A PLAYGROUP based in Sherfield-on-Loddon has celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Happy Faces playgroup was established in 1982 by Peggy Hutchins when she realised that there were no local playgroups for her own children. 

The highly-rated playgroup was originally based in Mission Hall, moving to the Liddell Hall when it was constructed.

When Happy Faces was first founded it looked after six children, three mornings a week, now it cares for 52 children and is open five full days a week.

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Playgroup manager Viv Allaway said: "It started really small and has just grown.

“The same can be said for the catchment area: it started quite local and has expanded, it’s a much wider catchment area.

“We cover all the surrounding areas; we’ve had up to nine feeder schools.

“We’re now having people that used to come here themselves send their kids here, which is lovely.”

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While she stepped back following her retirement in 2017, Peggy still visits the playgroup from time to time to read stories to the children.

As part of the playgroup's anniversary celebrations, she officially opened a new garden at the playgroup on July 6, which was created by Cutting Hedge Garden Services which donated its time. 

Peggy thanked the staff that supported her and kept up the good work since her retirement, calling them “a brilliant team".

Viv added: "We thought it would be nice to include her, for her to come and open the gardens and the mud area for the children to use.

“It was a big celebration for Peggy, and for all of us, to reach that milestone.”

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