ELEANOR Aitken, popular and successful general manager of The Kidz Stop nursery and after-school club in Bo’ness, retired from the role yesterday (Thursday) amid a sea of wellwishers.
She had held that position since The Kidz Stop opened in July 2003, working alongside owner Caroline Gormley.
The grandmother of four has dedicated herself to childcare for 36 years, and to the delight of the team, she will continue as a part-time trainer, assessor and consultant.
The Kidz Stop, where personalised childcare is at the core, is Falkirk Council’s training provider of the year.
It has twice been named runner-up in the National Day Nursery Association Scottish nursery of the year awards and recently expanded into Linlithgow.
Eleanor (65) said: “I think it shows the aims we had have been recognised as being the best and that’s very satisfying.”
She is proud of the team she has worked with, the children who have brought countless smiles to her face, and the support from their families.
“You don’t take a child in at three months and see them off to high school without forming a bond with the parents, and the parents in Bo’ness have been exceptional,” she said.
Eleanor was initially a pharmacy assistant before being prompted, with other parents, to open the Park Road Playgroup in Broxburn after her daughter and others did not get nursery places.
She hasn’t looked back, loving it so much that after 12 years running the group and re-training she became a peripatetic additional needs attendant for West Lothian schools, including seven years based at Linlithgow’s Low Port Primary.
The mum of three then managed Livingston’s Red Apple Nursery before joining Caroline in Bo’ness and has kept herself at the forefront of developments in childcare.
Caroline paid tribute, saying: “She’s just been an amazing support to me opening up the business. She has a tremendous wealth of experience and qualifications and that’s been instrumental in creating a very successful nursery.”
*Caroline is now Dean Road general manager and Samantha Garland is the Linlithgow nursery manager.