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‘Heartbreak’ as town’s pre-school closes after 30 years

PUBLISHED: 12:45 30 September 2020 | UPDATED: 20:41 01 October 2020

Ladybirds was held at Fakenham's Community Centre. Picture Matthew Usher.

Ladybirds was held at Fakenham's Community Centre. Picture Matthew Usher.

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A pre-school is closing its doors after 30 years after being left with only three children on its books.

Little Angels Pre-School manager Riitta Bridges. Picture: Ian BurtLittle Angels Pre-School manager Riitta Bridges. Picture: Ian Burt

Jayne Wood, deputy manager of Ladybirds pre-school based at Fakenham’s community centre, said the closure was down to a number of factors.

Mrs Wood, who has worked at the school for 27 years, said there was less demand for child care because more parents had been working from home since the lockdown.

She said another factor was the expansion of Fakenham Infant and Nursery School, meaning two-year-olds could register there.

“This was a concern for us at the time and knew that parents who already had another child at the school would logically choose to send their two-year-old there,” she said.

Two members of their staff will join Little Angels in Fakenham Picture: Alice SergisonTwo members of their staff will join Little Angels in Fakenham Picture: Alice Sergison

Mrs Wood said only a small number of children were returning in September, with only three children left on the books, and not many on the waiting list.

The pre-school was independently owned until 2015, when it was taken over by Fakenham child care service Little Angels.

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Ladybirds has been trying to sustain itself for the past two years by making adjustments to its opening times and staffing.

The pre-school was condensed down to three days a week, with ten children coming in for five hours.

But Mrs Wood said the pre-school reached the point where it was no longer viable.

“This was a very sad and difficult announcement to make and we felt a great loss to all the children who had been part of our Ladybirds family over the decades,” Mrs Wood said.

“It is such a privileged job to know that we have been able to help nurture them, giving them support in their development and to watch these children grow into confident, independent individuals.”

Ladybirds’ service has been taken over by Little Angels, which runs a day-care centre on Trap Lane.

Manager of Little Angels, Riitta Bridges, said: “It was heartbreaking for the ladies who had built up a business and been there for a long time.

“To have to decide overnight that we had to close the community centre programme, it was just heartbreaking.”

Two Ladybirds staff members will now move over to Little Angels.


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