Thursday, 24 January 2019

Pre-school celebrates 50 years of nurturing children

Pre-school celebrates 50 years of nurturing children

A CHILDREN’S nursery has celebrated its 50th anniversary.

St Andrew’s Pre-School in Caversham Heights was formed by a group of parents in 1968 and still meets in St Andrew’s Church hall in Albert Road.

To mark the occasion, a party was held at the hall which 130 people attended and enjoyed cakes and glasses of fizz as well as having their photograph taken in a giant 50th birthday photo frame.

There was a display about the history of the pre-school and photo albums from down the years.

The pre-school began as the St Andrew’s playgroup to provide childcare that wasn’t previously available in the area.

Since then it has grown and now operates on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well as Friday mornings and also has a lunch club on Fridays.

Hilary Coome, who has been manager for the last eight years and deputy for 10 years before that, said: “It was a small group of children initially and now we have up to 30 children per session.

“It was really just to support parents with children and give them different activities and a different environment to home.

“Over the years we have built our lovely pre-school garden at the back and we have expanded within the building itself as much as we can.

“We have a very good reputation in the community. We have always been an outstanding setting and we were ‘outstanding’ in our last [Ofsted] inspection in 2015. We have a good, long waiting list. We have very strong friendships and relationships with our parents and they choose to come on to the committee, which is great.”

Mrs Coome added: “The pre-school is so important to me. It’s been a massive part of my life and I can’t think of ever going anywhere else or doing anything else.

“My daughters Eleanor and Annabel came here when they were three and they are now 28 and so did my son James and he’s now 24.”

The majority of children move on to Caversham Primary School or the Heights Primary School.

Alison Parmenter, of Kidmore Road, who helped start the pre-school, said: “I was a probation officer and saw that children needed something.

“It was nice to have other mothers to talk to — you needed some kind of support.”

Current treasurer Amy Fletcher said: “This is such an amazing and nurturing environment for children and really prepares them for school.”

Caroline Foulkes, a former chairwoman of the pre-school committee, said: “It’s just phenomenal to see such a beautiful, flourishing pre-school still going and so many families that have been served by it over the years.

“What I like about it is it’s local, in the heart of the community, and the staff who work here care so much about the children.

“It’s a tribute to all the people involved that the pre-school is still here and flourishing.”

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