Lessons in slowing down in Surrey

Three Benedictone Monks from St Augustine monastery in Surrey

St Augustine’s Abbey in Chilworth, near Guildford Surrey, will open its doors to the public on May 18, 2024, offering a rare insight into the world of Benedictine monks. This public talk aims to provide an objective view of the Benedictine way of life, rooted in centuries-old tradition.

Epsom and Ewell Times seeks to slow down a notch the pace of information in our modern age. We attempt to provide deeper understanding of local news reviving online a tradition lost 20 years ago with the demise of Epsom and Ewells’ Herald and Advertiser weekly prints. Benedictine Monks living in the heart of Surrey have kept a slower tradition of existence going for 1500 years!

The Benedictine Order, founded by Saint Benedict of Nursia in the early 6th century, emerged as a cornerstone of Western monasticism. Benedict’s Rule, emphasizing prayer, work, and community life, became the guiding principle for monastic living across Europe. Monasteries under the Benedictine rule became centres of learning, agriculture, and spiritual guidance during the Middle Ages. The order played a pivotal role in preserving knowledge and culture during turbulent times. Benedictine monks contributed significantly to medieval society through their dedication to prayer, scholarship, and service. Today, Benedictine monasticism endures globally, fostering spiritual growth and intellectual pursuits.

The May 18th event will kick off with an optional Holy Roman Catholic Mass at 9 am in the Abbey Church, followed by a talk from 10 am to 11:30 am. Attendees will have the opportunity to delve into the daily rituals and routines of Benedictine monks, including chanting in Latin and the discipline of rising at dawn for prayer, practices that have endured for over 1,500 years.

The event will also explore the relevance of St. Benedict’s Rule, written in 530 AD, and its application in modern society. Attendees will gain insights into the motivations driving individuals to embrace the monastic life, characterized by simplicity, contemplation, and service.

In collaboration with the Guildford and District Knights of St Columba, the event aims to be informative for individuals of all ages and backgrounds, regardless of faith. Admission to the talk is by donation, with funds collected to support the monks in their spiritual endeavors.

To secure attendance, interested individuals need to RSVP by emailing richardatob@gmail.com. This event provides a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Benedictine spirituality within the tranquil setting of St Augustine’s Abbey.

St Augustine’s Abbey is located at Sample Oak Lane, Chilworth, Guildford, Surrey GU4 8QR.

For more information, visit http://www.chilworthbenedictines.com

Bags of Confidence in Epsom for cancer survivors

Bags of Confidence cancer charity fund raising.

Epsom-based cancer support charity Look Good Feel Better is partnering with Epsom Café Moka in the Ashley Centre for a pop-up sale of preloved bags on Thursday 29th February 2024 from 11am until 2pm. Funds raised will go towards supporting people facing cancer to build back their self-confidence and improve their overall well-being.

Leigh Beth Stroud, Look Good Feel Better’s Community Fundraising Manager, explains: “Our first ever ‘Bags of Confidence’ pop-up sale is open to everyone and will raise much-needed funds for people undergoing treatment for cancer. Pre-loved, quality handbags will be available to buy, so do come along and have a browse on the day.”

This year, Look Good Feel Better celebrates its 30th anniversary. The charity embarked on its journey in 1994 to support people living with cancer and has helped over 200,000 people to date regain their confidence and self-esteem. Look Good Feel Better knows how challenging it can be to process a cancer diagnosis and manage the physical and emotional side effects of cancer treatment.

The charity runs workshops face-to-face and classes virtually to support women, men, and young adults through this time. Services are free and open to anyone facing cancer, and the workshops are led by trained volunteers in the beauty industry to provide practical advice about changes to skin, eyebrows, eyelashes, hair, and nails during treatment, and body confidence.

Ann M, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, attended a workshop and said: “I signed up to a number of the charity’s workshops, including the hand and nail care; the headwear, wigs, brows and lashes, and the styling for confidence sessions. And I haven’t looked back. The biggest thing was that I felt less alone. Cancer can make you feel very isolated, but here I was surrounded by other people, soaking up the good advice and information. It was just what I needed and I would recommend anyone undergoing treatment for cancer should sign up for a workshop.”

If you are interested in hosting your own ‘Bags of Confidence’ event, the charity will provide you with all the support you need, with a colourful fundraising pack with helpful hints and tips available at www.lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk

Leigh adds: “You might find your favourite designer bag or pick up another hidden gem. ‘Bags of Confidence’ is a simple and sustainable event where these handbags will go to a new home, while raising funds for the charity. And no bags go to landfill, so it’s a win-win situation.”

