Melrose playgroup faces closure threat

A MELROSE playgroup almost half a century old could close because of a lack of children.

Private competition is blamed for threatening the survival of the ante-pre and pre-school provider Gibson Park Playgroup which meets in the parish church hall.

The charity, currently run by a small group of parents, has been going for 47 years.

Allocations secretary Rhona White said: “The numbers are so low – only seven per session – and the cost of running the group, hall rental and staffing means we are making a huge financial loss 
every day.

“There is a real concern that in June 2013 we will no longer have the sufficient funds to continue and will need to make two people redundant. In this current climate this is absolutely our last option.

“We believe numbers are low due to the fact that there are five other private providers of ante-pre and pre-school care within Melrose.”

A flyer campaign in August targeting Melrose, Darnick, Gattonside, Newstead, Redpath and Bowden made little difference.

Now the charity is holding an open morning on November 2 for locals to see the “fantastic facilities” the group has to offer said Mrs White, adding: “We have to try everything we can to increase numbers and, in turn, maintain the funds to continue with this hugely valuable service.”

The charity employs two qualified staff, a playleader and a play assistant, who between them have more than 20 years’ experience. They run arts and crafts, music and singing, imaginative play, puzzles, story time, listening and talking time, messy play and physical activities for the children.

Meanwhile the playgroup’s fundraising afternoon tea in the Townhouse later this month is a sellout. And the charity hopes the annual shopping evening, on November 22, which usually sees about 25 local traders and craftspeople set up stall in the town’s Corn Exchange, will raise more money. For further information visit www.gibsonpark.org.uk