A north east playgroup celebrated its 50th anniversary this week by holding a special tea party.
Kintore Playgroup marked the milestone on Monday, December 16 by bringing together some of its founding members to enjoy the event alongside children and staff.
The community-led organisation has been operating since 1969, when a group of parents decided to formalise the opportunity for families to meet and children to socialise.
By her own admission Elma Napier, who was one of those early leaders, explained she had had to take up the role of treasurer as she was the only one with a cash tin.
Fast forward to 2019 and the atmosphere is just as ‘couthie’ albeit the formalities have become somewhat more formal.
Kintore Playgroup is now offering extended early learning and childcare hours, from 9am to 3pm every weekday during term time with a dedicated and enthusiastic team of playleaders.
The Playgroup has been rated consistently highly by the Care Inspectorate and has been cited as an example of best practice in supporting the development of Aberdeenshire Council’s Committee Handbook, designed specifically to support other community-led early learning and childcare settings across the local area.
Manager Alison Murphy joined the Kintore Playgroup team in 2000, followed closely by her colleague Fiona Barron who has been there since 2004, Ruth Walker who took up her post in 2007, and then Carolyn Cartney who joined in 2014 and Kim Innes in 2016.
After almost 20 years nurturing local children, Alison, who is from Inverurie, said: “It’s the camaraderie and all the fun we have with the children that makes it such a special place to work.
“We have a really excellent team here and we make the best of every opportunity the evolution of early learning and childcare brings to us.
“It’s nice to speak to the original committee members and I’m glad that they were able to come along.”
Original committee member Anthea Whitelaw told us: “The surroundings the group has today are much better than what we had, we used to be located in the Public Hall.”
Elma Napier added: “It doesn’t seem like it has been 50 years. My three children and three of my grandchildren attended the playgroup.
“Everything the children get is custom made these days. We sourced a lot of our items from the parents.”
Kintore Playgroup is set to almost double the size of its outdoor play area in the New Year, thanks to a capital grant from Aberdeenshire Council as one of its funded providers of early learning and childcare.
Fellow playleader Fiona explained her journey with Kintore Playgroup: “My kids who are now in their 30s are still best friends with some of the children they met here.
“It’s a big part of our local community and while we could have easily given up as things have changed, we move with the times and it’s the young people we work with who make it all worth it. They’re the future and we’re proud to be part of that.”
Parent and Playgroup Committee Chair Pauline Petrie added: “We are so lucky to have such an outstanding playgroup team and as parents those of us who take part in the committee are constantly in awe of their determination to deliver such a well-respected, well-organised, kind and thoughtful setting.
“The committee helps to fundraise and keep this community-led group running."