Delight for pre-school group

STUARTFIELD Pre-School Group is set to get its commissioned places back later this year after losing them in the summer.

The group, which meets in the village hall, almost closed last year after losing the valued commissioned places, with many parents having to travel to either Mintlaw or Pitfour Schools twice a day with their children.

Pre-School Group manager, Susan Cantlay, said that the news that the places would be re-instated in August this year was “fantastic” and hoped that parents would utilise the facility to its maximum potential.

“To hear that we were getting the commissioned places back was great news, although it’s only provisionally for a year until they see how the numbers are going,” said Susan.

“After losing the places last summer the group was very close to closing. We had to appeal for volunteer staff as we could not afford to pay them. We also went from five days a week down to three just to keep our heads above water.

“Mintlaw Playgroup closed down around the same time and there was nothing in Old Deer and Stuartfield School didn’t have a nursery so some parents were forced to travel to Mintlaw twice a day if they didn’t want to pay fees, and a few of them didn’t have their own transport.”

“We have 14 children at the moment and we are absolutely delighted that we are going to get the commissioned places back.

“We only narrowly missed out as we required five commissioned places and we only had three, but hopefully we can get that number up,” she said.

However, the down side to the return of the commissioned places is that the group requires another member of staff and it is looking to raise the £4,000 necessary to achieve this.

“We have to raise £4,000 between now and October to fund the extra staff member and we are looking for a sub-committee who will help us with fundraising ideas,” said Susan.

“A meeting will be held tomorrow (Wednesday, March 7) at 9.30am in the big hall in the village to which all interested parents are invited.

“We will be letting them know that we are getting our commissioned places back, what it means to them and to the group, and how we can fundraise. Everyone can come along if they feel they can help.

“I’m quietly confident that we can raise the cash, but in order to do so we have to put in the work and pull together.

“ If we don’t raise the cash then we’ll end up losing the funding next year and we may not recover from that,” she warned.

The group currently runs from 9.30am to 12 noon on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but will be looking to increase to five days once the funded places are in place.

“We haven’t decided what we are going to do yet, but we are thinking along the lines of four mornings and one afternoon each week, but that will be discussed at the forthcoming agm,” added Susan.

If anyone would like further information on the group, or would like to help with fundraising, then should call the pre-school group mobile on 07765793538.