Playtime at 20

It's 20 years since a weekly Playtime was launched by a group of ladies at St Margaret's  and to mark the milestone the current band of dedicated volunteers have produced a brief, very readable, well-illustrated history of this important facet of parish life.

Philippa Higgins recalls that it was the late Sara Baggaley who came up with the bright idea that the parish would benefit from a mother-and-toddler group. 'She booked the hall and waited for weeks but nobody came at first,' she says.

'However Sara had vision and was a persistent lady. At that time we didn't have a warm, modern, welcoming hall like our present base. But that didn't deter Sara. She sat alone in the chilly, rickety hall, week after week, certain that soon she would be joined by young families. 

'And eventually Louise Watson, now Vicar of Embsay, arrived one cold and dreary February afternoon with three-year-old daughter Lydia clutching the hand of her one-year-old sister Maddey.

'Afternoons were not convenient for young families so Playtime moved to Friday mornings and attendance grew rapidly. In one year attendance had rocketed to 47.

'To begin with equipment was donated by the attending families and some items appeared from charities or gifts from individuals, the fruit of Sara's persuasive powers.'

Current parishioner Pansy Davies recalls when, as a visiting grandma from Wales, she took Brinley and Elin to Playtime. 'The children loved it. The highlight was always a puppet show put on by Anne Kilvington at the end of the morning.' 

The good news is that Playtime continues to enrich the lives of children and parents. It's for three-year-olds and under and is held in the Parish Hall every Friday in school term time, from 9.30am to 1.30pm at a charge of £2 per family. This includes children’s refreshments, tea or coffee for carers. Anyone is welcome. 

Mike Casey