STEPPING foot into Sankey Valley St James CE Primary for the first time after qualifying as a teacher, acting head teacher Deb Feltham was unsure what to expect.

But 18 years later, it quickly became clear that she could never leave the school which has fuelled her passion for the profession.

And her hard work and dedication to the school in Great Sankey has not gone unnoticed and Mrs Feltham has been crowned the winner of the Warrington Guardian's teacher of the month award.

"I'm completely shocked," she said moments after being surprised with the award in front of a full assembly of pupils and fellow teachers.

"You don't do this job to be praised but of course it is lovely to be recognised and to think some people have nominated me for the award."

The mum of three from Latchford, who by her own admission was a late starter to develop the teaching bug - trained as a teacher in her 30s once her children had started school.

"I started off asking to help out as a midday assistant at The Grange Infant School in Runcorn and I really enjoyed it," she recalled.

After hitting the books at Liverpool Hope University, she got her first job at Sankey Valley and has since taught almost every year group during her time there.

"The staff here are amazing and the parents and the diocese have been really supportive," she said as she listed a couple of the many reasons why she would find it too difficult to leave the school.

"It has real community feel at the school and as we are are small school we all know each other and help each other."

But the main reason she has been tied to the school is the pupils, who she says never fail to make her smile.

"It is when you see the impact you have had on the children and when they have that light bulb moment. It makes it all worthwhile."

Since November, Mrs Feltham has been working as acting head teacher.

Karen Collins, who is one of the parents to nominate Mrs Feltham for the award, said: "Over the year she has helped to raise money to build a playground. She has also helped mums and dads to help their children who have difficulty at home and at school."

Each month, the Warrington Guardian celebrates the hard work, dedication and achievements of one deserving teacher in the town.

The award, which is sponsored by education recruitment and training consultancy Academics Ltd, honours a teacher who has made a real difference to the school community.