Wigan teacher responds to primetime TV surprise

Kath Crawley was stunned to find herself on Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway recently.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 12:05 pm

More than seven million people watched as Mrs Crawley was given an astonishing surprise thanking her for her 38-year career, including 32 years at Ashton St Thomas' Primary School.

Her immediate family and headteacher helped Saturday Night Takeaway’s producers stage months of undercover filming of gestures of appreciation from former pupils, leading up to

her being led into the studio by her daughter Becky to meet the famous presenting duo.

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Kath Crawley (in the red top) on Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway

Having thought she was at the studios to do a news interview about her career, Mrs Crawley, 59, was amazed.

And Ant and Dec completed their surprise by giving her a retirement gift of a luxury caravan, something she had been saving for over the years.

Mrs Crawley says she is still amazed by the lengths the programme and her former pupils went to show their appreciation of her work under the title Operation Thank You Miss.

Her current pupils played their part, appearing on TV to suggest retirement gifts for her, before dozens of the people she has taught over more than three decades appeared on the programme's video wall to say one last emotional thank you.

The moment Kath Crawley realised she was on live TV

She said: "I’m astounded and amazed by it all and I’m still buzzing. When I walked through the studio door, I did a double take and tried to walk by Ant and Dec because I thought they

were there doing a soundcheck.

“I only realised I was on live television when Ant said something to me and told me to sit down. It was so surreal.

“I’ve had such lovely, beautiful and heartfelt comments from friends, family, colleagues and current and former pupils. The children have been so excited.

Mrs Crawley watches her current pupils suggest retirement gifts to Ant and Dec

“I taught many of their parents and some of their grandparents and they’ve even found a way to contact me. I’m so touched and so grateful to them all because, without them, none of this

would have been possible.

“They have all made such a big contribution to my life as a teacher. It’s because of them that I’ve stayed at St Thomas’ for so many years and I’m even more passionate about the job

now than when I started.”

Donated by manufacturer Willerby, the caravan will be sited at Avon Wood Holiday Home Park in Newby Bridge on the shores of Windermere in the Lake District, a special place which the kind-hearted teacher and her family have classed as their second home for more than five decades.

Mrs Crawley said: “My Granny Maud took me, my sister and two cousins on the bus from Wigan to Avon Wood 52 years ago and she ended up buying a caravan there.

“Granny Maud is no longer with us, but we’ve been going ever since and, while we’ve upgraded a few times, it has never been a brand new caravan. Our current caravan is more

than 20 years old and I was toying with the idea of changing it when I retire, but I definitely didn’t expect this.

“I’d like to say a massive thank you to Willerby. It means so much to me and my family and it’s so nice to know our future generations can keep visiting this lovely place as our family

grows.

“They can carry on what Granny Maud started, for many more years to come. That’s so special to me and I can’t wait for us to make more memories together.”

After her retirement, Mrs Crawley plans to stay at the holiday home at least one week out of three, making the most of her special gift and enjoying the further company of her cousins

who own the caravan adjacent to hers on the site.

The caravan will be enjoyed by the whole family, including her partner Paul, children Matthew, Becky and Sophie, their partners and grandchildren, as well as Mrs Crawley’s sister, Sue, and her family.

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