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Thank you for the Friday fun

One of Wairarapa’s most popular entertainment sessions for preschoolers has finished on a high note, after 20 years of fun and joy.

For two decades, the Kids’ Song and Story group at Epiphany Church in Masterton was run by stalwart church women on Friday mornings and became a weekly highlight for many.

Held in the church hall, recent sessions were attended by about 20 children and caregivers, for a half-hour programme of songs with actions and movement, fingerplay, nursery rhymes and a story, followed by morning tea, all for a voluntary donation.

The final session was held on June 30, after the team decided it was time to wind down, Kids’ Song and Story leader Pam Thomas said.

“Our long-time volunteers were getting older, mainly in their 80s and some of us decided it was time to retire. Kids’ Song and Story is part of the Epiphany Church outreach programme and team leaders are expected to be Epiphany parishioners.

“We are ever hopeful that a group of parishioners may introduce a programme for pre-schoolers in the future.”

Thomas said caregivers seemed to love the “old school” style offered by the group, as “they’re things they remember from when they were children at kindergarten”.

One item that endured over 20 years was the pink donation box, which had been repaired many times.

In 2002, Epiphany Church member Anne Owen was asked by Reverend Sue Beauclerc to set up a preschooler group. Grants of $250 from Masterton Trust Lands Trust and $700 from the Wellington Diocese Social Service and Community Development Board were received.

The first session of Kids’ Song and Story took place in February 2003, with 12 children attending. Along with Owen, the group was run by Monica Cross, Jeannie Stewart, Barbara Bellamy, Elaine Wong and Margaret Barber.

“Numbers increased as news of the group spread,” Wong said. “It was pleasing to see some dads coming with children. From small beginnings, to about 40 children in the early years, the numbers in recent years have been up to the 20s.”

Birthdays were celebrated by giving the child a crown made by volunteer Pat Everitt. When a new baby was born, a team member would take the family knitted booties, a teddy bear for the preschooler and some baking.

In recent years, the core organising group included founding member Wong, with Thomas – a retired kindergarten teacher who joined the team about 12 years ago – Norma Pauling, Dawn Murray, Margaret Mclean-Craig, Mary Sanson, Moerea Stevens, Priya Parbhu, and Carly Llewellyn. Emma Mead and Rosie Thomson helped when needed.

The women leaders each brought experience from many fields of work and home life to share with the caregivers in a happy setting.

Thomas said that rather than being saddened by the group winding up, it was time to celebrate 20 years of success.

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