Established 30 years ago, Look Good Feel Better delivers cancer support services in local communities across the UK through a series of face-to-face and online group workshops, along with video tutorials. Its services help people face cancer with confidence, regain their sense of normality, make friends, and most of all look good and feel better. Its vision is to be recognised as one of the UK’s leading cancer support charities and the only one dedicated to improving the physical appearance and overall well-being of people living with cancer.

Surrey’s hotline for mental health

Ahead of Helpline Awareness Day (Friday, 23 February), Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Surrey County Council are highlighting a local 24-hour NHS mental health crisis helpline that supports almost 50,000 people each year.  

The Mental Health Crisis Helpline, run by Surrey and Borders Partnership, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Since it started in 2010 it has helped around 600,000 people.  

It is staffed by trained professionals who are ready to listen and offer advice, support and signpost to a range of community services. 

A mental health crisis is when you feel at breaking point, and you need urgent help. You might be: 

  • Feeling extremely anxious and having panic attacks or flashbacks 
  • Feeling suicidal, or self-harming 
  • Having an episode of hypomania or mania, (feeling very high) or psychosis (maybe hearing voices, or feeling very paranoid) 
  • Other behaviour that feels out of control and is likely to endanger yourself or others

As well as the Mental Health Crisis Helpline, Surrey and Borders Partnership also provides five Safe Havens across Surrey which provide out-of-hours help and support to adults who are experiencing a mental health crisis or emotional distress. 

These Safe Havens are in Aldershot, Epsom, Guildford, Redhill and Woking and are open evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Each one is staffed by a mental health practitioner from Surrey and Borders Partnership and two trained Safe Haven workers.  

Mark Nuti, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health said: “We are committed to breaking the silence surrounding mental health and providing a safe, confidential and non-judgmental way for people in Surrey to seek help. 

We believe that mental health support should be available to everyone. No one should have to suffer in silence – the Mental Health Crisis Helpline is here for anyone who needs it.

There is help out there, whether it’s through the Mental Health Crisis Helpline or one of the Safe Havens. Let’s break the silence and start the journey towards better mental health together.” 

Emily Hackett, Mental Health Crisis Line Service Manager said: “If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or emotional distress or if you have concerns regarding someone that you care for, please call us. Our dedicated crisis call handlers are on hand to support you 24 hours a day 7 days a week.” 

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, don’t hesitate to call the Mental Health Crisis Helpline on 0800 915 4644.  

Image – illustration only – Carl von Essen CC BY-SA 4.0

The fellowship of NESCOT

Honorary Fellowship award winners, Dee Mathieson Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Elekta (left) and Daniel Addo, Nescot staff member (right), with Principal and CEO of Nescot, Julie Kapsalis (centre).

Nescot (North East Surrey College of Technology) Reigate Road, Ewell, celebrated student success at the annual Higher Education (HE) Awards graduation ceremony at Epsom Downs Racecourse earlier this month (7th February). 110 graduands along with 300 family members and friends came together to mark the culmination of their hard work.

Degrees, diplomas and professional awards were conferred in over 15 subjects ranging from teaching to osteopathy. Colleagues from Nescot partners including University of Greenwich, Kingston University, Open University were on hand to assist Julie Kapsalis, Principal and CEO, with conferring the degrees.

Guests of honour for the ceremony included Councillor Robert Geleit, Mayor of Epsom & Ewell (Labour Court Ward), a former HND student of Nescot and Brian Finch, Chair of Epsom Downs Racecourse who kindly brought along the amazing Derby trophy. Brian who was the guest speaker, congratulated the graduates on their achievement and spoke about key lessons from his career journey in his inspirational speech.

At the ceremony, annual awards for outstanding endeavours and achievements were also presented by our guests of honour to six nominated students from the Nescot Class of 2023. The prizes included awards sponsored by the College and by the Rotary Clubs of Epsom and Ewell.

To mark Nescot’s 70th anniversary, Principal and CEO, Julie Kapsalis was proud to award the college’s first Honorary Fellowships at this year’s graduation ceremony. “2024 sees Nescot celebrate its 70th anniversary, to recognise this incredible milestone and achievement, the college is introducing a new Honorary Fellowship award, the highest accolade the college can bestow. It recognises exceptional achievement and excellence by individuals associated with the college,” said Julie.

