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Pre-school's 150,000      Reasons  To Celebrate

                                 by Joe Garbe


Children at Helmdon Acorns Pre-School are set to get the classroom of their dreams following a successful bid for a £150,000 grant.

   Staff, parents and children were united in celebration last week after learning an application to Northants County Council Early Years for a £150,000 capital grant had been successful.

   The grant will allow the pre-school to leave the village's Victorian Reading Room for a new purpose-built pre-school, complete with an outdoor play area and sufficient storage space for toys and equipment.

    Pre-school chairman Rachel Wheeler said: 'For several years we have been desperate to provide the village with a pre-school with free-flow access to outside space in a building designed with the children in mind.

   We want to extend our services to open five days a week mirroring the primary school's hours to provide parents with flexibility in how they access our services.'

   Pre-school treasurer Liz Hart who spent many hours working on the grant application, said: 'We're absolutely delighted.

   We have a site in the village we're hoping to get planning permission for in the next two weeks.

   It is a half-acre site with an outdoor play area.

   We've designed a simple building because it needs to be in keeping with the village setting.'

   Mrs Hart said Helmdon Reading Room does not have enough room for toy storage, meaning some items have to be brought in from a nearby shed.

   The Reading Room's popularity with other village groups also means the pre-school can only open on four days each week, which will be remedied by the creation of the new pre-school building.

   Another key element of the new project is an easily-accessible outdoor area, a feature which is recommended by Ofsted.

   The total project cost is just over £170,000 and the pre-school, a registered charity, hopes to raise the remaining £20,000 with the support of local businesses and other organisations.

  Helmdon Acorns Pre-School hopes to open in September 2010 to coincide with the Government's extension to the free education places for children of pre-school age, which are due to increase to 15 hours per week per child.

The Brackley & Towcester Advertiser - 5th February 2010



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