'Heartbreaking': Preschool may cease to exist after 200-year-old church closes
A LONG-STANDING community pre-school is facing the threat of closure after the church where it operates was put on the market.
Longham Community Preschool, which has been around for 60 years, faces a “heartbreaking” closure unless a new facility is found before July.
Based in the United Reformed Church in Ham Lane, the church has taken the “reluctant” and “deeply sad” decision to close due to an ageing congregation and difficulty in maintaining the church.
Leanne Blackley, joint manager of the pre-school, said she is “devastated” with the impending closure and appealed for help finding a new location.
She said: “Without a rapid response from you, Longham Preschool will have no choice but to close permanently in July.
“I would ask that any individual or business that may be able to offer a life-saving location for us to call home to please get in touch.”
Theresa Doherty, a parent of current pupil Lily, said: “We really couldn’t wish for a better pre-school and are heartbroken that our younger son and other children will not have the same opportunity should the school close.
“It will be a huge loss; not only to us as a family but to the whole community.”
The church has been at the centre of the community for more than 200 years and said it was “grateful” the pre-school could operate until July.
The Revd Dr Romilly Micklem, convener of the URC Wessex Synod Trust, said: “It is very sad that churches close, but unfortunately this reflects the difficulties which all churches have to face at times, especially after Covid and with declining memberships.
“The Synod will begin to explore options for the future of the buildings. As with all similar church sites, we are fully aware of the necessity and desirability of exploring potential future community use, to preserve both the amenity of the site and the character and fabric of Longham URC, which is a Grade II listed building.
“We would like to convey our very best wishes to the Longham Pre-school for its future and very much pray that it finds suitable, alternative premises so that it can continue to provide the wonderful service to the community that it does so very well.”
Anybody who can offer support to the preschool should contact email@example.com.