The first Honorary Fellowship was awarded to Dee Mathieson, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Elekta. A former student of Nescot, Dee has had an exceptional career in the science and medical sector. Sharing her journey, she said, “I am very grateful to Nescot for helping me on my way to what has been a fantastic and varied career in cancer care.”

The second Honorary Fellowship on the day was awarded to Nescot staff member, Daniel Addo from our Security Team. Presenting the award, Julie said, “With his kindness and positivity he is a wonderful role model and encourages students to make the most of their opportunities both in the college and life.”

The student vote of thanks was given by Craig Clout, who graduated with an Integrated Masters in Osteopathic Medicine. Craig spoke about the supportive and collaborative nature of the college community that contributes to everyone’s success.

HE degrees and awards were conferred for the following subjects: osteopathy, animal management, sports therapy, counselling, early years, animal management, healthcare play specialist, food premises inspection, business, creative media (moving image), performing arts, computing, public services, sport and exercise science.

Image: Honorary Fellowship award winners, Dee Mathieson Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Elekta (left) and Daniel Addo, Nescot staff member (right), with Principal and CEO of Nescot, Julie Kapsalis (centre).

Coroner catalogues care failures in diabetic death

HM Coroners Court Woking Surrey

Surrey County Council (SCC) has been accused of not taking its responsibilities seriously after an eighteen-year-old tragically died from diabetes.

Jake Baker, an 18-year-old with a learning disability and type 1 diabetes, died at home following Diabetic Ketoacidosis. He required residential care since the age of eight, under the guardianship of the council. An inquest concluded a catalogue of failures by Surrey County Council and other bodies contributed to Jake’s death.

The coroner found Surrey Care Leavers team and Children Services had failed to obtain information about Jake’s cognitive ability and his capability of managing his diabetes independently, a Prevention of Future Deaths report published this month reads.

Coroner Caroline Topping said: “I am not satisfied that Surrey County Council have undertaken a rigorous review of the circumstances of the death, nor that the risk of future deaths has been averted. The issues surrounding the inadequacy of Jake’s pathway plan have not been addressed comprehensively in the last 4 years. Training for personal advisers is not mandatory and is only now being rolled out.”

The court was not provided with copies of the training or any protocol to be assured of the adequacy of the training and its implementation.

The coroner said that Jake’s death was “avoidable” and was “contributed to by neglect”. In September 2018 Jake (then 17) was placed in a full-time residential placement at Ruskin Mill College.

At the time of his death, Jake was staying with family for a few days when he became seriously ill from uncontrolled diabetes. Jake’s mother and stepfather found him unresponsive. His family previously said “there is nothing that can take away the pain” of losing their son.

The days before his death were the first time he had stayed away from his care facilities for more than two nights in a row, since being placed in the care of Surrey County Council when eight years old, his family’s lawyers said.

He was entitled to a personal adviser who had a statutory duty to write a pathway plan for Jake, including consideration of how his health needs were to be met. However, when away from home, no advice was sought from specialist diabetes services to inform the pathway plan and no risk assessment was made for Jake having unsupported contact with his family and managing his diabetes, the coroner’s report concludes.

Meetings discussing Jake staying over at his family’s house without support were unminuted. The emails which refer to meeting decisions made no reference to any of the dangers inherent in Jake’s diabetic condition nor his ability to manage it unsupported. The family were also not given any advice or training on how to keep Jake safe if he became unwell nor any emergency contact numbers.

The coroner added: “The local authority employees held the mistaken belief that if Jake wanted to go home unsupervised once he turned 18 there was nothing they could do to stop him. No capacity assessment was undertaken in relation to Jake’s ability to make a decision to go home unsupported. In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken”

Four years on from Jake’s death, the coroner found the process of obtaining learning disabilities diagnoses remains opaque and difficult as there is no protocol in relation to this. Vulnerable care leavers are at risk of being denied necessary support due to the confusion and delay teams accessing adult social care assessments.

Jake was assessed not to meet the threshold for SCC Transitions Team because a report containing his original disability diagnosis was lost. Children’s Services were unable to obtain an up to date diagnosis. He did not have the support of an adult social work team and this outcome was being challenged when he died.

Overnight from the 28 to the 29 December 2019, Jake developed diabetic ketoacidosis as a result of being hyperglycaemic in the preceding days. He began to vomit and required immediate hospitalisation. On 30 December 2019 the college was notified by his family that he was too ill to travel. The staff who were travelling to collect him were told to return to the college. His family was not told to take him to hospital.

