Hingham Playgroup to get �400,000 new building

A popular children's playgroup is celebrating after coming to the end of a 10 year campaign to move to new premises.

Norfolk County Council is providing �426,000 for Hingham Playgroup to relocate to a purpose-built centre on the grounds of Hingham Primary School.

The playgroup, which currently has about 50 children on its roll, has been based at the village's Lincoln Hall for 40 years. But in recent years the playgroup has not been able to expand in line with demand for places.

It previously gained planning permission to move onto the school's grounds, but did not manage to secure the funding needed for the building work to go ahead before the approval lapsed.

Sally Foreman, former chairman of the playgroup's committee, said she was 'elated' that the group's dream had finally come true.

'We are absolutely elated. It will make such a big difference to the staff and the children,' she said.

'We've been very happy in the Lincoln Hall but because of other hall users we cannot extend our opening times to cope with the demand for childcare in Hingham, and we don't just look after children from Hingham but also Deopham, Morley and those areas.

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'Normally we have a substantial waiting list. People have been putting down children's names from birth.'

The new timber building will include a playroom, kitchen, office and buggy store.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's service at Norfolk County Council, said: 'This is an exciting scheme, which will see Hingham Playgroup move from its current home in Lincoln Hall to a new �426,000 building on the site of the village school.

'We are committed to ensuring children and families have access to good quality childcare and, despite reductions in capital government funding, we have been able to protect funding for the majority of our pre-school and nursery building projects.

'The pre-school has also contributed �18,000 to ensure that their children are able to benefit from the best facilities possible.'

To help pay for equipment, furnishings and a garden at the new centre, the playgroup is holding a charity auction today (November 26).

Conducted by Stephen Roberts from Watton Salerooms, the lots include a signed England rugby shirt by international player Lewis Moody, Norwich City Football tickets, a Formula One racing cap signed by Lotus racers Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, a day's shooting plus lunch at Hall Farm, Hingham, and dinner for two at the village's newly launched White Hart Hotel.

The auction will take place in the Lincoln Hall from 8pm. Entry is free but to pre-register a place and receive a free glass of wine call Annie Farmer on 01953 851830.