Scalford Pre-School closes after 11th-hour bid to save it fails

Manager Nikki Clark plays with pre-school children in the garden of Scalford Methodist Church, where the group has met for more than 40 years EMN-191207-161459001
Manager Nikki Clark plays with pre-school children in the garden of Scalford Methodist Church, where the group has met for more than 40 years EMN-191207-161459001
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A campaign to save a village pre-school group which has been attended by generations of children for more than 40 years has failed.

Parents and youngsters left Little Scholars at Scalford for the last time today (Friday) after organisers were unable to find a new venue to meet.

The banner for the pre-school, which will be rendered homeless by the impending closure of Scalford Methodist Church EMN-191207-161448001

The banner for the pre-school, which will be rendered homeless by the impending closure of Scalford Methodist Church EMN-191207-161448001

We reported in April that families were devastated by news that the pre-school’s meeting place - Scalford Methodist Church - was to close at the end of October because it would be too expensive to carry out the repairs needed on the building, which is nearly 150-years-old.

Plans were considered to rent space at the new Scout hut at Holwell but it would have cost double the current rent.

Other ideas were to erect a wooden classroom at Scalford’s recreation ground or extend the village hall but the latter would have cost too much.

Melton Methodist circuit, which manages the building, made an 11th hour offer to allow the pre-school to continue for two more terms until next Easter at the same rent.

Scalford Methodist Church, which is due to close in October EMN-191207-161436001

Scalford Methodist Church, which is due to close in October EMN-191207-161436001

But that solution was scuppered because only nine children were signed up for next term - there are normally around 20 - which would not cover the cost of rent and wages of staff.

There was no waiting list for the first time ever but it is not clear whether that was due to news of the pre-school’s impending closure leading parents to find alternative schemes to take their youngsters to.

A letter sent out to parents by pre-school chair, Janet Leek, confirmed that it was her ‘very sad duty’ to announce that the service would close at the end of term.

“We thank you for your support and wish you and your child a happy and secure future,” she wrote.

“And finally, even though this is a sad day, on behalf of the staff, I’d like to say it has been an absolute blast, we have laughed so hard at times, we’ve cried and it has been a pleasure and a privilege to have welcomed your children to our setting.”

Losing the church building is a huge blow for the village since it also hosted parish council and women’s institute meetings, choir practice, training courses and local election ballots.

The last Methodist church service will be held on October 13 and the building will no longer be available to community groups after the end of that month.

The situation has been compounded by the village hall already being well used with little spare capacity for activities.