Playgroup’s 37-year history celebrated on its final day

NADV. St Mark's Playgroup at St Mark's Church in Harogate is closing down after 37 years, with Pauline Clark, Rev Guy Donovan-Cross, Anne Anderson, Shirley Calvert and Sharon Dalrymple. 110214GS1.

NADV. St Mark's Playgroup at St Mark's Church in Harogate is closing down after 37 years, with Pauline Clark, Rev Guy Donovan-Cross, Anne Anderson, Shirley Calvert and Sharon Dalrymple. 110214GS1.

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A PLAYGROUP which has been running for nearly four decades has closed this week.

With only a handful of children now registered, St Mark’s Plagroup celebrated its last session on Monday.

The group was set up 37 years ago with support from the vicar at the time, and was originally based at the old St Mark’s Church Hall, next to the Mile Post pub in Leeds Road. When that building was knocked down as part of the redevelopment project at the church, the playgroup spent some time in a portable building, before settling into the church’s new North Room.

Over the years, the group has reduced from 24 children over three mornings per week to just six at a two-hour session once a week. One of the leaders on its final day, Anne Anderson, has been there since it was set up.

Shirley Calvert, who has been with the group for 31 years, said: “The leaders have always been church members. We have been part of the church’s outreach for all that time.”

Mrs Calvert said the dwindling numbers were down to changing lifestyles over the years, with more mothers going to work and requiring full-time childcare or preferring to attend groups where they could stay and sing songs or play games with their children.

But she added: “It has been good to settle children if they haven’t been away from mum before. We’ve helped a lot of children in that way and then they have moved on.”