He was last seen alive at 11pm and found dead at 3am on 31 December 2019. If Jake had been admitted to hospital at any time prior to 5pm on the 30 December 2019 he would have been successfully treated.”

The family claim that Jake’s death was avoidable if he had been admitted to hospital any time before 5pm on December 29. In a statement, the family said: “Losing Jake has been incredibly difficult for our family, especially as he died in our home at what should have been a happy time. We trusted Ruskin Mill Trust with Jake’s care, and we have been let down by them in the worst possible way.

“Jake was an enthusiastic and determined young man who always put his mind to things. As a family we did all we could to make sure that Jake was looking after himself and was well taken care of, but those that were put in charge of his care didn’t give us the information necessary to ensure Jake’s safety”

Clare Curran, SCC Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Lifelong Learning, said: “Our deepest sympathies remain with Jake’s family and friends. The services provided to Jake fell short of what he and his family needed to keep him safe, and we are very sorry for our part in that. We have taken a number of actions over the past four years to improve our support for young adults leaving care and we will be responding to the Coroner outlining our action plan to prevent future deaths. While we have already made changes, we know there is still further to go and we will carefully consider the Coroner’s concerns as we take our next steps.”

Published on 14 February 2024, SCC have up to 56 days to formally respond to the coroner’s report and outline the service’s action plan. 

New Family Centre grows out of Nursery

Epsom Methodist nursery kids in action.

For nearly 25 years Epsom Methodist Nursery has been providing early years childcare in the heart of Epsom – just two minutes from the town centre. Now the Nursery is entering an exciting new chapter in its history. As well as continuing to offer early years education for two to five year-olds the Nursery will become a Family Centre.

Following consultation with parents the Family Centre is planning to offer a broad range of activities and support including:
 A bumps and babies group for new parents providing ante-natal and post-natal support.
 Support groups for parents and carers of toddlers and young children.
 Courses and classes covering areas such as potty training, coping with challenging behaviours and family budgeting.
 Support for speech and language development.
 An affordable after-school club.
 A summer lunch club.

Already the Family Centre is running two stay-and-play groups for parents and young children and in April it is offering a free ‘Ready Steady Cook on a Budget’ course. With the cost of living rising, the FREE four-week course aims to support parents to provide easy, wholesome and healthy meals for the whole family whilst sticking to a budget.

The course will cover menu planning on a budget, planning the weekly shopping list, hands on experiences of creating easy recipes and top tips for saving money and time. The move to becoming a Family Centre has been made possible by a grant award from the Community Foundation for Surrey (CFS). CFS has arranged for the Netherby Trust and the Epsom and Ewell Community Fund to provide £12,450 which will match a contribution from Epsom Methodist Church. This money will help fund both the employment of a Family Centre Manager for the next year alongside the various activities that are planned.

Commenting on the grant award Cara Golding, the manager of Epsom Methodist Church Nursery, said:
“We are delighted to have secured this funding from the Community Foundation for Surrey. Our work with families at Epsom Methodist Nursery has shown us how committed parents are to their children and families and how keen they are to pick up ideas that will help them with the everyday and sometimes complex challenges that parenting can bring. Local agencies and public services are under pressure and services have been cut back. So the more we can do to provide practical help to parents and give children the best start in life the better. That is our mission.”

For further details on the ‘Ready Steady Cooking on a Budget’ course see


Business that connects by insulating

Wickesr staff with insulation materials

The Wickes Community Programme has donated insulation products to the value of £1000 to help struggling families in the local community. This initiative is run by the Epsom based charity, Good Company, which also operates a network of local food banks. Since launching the Epsom & Ewell Energy Support Scheme in October 2022, Good Company has helped more than 300 families and over a thousand people in the local area.

The primary aim of the programme is to offer support to families struggling to pay energy bills by helping them make their homes more energy efficient and offering advice on how to reduce their energy use in other ways.

Tom Sefton, the Poverty Lead at Good Company, said: “The products donated by Wickes included secondary glazing film, various draught excluders and heat reflective radiator foil. These were handed out at group workshops that we have been running in Epsom, Leatherhead, and Tadworth for food bank clients and other local families most affected by the cost-of-living crisis. We wanted to show people that making small changes like this can significantly reduce your energy usage.”

Feedback from participants has been extremely positive, including one client who said: “I found the workshop very helpful and really enjoyed talking to the other participants, sharing tips on how to save energy. The takeaway tips are also very informative. Thank you so much for your kindness and for giving me really useful information about the cost of energy and how to reduce usage and keep warm and safe this winter – which, like many people, has been scaring the life out of me.”

