A NURSERY which was saved from closure thanks to a campaign by parents being seen in the Chronicle has reopened under new ownership - after significant investment saw the site fully renovated and its capacity more than doubled.

Welcome Nurseries at Lundwood’s Priory Campus building opened in December and received a special visit from the Mayor of Barnsley Coun Caroline Makinson last Friday, thanks to the firm’s director and local woman Linda Cuddy seeing parents’ pleas for help back in May last year.

After previous owners Barnardo’s announced they couldn’t afford to keep it going last April, parents and staff at what was previously Priory Family Centre Nursery rallied around to ensure the nursery could stay open.

The new owners, who run more than 30 sites across the country, moved in at the end of July last year and have since increased capacity of the childcare setting - which offers care for children up to the age of five - from 36 children to 86, have extended their outdoor space to introduce an on-site Forest School, and have already seen a rise in attendance from 22 to 41.

Opened by Barnardo’s in 1995, the previous nursery offered sessional care which has now been extended by Welcome Nurseries to full day care from 8am to 6pm, with funded hours for eligible children.

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The team have also began hosting parent and toddler sessions on Thursday mornings to encourage parents to socialise after what manager Jane Turner says has been a ‘very isolating time’ throughout the pandemic.

“It’s great to be open again, and it’s so much better now we’ve converted the old offices into more day care rooms.

“It’s thanks to the parents that we’ve managed to make this happen and improvements are still being made, the Welcome team are still improving bits around the nursery and we’ll hopefully have a new Forest School this summer.

“A lot of people still don’t realise we are here so hopefully word will start to get out now we’re up and running.”

Coun Makinson read a story to the children during her visit and received a tour of the newly-refurbished setting.

“It’s lovely to see the nursery doing so well and I think we really need to shout about how many places there are left - as that is quite rare in childcare settings these days,” she said.

“Nurseries like this are a great way of supporting parents to get back into work and it’s good to see that support working first-hand.

“The stay and play session sounds great as well, as it can be challenging enough becoming a parent for the first time never mind during the pandemic when it’s been difficult to get together with other new parents.

“A huge well done to the team and lets hope the new capacity is made good use of.”