Parents launch petition to stop much-loved nursery closing after 25 years in Chigwell
PUBLISHED: 16:57 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:57 22 January 2020
Devastated parents have launched a petition to save a much-loved Chigwell nursery which announced on Tuesday it was closing due to financial reasons.
Busy Bees Nursery has been run by manager Jill James at St Paul's Church for the past 25 years.
The decision to close the nursery was made by the Parochial Church Council, Rev Ken Ashton said.
"The church has worked with the management of the nursery for three years to try and find a solution that will allow the nursery to remain open and financially viable," he said.
"Unfortunately one has not been found."
But parents are devastated by the decision and described the nursery as a "lifeline" for working mums and dads.
So far, 224 people have signed a petition to keep it open beyond the summer term, after which it is proposed to close.
"As parents, we are completely saddened by the thought," Jenna Vinton, who started the petition, said.
"For us parents, it's become a wonderful community. And the children are so happy and content."
Victoria Sabbarton, 37, whose three children have attended the nursery, said it was the heart of the community.
"It's not just a nursery, it's the heart of the community," she said. "They go above and beyond.
"I have a son with autism who attends and the nursery has been a lifeline for me. They include him as if he is any other child.
"It will truly affect my life in every way. I am in bits.
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"That nursery is absolutely everything. It's more than affordable. They are flexible. They work with you, not against you.
"They are building more houses in the area but they are closing this nursery."
Victoria's son Ronan, 4, has been at the nursery since he was two-and-a-half.
Her daughter, now 6, also attended the nursery, and Victoria will need to find another nursery for her three-year-old son who also currently attends.
"The children are so settled and happy there," she said.
"Ronan has come leaps and bounds. Because the nursery was doing such amazing things with him we decided to delay starting school for a year.
"We would have been lost in the system if it wasn't for the nursery. They have supported my whole family.
"It's not just the children affected by this. It will stop mums and dads from going to work.
"I don't know anyone in this world who is more flexible and helpful than the staff there."
Rev Ashton said Busy Bees Nursery was "another casualty of cost cutting at government level".
"After over 25 years of serving the community we are very saddened that we have had to reach the decision that Busy Bees Nursery will close," he said.
"The state of pre-school childcare in the UK is in dire straits through continued cost cutting at government level.
"There is an estimated £662million funding gap and unfortunately Busy Bee's is another casualty."
Jill James, who has managed the nursery for the last 25 years, said she could not comment.
You can find the petition here.