A grandmother-of-twelve celebrated her 70th birthday with a surprise trip to her former primary school in North Finchley.

Gill Barker was “amazed” when her birthday outing turned out to be a tour of Northside Primary School, in Albert Street, where she was a pupil until 1953.

Her husband Reverend Dr Tony Barker secretly planned the event with the help of the school. Leaving their home in Cambridge last Friday morning, Mrs Barker was completely unaware until she reached the school gates.

Rev Barker, 68, said: “She has always spoken very warmly about her time at Northside. It was Northside that really got her going with books and reading and I thought it would be a very interesting thing for her to go back there and take a look around.”

Mrs Barker said: “It was a complete surprise. I didn't have a clue.

"When you get to my age you start to reminisce a bit and I often refer to my school days there. It was so interesting and gratifying to see all the things I remembered the way it had been. Of course some things had been updates and rearranged but it was pretty much the same. Even the playground sent my pulses racing.”

The couple were guests of honour at an assembly where pupils showed of their drumming, singing and dancing skills, and Mrs Barker was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a birthday card.

Thinking back to her school days, she said: “I had the same teacher, Mr Kenneth Leach, for a few years and he was such an inspiration.

“I’m so fond of the school – I was so happy there. I even have dreams about it to this day. It was just wonderful to go back and see it all.

“It was good to find it continues to be a remarkably friendly place of learning and is now an exciting multi-cultural community.”

Mrs Barker went on to Henrietta Barnett School and then became a library assistant in Finchley Public Libraries before moving to Bristol University Library and then Cambridge.

She first met her husband when they were children at a youth club at North Finchley Baptist Church. They were married at the same church in 1967 and have four children and 12 grandchildren.