End of the road for much-loved Welwyn pre-school nursery

Parents and toddlers are disappointed at the loss of the pre-school in Welwyn.

Parents and toddlers are disappointed at the loss of the pre-school in Welwyn. - Credit: Archant

Parents are devastated that a charitable playgroup is to close its doors for good after at least 30 years of caring for village children.

Clare Westwater, manager of Welwyn Under-Fives Playgroup, has told parents of her 44 toddler customers that she will not be able to provide care for them after July.

The playgroup uses a dedicated building at Welwyn St Mary’s School in School Lane, whose governors have decided they need it to cope with planned expansion.

Susannah Wrenn, whose two-year-old son Hubert attends the playgroup, said: “They do a fantastic job.

“My child-minder says it is the one she most recommends, as it has the most nurturing environment. Everybody knows they do a great job.

“There is already very little provision for young children from less advantaged backgrounds in the village who can’t afford private nursery fees, or do not want to have their children looked after for full working days.”

The playgroup , a registered charity run by a committee, charges just £13.80 for three hours of care.

Most Read

Susannah said that local commercial nursery schools charged about £70 for each full day, and did not offer shorter periods.

Clare, who has been employed to run the playgroup for 15 years, and works beside a colleague, Ann Day, said: “It [the building] is perfect for a pre-school. I would not want to move to a Scout hut. I don’t think you could offer the same service.

“I do it because I love being part of the community.”

Over the years the pre-school has adapted its premises with play equipment, a soft outdoor surface and a sandpit.

Clare Stevenson commented on Facebook: “This is tragic. You have been amazing. You have given so many children the best start in life. You are all so lovely.”

Carly Farmer added; “Aw, such sad news.”

Mary Westley, headteacher of the primary school, said: “I can confirm that the under-fives group has been given notice for the end of this academic year.

“This was not an easy decision but the school is expanding and needs the room which the group has been using.

“We hope that the extended 12-month notice period will allow them plenty of time to locate suitable premises to move to. We wish them well and will help in any way we can.”