A NEW pre-school and nursery has opened in Sherston, after the village went a year without one.

Pumpkins, for children aged two to five years, has opened in a new purpose-built home on the recreation ground, following a campaign by local residents, supported by the parish council.

Sherston had been without a nursery after Noah’s Ark, in Tetbury Road, closed its doors in September 2018, after operating for 24 years.

Funds for the Pumpkins building came from a legacy left by local couple, the late Doug and Robin North, who wanted their money to benefit the young people of Sherston.

Staff at Pumpkins fittingly chose Halloween to officially open their doors to the public.

Chairman of the parish council, Cllr John Matthews, assisted by three-year-old Nathan Watchorn, the first child to be registered at Pumpkins, cut the ribbon to mark the official opening last Thursday.

Councillor Matthews said: “I am glad to say that very close old friends of Doug and Robin North were at the opening and they consider that the Norths would have entirely approved of their legacy being used in this way.

“The pre-school will give working families in Sherston great additional support with it’s wrap around care and will also form a stepping stone to Sherston Primary School.”

Balloons in the Pumpkins colours of orange and blue were placed on the grave of Mr and Mrs North and was a fitting reminder to all who saw them of Doug and Robin’s involvement in the pre-school.

Party games and fancy dress competitions followed with many residents, young and old turning out to join in the fun. Pumpkins Nursery then arranged for a Halloween Show in the afternoon where Wild Science came to tell the story of The Little Witch, along with an array of creepy crawlies, including a tarantula, a bearded dragon and a snake to name but a few.

Amanda Wallis, owner of the nursery, said: “The children loved it – at this age they know no fear and were more than happy to handle the creatures and find out more about them. It was a brilliant activity that enhanced our opening day celebrations.”

The day ended with a Pumpkin Night Glow with all lit pumpkins displayed on the front lawn, including a massive 22 stone specimen, grown by the local garden nursery, Hortico and donated to Pumpkins for their opening.

Sherston Parish Council vice chairman Cllr Phil Cutcher said: “It was a great opening and the numbers attending it on a wet morning, I think, reflect the importance of the preschool to the village.

“It is a lovely building and buzzed with excitement – not just from the children.

“Sherston can be proud of both the pre-school and the adjacent playground, the results of both a generous legacy from the Norths and a lot of hard work by many people in the village.”

Also thanked for their help with the project were John Thomson, Sherston’s county councillor, and the neighbouring Sherston Scouts.