An assistant headteacher has been hailed a hero for walking over five miles a day to deliver food to children on free school meals whose families can’t afford it.
Zane Powles, who works at Western primary school in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, has handed out 75 lunches every day since UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced schools across the country would close on March 20.
It takes the 47-year-old just under two hours to make his rounds each day, knocking on the family’s doors and leaving the parcel on the front step before waiting at a safe distance until somebody picks it up.
The assistant headteacher, who has three children, 23-year-old Jai, 21-year-old Bailey and 19-year-old Emil, said he prefers to deliver the food on foot rather than using his bike or car, saying it ‘wouldn’t be worthwhile’ to do so.
He said he enjoys the (socially distanced) interactions he has with people along the way, saying: ‘This way I meet people as I’m doing it. I can say hi to parents and kids on the way.’
While usually, Zane said the children would have thought it to be ‘a bit weird’ seeing their school teacher on their front lawn ‘with bin bags and rucksacks full of lunches’, he said it’s become ‘the new normal’.
Whenever they see me, parents and kids will come to the door. Most of them have been fantastic in following the advice to stay in doors and to stay two metres apart so they don’t spread the virus.
Everyone is doing their bit and delivering lunches to the most vulnerable is my contribution.
It’s about making sure vulnerable kids get at least one decent meal. People are risking their lives on the front line or delivering medicines as a volunteer, and I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do to help where I can.
It’s important that I’m doing my bit in the national effort – as we go through this crisis as a country together. Hand-delivering the lunches is a better way than parents coming into the school as it’s all about reducing the risk of the virus spreading.
Zane also delivers extra homework to some of the children if their parents have specifically requested it. This helps keep them occupied so their parents can work from home.
Obviously, this isn’t as much of a hit as the food is, with Zane saying: ‘I’m probably not as popular when I’m delivering their homework too as opposed to their lunch.’ You don’t say.
The response to Zane’s selfless actions has been overwhelming and people have been praising his efforts each day when they see him, with the headteacher saying many have ‘started coming out of their houses’ to congratulate him.
Zane said this applause makes him feel ‘quite embarrassed and overwhelmed’ because ‘it’s a team effort’, with executive head Kim Leach helping to deliver the 25 remaining lunches along with other teaching staff to children who live further away.
Praising Zane for his efforts, Kim said: ‘We are very proud. He is a superstar and is a credit to the school and the local authority.’
But this isn’t the first time Zane has put his children first, with the assistant headteacher’s work with challenging students in the school’s behaviour unit having previously won him the Inspirational Primary School Teacher award in 2019.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Zane said we should ‘never’ give up on children as ‘having a tough upbringing is never their fault’.
What a hero.
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