Celebrations as Little Swans nursery building opens in Swanton Morley
- Credit: IAN BURT
A 15-year mission to provide a permanent home for a village pre-school has been accomplished.
Over the last two-and-a-half decades, attempts to give the Little Swans nursery in Swanton Morley, formerly known as the under fives group, a place of its own has been thwarted by arson attacks, planners and staff changes.
But plans were eventually drawn up to build an extension at Swanton Morley Village Hall to be used predominantly by the pre-school.
Yesterday, the £145,000 extension, known as the Swan's Nest, was officially opened by deputy chairman of the parish council Alex Sommerville.
Roger Atterwill, chairman of the parish council, said: 'We've now finally realised our dream after 15 years for the children of the village.
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'We are thrilled to bits, it's tremendous – the children are the future, they are the future of the village, and to invest in something like this to give them a really good start in their education is really important.'
The idea for the project was first mooted after Mr Atterwill attended a conference in Scarborough to discover the changes being made to early years education for children under five in 1998.
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There had been attempts to base the pre-school at the village school and in portable buildings previously used by Scouts – which were burnt down in an arson attack – before the decision was made to build a purpose-built extension to the village hall.
The project was made possible after the parish council was awarded a £100,000 Community Construction Fund grant from Norfolk County Council just before Christmas last year.
The building, built by Norfolk firm Quinn Construction Services, took 16 weeks to complete and boasts an outdoor play area which is open to all children under the age of five.
As part of yesterday's opening, a plaque was unveiled, which reads: 'It is dedicated in the memory of our ancestors who in 1852 had the foresight to invest in the education of the children of this village by building them a school.
'Their legacy lives on and continues to help the children of today... After 15 years of planning, it is finally mission accomplished.'
George Northall, chairman of Little Swans, said the group is now hoping to increase its hours to five days a week and to offer a breakfast and after school club.