Tribute to carer Janette Smithies on her retirement
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AROUND 20 carers gathered on a local bridge to give their colleague a safe retirement send-off.
Janette Smithies (64) from Grosvenor Park, Mundole was "blown away" when she was taken to Tytler Street and saw a "sea of blue" on the bridge from the A96 to Waterford.
The former Moray Council social care assistant said: "I'd just finished my shift. Because of the current climate, we couldn't have a traditional do so - without my knowledge - the girls thought out of the box and came up with an outdoor venue.
"I had no clue - it was a total surprise. I got out of the car on Tytler street and was a bit emotional when I saw everyone. It was awesome!"
Colleague of seven years, Ann Martin, drove Janette to her home on Tytler Street to give her a retirement present.
But she had something even more memorable waiting patiently for her.
Ann said: "I kept her back until everyone was in (socially distant) place. We drove to the end of the road and saw a sea of blue and she said 'that's not for me?'. She hadn't expected anything during the lockdown so was chuffed to bits.
"Motorists passing by put their windows down and clapped along with us.
"The carers' clap was a special event for a very special person. I'm very proud of the whole team for getting together to give her the send off she deserved. "
Ann was shown the ropes by Janette when she first started as a carer.
Ann said: "Janette taught me a lot. She is very easy-going, good fun and a joy to work with. She has a very patient manner, is helpful and very caring. I will miss everything about her, particularly her wisdom. She was one of the main players in our team and everyone looked up to her."
Janette, mum of Paul and Emma as well as granny to Finlay (15) and Charley (4), spent 15 years in the role she loved.
She said: "I enjoyed the challenge - working with and for people in the community who valued me being there. I am proud to have played a part during the coronavirus lockdown with my colleagues. Through regular visits, we helped keep the elderly and vulnerable safe and in their homes, and not one of our service users has had symptoms or passed away."
Janette would like to volunteer in the community during her retirement.
She said: "I have a bit of mileage left in me so I might volunteer in the care sector. I am leaving Moray Council with lots of good memories and a wealth of experience. I would recommend the role to anyone else who "cares"."