Carved pumpkins and fancy dress costumes ensured there was a party atmosphere as the curtain came down on Walford Pre-School Playgroup last week after a ‘run’ of more than 40 years.

The Halloween celebration may have been fun for the children but it was a sad occasion for both staff and parents, with the group forced to close due to financial pressures.

First registered in 1977 and originally based in the scout hut beside the village church, local parents were drawn to the playgroup’s strong sense of community and extensive outdoor activity area.

The willow wigwams, mud-play kitchen, hidey-holes and a vast array of learning resources against a backdrop of trees, hills and open countryside offered a rich environment for the children who passed through its doors.

Manager Sara Jones, who has led the group for over five years, said: “Walford had a reputation for creating a thoughtful and stimulating learning community where children were encouraged to develop socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively.

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