Our daughter started sessions in nursery pre-school some years ago. We were lucky at the time to also find a place for her at the childcare service provided by Lynne Murdoch, from her Nithsdale home, in the village of Thornhill. Over the years Lynne’s team has been a great resource for our family – providing support when needed either before or after school, during the school holidays, and even occasionally at weekends.
In all this time I have found Lynne to be consistently cheerful, welcoming with a ready smile, and always with a kind word at the end of the day. Her approach is flexible and she is endlessly inventive in finding ways to accommodate special requests, changes to plans, or a sudden need for her help that may crop up unexpectedly. She has succeeded in creating a safe and loving environment where over the years, so many children have spent some part of their formative young lives. She also has the uncanny knack of making every parent feel their child is special to her. Lynne’s is a vital service to parents and an important contribution to a local community, one that she knows and understands so well.
For all these reasons, I wanted to include Lynne Murdoch in this series about inspiring people in Dumfries and Galloway who make a difference to our daily lives. I do hope you enjoy reading her interview.
1. Where did you grow up and go to school and when did you start to think of childcare as a career?
I was born and grew up in the countryside of Upper Nithsdale and lived there for the first twelve years of my life, before we moved closer to the village of Sanquhar, where my parents bought the local filling station and decided to convert the workshop into a tearoom. I attended Sanquhar Primary then went on to the Academy. It was at the Academy that I decided I wanted to work with children.
When we moved closer to the village, there were families nearby who were looking for a parent’s helper. I started working for them in the school holidays and at weekends. By the age of 14, I was cycling three miles in the mornings along the back roads, heading off to entertain children, go out for walks, and help out whilst their mums did the food shopping. I would take children to the cinema and go on picnics. The list goes on.
2. What attracted you to the care of children as a career?
My love of childcare grew from these experiences and when I was old enough, I started babysitting for the local doctor and a few farmers’ families too. On leaving school, I went to College to do my National Certificate in Childcare and Education, before becoming a nanny to gain experience and to further my childcare career. The demand was high in my area and as it’s a small community the parents knew each other so we could work out together what days I worked for which families, sometimes looking after more than one family at once.
Continuing with my childcare education, I went on to complete my Higher National Certificate in Childcare and Education, by attending evening classes.
In 2003 I decided to travel to Australia and find work there, but city life wasn’t for me, so I returned a short time later and became a supply Nursery Nurse for both Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire councils. I gained great experience by doing this, but as there were no permanent jobs, I decided I could try to do something similar on my own.
3. When did you start up your own business, what was the set up to begin with and how did it change over time?
In 2005 I decided to take the plunge and start up my own business. Doing a lot of research, I realised Sanquhar wasn’t in the right place to do this, so I decided to move down to Thornhill and start childminding there. What would I call my business? As I have always had a love for Winnie the Pooh, what better name but ‘Tiggerific Childcare’? In April 2006 I opened the doors to six children, and I have never looked back. I rented a house for the first year to see how things would go, then I bought my own house, and my business has grown and grown.
In 2009 I married my husband Ross and I also took on an assistant and increased my numbers. In 2010 Ross and I had our first child, Mia, so in 2011 we moved to a bigger house and took on another assistant. In 2013 we completed our family by having Jack.
4. Tell me how you came up with the idea of expanding your service to include before and after school care? What was involved in setting it up and who chose the name?
Due to the ongoing demand for before and after school care, I looked into premises to cater for this whilst I grew my childminding business for pre-school.
In 2015 I secured premises at the local school, sent out leaflets to the parents and got the children involved by running a competition on what to call the before and after school club and what logo to have.
The winner was WHASCALS – Wallace Hall After School Club Active Loving Service. It is a Community Interest Company (CIC). A pupil at the Academy designed a logo for us too.
5. How did things develop from there?
I now had two childcare businesses. To keep in line with the Care Inspectorate, I had to go to University to do my BA Childhood Practice. For WHASCALS I took on four members of staff, two covering the morning shift and two, sometimes three, covering the evenings.
6. How have the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 affected your work? Have you been able to adapt to the changed situation?
The first lockdown affected WHASCALS really badly as we had to close completely. Unfortunately as some parents were still working, they had to look elsewhere for childcare, By August 2020, when WHASCALS could re-open, the demand wasn’t there for us and I lost some staff too. So rather than shut down the service completely I have at present become inactive, so if the demand rises and appropriate premises are found, I can reopen.
Tiggerific was allowed to remain open for the children of key workers. I managed to keep busy, but have had to spend a lot of money to cover extra restrictions and requirements that have been put in place. I also lost a few families earlier than planned, when the nursery reopened and a few children moved to funded sessions, During the second lockdown WHASCALS remained closed, but Tiggerific was open as normal.
7. What are the most satisfying aspects of providing a childcare service?
My most satisfying experience has to be seeing each child grow as an individual into their own little person. I also like being seen as part of the family and not just a childcare provider. Looking after children for 26+ years I have became part of the lives of some of the families. At my wedding I had two of the girls I used to nanny as my bridesmaids, Judi and Kathryn, and also one of the boys, Callum, played the pipes at my wedding, After Mia and Jack were born, Judi started babysitting for them, so the roles were reversed, Judi then came to work for me and start her qualification in childcare, before moving on to Germany to further her career there.
8. How would you like your work and the service you provide to develop in the future?
My dream in the future would be to have my own business in its own premises, providing childcare from birth upwards. I can but dream!
Contact: If you wish to get in touch with Lynne Murdoch about the childcare services she provides, feel free to call: 07740 359038.