Garden party for Brenda after 30 years at Mattishall Pre-school

Brenda Varley is retiring from Mattishall Pre-School after 30 years, with pupils from left, Blake Wa

Brenda Varley is retiring from Mattishall Pre-School after 30 years, with pupils from left, Blake Ward (4), Pollyanna Fisher (3), Esme Walker (4) and Chloe Downes (4). Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A long-serving pre-school supervisor is retiring after 30 years of looking after children – and now the hundreds of grown-ups who have enjoyed her care in the past are invited to her leaving party.

Brenda Varley, 66, has been involved with Mattishall Pre-School, near Dereham, since 1979 when her son Christian, now 38, joined at the age of four.

She moved through various roles on the parent rota and committee and, following a break to have her second child Susannah, she was promoted to supervisor in 1993.

Since then, she has worked tirelessly for generations of youngsters, while educating other adults in child care and safeguarding.

A garden party is being held in her honour on July 21 – and Brenda hopes to see some familiar faces there.


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'A lot of the children come back as parents and are surprised that I'm still here,' she said. 'There could have been 800, 900 of them? I don't know.

'But it would be nice to see them again. A lot of them still live in the village, a lot have moved on. But a lot of them bring their own children here and I would like to think that if they did enjoy their time here they could pop back and say hello.'

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Having trained as a secretary, Brenda said she didn't set out for a career in child care – but she realised her passion for it after the arrival of her own children.

'I think childhood, for me.... I did have happy memories, but it was not the happiest of childhoods,' she said. 'It was one of those times when things were often hard for families. You like to think that childhood should be a happy time for children, and maybe I can give them something I never really enjoyed myself. That is one of the things that drives you.

'If you watch children develop, sometimes from a very low base, they can be hard work but you can watch them grow. I think if they have been here and enjoyed that time, then that's wonderful. It makes it all worthwhile.'

Brenda's last day with the children is on July 24, although she will still be doing administrative work through the summer before formally handing over the reins in September.

After retiring, she hopes to spend more time with her husband George at their home on Dereham Road in Mattishall – as well as seeing more of their four grandchildren Cobie, 17, James, 15, Erin, 5 and one-year-old Jack.

'I suppose I will be a bit sad, but I am looking forward to doing my own thing and getting my time back,' she said. 'I am looking forward to catching up on my gardening and my decorating and spending time with my own family. But I will miss coming to pre-school, because it is the habit of a lifetime.

'Thirty years is a long time, and to suddenly not be doing it any more will seem a bit strange. But it is time to move on to something different.'

The garden party will be held at Mattishall Pre-School on Dereham Road, from 2pm-4pm on Sunday, July 21. For more information contact Emma Rudd on 01362 850417 or email flattyem@gmail.com.

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