Missing money could mean hometime for good at Cirencester playgroup
A PLAYGROUP in Cirencester that has been running for 40 years could be forced to close after the charity's accounts were emptied.
Committee members of the Lewis Lane Playgroup said they were horrified after discovering the accounts had been emptied and £8,000 stolen from the organisation.
The Standard is now urgently appealing for readers to dig deep and help the group survive.
Committee chairman Kelly Motti, 34, said: "I couldn’t believe it when the cashier told me, I made her check it again. I was in absolute pieces and couldn’t speak because I was in such shock."
With no money left for bills or wages, staff and committee members fear they may have to call home-time for good on the 54 children that love going there.
This year was supposed to be a celebratory milestone for the Victoria Road playgroup, which has been educating local youngsters since 1972.
Cirencester resident Mason Richens, 39, was one of the first youngsters to go to the centre when it was based on Lewis Lane. His three-year-old daughter now attends and his wife Lizzy is the newly appointed treasurer on the committee.
He said: "It’s a traumatic shock. I went there as a child and a lot of people in this town will have done so too. I’d hate to see it destroyed.
"Although £8,000 doesn’t sound a lot, we can’t fundraise our way out of it with coffee mornings and cake sales."
Cirencester Primary School currently lets out the building to Lewis Lane Playgroup and headteacher Graham Horton said the incident could be a catalyst for a closer partnership with the charity.
"We will fully support the playgroup and make sure they get through this difficult time," he said.
Despite it all, staff and committee members are still determined to celebrate the centre’s 40th year with a special reunion night, which they hope will not be a farewell party.
A bar, disco and buffet event will take place on Saturday, May 12 at New Social Club from 7.30pm until late. Tickets cost £5 per adult and child over 12 years. For details contact Sharon Woodruffe on 07747 795834.
- A 35-year-old Cirencester woman has been arrested on suspicion of theft in connection with the incident and is now in custody at Cheltenham police station.
The Standard has launched its Lewis Lane Playgroup appeal to help the charity replace the money and continue its invaluable work providing a foundation for the education of scores of children across the town.
Standard editor Skip Walker said: "This is a heart-breaking situation for everyone involved with the playgroup and we would like to do all we can to help it survive and come back stronger than ever.
"We know our readers are fantastic when it comes to raising money for worthy organisations.
"The Lewis Lane playgroup has helped hundreds of children get a head start in education over the years. We want to ensure it is able to continue doing just that."
To donate to the appeal, send a cheque or cash to the Lewis Lane Playgroup appeal, Wilts and Glos Standard, 74 Dyer Street, Cirencester, GL7 2PW.