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Ducklings Celebrate

Above left the four founder members of Ducklings - Pat Menaul, Mary Kerslake, Margaret Turner and Lesley White. Above right Past helpers join the Ducklings of today.

Above left Ducklings at work and play and right three youngsters with the birthday cake.


Hethersett Ducklings pre-school playgroup is 40 years old.

The group celebrated its special anniversary with a party for the children and former helpers in Hethersett Methodist Church Hall.

Among the guests were the four founder members of the group - Pat Menaul, the Rev Mary Kerslake, Margaret Turner and Lesley White. They were joined by other former Duckling helpers from the four decades.

Candles on a special birthday cake were lit by present-day Ducklings and memories were re-kindled by special scrapbooks and a wall of photographic memories from the past 40 years.

Ducklings supervisor Nicky Wardale welcomed the guests and invited those present to help to piece together memories of the past: "We don't have much history of the play group," she said.

"Without Mary, Pat, Lesley and Margaret we would not be here today," she added.

The initial idea for Ducklings came from Pat Menaul who, as Pat Stittle in 1967, had three young daughters. She enlisted the help of Mary, Margaret and Leslie who all lived in Mill Close and they provided facilities for 24 children aged between three and five.

They saved hard to provide equipment and still remember having to pack it away and scrub the floors at the end of each session.

"The playgroup gave us such a lot of pleasure. It was certainly one of the first in Norfolk," Pat said.

Mary has seen many of the children grow up and has even officiated at marriages of some: "It has been wonderful to be able to marry some of them and baptise their children. It underlines the way life continues," she said.

The original four Ducklings then enjoyed reminiscing with former colleagues, many of whom helped with the group over a quarter of a century ago.

The morning concluded with a special "graduation ceremony" for present day Ducklings who passed under the rainbow and down the symbolic path towards becoming pupils at Woodside Infants School.

Duckling Pre-School Playgroup meets from 9.30 a.m until midday Tuesdays to Fridays in the Methodist Church for pre-school age children from two and a half to four. They also run a number of activity groups for younger children who attend with the parents or carers.


Below is the previous story appealing for former helpers to contact the group

Party Time for Ducklings Pre-School Playgroup

Hethersett Ducklings pre-school playgroup will be turning the clock back with a special party to celebrate its ruby anniversary. 

Ducklings was founded in 1967 and will be having its 40th birthday celebration party in Hethersett Methodist Church Hall on Tuesday 17th July. 

The group is looking to track down former helpers and pupils – many of whom will now be in their late thirties and early forties with children of their own. 

They have already been in touch with founder member the Rev Mary Kerslake but have been unable to find two other founder members – Pat Stittle and Leslie White. 

Today the playgroup meets from 9.30 a.m until midday Tuesdays to Fridays in the Methodist Church for pre-school age children from two and a half to four. They also run a number of activity groups for younger children who attend with the parents or carers. 

So far the group has managed to contact about 15 former Ducklings, but they are looking for more. 

“It will be a special day for us. The children will be attending and then there will be a get together to celebrate the 40 years. We hope to have a memory board with old photos and will also have commemorative tea towels,” said  playgroup secretary Clare Hobson. 

The group are not just looking to the past, however. They are at present working towards gaining a quality assurance kite mark. 

Any former pupils or helpers wishing to attend the party should contact Clare on 01603 810380