50 Years of the RSC Nursery

1 May 2013

The Royal Shakespeare Company's Nursery – one of the very few nurseries run by a theatre company in the UK - is celebrating its 50th birthday. Based in Shottery, next to Anne Hathaway's cottage just outside of Stratford-upon-Avon, the nursery first opened as the Theatre Playgroup in 1963. It now welcomes local children aged 6 months to school age, as well as those of RSC staff and actors who are working in the town for a short time.

The playgroup was initially located in a church hall on Rother Street, before moving to The Hill, a property in the Welcombe Hills. Since then the nursery has grown and developed a strong reputation as a small, friendly Day Care facility where the children have the opportunity to play and learn at their own pace in a creative atmosphere.

Kate Robinson has managed the nursery since 2000 with a well-established team, many of whom have worked together for over ten years. Talking about the facility reaching its 50th year she said:

'I'm delighted to be part of such a unique, special and long running organisation. I joined the nursery as Deputy Manager in 1998, and since then the team has continued to develop this wonderful facility.

'This place is made special not only by its beautiful location, but the dedicated and highly trained team who are passionate about the care of the children who join us each day. I believe that having such a strong association with a theatre company influences those who run it, so that the children who spend their time with us learn in an imaginative and playful way.

'Although many things have changed since the 1960s, the RSC nursery today still maintains the creative and fun environment of its roots. I'm very proud to be associated with it.'

As part of the 50th birthday celebrations Kate is working to piece together the history of the nursery, from its early days as a playgroup in the 60's to modern day. She would be pleased to hear from anyone who has recollections about its early days, and can be contacted on kate.robinson@rsc.org.uk

For more press information please contact:
Dean Asker
RSC Press Office
01789 412660, 0778 9937759
dean.asker@rsc.org.uk

Notes to editors

More about the history of the Nursery

Although it is not clear who started the Nursery, the first chairman was Jane Woolfenden. Jane and her husband, Guy Woolfenden, the RSC's former Head of Music, sent their three sons to the playgroup in the 1960s and early 1970s. The RSC's former General Manager, David Brierley, and his wife, Ann, also made use of the facility for their two sons in the 1960s. Ann ran the playgroup for a year, succeeded in 1973 by Diana Cockerton, who still lives in Stratford.

The Hill, one of the playgroup's first locations, had previously been the home of Sir Fordham Flower, the then RSC Chairman and whose family was instrumental in the building of the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1879.

The Nursery today

The Nursery meets the requirements of The Children's Act 1989 and is registered and approved by OFSTED. More information about the Nursery: www.rsc.org.uk/about-us/nursery.aspx
Staff ratios are 1:3 for 0-2 year olds, 1:4 for 2-3 year olds and 1:8 for 3-5 year olds.

The Nursery is managed by Kate Robinson, a qualified Norland trained NNEB with over 30 years experience working with children from birth to 7 yrs. Kate also has a Royal Society of Health Diploma in Childcare.

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