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Happy Tots blossoms as second pre-school opens in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 15:06 19 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:08 19 February 2018

The Happy Tots pre-school is expanding its offering with a new branch called Sunflowers launched at All Saints Church in Ipswich. Pictured is Macey Ainsworth. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The Happy Tots pre-school is expanding its offering with a new branch called Sunflowers launched at All Saints Church in Ipswich. Pictured is Macey Ainsworth. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A volunteer-run pre-school which has been educating youngsters for more than 30 years has expanded to its second pre-school this week - with plans for more in the future.

Left to right, Lisa Fulcher, Jeremy Brown, David Riches and Haley Ainsworth, the committee for the Happy Tots Pre-School's expansion with the new Sunflowers group. Picture: GREGG BROWNLeft to right, Lisa Fulcher, Jeremy Brown, David Riches and Haley Ainsworth, the committee for the Happy Tots Pre-School's expansion with the new Sunflowers group. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Happy Tots Pre-School, based at Landseer Road Methodist Church, has been established in east Ipswich since June 1981, with around 70 children split into groups of up to 35 across morning and afternoon sessions.

In December the pre-school was inspected by Ofsted where it was given a ‘good’ rating – with its personal development, behaviour and welfare provision rated ‘outstanding’.

Today, following months of work by the committee and volunteers, the expanded charity was able to open its second pre-school at All Saints Church in Chevallier Street, called Sunflowers Pre-School.

Chairman David Riches said: “It’s nice because our committee are all volunteers and it is nice to get to that next step.

Sunflowers has been launched at All Saints Church in Ipswich, as part of the Happy Tots group. Picture: GREGG BROWNSunflowers has been launched at All Saints Church in Ipswich, as part of the Happy Tots group. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“We had it in the pipeline from when Ofsted came [to Happy Tots], and since Ofsted had come it was full steam ahead.

“We decided it is now time for the charity to grow, so Sunflowers is our first step and hopefully as that grows we will expand it further, because we have such a good service.”

An open day was held in January where prospective parents could meet the volunteers and see what kinds of activities the pre-school would run.

It has already started with around 15 youngsters, and is available for more to sign up, having a capacity of around 30 children per session.

Isabel Ryley playing at The Happy Tots pre-school. Picture: GREGG BROWNIsabel Ryley playing at The Happy Tots pre-school. Picture: GREGG BROWN

That includes the ability to take on a good number of those eligible for 15 or 30 hours per week of free childcare, funded by the government.

The team said the demand for pre-school places had been growing in Ipswich, which coupled with the necessary funding in place and the suitability of the church premises meant it was able to open.

The group’s long term aim is to become self-funding.

Mr Riches added: “We have got to find suitable premises to hold a good amount of children.

“Eventually it will fund itself, but it is a registered charity – we hope to change it to a directorship [in the future] but we are waiting to see when.”

To find out more call 07849 758920.

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