A headteacher of a nursery and children’s centre in Wellingborough has retired after spending almost 20 years educating generations of youngsters.
Chris Whelan became headteacher of Croyland Children’s Centre, in Croyland Road, in 1998 but had spent several years beforehand working as a nursery teacher.
Mrs Whelan, 61, said she is sad to leave her role and had been privileged to work in a great community.
Her work colleagues held a party at the children’s centre on Friday to pay tribute to the former headteacher and to celebrate her retirement.
Former colleagues, current staff members, friends, children who attend the nursery and their families, all attended the celebration and Mrs Whelan said she had been lost for words.
She said: “I didn’t know anything about it, they had done a wonderful job of keeping it a complete secret for me.
“It was a perfect day with perfect people, and it was wonderful for everybody to be there.”
She added: “I believe that’s one of the things that makes Croyland special, it really is at the heart of the community.
“The nursery has been here for a very long time, and all the people involved, past and present, have fully concentrated on making this place special.”
The deputy headteacher Jackie Jones paid tribute to the popular headteacher.
She said: “She has dedicated her working life to improving the nursery and children’s centre.
“Things have changed dramatically since Chris became headteacher, for instance we now have a fully integrated children’s centre and offer a range of services throughout the year.
“She has been an absolutely wonderful headteacher and we wouldn’t be in the position we are today without her.”
Mrs Whelan said she would be leaving with a heavy heart.