For Lindy Farrant it has always been about the children.
Why did she stay on as director of the Parkes Early Childhood Centre (PECC) for 33 years? Her short answer: “the children”. “Her passion was there for all to see,” said Parkes Shire Mayor Ken Keith at her farewell on Saturday at the Parkes Golf Club, which was attended by more than 200 people. “The wonderful staff at PECC were all inspired by Lindy to give their heart and soul.”
All the speeches at Miss Lindy’s farewell focused on her passion that was a source of inspiration. “Lindy always leaves you more positive than you ever thought would be possible,” said Craig Smith, president of the management committee.
He said with so many great qualities the best way to describe Lindy was using the famous passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 replacing the word love with Lindy: “Lindy is patient, Lindy is kind….”
Acting director Colette Genet-Marks, who has worked with Lindy for more than 25 years, had everyone on their feet spelling out the letters of Lindy’s name with their arms as she attributed each letter to more wonderful Lindy qualities that they experienced at PECC.
It was a big decision for Lindy to retire, “but the time is right,” she told The Parkes Phoenix during long-service leave she took before her retirement.
“I miss the children and the staff, the families – the people side of it, but I’m enjoying slowing down. PECC is such a wonderful place and it was such a privilege to spend so much of my career there,” she said.
“PECC made history being started by the community, and it still belongs to the community.”
For Lindy, who has not only seen thousands of Parkes children come through the centre, but also knows them all by name, it was beautiful to see the children come back as parents and the joy of the grandparents.
“It is just lovely connections. The roots of the centre are in the community, there is a great sense of history.”
Lindy fondly recalls the early years when there was a huge slide in the playground off the top of a shed with no soft fall underneath and an old tractor for the children to climb on. “That was before the era of work health and safety.”
She also loves progress, especially how science has made a really big impact on education, making childcare so much more focused on early brain development and how crucial it is to set up children for life.
She would like to see a change in society placing more value on play and a greater understanding that play is learning and the best way for children to learn.
“Not many people realise just how much work goes into setting up the play environment at PECC to allow children to build on their strengths, to encourage play and allow them to move freely between activities with different levels of concentration needed.”
Lindy started with PECC in 1978, and in 1984 she started work as a Children Services Advisor. After her two children were born, she took up a teaching post at TAFE.
When an opportunity came up to return to PECC as teaching director in 1993 she grabbed it with both hands. “My heart is with the children. I feel this is where I belong working directly with children and families.”
In August 1994 she became director. “As a leader you need to have the vision, and be open minded, as well as be very mindful of what is best practise, and making adjustments as research comes out.”
It is her vision that has turned PECC into the best early childhood centre in NSW with people from all over the state coming to see how it’s managed. But most of all it is Lindy’s passion to always consider children first that will be her legacy.
By Maggi Barnard