Parents and children bid farewell to Stutton Playgroup leader

Left to right: Holly Rowsell (member of staff), Louise Watson (committee Chair), Katie Dowding (member of staff), Helen Smith (outgoing Playgroup leader), Karen Long (Deputy Playgroup leader), Rachel Kirkby (committee member and parent), bottom right is Rachel Jackson (member of staff) all say farewell to Helen surrounded by past and present playgroup children.
Left to right: Holly Rowsell (member of staff), Louise Watson (committee Chair), Katie Dowding (member of staff), Helen Smith (outgoing Playgroup leader), Karen Long (Deputy Playgroup leader), Rachel Kirkby (committee member and parent), bottom right is Rachel Jackson (member of staff) all say farewell to Helen surrounded by past and present playgroup children.
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Parents and children at Stutton Playgroup from the past and present gathered to give the playgroup leader a surprise farewell after 17 years.

Helen Smith marked her last day as team leader on Friday October 23 as the group broke up for half term.

Stutton Playgroup Committee members, parents of children, and children from the playgroup all showed up with gifts and cards to say goodbye to Helen.

Helen said: “It was lovely, it was a very well kept secret!

“There was a big bunch of flowers and there were lots of different faces from past and present children.”

The playgroup is run by a committee, which is chaired by parent and Helen's close friend, Louise Watson, who helped organise the surprise.

Louise said: ""It was really good it was quite funny because Helen was bending the deputy managers off for a little bit saying "I can’t believe Louise hasn’t come" and saying "does anyone care that I am leaving" so she had no idea!"

Starting at the playgroup as a team leader in 1998, Helen has achieved a number of qualifications in child development during her time there.

The foremost of which being a First Class BA (Hons) in Young Children's Learning and Development

Helen is leaving the group after nearly two decades to take on a role as the North Yorkshire County Council’s Early Years consultant, ensuring quality development for children all over the county.

She said: “Hopefully what I will be able to do is make a difference to lots of other children, not just the ones lucky enough to go to Stutton Playgroup.”

When asked what she will miss the most, predictably, Helen answered: "I think that's obvious... The children!"