Next month (August), Romsey Mill will say “goodbye” to its longest serving member of staff.
Rachel Matthews has been part of the Romsey Mill team for almost 25 years; but in August she will be retiring from her role with Cambridge-based children’s charity she joined in 1992.
Throughout that time, Rachel has led Romsey Mill’s Pre-School provision and has also furthered the charity’s work with families through its Children’s Centres.
But for the thousands of young families and children who have attended groups at the charity’s centre on Hemingford Road, Rachel has been the ‘face of Romsey Mill’.
Neil Perry, Romsey Mill Chief Executive said: “We will miss Rachel greatly; but we are so thankful for the dedicated, long-term, self-effacing and yet deeply impactful service she has given. Under her loving support and professional direction our early years care and education has grown and flourished.”
Neil Perry added: “For over 24 years, Rachel has demonstrated outstanding commitment to Romsey Mill’s mission - which is to overcome disadvantage, promote inclusion and develop wellbeing - through devotion to the nurture of hundreds of young children and support for families.”
Reflecting on her work with Romsey Mill over nearly a quarter of a century, Rachel Matthews said: ”Seeing young children change and grow in their early years is amazing. The way they absorb all that goes on around them and transfer their learning into their lives is such a joy to see and be a part of. Most children are able to make good progress but all too often there are barriers and stumbling blocks along the way. To be able to support, encourage and guide children and parents is such a privilege.”
Rachel added: “There have been so many opportunities to nurture young children and their parents. Through Early Support, Social Care and Health Services as well as our expertise in parenting and child development services, we are able to work together to provide the right level of support and advice as we stand with each child and family.”
Speaking of the difficulties and rewards associated with her role, Rachel said: “The work can sometimes be a challenge. We will put the pressure of paperwork to one side, this is about the children. We automatically take temper tantrums, potty training, childhood frustrations and other milestones into our stride. There are times when a child’s health issues impinge on their development – I will always remember when a 3 year old boy whose language development had been hampered by hearing problems saying very clearly to me after his grommets operation – ‘Look there’s a ladybird’ . The world had suddenly opened up to him and he was so excited. His single mum was so thankful to us because she hadn’t been able to work out what was wrong.”
Neil Perry also spoke of the impact of Rachel’s work over more than 2 decades. He said: “Through Rachel’s work she has improved outcomes for young children and their families and reduced inequalities between families in greatest need and their peers. In the areas of child development and school readiness, parenting aspirations and parenting skills, child and family health and life chances, Rachel has had a lasting impact for good. We are indebted to her and thank God for her good and faithful service.”