Award-winning Enniskillen childminder Mary Lunny has recently retired after 28 happy years running her own business.

Speaking fondly of her career, Mary said: “It was great, I had so many children over the years and even now some of them still come back to see me. It meant an awful lot to me, I really loved it.”

A couple of weeks ago, Mary made the decision to retire from the profession that she loved so much.

“I just decided, with Covid-19 and all, that it was time to retire. It’s very difficult for childminders at the minute, with everything that’s going on,” she explained.

Prior to childminding, Mary worked as a classroom assistant for three years in St. Michael’s Primary School. “Then I left there and I worked in some pre-school/playschool settings. Once I left that, I was working around my own family at the time, I set up my own childminding business. As soon as I set it up and the word got out that I was a childminder I was inundated with calls. It started from there and I never looked back since,” shared Mary.

In 1996, Geraldine Corrigan, whose children were minded by Mary at the time, nominated her for the Cow & Gate Childminder of the Year Award. Mary went on to win the award and received much notoriety for it.

“I was absolutely delighted to get it. We then appeared on Downtown Radio and the Gerry Anderson show. We had a brilliant time. I was then inundated with calls to mind more children but I was full up at the time so I couldn’t,” said Mary.

Sharing another fond memory of her time as a childminder, Mary said: “We did a toddlers’ walk at Castle Coole where we raised over £1,000 for Children In Need.”

When asked what she’ll miss most about childminding, Mary said: “I’ll miss the children. When you’ve had children from six months, maybe a year. I had a family that was with me for 18 years and you watch them growing up over the years. From wee babies to toddlers to going to nursery school, primary school, secondary school and on to university. You look back on the years and think, ‘my goodness, where did that time go’. They are like a second family to you. It’s just been a wonderful experience for so many years. I didn’t think I’d stick at it for 28 years but time goes in so quickly.”

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Mary told this newspaper.