Charlton Preschool reaches birthday milestone

Jackie Scouse (L) and Sam Axtell with the preschool children NNL-170613-102138001
Jackie Scouse (L) and Sam Axtell with the preschool children NNL-170613-102138001

Few businesses survive for half a century and even fewer do so from the same location but one village nursery has done just that.

Newbottle and Charlton Preschool will celebrate their 50th birthday on June 17 with a casino night for the adults and a fun day on Sunday, June 25 for both the children, their parents and friends of the preschool.

Children have been attending the Memorial Hall since 1967 but the preschool’s history is slightly longer than that.

Elaine Covill moved to Charlton in June 1963 and quickly became friends with Eileen Groser who lived in West View.

Although separated by a number of years, with Eileen many years younger than Elaine, the two clicked as both were expectant mothers and Eileen’s third child was the same age as Elaine’s first.

They also bonded over their respective creative talents, Elaine a former architect and Eileen an avid painter.

Eileen had moved to the tiny village from Kirtlington, near Bicester, where there was a well-established play group and she worried that without this facility her third child, Elizabeth was not interacting with other children in the manner her first two were able.

After the two women had given birth they decided Elizabeth, and Elaine’s first born, Charlotte, would play together every Tuesday and Thursday at each others’ homes.

They were soon joined by a third little girl, Bonnie, and this was the beginnings of the playgroup.

In late 1964 or early ‘65 Eileen started to advertise the playgroup now housed in West View.

After a slow start the playgroup started attracting children from the surrounding villages. In 1966 Eileen’s husband, Michael, was commissioned to work in Oxford so Eileen looked for a permanent home for the fledgling group and discovered Memorial Hall was available. She organised a committee to look over the group after her departure, made up from parents of the attending children, and the playgroup, in its current form was born.

Today the preschool cares for 28 children, seeing between 15 and 20 each day and has a strong bond with the village’s primary school.