New Todmorden nursery building recognises work of retired head

Opening of the new nursery building. Picture by Charles Round.
Opening of the new nursery building. Picture by Charles Round.

There was plenty to celebrate in Todmorden last week as a primary school held the official handover for its new nursery building.

Todmorden C of E Junior, Infant and Nursery School began building a new purpose-built nursery back in March and after months of hard work it was ready to welcome children through its doors.

Alwyn Sutcliffe, business manager at the school, said: “It was lovely. The nursery opened on time for the children on September 6 and last Friday was the handover of the building to us from the architect and the builder.”

The project was seen through by the school’s former head teacher, Chris Wightman, who retired back in July and was a real community effort.

Alwyn said: “The old nursery building had reached the end of its life. We worked closely with Todmorden Cricket Club, who allowed access for the build, and we are proud that we have used a Todmorden architect, Pullman Associates, and builders from Bridge Timber of Halifax.”

The new building contains two nursery rooms, rooms for a breakfast and after school club as well as space for more groups should the nursery expand. It is hoped that the building may be used by health services and other providers in the future.

The building was made possible by a government grant which part funded the project.

The grant was awarded when Alwyn, along with Martyn Sharples and Nikki Wood in the Calderdale Early Years Unit, discovered that there was a need for additional childcare places in Todmorden.

Alwyn said: “There are a shortage of places for nursery age children. They can now come from two years old, so the new building has a specific room for them, and there is another room for the pre-school nursery. Parents will be able to use the nursery for their 30 hours of childcare for children aged over three years, and allow them to go back to work.

“It’s been a long time coming for the town and it is a really lovely resource.”

On Friday, October 6 there will be an open day for the local community to take a look at the new building between 8.30am and 10.30am and 2-4pm.

After 29 years at the school, Chris Wightman retired from his role as head teacher back in July.

During his time there, Mr Wightman oversaw many projects and managed to see them all through to completion before he finished.

Before he retired, staff and students held a retirement week at the school where they hosted all sorts of events.

Each of the 300 children at the school made a piece of bunting to decorate the school hall and there was a whole school commemorative photograph. Mr Wightman also hosted a children’s disco for all pupils, a party for the nursery, an afternoon tea for parents, a leaving assembly and more.

There was also a special surprise waiting for the retired head when he attended the handover event of the nursery building.

He was presented with a commemorative plaque in recognition of his hard work.

Business manager Alwyn Sutcliffe said: “He was absolutely delighted and surprised.

“We think it was a fitting tribute for someone who has put his heart and soul into the school.

“He will be greatly missed but he achieved so much.”