AN award-winning nursery that cares for hundreds of youngsters has reached a major milestone by celebrating its 25th birthday.

Cairellot Nursery, in Bishopton, was started by mothers Rosie Elliot and Ann Cairns in April 1993 and last week staff and children pulled out the party poppers for a much-deserved celebration.

The nursery, now led by Rosie and her son Martin – Ann died about 15 years ago –started caring for just three youngsters but now welcomes more than 400 a week and employs 50 staff.

Rosie said she felt emotional looking back on all the hard work throughout the last quarter of a century.

She said: “I feel proud to be part of this village. Not many people get the chance to follow their dream, and every day when I walk through the door and hear the sounds of all the children, I feel lucky to have followed mine.

“I felt really emotional on the day we marked 25 years. It’s been a lot of hard work but it’s been so worth it.

“We started off with two staff and now have 50 and I now offer places to more than 400 children a week. Pupils from primary one to primary seven, and a few from S1 and S2, also come for after-school care.

“It has grown beyond all belief.”

Many people who had previously been looked after at the nursery returned for the celebrations on Friday.

As a gift to the children, the nursery has invested in a number of new IT resources to support their learning experience and every child walked away with a cuddly toy and a special mug

after the party.

Rosie and Ann started the nursery with a vision that every child had the right to a quality childcare experience. Many in the village know of their idea of a shy little caterpillar who goes to

nursery, makes friends and grows in confidence before growing into a beautiful butterfly, ready to fly away to school.

As well as all the children Rosie and Martin look after and staff they employ, they also welcome young people wanting work experience and modern apprentices.

Rosie won Employer of the Year at the Provost Community Awards in 2014 and nursery worker Gillian McGrane said Rosie had always valued her staff greatly.

She said: “Rosie firmly believes her staff are her greatest resource and it is this ethos that has made Cairellot the long-running success it is today.

“Many of the ‘butterflies’ from the past returned to celebrate with Rosie and the team, which was a wonderful surprise.”