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Carmel Caterpillars Preschool


Carmel Caterpillars – A brief history

Carmel Caterpillars started life as Carmel Hall Playschool back in 1974. It was started by Marnie Leverton who was a qualified child care assistant and opened the doors just 2 mornings a week for children aged 3 and above but only if they were potty trained. Other mums from the local church helped out including Angela Mcsweeney – Antonia and Adrian’s Mum. One of the mums that helped was a nurse. The cost was £1.00 and for that you got milk and biscuits thrown in!

Several years later the name changed to Sittingbourne Community playschool and was run by Petra with the help of other mums from the local area including Gill Burt, Jen Whibley and many others. The playschool opened its doors 4 mornings a week and again took children from the age of 3. The playschool later ran a Risers session for children before they started school. On a Wednesday afternoon it was a mother and toddler group, again ran by local mums.

Shelagh Lawson took over the running of the pre-school in the early 80’s where it continued to serve the local community in very much the same format as before. Jill Tappenden was Shelagh’s deputy and Cilla Joyner joined the team.

In 1999 Andrea King took over the running of the playschool with Karen Whittaker joining in January 2000 as her deputy and after a year or two changed the name to Carmel Caterpillars Pre-school. Over the years it started to take children from the age of 2 and a half and started running sessions just a couple of afternoons. This proved very popular so lunch time was added. Andrea saw many changes throughout her time as Pre-school manger – the new Early Years Foundation Stage was introduced – paper work became a huge part of pre-school. Children’s development folders were bought it. Key workers were put in place. The pre-school now opened Tuesday – Friday, morning and afternoon with lunch for children each day if they were staying all day. Funding for 3 year olds came into effect. Staff came and went and so did the children.
Andrea left in July 2009 and in the September of the same year Louise Leppenwell took over still with Karen Whittaker as her deputy. We have seen many staff changes over the passed few years. We sadly said a final goodbye to a dear friend – Carole Sayer still missed by her friends. She has left a big hole but each year the Carmel Caterpillar Girls complete the race for life in her memory. More changes have happened with regards to the Early Years Foundation Stages and we now have funding in place for some 2 year olds.
Carmel Caterpillars are happy to be celebrating over 40 years of serving the community and the families within it. Here’s to the next 40 years!!!

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