Scroll Top

Recognising Rita

Colleagues from Castlepark Early Years recently organised an adventurous outing to climb Ben Lomond in recognition of much-loved early years practitioner, Rita Baker.

The day out was in celebration of Rita (pictured below right), showing the love and respect her colleagues have for her and recognising her loyalty to North Ayrshire Council in giving 45 years of service as an early years practitioner.

Rita, who is 64, loves Still Game and had previously shared with the team that climbing Ben Lomond was on her bucket list after watching the last episode of the popular TV series when Jack and Victor take a trip to the scenic tourist location.

Paulene Martin, Head of Centre at Castlepark Early Years (pictured below front left), commented: “Rita is very special to so many people including me. It was a real honour to take part in the mountain climb with the team and something I will never forget – especially since learning as we got higher up the hill that Rita had a real fear of heights as she clung to the side of us. The day really highlighted to me that at Castlepark Early Years Centre we are more than just colleagues.”

The team impressively scaled the mountain together, making the 974 metre climb to take in the stunning views of one of the most scenic mountain locations in the Scottish Highlands.

Situated on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, the highlight pictures show some of the memorable moments as they celebrated the special day together.

Rita’s colleague Lorna Mess said: “I personally will never forget this day for the rest of my life – neither will my body! Making the climb was a real achievement for Rita and it was a lovely recognition experience that we will all remember for many years to come.

“Rita, you were unbelievable, determined to conquer the task at hand, even when you were afraid. At points we were close to admitting defeat but you didn’t… you made it to the top and that’s why I am in awe of your courage and why we love you so much. It was our privilege to have climbed by your side.”

Rita is loved dearly by the children she works with along with their parents, carers and all the other colleagues across the Council who have been lucky enough to work with her over the years, with the team agreeing, “There really is no one like Rita, she is one of a kind.”

Head of Education, Caroline Amos commented: “Since the centre opened 8 years ago, Rita has helped to provide a warm, welcoming and nurturing environment for all and has been an integral part of helping the team to develop the playrooms.

“Congratulations and thanks are extended to Rita for her length of service and contribution to the early years service.

“There is no doubt that Rita is at the very heart of her team who did a fantastic job in conquering Ben Lomond – well done to everyone involved and special thanks to Paulene and her colleagues for organising the trip.”

Do you know of a colleague like Rita who has an upcoming long-service milestone or recognition achievement that your team would like to share in the next edition of Staff Talk?

If so, get in touch with the team via email: for your chance to be featured.

Rita Baker, Castlepark Early Years Practitioner, shared: “Climbing Ben Lomond was one of the hardest things I have ever endured in my entire life. I doubt I would have reached even the half way point of the mountain climb without the encouragement of each of these amazing, kind and caring girls – my heart is honestly bursting with love and pride for them.


“I love working alongside my team and our infants and have done so for the last 40 plus years. Every one of these girls had a huge part getting me up the mountain; carrying my flask, my water, my bag and even answering my phone as I had no energy left. Believe it or not, I am terrified of heights however with lots of encouragement, shouting, laughing with me and holding my hand, I’m proud to say I reached the top alongside my special girls.


“Thank you Castlepark Early Years for a day I will cherish forever.”

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.