Pre-school celebrates a decade in purpose-built setting

Pirton Pre-School staff with children as the setting celebrates its tenth anniversary

L-R: Pirton Pre-School's Michelle Tracey, Helen Godfrey, Karen Roberts, Sam Ellis, Jackie Brown and Karen Illsley (front centre) with children as the setting celebrates its tenth anniversary - Credit: Alex Crow

Pirton Pre-School in Hitchin is celebrating its 10th anniversary today.

Ten years ago - on May 18, 2011 - the group moved into their brand new, purpose-built building after a surge of investment from organisations including Sure Start, to provide high quality care and education for the under fives in the local community.

Pirton Pre-School children and staff with Lord Peter Lilley, then MP for Hitchin and Harpenden in May 2011.

Pirton Pre-School children and staff with Lord Peter Lilley, then MP for Hitchin and Harpenden in May 2011. The group are seen planting a tree in the garden, where they also buried a time capsule - Credit: Pirton Pre-School

Pirton Pre-School began life as Pirton Playgroup in 1973 at 28 High Street, before moving to the village hall. 

A new pre-school site had been a long-term dream for staff and parents of children at the village hall-based setting. Since then, the pre-school has gone from strength to strength, with renovations and the introduction of state-of-the-art equipment ensuring the pre-school continues to provide quality education and care.

Pirton Pre-School is now being the lead of a local pre-school networking forum and leads an innovative approach to early years education.

Looking back on the past 10 years, Carol-Anne McConnellogue, one of the parents who acted as a driving force to get the pre-school into a more permeant home, said: "It felt like we won the lottery! It's unreal that was all those years ago."

Clare Easterbrook, another former Pirton Pre-School parent added: "I remember Carol-Anne phoning me to tell me we had been successful in securing the funding for the purpose built setting, and we were squealing with delight!’

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Amanda Gorman, who was also part of the process, commented: "I remember Carol-Anne phoning me too and screaming out loud in a garden centre - people thought I was mad!

"We have the then playgroup committee to thank for all their hard work and Pirton School and governors for embracing our vision of what we could achieve."

Amy Woodward, who was on the staff at the transition, enjoyed revisiting for a photo shoot with children (now young adults!) from 2011, and expressed how delighted she is at seeing how far the pre-school has flourished. 

Now young adults, former Pirton Pre-School children pose with staff to commemorate 10 years of the setting's permanent home

Now young adults, former Pirton Pre-School children pose with staff to commemorate 10 years of the setting's permanent home - Credit: Alex Crow

Pirton Pre-School is also marking their 10-year milestone by celebrating with cake, while also running a series of fundraising challenges all around the number 10, starting with the donation of 10p coins. 

Anne Fryer, the current chair of the committee, remembers going to the opening day with her two-year-old daughter, and being thrilled that such a provision had been built in time for her children.

Anne’s four children have all started their ‘school’ life at the pre-school and she is very sad at the prospect of her youngest leaving this summer - nine years after her eldest started! 

Manager Karen Illsley said: “It’s a privilege to work at Pirton Pre-School. To see the children so engaged and their enthusiasm to learn is what its all about! We have begun to have external professionals back into our setting and the feedback from them has been overwhelming.

"Having been in childcare for over 20 years, it's wonderful to see my vision finally come to fruition, with the support and dedication of my dream team!"
 

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