Durley pre-school under threat from closure

Andover Advertiser: Durley Ladybirds Preschoolers are working to raise funds to update their tin hall Durley Ladybirds Preschoolers are working to raise funds to update their tin hall

SHABBY, rustic, or charming - call it what you will, the tots inside the Durley Ladybirds Pre-school building love it.

But that might not be enough to save it from closure.

Attendance has plummeted in the past year and on some afternoons staff are looking after just two children. Last year attendances were regularly reaching 20.

The schools manager, Leanne Burton, said: “We might have to close if it doesn’t improve. It’s not quite imminent, but we’re determined to get the numbers up.”

The building, owned by the church, is more than a century old and has a certain rag-tag appeal. But Anna Gailer, a pre-school practitioner at Ladybirds, said it desperately needs some work.

“It’s very old and it’s cold. We’re talking with the church and we need a new toilet fitted. It’s just money that we can’t get much of,” she said.

Ladybirds has been a part of the village since 1985 and staff say they offer something unique.

“We do things differently here. The children have got so much outside space to play in and because it’s small, we know our children very well, and we know the families really well. It’s just a really sweet place,” Mrs Gailer said.

Ladybirds’ staff said that the recent opening of preschools in places like Hedge End has diverted children away from Durley.

Mrs Burton said: “We need people to come and visit us and see what we do here. I don’t think people know there is a pre-school here sometimes.”

Staff are now organising a series of fundraisers, which kicked off with a wine tasting evening at Piccolo Roma restaurant in Bishop’s Waltham.

If you would like to find out more about the Ladybirds Preschool, call 07523376830.

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