STAFF at a nursery and pre-school has bid a fond farewell to a long-serving colleague.

Sheila Basnett has worked at Footsteps in Radcliffe as an early practitioner since helping set it up alongside Diana Harrison in April 1994.

Footsteps is attached to St Andrew’s Church in Radcliffe, catering for children between the ages of two and four, hosting playgroups for up 24 children per session.

Ms Bassett has worked at the school for 27 years, seeing hundreds of children come and go across her long career.

Known for her caring personality and willingness to stay in touch with children and parents long after they have left the nursery, colleagues speak highly of Sheila.

Nursery manager Karen Ramsay, said: “Parents, children and staff alike love her fun character. She has made our workplace a joy

"She has shaped so many hearts and watched so many children blossom from early years and beyond.”

Nursery co-founder Diana added: “I was very sad to hear she’s leaving, but I think she deserves a break and take some time to herself.

“I’m really pleased for her and she will be missed by all.

"She is a very caring, loving, sweet and nurturing person.”

Debra Vine, a former auntie at the preschool, said: “Me and Sheila met and got to know each other through church.

“We both saw a lack of provision for preschool children in the area, so we started Footsteps because we wanted to bless the community.

“She was a lovely lady and showed that through the many families that she has touched, and she is very well known in the area for that.

“I found her to have a very gentle character and I want to wish her well.

Debra added: “Sheila has worked very hard and I wish her much happiness.

“They will really miss her at Footsteps I’m sure.”

Ella Brookfield, another former auntie at the pre-school said Sheila “was like a second mum, who took me under her wing.

“She was so helpful and could light up a room just by walking in, putting fun into things and creating laughter wherever she went.

“To hear that she is leaving now is very sad.

“It feels like the end of an era.”