 630 children daily and goes “above and beyond” to keep them happy and well-nourished.

Claire Spencer, headteacher at Killinghall, said Ms Khanum is like a “warm, welcoming mother”.

She said: “Rifat initially had reservations about her ability to take on this new role.

“Since September 2017 she has gained a raft of qualifications in catering.

“Her achievements have recently been recognised by her training provider as she completed her apprenticeship in one year instead of two.

“She has worked tirelessly to gain these qualifications but perhaps the most recognised part of her role is her dedication and commitment to the children.

“She goes above and beyond what is required of her role, nothing is ever too much trouble for her.

“She is passionate about improving the lives of our children and will go the extra mile to ensure that the children are happy; their needs come first every time. Rifat deserves this special recognition.”