FRIDAY is going to be an emotional day for the staff and their young pupils at Glasgow’s Lime Tree Day Nursery.

For that is when the nursery’s head, Aileen Ramsay, will say goodbye to the profession.

She has been the head of Lime Tree - and its predecessor, Holmlea Nursery - for 28 years.

“I really have mixed feelings about leaving,” Aileen said this week. “Obviously I’m looking forward to the freedom and being able to do what I want, but I will really, really miss everybody here, especially the children.

“I’ve worked with children for over 40 years, so I think I might miss them!”

Aileen, who is married to Dr Alistair Ramsay MBE, a former director of Scotland Against Drugs, turned 60 last December, “so I decided it was time I should go.”

Aileen was educated at Broomhill Primary School and Glasgow High School for Girls before studying nursery nursing at Clydebank College.

If things had turned out differently she might have become a fingerprint clerk with the police.

“Strathclyde Police offered me a job until something else came up, so I went for this interview. I often wondered what would have happened if I’d taken that job,” she says. “But I didn’t really fancy it. I wanted to work with children.”

She then qualified as a nurse and spent a few years nursing in Glasgow’s Yorkhill Children’s Hospital before returning to her first love of nursery nursing - her first love.


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Her professional career began at the Sandy Road Nursery, in Partick, and she was appointed Depute Head in 1985.

Within three years she was on the move, to Easterhouse and St Claire’s Nursery.

In 1991 aged just 32, she was appointed the Head of Holmlea Nursery, on the southside. “I was young at that time. I had had a baby, too. Looking back,” she says with a laugh, “I don’t know how I did it all!”

In 2009, a round of closures and mergers involving Glasgow primary schools and nurseries was announced by the City Council, though the proposals attracted protests.

Holmlea was amalgamated with Merrylee Nursery, becoming Lime Tree. Under Aileen it quickly established a reputation as an excellent nursery based in the Merrylee Campus.

That same year she studied to SVQ4 level in Childcare Learning and Development, adding it to her nursery nursing and medical nursing qualifications.

Later she studied Childcare Practice part-time at Glasgow University, graduating five years ago with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2013.

Lime Tree nursery itself has a range of very young pupils, from just six weeks up to five years. The nursery runs three different curriculums - Acorns for the very youngest, Willows for the next oldest, and finally Oaks and Maples.

“They are all very different as you’d expect. The Baby Room is very different for a room for kids aged from three to five, and the staff need to have very special skills. But I amblessed witha fantastic staff, who do an excellent job.

“My job has always been so rewarding, because of the children,” adds Aileen.

“That part of the job has never changed. I still get a wee kick when they take their first step, or whatever. There’s always going to be that thrill.

“But the job itself has changed hugely. There are more and more inspections and mandatory and statutory expectations of us now, including having to get that childcare degree.


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“Our last HMIe inspection was in 2011 and I’m glad to say that we did fairly well, which was good, but the inspections themselves can be so stressful. But parents need to know that you’re offering a quality service, and you need to be able to show that.”

Aileen has worked with more parents and their children than she can possibly remember. She ‘loved’ her spell in Easterhouse, for example.

“Some people think that because I work in a fairly affluent area just now, there are fewer problems, but people are still as stressed about their children as they are anywhere else. They worry about their children; they worry that their children haven’t got any friends, that sort of thing.

“Essentially, parents want to know if their children are happy, and well, and at Lime Tree we make sure they are.”

Over the years Aileen can’t help but notice that young children have changed.

“Children nowadays are far more confident, more confident in their learning - they’ll ask questions. Children are such natural learners.

“Their digital skills are quite incredible, too. Digital learning has been such a big drive in education, because that’s the future.

“But the children love it. You show them once, and they get it straightaway.”

Aileen laughs when asked if there are any of her former charges who have come to attention in their later years.

“Not so much that they’ve become great footballers or anything like that,” she says. “It’s more that some of them have come back to the nursery as parents, with their own children in tow.

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“It’s always lovely to see that. And, because we’re attached to a primary school, we get to see the children as they go through primary. They come back to the nursery as ‘buddies’ and they work with our own children. That is so nice.”