A SKIPTON children's playgroup is to close later this month after playing a 'hugely active' part in the town for more than 40 years.

St Andrew's Playgroup based at St Andrew's Church in Newmarket Street, which has never been Ofsted registered, will close its doors for the last time on Friday, May 26 after providing three generations of pre-school children a fun-filled, loving and creative learning experience.

The playgroup started life more than 40 years ago when prescriptions were only 45p. Respectful, Christian values have been at the centre of the care, says the team behind the playgroup which says it hopes Skipton has benefitted from the well-mannered children, many of who are now adults themselves.

Its committee says increased costs and lower intake have taken their toll and led to the regrettable closure.

A spokesperson said: "The playgroup took the decision many years ago not to be Ofsted registered believing that time given to a rounded early years’ experience was far more important to a child’s development than spending hours of box ticking and associated paperwork. We found the Early Years’ Alliance to be a great source of help and for that we’re grateful.

"The Government’s previous decision - compounded by its latest budget announcement - to offer some free places to Ofsted registered early learning centres meant that more children were being placed to those centres, rather than paid-for offering at St Andrew’s. This position was unsustainable."

David Charlton, chair of the playgroup committee, said: “It will be a sad day for Skipton when our playgroup closes. However, I firmly believe that Skipton has benefitted, and will continue to benefit, from the well-mannered and respectful children we have nurtured over the years and that will be our legacy, of which we’re all very proud.

"Judith Duxbury, our playgroup leader, has devoted the last 18 years to the care and development of the children. We are so sorry to say goodbye to her and the rest of the team and wish them every success and happiness."

A special farewell in celebration of the playgroup will  take place on Saturday, June 3 from 1pm to 4pm in St Andrew's Church Hall.

There will be drinks, cakes and memories at the event which is open to anyone with previous or current connection to the playgroup - such as past children, parents, carers staff and helpers.

Mr Charlton added: "All will be welcome and if there are any memories or photos to share all the better.”