The last six years has been a very unsettling time for Dartmouth Pre-school, as a need to refurbish the building we occupy, and ensure its long term viability meant that we were given notice to leave.
The building is a Victorian schoolroom, owned by the Diocese of Exeter, and has been used for education throughout its history, welcoming evacuees during World War II, and being home to the Young Wives group and then a Playgroup. We believe Dartmouth Pre-school is one of the oldest in England, with records going back to 1961.
We were very fortunate to receive tremendous support from our local community, and the local clergy, and plans were eventually put in motion to refurbish the building, and create a purpose-built space for the pre-school. We moved to temporary premises in July 2015, stored most of our equipment, and then moved back to our new home in April 2016. An enormous effort by the staff and committee ensured minimum disruption to our wonderful children and their families, who all took it in their stride.
It was truly a community effort and last month the Right Reverend Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, came to lead a dedication service and to bless the building. All those who had contributed to the success of the venture were invited to attend the service, and our children performed ‘Bob the Builder’ for the congregation. There was then a procession to the Pre-school and the Bishop performed the blessing from the balcony, with everyone looking on from the garden.
Our wonderful new premises include two levels in the play room, a balcony where we can offer free-flow play outside, and a new garden. None of this would have been possible without the superhuman effort of the staff and Committee members over the last six years, the commitment of the Parish of Dartmouth, and the continued support from Devon County Council. A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us, and particularly to the people of Dartmouth, who fought valiantly to save their Pre-school.