Current and former staff of a nursery and family centre gathered to say farewell to the “one in a million” founder.
Marion Mayhew and her late husband Steve have helped thousands of children in Lynn after forming Mr Bees 20 years ago.
Youngsters have been either cared for at one of the three nurseries or received help from the counselling service over the two decades.
Now Mrs Mayhew has decided the time is right to retire and is hoping to jet out to start a new life in America with her son Christopher.
Staff at the three Mr Bees sites organised a surprise party for Mrs Mayhew on Saturday.
Mrs Mayhew said she was “overwhelmed” by the party.
She said: “They talked about the achievements of setting up the three child care sites and family support and counselling, but for me it has always been about the people.
“Mr Bees helps people to achieve their potential and there were a lot of people at the party who have done that.
“We were a children’s centre for four years and we worked with deprived families and helped them. That is a big thing for me.”
Mr and Mrs Mayhew opened the first Mr Bees family centre in Hillington Square in 1995.
They soon realised that child care was a big issue in the town and opened their first nursery in 1999.
Over the years, Mr Bees has grown to take on sites in St Augustine’s, Springwood and North Lynn.
Mr Bees became a Surestart Children’s Centre in 2007 until the Government pulled funding in 2012. The centre was then able to secure funding to expand and also had to sell off the site in Hillington Square.
Mrs Mayhew said: “After a difficult few years, Mr Bees is now in a good financial position and ready for someone to come in and do the family work.
“I wish everyone the very best. Mr Bees is a very special place and we have some wonderful people.
“I would like to say a big thank you to Dr Dennis Barter, John Carney, Robert North and Penny Giles. The staff have been outstanding. I would like thank everyone who has used Mr Bees.”
People travelled from London and Coventry to wish Mrs Mayhew well.
Dr Barter, chairman of the trust, thanked Mrs Mayhew for her work before she was presented with a Rolex watch.
HR officer Zeena Ahamath said: “She is a unique lady and cannot be replaced. She is one in a million.”