Nursery closes after effort to raise funds fails

Gibson Park Little Learners manager Pauline Pettrie with Olivia Smith and Demi Rue.
Gibson Park Little Learners manager Pauline Pettrie with Olivia Smith and Demi Rue.

A Borders nursery has failed to reopen following the October break after a fundraising drive to raise £5,000 and secure its future fell short.

Last month, Gibson Park Little Learners in Melrose warned that unless it could raise enough money to cover its overheads it would be forced to close for good after a 54-year presence in the town.

Despite desperate pleas and the best efforts of children and committee members to raise £5,000 in just two weeks, they only managed to secure just under £1,700 on their crowdfunding page.

The committee now says that money will be refunded to donors and the nursery’s doors firmly closed this week.

Committee member Kirsty Dodds said: “Despite all of your amazingly generous donations, we have unfortunately failed to hit our target and so, as promised, you will be refunded in the coming weeks.

“Gibson Park Little Learners will not be reopening after the October break.”

The group, formerly known as Gibson Park Playgroup, had a membership of more than 20 children at its peak, but saw its numbers dwindle to just five youngsters in recent months.

The group knew it had to at least double its numbers to become financially viable, and with plenty more youngsters lined up to join next year, it had hoped public donations and support from businesses would tide it over until then.

Kirsty added: “Dwindling numbers mean we are no longer sustainable and we have had to make the hard decision to close the facility.

“We would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the years.

“We look back fondly at the memories that have been made with the many children who have come through the doors.”

The group could only take children from two-and-a-half years old and added a lot of children had been lost to the town school’s nursery.

Grants were also sought, but could not be used to cover day-to-day running costs including hall hire and wages.

Described as a “local institution” the group met in Melrose Parish Church hall four mornings a week and one afternoon and employed one full-time member of staff, group leader Pauline Pettrie.