(Run by Helmdon Mothers' Union)
an article by Audrey Beattie
We seem to have been doing Helmdon’s Parents & Tots forever so we had to look up when we started. It was the summer of 2007 when Will Adams, who was our Rector then, asked Dorothy Micklethwaite, Ann Smith and I what we thought about setting up a Mothers’ Union-run Toddler Group to meet in the Church. There had been one in the Chapel when it was still being used but nothing since.
We thought we would have a go, so Dorothy, who had done this sort of thing before, went around the charity shops to buy appropriate toys. She made play dough, and we bought colouring pencils as we had plenty of paper, and actually began in September 2007.
Things haven’t changed an awful lot but we now have duvets supplied by Ann on one side of the church with toys for babies. We have a table with play dough and cutters on the other side, and in the middle, tables for drawing, colouring, and sometimes sticking and painting. In our usual play area we have a box with dressing up things, a mat, and small cars and jigsaws on the table. We started with books for those who like to listen to stories in the Belfry but have now added a tunnel bought with a donation from The Young Husbands, and a small trampoline, which we feel are best on the carpet.
We ask for £1 per month to cover heating the Church and we provide as much tea and coffee, squash and biscuits as required and if someone has a birthday we usually have cake and sing. The last 5 minutes we try to get the older children to come and sing The Wheels on the Bus, etc., in the Belfry.
One of our first visitors was a nanny with her little girl charge. She soon added another little girl and they came regularly until one moved and the other one went to school. She has popped in several times since for a coffee and catch up. Some Mums have come when they are new to the village and it is wonderful for us to see them taken into the group and become friends.
At this time of year we get out our Travelling Crib and during Advent, and even into Epiphany when needs be, our families are a able to enjoy the crib for a few days, then pass it on. The figures are all knitted and soft so can be played with and arranged in the stable. I’d like to pay tribute here to the late Many Duncombe who was a gifted knitter and made the three kings and to Jean Spendlove’s sister, who recently died, for knitting the donkey.
If Zena Balch, Mary Shears, Ailsa Williams and sometimes Celia Terrey are able to keep coming with Ann Smith and I, we hope and pray that Parents and Tots will be around for a good while yet.