A POPULAR Greenock nursery nurse who devoted 40 years of her life to children in Inverclyde after an initial calling as a nun was given an emotional send off on her retirement.

Greenock Telegraph: Theresa McGoldrick retires from Hillend Children's Centre

Much loved Theresa McGoldrick was treated to surprise party and reunited with colleagues from the past as she left Hillend Children's Centre for the last time.

The 62-year-old worked in a number of local nurseries, rising through the ranks, serving in a number of deputy positions before ending up head of Larkfield Children's Centre.

But her heart always lay with the youngsters in the playroom and she returned home to Hillend, which is an integrated nursery supporting mainstream and children with additional support needs.

Theresa's outstanding devotion to a vocation over four decades also led to the honour of an award for services to education from the Diocese of Paisley's Bishop John Keenan.

She said: "I loved working with children and I loved all the nurseries and people I worked with over those years.

"But I came back to Hillend because I just wanted to be working with children out on the floor in the years that I had left. That was always where my heart really lay.

"I love Hillend Children's Centre, it has a special place in my heart."

The former Notre Dame High School pupil started off aged 17 on an entirely different path, moving to Ireland for a religious life, spending four years in a convent taking instructions on becoming a nun.

But she was called to another future back home, studying child care at James Watt College before working at Barmoss Nursery in Port Glagow.

She then went on to secure positions in other establishments including Lyle Hill Childhood Family Centre.

Theresa quickly stood out and landed a leadership role as acting depute at Bluebird Family Centre and then acting head of centre at Wellpark Nursery.

In 2002 she took on the depute role in Hillend before then moving to onto Larkfield in 2011.

Three years ago Theresa returned to Hillend to work once again with youngsters with additional support needs.

Throughout her life mum-of-two Theresa has stayed devoted to her faith, playing an active role in her parish at St Patrick's, where she volunteers.

Hillend head of centre Sonia McKay says she will be hugely missed.

She said: "Theresa has worked in various positions within child care for the last 40 years with Inverclyde Council.

"She has always been a very devout person and the Catholic religion is very much at the heart of who she is. Theresa has always been a very valued member of staff and was actively involved in all of the religious festivals throughout the year.

"She took the lead in organising the nativity service as she has a lovely singing voice and plays the guitar."

Theresa now hopes to spend her retirement with husband Patrick and her family including her five grandchildren.