Leaver proves herself to be a stayer

Educator Shirley Leaver with Stewart (9), Melissa (7) and Anthony (3) Marshall of Como.
Educator Shirley Leaver with Stewart (9), Melissa (7) and Anthony (3) Marshall of Como.

Twenty years later, Ms Leaver can still be found working with the children in the centre.

During October, the centre celebrated its 20th birthday as well as Ms Leaver’s 20 years of service.

In the week of October 21 to 25, past children, staff, members of the committee, parents, Uniting Church ministers and members of the South Perth Uniting Church congregation met each evening to reminisce about the centre’s history over the past 20 years and nearly everyone had memories of Ms Leaver.

In the three weeks leading up to the centre’s first opening and the three weeks after that, she volunteered her time to get things up and running.

She said it was important to her to be there at the very start so she could get to know all the kids from the beginning.

Three weeks after the centre opened she was put on the payroll and has worked at the centre ever since.

She said she could still see and hear Blake, the first child to walk through the centre’s doors.

Many of the centre’s children remember Ms Leaver for her love of music.

Thomas Hamilton-Stone (13) said he recalled her guitar but also her ‘being kind and like a grandmother’.

Thomas was one of the very first babies to enrol when the centre opened the baby room in July 2000 and during the celebrations he played his clarinet and saxophone in her honour.

‘During my 20 years at the centre I have learned so much,’ Mrs Leaver said.

‘Even though I am a mother and a grandmother, I have always found something new to learn and have been very happy here.

‘As I do not see my family often, as they are scattered all over the country, this centre has become my family.’