“When Gina Hollingsworth and I started the playgroup at Queensway Chapel over 30 years ago, it was with the intention of providing high quality care for 3 to 5 year old children in the Queensway area. We were both qualified teachers and we were at home caring for our young daughters. The playgroup my daughter went to had recently closed so there was a need for a playgroup in the Queensway area of Melksham. Gina and I were members of Queensway Chapel and the Leadership Team at the Chapel agreed with us that it seemed an ideal opportunity to start a playgroup in the newly built games room of the Chapel. Many of the parents from the recently closed playgroup supported us and a number volunteered to help us. We were registered to admit 25 children per session and opened after Easter in April 1982. At first we only opened 3 mornings per week and had 30 children registered on the books.
We became a charity under the umbrella of Queensway Chapel and our mission statement was as follows:
‘Queensway Chapel Playgroup is a Christian Charity that supports families in caring for their young children. We do this through the high quality care and purposeful play activities that we provide’.
The playgroup continued to thrive and it was not long before we were opening five mornings per week and the number of children attending continued to grow. Some of the parents who originally volunteered to help us went on to gain qualifications in childcare and found employment in local schools and other nurseries and playgroups.
By the mid 1990s we were open 9am until 4pm each week day and realised that we were quickly outgrowing the Church premises we were using. In December 1999 the department of Wiltshire Council which oversees Early Years Childcare and Education approached the Playgroup Management Committee to inform us that there were grants available for playgroups and nurseries in Melksham to expand and move into their own purpose built premises. After much prayer and soul searching we decided to apply for the funding and to seek further grants and to find fun ways of raising money. We sold bricks, packed bags at IKEA, sold cakes, took part in treasure hunts and various sponsored events to raise the money.
The site chosen was in the grounds of what was then St. Michael's Church of England Primary School. The building was pre-constructed in a factory and arrived in sections on the back of a fleet of lorries. The children and staff eagerly watched as the building which is clad in larch, was erected and over the next few months the building gradually took shape. It is a light airy building divided into areas for the different aged children, providing disabled access and is surrounded by its own outside play area. It was with great excitement that on 19th April 2004, 22 years after we started the playgroup we moved into our own purpose built premises on Queensway. Officially the building was opened by Sally Challoner of BBC Points West on Saturday 18th September 2004.
Even though the Nursery is now using its own premises and has become a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee, we still have strong links with Queensway Chapel. Many of the members of the charity are Christians who worship at the Chapel. The Nursery is supported by the members through prayer, encouragement and financially. Links are also maintained with Queensway Chapel Family Centre and the Canberra Children's Centre, so that the families who attend the Nursery can be supported in various ways.
When I retired in 2008 I knew that the Nursery would continue to develop on the same foundations that Gina and I had started back in 1982. This is because Sue Jenkins (the Manager) and the well qualified and caring nursery staff continue to offer the same high quality childcare through the Early Years Foundation Stage and I was therefore happy to continue my support of the Nursery by becoming a Trustee.”
Chair of Trustees
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