YOUNGSTERS with special needs will now be able to enjoy the world of sensory play – thanks to a grant from the Gannett Foundation.

The £3,000 awarded to the Hardmoor Early Years Centre in Southampton will be used to refit and re-equip a play room at the centre which is used by up to 100 families. Specialist play equipment used by youngsters with extra learning needs has literally been worn out and the fundraising effort was under way to raise enough money to replace it.

Now thanks to the grant from the Gannett Foundation – the charitable arm of the Newsquest media group which owns the Daily Echo – the children will soon be able to enjoy sensory play again.

Carolyn Allen, who works at the centre said: “The children use the soft play room every day, they get so much out of the play equipment so it is absolutely fantastic to be able to replace what has been worn out.”

Along with providing nursery care, the early years centre, on Leaside Way, is the meeting place of a number of groups.

This includes the Southampton Opportunity Group, which is for families of under-fives who have disabilities or need extra learning support.