A KIDS’ club which supports more than 500 families has been saved from closure at the 11th hour after new owners stepped in.
Wickersley Kids’ Club was set to close in three weeks after manager Paul Brooks announced his retirement at the start of the month due to uncertainty around the club’s base.
But last Saturday, Mr Brooks agreed a new deal with Rawmarsh-based childcare provider
Pops Outdoor Adventure, who will continue to run the club from the former Surestart building within the grounds of Flanderwell Primary School for the next 12 months.
Mr Brooks (61), who set up the Ofsted-rated good club 16 years ago, said he was overjoyed new providers had been found. “I can retire and go on holiday to Vietnam with a big smile on my face,” he said. “And spend more time with my four grandchildren.”
Mr Brooks thanked Rotherham Council’s head of early years and childcare services, Aileen Chambers, for her intervention and help finding new owners.
The takeover has seen all seven fulltime and two part-time jobs saved, securing the provision which provides “wrap-around” childcare for 530 families, including breakfast and holiday clubs.
In November, Mr Brooks was given 12 months’ notice that the lease would not be renewed by Flanderwell Primary School, which is part of the Diocese of Sheffield Academies Trust (DSAT).
He said it would have been “verging on the impossible” for him to find another premises suitable for 60 to 80 children and so he had made the “sad decision” to take early retirement.
Executive headteacher Alison Adair said the club had rented the space from Flanderwell Primary School for over five years, with the lease agreement being renewed annually.
Explaining why notice was served in November, she said: “Flanderwell Primary School has grown rapidly in the last few years, with over 100 new pupils joining the school since our outstanding Ofsted inspection in 2018, and, as a result, space is now limited.
“This year, we have not been able to run the pre-school provision that we have always provided for our families because we have no spare classrooms, which has led us to review our use of the space currently being rented by the club.”
Ms Adair said the school was very pleased new club owners had been found after Mr Brooks’ decision to retire, adding: “The school will continue to offer the use of our school premises to the club until December 2020, which will allow time for the new owners to find a suitable venue to let.
“This arrangement will be reviewed after this time and we hope that, with the right management, both the school and club could continue to share the space.
“We are particularly delighted as we are confident that the new owners will provide outstanding provision, plan exciting activities for the children and we feel that they will work well with us as a school.”
Pops Outdoor Adventure is run by husband and wife team Adrian and Natalie Harvey, who will continue to negotiate the lease with the school.
The Flanderwell centre, not far from their home in Wickersley, is their second permanent base after their Rosehill Park HQ.
Mr Harvey said: “Our remit of getting children outdoors will bring a lot to the kids’ club and enhance their service, creating a great experience.”