Owlets seek support

TIPTON Owlets is hoping to boost its numbers in 2011.

The playgroup, which meets mornings Monday to Thursday at Tipton Village Hall, has seen numbers drop from a high of 15 to seven recently, with an average of 10 children aged three to five attending per session.

Admissions officer Clare Boyes said numbers were looking low for the coming year. and fluctuated with how many new young families there were in the village at any given time.

As well as Tipton, the group caters for families in Ottery, West Hill, Aylesbeare and Sidbury. It has strong links with the village school, including a lunchtime club on Mondays and Wednesdays, and offers 15 hours a week of sessions free, through a Devon County Council-run scheme.

It is run by a committee, with the help of parent volunteers, who play with the children, run craft activities and help set up and tidy away the equipment.

“It’s a lovely, busy playgroup in a cosy setting,” said Clare.

Funding comes from the county council and fundraising events and grant applications arranged by the group. This helps toward the salaries of the two play leaders and two play assistants, and running costs, but doesn’t always cover it.

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Concerned about the dwindling numbers, the committee has been putting out requests for support. It arranged a Christmas open morning, with stalls selling items including books and cakes, and a generous Tipton resident made a sizeable donation. Sessions are child-led, the youngsters have a say in planning the programme, and there are lots of hands-on activities including gardening and cooking.

“It’s ideal for children who want to learn in a practical way,” said Clare. “It’s not a sit down pre-school where they are just filling in worksheets.”

For further information about the group call Clare on (01404) 811747.