Long-running Northampton play-school hit by pandemic ready to bounce back in new venue

The playgroup had to vacate the premises it had operated from from 18 years at around the same time the pandemic hit

Friday, 9th July 2021, 1:26 pm

A play-school that has served Northampton villages for nearly two decades is ready to bounce back after business was hit by the pandemic.

Little Houghton Playgroup has been part of the community since it was established by two of the current owners in 2002.

Until last year, it was based at the village primary school, but after plenty of prior notice and an amicable parting, the business had to move because the school extended and needed more space.

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Owners of the playgroup. (Left to right): Carolyn Aindow, Sarah Prince and Diane Ridley.

It happened that the search for new premises and the move came at the same time as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country.

Early years settings were hit hard by the first lockdown and the village playgroup had the extra issue of finding a new home to contend with.

Sarah Prince, one of the three owners, said: “It all happened at the same time.

“It was unfortunate but we had to keep going and also find a new home.

The playgroup has found a new home at The Sargeant Memorial Hall in Brafield-on-the-Green.

“We remained open during the first wave of the pandemic as we had three key worker children.

“We were supporting the NHS, who were helping to support other people.

“Sometimes we only had one child here, but we did what we could and what we thought was best to support the process.

“During the second wave we were allowed to have all children in, but we only have eight at the moment as nobody really knows what’s happened to us because we had to move from the school.”

In July last year, Sarah along with co-owners Diane Ridley and Carolyn Aindow, managed to find a new base for the playgroup at The Sargeant Memorial Hall in Brafield-on-the-Green.

Now that they are settled into their new home, they hope to be able to welcome more children to the playgroup, which is registered with Ofsted.

The qualified trio are able to take up to 16 children from aged two to school age and they run sessions in the mornings, five days a week.

Sarah added: “We like to have a small group as we can get to know the children and the children are a lot happier and learn a lot better.

“We are very community-focused and it’s good to be a part of the village community.

“It was a frightening and scary time during the pandemic, but it has become easier and the children are now in a great routine of coming straight in washing their hands with sanitiser.

“Now we’re just desperate to get more children back in at our new place.

“We have been running for a long time and we hope to keep running for a lot longer.”

To find out more, search ‘Little Houghton Playgroup’ on Facebook or email [email protected]