After almost three decades of providing Family Day Care to 222 children in her home in Jamestown, Jackie Best was officially farewelled last week as she moves into retirement.
Local families were not going to let her go without saying a big ‘thank you’, throwing a surprise farewell party with 120 people in Bundaleer Picnic Grounds last Sunday before Jackie and husband, Jim, move to Adelaide.
Jackie said she was overwhelmed by the farewell, and was completely caught off-guard thinking she was heading to Clare for lunch before Jim turned the car into the picnic grounds and she was greeted by loads of familiar faces.
“It was such a big surprise, I really had no idea at all what had been planned,” Jackie said.
“As we drove in and everybody was there, I nearly died of shock, but it really was lovely, absolutely wonderful and I didn’t stop talking all day and had lots of photos taken with families.”
Among the families there to farewell Jackie were the Haggers, who are a ‘second generation’ family to have had children in Jackie’s care.
Mary Hagger and husband Andrew’s children Paul and Matt Hagger started going to Jackie’s family day care in August 1992, when Paul was nearly six and Matt had just turned two, and Mary said Jackie had always felt like “part of the family”.
“The boys continued to go to Jackie’s until Paul was about 12 and Matt, eight,” Mary said.
“Matt and his wife Mel sent their three children, Emerson, Arley and Luca, to Jackie for their care too, being one of only two families where Jackie has looked after the second generation.”
Mary said Jackie was well-loved by all the children and families who were fortunate to have had her as their care provider.
“The children all responded positively to Jackie’s loving and calming manner, and were always well behaved for her,” Mary said.
“She was always so calm, you felt confident in her giving the kids her full attention. She was firm and the kids knew they must do as they were told, she seemed to know what worked for each family.
“Jackie kept the children all busy, they would go to the library for rhyme time or Busy Bugs or to Little Jimmies, or walk to the playground.
“The kids loved going in the bus – Jackie’s blue Tarago – she would take them with her shopping, or into the bank.
“Everyone in town knew Jackie’s bus, and will miss seeing the kids in it with her.”
Paul, now 34, and Matt, now 30, along with Matt’s family were there on Sunday, together with about 60 of ‘Jackie’s kids’ who wanted to show their “appreciation and love” for her.
Last Wednesday Jackie was presented with a photo taken at Sunday’s farewell, along with a book with photos and messages of appreciation from many of her childcare families, as well as flowers and a Travel SA voucher.
“Jamestown will miss Jackie and Jim as they are shifting to Adelaide, but they will always hold a place in the hearts of Jackie’s kids and their families,” Mary said.
Jackie said she had loved her Family Day Care work, but was also now looking forward to spending time closer to her own five grandchildren.
“I’ve loved every minute of it,” she said.
“When you have a child in your care from a baby, you watch them grow and see how they develop and change and they really become part of your life.
“But I felt it was time to retire – from work as such, but not from the world – and I look forward to seeing more of my own five grandchildren and am hoping I can have more impact on their lives just as I have had for all my day care children.”