Tom went on to say: “Other clients have told us they are wearing the hooded blankets we provided to stay warm and are using an air fryer instead of their oven to save energy, as well as fitting draught excluders and radiator foil to heat their homes more efficiently.”

Chris Grayling MP Epsom and Ewell said: “Last year we ran an appeal in conjunction with Citizens Advice Epsom and Good Company and raised over £40,000 to support our local community. These funds were used to provide short-term help with energy bills and to offer energy-saving advice. We were delighted when Wickes agreed to support us with these products through the Wickes Community Programme. It’s at times like these we need to work together with businesses like Wickes to make a difference.”

Wickes Store Manager in Epsom, Ben O’Leary said: “Supporting our local community is really important to Wickes, especially during the current cost of living crisis. For any families interested in how they too can make their homes more energy efficient there’s some great advice on the Wickes website.”

The Wickes Community Programme is open to all local community groups and charities seeking help for improvement projects.

2 years on Epsom to gather in solidarity with Ukraine 

Epsom and Ewell Town Hall Building

The Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network (EERN) and Surrey Stands with Ukraine (SSWU) are calling upon the community to join them in a special gathering on Saturday February 24th at 11 am in the Market Place in Epsom. This gathering marks the solemn second anniversary of the commencement of the war in Ukraine.

The local Ukrainian choir, Renaissance, will render the Ukrainian National Anthem. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with Ukrainian residents regarding the ongoing situation in Ukraine and to learn how they can extend support to the Ukrainian community within Epsom & Ewell.

The Mayor of Epsom & Ewell, Cllr. Rob Geleit (Labour Court), will attend. The event will foster a sense of unity and solidarity with the Ukrainian population residing in and around Epsom.

“We are deeply moved by the outpouring of support from the Epsom community for Ukrainian refugees,” said Jo Sherring, Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network Lead. “This gathering is an opportunity for us to stand together in solidarity with our Ukrainian friends and reaffirm our commitment to supporting them as they rebuild their lives.”

“It is important for us to get together on this sad date to commemorate those who lost their lives in the war, to thank our supporters, defenders, volunteers, and the British people who gave shelter to us at these hard times for Ukraine.” said Nataliia Zadorizhna, pianist and director of the Renaissance choir who has been living in Ashtead with her 11 year old daughter since May 2022. “It is an enormous privilege to stay in the UK and to be surrounded by such noble, caring and generous people.”

Epsom has exhibited remarkable solidarity with Ukraine since the outbreak of the war, with numerous families opening their doors to Ukrainian refugees and contributing substantial amounts towards humanitarian aid. The community has banded together, with volunteers actively aiding refugees in assimilating into the local fabric.

All members of the Epsom community are warmly encouraged to attend this event, which promises to be a meaningful demonstration of support for the Ukrainian populace.

For further inquiries, please contact:

Nina Kaye: nina@goodcompany.org.uk | 07778 406834

English classes for Ukrainians and other refugees in Epsom.

Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network (EERN)

Established in 2015, operates as a community-driven organization in close collaboration with the Epsom & Ewell Borough Council. It operates under the auspices of the charity Good Company (Surrey), with a mission rooted in compassion, solidarity, and inclusivity. EERN extends support to refugees and asylum seekers within Epsom and its environs, facilitating their integration into the community through various initiatives including employment guidance, educational support, cultural orientation, and free English language lessons.

Epsom and Ewell residents welcome Ukrainians fleeing war.

Surrey Stands with Ukraine (SSWU)

At the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, a collective of British and Ukrainian residents from Epsom joined forces to establish Surrey Stands with Ukraine (SSWU), a humanitarian relief project dedicated to aiding Ukraine. SSWU provides support to both the Ukrainian populace within Ukraine and those residing in the UK by gathering and distributing medical supplies and other essential aid. Operating under the registered charity Harrop HR Missions Ltd., SSWU ensures that 100% of all donations are directed towards supporting the people of Ukraine, with no fees or wages deducted for volunteers or trustees.

EERN and SSWU are very grateful for the magnificent support provided for their efforts by The Ashley Centre Epsom, through its donation of the use of a suite of offices used for processing donations, English classes and an advice centre. Also to Epsom and Ewell Borough Council that has waived the imposition of business rates.

