With less than a month until its 20th birthday, Holmesville Playhouse Preschool has its party plans well under way.
The West Wallsend children’s learning hub has been in the capable hands of Vicki and Paul Courtney for almost two decades – and that, the pair say, is worth celebrating.
On Saturday 3rd July the centre will host a party that will include a magician, musician, a cake stall, a plant stall, face-painting, sausage sandwiches, coffee and 20 years worth of nostalgia.
For owners Vicki and Paul the event will be a ‘home-open’ of sorts.
“This is very much like home for us,” Vicki says.
“It’s always been a family affair, since we first took over in 2001.
“Since then all of my children have worked here at some stage, my grandkids have been here and my 88-year-old mother still helps out wherever she can.
“I think it’s the family-feel that our parents love about the place.”
Holmesville Playhouse Preschool is a play-based learning hub for children aged two to five.
It welcomes a maximum of 28 children, aged two to five, with six qualified educators present from 6:30am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
Despite looking like “an open-plan grandma’s house”, Vicki says the building was purpose-built as a preschool in the 1970s.
Vicki and husband Paul are the preschool’s third owners.
They became custodians of the William Street business after a family-member found an advertisement in a local newspaper.
“It was a whirlwind,” Vicki says. “Within a month we had exchanged contracts and were getting ready to open the doors.”
And while the pair admit the role has had its fair share of ups and downs, they cherish the memories they’ve made at the little learning hub.
“It was tumultuous to start with and we wondered what we’d got ourselves into, but 20 years later we’re still here,” Vicki said.
Being a small, private preschool Holmesville receives no government funding and cannot apply for grants.
It relies on parents paying their fees.
“That does make it stressful at times,” Vicki admits. “But we want to remain accessible to any child that needs us.
“That’s what we’re here for.”
So when Vicki and Paul and their tight-knit team welcome past and present families through the door on Saturday 3rd July, they’re hoping the community returns the favour, turning up in large numbers to offer support.
“We’d love to see former students and all our current families, people from the neighbourhood, and anyone that’s interested in having a look at the centre to come and reminisce with us.
“Even if it rains it’ll be a great day.”