With light at the end of the tunnel after months in lockdown, community spirit continues to soar throughout Copeland – and plenty of thoughtful heroes still deserve their time in the spotlight.

And while many are stepping up to the challenge of helping others, one woman is stepping down after her countless – and priceless – years in the role of “hero” – but Anne Banks can’t leave without first being named our Person of the Week.

The “fabulous” learning mentor has retired after more than 16 years in her role at Monkwray Junior School, Whitehaven.

But her time at the school goes way back, with the Kells woman being a former Monkwray pupil, a parent volunteer and a teaching assistant before stepping into her learning mentor-shoes.

And with such history behind her, it’s no surprise that staff and pupils will miss her immensely, with head teacher Pamela Telford saying: “Her kindness, compassion and dedication to her role is exemplary.

“She hasn’t viewed it as a job, but as a role that needs her to sometimes to hold a hand and other times to give children and adults the hard truth so that they can address their issues and move on to deal with them.

“Her nurturing, down-to-earth manner make those messages make sense. She knows the families and their wider families and always has their best interests at heart.”

She continued: “Anne has a saying – every day is a new day – so even if a child has had a bad day, they know Anne will wipe the slate clean the next day, and seek them out to give them a thumbs up or ‘alright pal’ to check out they are okay.

“I can not thank Mrs Banks enough for what she has done for pupils, parents, carers and staff, both present and past.

“She will be greatly missed by everyone.”

But it’s not just her daily work the “21-year-old” has been nominated for, but her dedication to her pupils even during lockdown, carrying out “fruit drops” to check in on the youngsters during the pandemic, making sure they were happy and healthy.

Those who nominated the committed carer said: "Anne has been a fantastic support to the children in the school, and no matter how big or small their worries may seem, her door was always open to help both the children and their families to overcome them.

"She has been a great support to the staff in school too. All of the staff have ‘Mrs Banks’ on the tip of their tongues, as she is the go-to woman for every single eventuality!"

They added: "She has given her life to Monkwray school, and the whole of the Monkwray community will miss her immensely.

"We wish her every happiness and enjoyment in the next, more relaxing, phase of her life."

Saying goodbye to the school after for so many years may not be easy for Anne or her pupils, but the waterfall of support and thanks she’s received has made the retirement manageable.

“It’s not often I’m stuck for words, and if you told everyone at the school that I am, they’d laugh – but I really am!” she said.

“They’re just fantastic staff, a fantastic school, and the parents and children are all amazing. I feel so honoured to have worked with them all, and to have been a part of such a fantastic team.”

She continued, still “completely gobsmacked”: “I couldn’t have done the job I’ve done on my own.

“I had a lot of people around me – staff, parents, children, lots and lots of people around to help me do what I love.

“I just feel really really touched and honoured that they’ve all done this, and I’ll miss everybody at the school so much.”