A South Tyneside Council Catering Services kitchen assistant has beaten off stiff competition to land a major award.
Ellie Crookes, who works at Mortimer Primary School in South Shields, won an Employee of the Year 'Golden Rolling Pin' Award in the Lead Association for Catering Association's (LACA) North East and Scotland Awards for Excellence.
Ellie was nominated for the award following her success at Christmas when she picked up two Gold Best in Class awards for her sweet mince pies and festive biscuits.
The awards are even more special for Ellie because she has taught herself to bake. She has baked at home and brought in her creations for colleagues to sample, requesting feedback and constantly striving to improve her bakes.
Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "Ellie is truly inspirational. She has shown both creative flair and determination to develop her skills in her own time and with her own resources and it is the schoolchildren who are reaping the benefits.
"We know that a balanced, nutritious meal at lunchtime boosts concentration and can have a positive impact on behaviour. That is why the efforts of Ellie - and the other members of our dedicated catering teams - are such an asset. With such talented staff, it is no wonder that 90 per cent of infants in South Tyneside are opting for school dinners."