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13th October 2010

ROSS PRE-SCHOOL PLAYGROUP CELEBRATES 40 YEARS!

A special birthday party took place on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the 40th birthday of Ross Pre-school play group Children past and present who have used the play group gathered together at the Larruperz Centre to share memories, look at the old photographs and take part in a range of activities, joined by the play group's founder, Mrs. Joyce Thomas, MBE-DL.

There was face painting, hand printing and tattoos and there was lots of lovely food available, including delicious pork rolls, hot dogs, cakes and sweets. There was also a beautiful 40th birthday cake made specially for the occasion by Sue Kirby, whose daughter, Wendy attended the play group within its first year of opening. Wendy was presented with a bottle of champagne for being the person present who had attended the play group the longest time ago.

Ross Town Mayor, Councillor JO Lane officially opened the celebration, getting everybody to sing 'Happy Birthday.' The party had a very happy atmosphere and a lovely time was had by all and although the event wasn't a fund raiser as such, £165 was raised for the play group during the afternoon.

The play group came about when in 1970, Mrs. Joyce Thomas decided to stand for the Urban District Council at Ross-on-Wye. Her manifesto was based on family life and the needs of the family, which included, quite a radical idea in the 70s, opening a play group for children under the age of five years. Mrs. Thomas called a public meeting at the Top Spot, now Jacqueline's, and great interest was shown by local parents for the idea.

A management committee of local people was formed and they looked into becoming a charity. They had no premises however, so Mrs. Thomas approached the Local Education Authority, (LEA), who agreed to the group using the Horsa Huts in Cantilupe Road, where Goodrich Court is today. The play group opened, registering as a charity and the children flocked there. In a statement to the press Mrs. Thomas said that the staff at that time were superb and she is pleased that the trend has continued to the present day. 'It wasn't all plain sailing,' she continued, 'but we weathered the storm. Here we are, 40 years later, running even more successfully than we did before.'

Joyce Thomas has continued her involvement with Ross Pre-school Play group and when we asked her how she felt, she said, 'It takes a long time for things to catch on in Ross. The idea of a pre-school play group in the 70s was quite radical, yet here we are today, 40 years on. The play group [a facility she wanted for children from all walks of life] is a fantastic success with superb staff, wonderful children and all the public behind us.'

The original committee who met on 5th August 1970 were: President, Mrs. Joyce Thomas, Chairman, Mrs. G. English, Treasurer, Mrs. M. Legg, Supervisor, Mrs. P. Claxton, Committee members, Mrs. I. Davis, Mrs. S. Mace, Mrs. L. Mcnulty and Secretary, Mrs. P. Cresswell.


Ross Pre-school Playgroup leaders, staff and some of the guests at Saturday's birthday party.

The 40th birthday cake for Ross Pre-school made by Sue Kirby.

Iris Price of Ross Pre-school Playgroup, Sue Kirby who made the birthday cake and playgroup founder, Joyce Thomas MBE DL.
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