Fate of Little Learners nursery rests on £5k appeal

A Borders nursery is facing closure by the end of the month unless it can raise £5,000 in the next two weeks.

Gibson Park Little Learners.
Gibson Park Little Learners.

Gibson Park Little Learners, based in Melrose, warns that unless it can raise enough money to cover its overheads it will be forced to close its doors for good before the end of September, after a 54 year presence in the town.

The group, formerly known as Gibson Park Playgroup, has seen its numbers dwindle to just five children, and although more are lined up to join next year- that could come too late unless its fundraising drive, launched last week, is a success.

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The group’s chairwoman Fiona Smith said: “It would be so sad if we were forced to close.

“It’s been going for 54 years. It’s the playgroup I went to and where my daughter now goes.

“We are reaching out to the community and any generous person in a desperate plea to help save our much loved and much valued local institution.”

At its peak, the nursery had over 20 children attending, but with that number severely reduced, the group must double their numbers to become financially viable.

“We do have a lot of interest but we can only take kids from two-and-a-half years old,” Fiona added. “We have lost a lot of kids to the school nursery.

“There’s a huge amount waiting to come after Christmas, but at this rate we are not going to make it to the end of the month.”

The group, which meets in Melrose Parish Church hall four mornings a week and one afternoon, employs one full-time member of staff, group leader Pauline Pettrie.

“We have applied for grants but these just do not cover day to day running costs,” Fiona added. “That’s what we really need the help with, paying for the hire of the hall and wages for our one member of staff.

“And Pauline is just amazing, the kids love her.”

The group says it must raise £5,000 in donations by Friday, September 21.

“The kids have been round all the businesses in Melrose with letters asking them for help and we have had a good response on our justgiving page- which took in around £500 in its first 24 hours.”