CELEBRATING a 40th Birthday in a sunny playground was a very different way to spend a Saturday.
There were many fun-filled preparations taking place at the premises of St Padarn’s school, and the commitment of the St Padarn’s’ playgroup was being demostrated to its fullest. Forty years of unique, fun, and beneficial childcare was celebrated within the community.
Situated on Llanbadarn R oad, Aberystwyth, St Padarn’s Playgroup has established itself as a charity which provides excellent childcare with a special emphasis on education. Through the medium of English and Welsh, the Playgroup gives children a fun experience while they learn through interactive planned activities and free play.
Run by an elected committee of parents, the Playgroup is fully insured through the Wales Pre-School Playgroup Association and also offers an after-school care for St Padarn’s School pupils on the same premises.
The Playgroup also have the policy of allowing parents of current pupils to automatically become members of the charity that run the playgroup, and encourage all parents to get involved in any way they can.
The community atmosphere was tangible even before the event had begun, the many young families helping to set up for this important day. Putting an emphasis on fun activities for children is one of the core principles of the Playgroup and continued with the children at the event having had the opportunity to enjoy various happenings such as face painting, Arts and Crafts and a cake competition stall.
While the children had the freedom to alternate between playing with toys scattered along the ground or on the wooden playground equipment, the parents showed their support by assisting with the raffle and the food stall.
With contemporary music playing throughout event, there was a special live performance from singer songwriter Callum Duell, entertainment from the Pied Piper and a petting corner, courtesy of Pets at Home in Aberystwyth.
Amber Walker, member of the Playgroup PTA and parent said: “The Playgroup has never felt like a Playgroup, but an education. The cake stall competition and the event itself is a wonderful way to get the children involved”
Committee-Secretary of the St Padarn’s Playgroup, Lisa Jones-Evans further explained while helping with the raffle stall: “My child has been in the playgroup for two years and absolutely loves it”.
The Organisers of the event warmly welcomed present nursery children, staff and committee member to the celebrations. Among them was Kath Philips, the playgroups’ longest serving Manager for 27 years, former Playgroup leader Maureen Gallop, former one to one assistant Margaret Evans and the former Playgroup Treasurer.
Speaking of her previous role and how the Playgroup formed, Kath explained: “The ethos of the Playgroup changed after a while and focused on navigating towards working parents. The Playgroup thrived and was all about having fun. We were forever having parties”
Sitting looking at old photos from 1982-1983 with the group gave a great sense of nostalgia and how the Playgroup formed into a highly affordable and well thought of childcare group under Kath’s leadership: a fantastic way to ensure that children were well looked after and well educated outside of the home.
Leontia Slay, one of the co-founders of the Playgroup, began a child care service in an old Catholic hall in Aberystwyth.
“The Playgroup came from nothing and was so simple when it began. Then it exploded into something special.”
The event included a tour around the Playgroup facilities by current playgroup manager of three years, Eleri Barker. Showing me and former staff of the Playgroup around the outdoor facilities, she explained: “Part of the children’s education at the Playgroup is the gardening. We’ve had a Lottery Grant this year for £5000, and we also relied on sustainability grants to do what we want to do.
“The children enjoy growing a garden and they have a mud garden, a kitchen to play in, a musical stand and a construction corner. We were also very fortunate that Mount Trading in Aberystwyth were able to give us gravel for the garden.
“The children have a sensory garden where they have a little shed to grow runner beans, black currents, blueberries, lettuces and potatoes.”
Discussing the developments of teaching methods over the years while in the Playgroup classroom, Eleri told The Herald: “The class should be open access all the time, with the castle in the corner and the three little pigs display. The committee are good at looking at what we need and there are always ways for everyone and anyone to fit in”
Pointing to a decoration hanging from the ceiling, she explained that they once built an igloo out of milk cartons and the children loved the bubble wrap icicles hanging from the ceiling so much, they wanted to leave them there.
The event concluded with a presentation and a birthday cake for the Playgroup in celebration of the high quality childcare and education that it continues to provide.