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Horncastle nursery closed by council expands after community relaunch

By Louth Target  |  Posted: September 18, 2012

ON THE MOVE: Bearhugs Nursery is moving from their portable building at Horncastle College to Lindsey House, also on the college site.

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A PREVIOUSLY closed council-run nursery is now expanding to new premises just a year after relaunching as a community-supported business.

Bearhugs Nursery at Horncastle College on Mareham Road had closed down last year when it was run by Lincolnshire County Council because of funding and costs.

Parent and local businesswoman Sonia Elton, a former staff member, fought hard and used family savings to re-open the facility which saved several jobs and continues to provide a high level of care for local pre-school children.

Now having been run successfully for 13 months, the nursery is relocating from its portable building to Lindsey House on the Horncastle College site.

Mrs Elton said: "We are very excited about the move to Lindsey House, although we will only increase our numbers slightly the move will give us facilities in other areas.

"We will be able to develop an after school club and hopefully a holiday club for children up to 11-years-old. We've wanted to do that for a while. The relocation will also mean we can have a specific pre-school area."

Bearhugs has also recently appointed Penny Baxter, who had run the recently-folded Horncastle Hobbits after school club, to lead the new Bearhugs service.

The relocation means children will have even more access to outdoor space, a sleep room for babies, staff area, more toilets and storage capacity.

Mrs Elton said: "We want to develop a garden and get children involved in growing vegetables. Because we will also have a better kitchen area, we will cook fresh, healthy meals on site for the children, using the produce we have grown. We want to employ a local cook and we will be supporting local growers and suppliers and are sourcing local meat."

Bearhugs now employs 15 staff and run a successful volunteers programme and an apprenticeship scheme. All qualified staff are continuously encouraged to undergo training and most are working towards higher qualifications.

Bearhugs is run on a daily basis by manager Sam Hoyes who is now a partner in the business.

The move will be the weekend of September 29 with the nursery operating from Lindsey House from October 1.

In April just 10 months after opening, they experienced their first Ofsted inspection and were awarded a good rating.

Very recently they have just been awarded the highest accolade from local governing body, Birth to Five.

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