A CHILDREN’S and toddler’s playgroup has celebrated a milestone anniversary as it looks back on its history.

Hillside Playcare began in 1982 in the downstairs of a house in Hillside Road, Burnham-On-Crouch.

The owner, Lesley Talbot, ran the group for five mornings a week with four staff members.

Within two years, the group was open five days a week from 9am until 4pm.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

They then opened the upstairs of the building and began taking in more children.

In 1991 they built an extension on the building and began providing childcare to babies and children aged from three months old up to five years old.

In 2002 they moved to a larger premises where Lesley leased an acre of land in Southminster and a purpose-built building was created.

The building still stands today in Hall Road, Southminster.

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Now they have 40 members of staff, with many being employed by Lesley for more than 20 years.

The 40-year anniversary brought both old and new staff together to celebrate the nursery over the years.

They now look after more than 200 children and see many whose parents also attended Hillside Playcare.

Sammy Hopkins, the manager of Hillside Playcare, said: “Lesley has run the nursery for the last 40 years and has had her husband Les by her side.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

“They are both such fantastic people who are so passionate about wanting the best for Hillside and its staff.

“Lesley and Les received a large canvas painting of the nursery which was bought by the staff as a gift and token of their appreciation to such a hardworking couple.

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“It means so much to get to such a fantastic milestone, not only for the nursery but for Lesley and Les too.

“The ever growing success of the nursery really is down to having such a hardworking team that are so invested in making Hillside the best and always striving to put the children’s best interests at the heart of everything we do.”