Irene Peachey, a popular and long-serving member of Rochdale Borough Council's library staff, has retired after nearly 40 years' loyal service.
Irene is best known for her Bookstart Bear Club sessions, which encourage young families to share books, songs and rhymes in libraries across the borough and develop learning and reading skills.
Bookstart was just one part of Irene's wide-ranging career working with young people, helping generations of children to develop a passion for books and learning.
Irene started at the council in 1982 as a team leader at Kirkholt Playgroup, before moving on to key roles at Balderstone Community School, working in the toddler group, and then at Queensway Primary School. She branched out in to the library service in 2005, developing reading, language and literacy skills in early years' settings.
Irene's Bookstart Bear sessions have packed out in local libraries for years, a testament to her popularity, easy manner and connection with young families.
'I leave with countless happy memories, the hope that I have inspired young people'
Irene said: "Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to work with children. I soon developed a passion for developing children's literacy, language and learning in a fun interactive way, which I have been able to do to my heart's content during my wonderfully enjoyable years in the library service. My work with hundreds of children and families, some of which have attended my sessions as parents, has been so rewarding.
"I leave with countless happy memories, the hope that I have inspired young people, and blessed that I have had the opportunity to do a job I love. It will be sad to move on, but new adventures await, and I will never forget my colleagues and the families I have come into contact with. So, it's goodbye to all that, some of the happiest days of my life."
Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for libraries, said: "Irene is an inspiring and much loved member of the library team, who has done so much for the council and the borough in a magnificent career. The Bookstart Bear Club has shown Irene at her brilliant best, forming an instant connection with youngsters and their parents, to deliver a superb service at packed out local libraries.
"It is the end of an era and Irene will leave behind a legacy she can be proud of. I hope she enjoys a healthy and long retirement, content that her wonderful work will be remembered for years to come, by generations of young families who have clapped for her, laughed with her and just loved every minute of her. Thank you Irene for all you have done."
Diana Gerald, chief executive of the Book Trust, said: "Irene has had such an enormous impact in Rochdale. We've seen her in action, encouraging hundreds of families to read and share stories over the years. Her passion, commitment and energy for Bookstart will be missed. We wish her a very happy retirement, with lots of reading and a very well deserved rest."