Related reports:

Epsom and Ewell Borough of Sanctuary

Hosts of Ukrainian refugees appreciated

Flight of refugees: history repeating?

Breaking the mould for Ukrainian refugees

Local refugee cash appeal

30 years’ smile stamped on local Post Offices

Nidhi Prashar outside Epsom Post Office

Postmistress Nidhi Prashar has reached her 30 years’ milestone of serving Post Office customers in Surrey. Three decades ago, Nidhi and her husband, Anil, bought Oxted Post Office and for most of that time Nidhi has served that community. Now Anil runs that branch since Nidhi became Postmistress for Epsom in July 2017.

Postmistress, Nidhi Prasahar, said: “I loved serving the people of Oxted, but there was suddenly an opportunity to take on a bigger, busier, branch as well at Epsom, so Anil now runs Oxted branch. First Epsom was temporarily based at Epsom & Ewell Town Hall to restore service to the town, then I opened my permanent branch and card and gift shop in the High Street in February 2018.

“I get on really well with my customers in Epsom too. Thankfully I’d just got settled before Covid struck, but that was strange as many businesses in the high street were closed, so those customers were not around. However, other people who would normally have been commuting to elsewhere, were suddenly working from home and visiting my Post Office, so there were lots of different customers to get to know. People were grateful that Anil and I were able to keep both Oxted and Epsom branches open.”

Last year Nidhi was filmed at Epsom branch as part of an episode of Stacey Solomon’s Sort Your Life out programme. A local family had their home de-cluttered and they came across lots of different foreign currencies, which was then converted into useful sterling at her Post Office. Many of her customers immediately recognised her from the programme.

Nidhi, said: “I love being a postmistress. It’s the people that you meet that make it so great. There aren’t many jobs where you have this great interaction with people. People come in regularly and you build up a relationship. Customers become like extended family.

“In Oxted there are no banks left and we meet the banking needs of the community – so it’s non-stop banking customers. In Epsom there are lots of banks and building societies, but we are open longer hours than all of them, so for some customers they find it more convenient to come here.”

At Oxted and Epsom customers also have the choice of DPD and Evri services in addition to Royal Mail and Parcelforce mail services.

Post Office Area Manager, Richard Wilder, presented Nidhi with a 30 Years’ Long Service Award. He said: “I want to thank Nidhi for being a first class Postmistress in Surrey for 30 years. Nidhi and Anil provide great customer service and they really care about the people that they serve in Oxted and Epsom. Both branches look great too with the retail alongside.”

The Post Office.

Epsom MP cuts ribbon of new nursery

Chris Grayling cuts ribbon at new Vale nursery

Children at a new nursery welcomed MP Chris Grayling who cut the ribbon to officially open the new provision at an Epsom school.

The Vale Primary School now offers a curriculum for two to 11-year-olds and its nursery already has 23 children on the roll with more joining in the spring. 

Mr Grayling, MP for Epsom and Ewell, joined Julian Drinkall, CEO at GLF Schools, in cutting the ribbon to officially open the nursery on Wednesday 7 February.

“I was delighted to be invited to attend the official opening,” said Mr Grayling. “The additional nursery places will support the government’s expansion of childcare support to working parents and offer the local community free, funded 15 and 30 hour early years places for two, three and four-year olds. It is clearly going to be a really happy nursery,” he added.

The school is a member of the GLF Schools Multi-Academy Trust which has a strategy to promote school readiness by ensuring as many as possible of its primary schools can cater for children aged from two to 11 with a school-run nursery on site.

Sarah Leyland and Cathy Browne, co-heads at The Vale, said they were both very proud of the hard work and community collaboration which has seen the creation of ‘such a positive environment for our young children.’

To add to the celebration aspect of the event, a specially made cake depicting the school logo and an array of cupcakes were made by a former parent of the school.

“I am delighted for our community and the parents and carers with us today that GLF can offer this new nursery provision. GLF’s nursery strategy emphasises the importance of ensuring our youngest children have access to high quality early education and being ready to start school,” said Mr Drinkall.

“It was clear today that our new nursery at The Vale Primary School is quickly becoming an integral part of the local community and provides local families with the opportunity to access a new and exciting two-11 curriculum.”

The nursery will be holding an open morning on Wednesday, March 6 and Friday, March 8 and visits can be booked at the school on 01372 273639 or via info@thevaleprimary.org 

The Vale Primary School website also has details on how nursery funding is changing and how parents can apply for funded places for 15 hours childcare for two-year-olds. More details on www.thevaleprimary.org