Plea to save tin hut pre-school that needs £10,000 for improvements

Daily Echo: Children and staff at Durley Ladybirds Pre-school. Children and staff at Durley Ladybirds Pre-school.

SHABBY, rustic, or charming – call it what you will, the tots inside this pre-school love it. But that might not be enough to save the Durley Ladybirds Pre-school 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.

Ladybirds desperately needs at least £10,000 for a new toilet and an extension. It also needs to double the number of children registered to remain viable.

The school’s 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,” Mrs Gailer said.

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

Mrs Burton said: “We need people to visit us and see what we do here.

"I don’t think people know there is a pre-school here sometimes.”

To find out more about Ladybirds, call 07523 376830.

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