A VITAL village childcare service can look forward to a stable future after a new facility was secured.
Belsay Day Care was set up by parents as a charitable company 12 years ago to meet a need for pre and after-school care in the rural community.
About 80 families are now registered with the service, which employs six qualified staff.
However, there were fears that the hard work could grind to a halt as the mobile unit housing the service was becoming a health and safety hazard.
But now, thanks to an 18-month fund-raising campaign and the donation of a second-hand mobile from Northumbrian Water, the service has been saved.
Committee Chairman Verity Shepley said: “The last year or 18 months has been a huge fund-raising exercise and we have managed to get a new building so we can secure the future of the club.
“The old building was so bad. There were holes in it and all sorts of problems. We were looking at a health and safety issue if we didn’t get a new building and we would have had to close.
“The old building was second-hand when we got it 12 years ago so nobody thought it would last as long as it did.
“It is such a relief to get the new building, especially as a parent who needs the after-school club.”
The parent committee responsible for the service has had to raise £20,000 to fund the project, organising events such as a Chinese meal, spa day and entertainment to bring in the cash.
In addition, grants have been secured from a number of organisations, including the Widdrington Charitable Trust, Belsay Estates, Kirkwhelpington Education Trust and the Catherine Cookson Trust.
“We had a big target because even with the donation of the free mobile unit we had the cost of pulling the old building down and getting the foundations in, which was quite costly,” said Mrs Shepley.
“We get income from people who use the after-school and pre-school service, but that is just to pay the staff salaries and there is no spare money in the pot. We filled out hundreds of grant applications and got a lot of help with fundraising activities, but it was quite a mammoth project to raise that amount of money.”
There were further complications when the committee tried to secure planning permission for the new unit and members had to challenge an Environment Agency Flood Map for the area to secure the necessary consent.
But work is finally under way to demolish the old unit to make room for the new building, which should be in place for the start of term on Tuesday, September 4.