The Cottesmore Village Pre-school in Rutland closes its doors for the last time
A pre-school has emotionally closed after loyally serving a Rutland village for almost 40 years.
The Cottesmore Village Pre-School, based at the village hall, shut its doors for the final time on July 19, in an emotional send-off after 37 years of existence.
Karen Corbett, the manager for nine years who lives in Oakham, said: “We have been through all the emotions.
“It’s very hard to saying goodbye because our families have been great.
“We have had so many lovely comments from parents past and present because we have been such a big part of the community.
"We had a little ceremony outside which was very emotional - everyone was crying.
"We planted a rose and a plaque was unveiled on a bench."
As well as the rose and commemorative bench, a time capsule was also buried in the grounds of the hall and this will be unearthed in 14 years time when the last class of 2019 are 18.
The pre-school, which was founded in 1972, first met in the Old School before settling into the village hall in 1976.
Cottesmore stalwart, Jean Heath, took over as manager in 1983 and was chair of the pre-school as well as a member of the teaching team, right up until its closure.
It had 25 children at the time of its closure and five staff have been made redundant.
“We've had to close because it came down to funding we get from the government," explained Karen.
"We can't offer 30 hours of a care a week.
"I'm going to miss being in the group and the ladies I've got here - we're such a tight-knit team.
"I'll also miss the support of the community and our families because we got to know them really well as we kept our numbers small."
Karen, along with Jean, Dawn Wilson, Fi Garley and Jane Sycamore, said they will enjoy the summer break before deciding what they want to do next.
Dawn said: "We would like to thank our families past and present for their support over the years, for their friendships and their kind works.
"We'd also like to thank the village - I think they were quite upset with us closing."
"It was like a home from home - that was one comment we got," added Jean.