IT will be sad day for one retiring childminder as she picks up the two children she takes care of from the playground tomorrow (Tuesday).

As well as being a well-loved childminder for 32 years, Sandra Smith has also graced the playground at Northwick Manor Primary School for over 40 years.

The 66-year-old is a familiar figure in the school's playground having first done the school run for her four daughters Claire, Helen, Katie and Lucy.

After taking care of about 280 children over three decades, Mrs Smith, from Pinkett Street, definitely deserves a well-earned rest.

But instead of staying at home and putting her feet up she is planning on making the most of now being able to book holidays during term time.

A surprise party was thrown in her honour in the school's hall attended by 70 people including parents, children as well as adults who had been cared by Mrs Smith as youngsters.

She said: "It was such a big surprise.

"One of the mums told me she was going to take me out to dinner but needed to get something from the school first.

"We walked into the school hall and then suddenly all these people and children jumped out from behind the stairs and were letting off party poppers - it was wonderful."

The grandmother said there were some children at the party who she hadn't seen for ten years and she is receiving emails, cards and phone calls from people wishing her well on her retirement.

During the party, Mrs Smith, who used to organise street parties in Pinkett Street, was presented with a special cake featuring a fondant figure of her relaxing in a pool on a lilo.

She had planned on stopping last year but carried on when two ten-year-old girls begged her to continue as she they had only one year left at school.

"I have so many happy memories.

"We have been to weddings of some of the children I used to look after, I've been invited to their parties, some of them who are in their 30s now still keep in touch.

"It's been lovely.

"But it's definitely very sad and I'm going to miss everyone - the parents, the children, everything."

Mrs Smith thanked everyone who organised her party including her family who helped to get everyone together.