Popular Newmarket playgroup closes as funding dries up

Mothers and children at the Horseshoe playgroup's final session at the Turner Hall on Monday
Mothers and children at the Horseshoe playgroup's final session at the Turner Hall on Monday

A popular Newmarket playgroup has been forced to close after being unable to secure funding for another year.

The Horseshoe playgroup, based in Turner Hall, had hosted about 80 families since it was launched in June last year, with almost 100 children coming through its doors.

Honor Gellatly, who ran the playgroup, said: “It’s going to be really missed. It’s a great community group. The parents love it. They were all very upset when they heard the news.”

The playgroup was operated by Home Start, a charity that works on projects supporting children and families, and dependant on funding from organisations to continue running.

Newmarket-based charity Racing Welfare provided funding for the first year, to help establish the group, on the basis that it would be able to secure further funding after that time.

“It would have been nice to carry on,” said Honor.

“We have applied for lots of different funding pots but this year we were unsuccessful.”

Volunteer Rachel Preen, said the group would be deeply missed.

And mum Coroinna Gowthorpe, who took her one-year-old to the group, said: “It’s a loss and its closing is a great shame.

“It’s frustrating that in this town of great wealth for some people we can’t find anyone to sponsor us.”

Gemma Hall took her three-year-old son Aaron-Jacob to the group, which was held every Monday, and her two older children during the summer holiday. She said: “The playgroup has been great. We do something different each week. It’s such a friendly group.

“Aaron had severe separation anxiety when he first attended his pre-school but the playgroup definitely helped him talk to new people. It’s been a lifeline for us really,” she said.

Home Start is continuing to operate other services in Newmarket.