Save our toddler group, begs Ruth, 81

Published on: 02 May 2017

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VOLUNTEERS are needed to help run a toddler group to save it from closing after nearly 30 years of supporting parents and children.

Edds and Tales toddler group runs at Christchurch hall on North Street on term time Mondays from 10-11.30am, with around 20 families attending every week.

But the current team who help run it need to move on as their children are older.

Founder Ruth Iles Spencer, who set up the group in Fishponds in 1990 before it moved to its current Downend home in 1997, is also taking a back seat.

She said: “I’m 81 now, and I used to be up at 6am every Monday morning to bake the cakes for the toddler group.

“I set up the group with my husband, Eddy, and the Edds and Tales name came from him. He was marvellous with the children and knew them all by name and of course, because he was a man running it, it meant that more dads felt comfortable to come along.”

Eddy died just as the group moved to Downend when the chapel that housed it closed down, and running the group helped keep Ruth going during the difficult time.

She said: “I just love being around children, they’re such a joy. I was lucky that my husband had three children when we married, then we had two more, so I’ve always been around children.

“I worked as a midwife, like the Call the Midwife days when I went around on a bicycle, and have just met the very first baby I delivered by myself – she’s 57 now!”

While she’ll still come along to Edds and Tales occasionally, Ruth has other plans to keep her busy, including a charity trip to help orphaned children in Uganda.

Debbie Westbury currently volunteers at the group, but needs to step down because son Bertie, three, is now at preschool.

She said: “The group is so important to people. So many mothers are lonely, and even taking the step to come along to a toddler group can be daunting.

“But then they arrive, and they’re met with a cup of tea and cake and other parents who are in the same boat. And the group becomes a lifeline, a reason to get out of the house on a Monday morning when everything seems a bit grim.

“It’s particularly important to keep it going because the other playgroup that ran in the hall on Thursdays closed down last year, so we’re the only one left.

“We can provide a lot of support to anyone interested in taking over running the group. It would suit someone who is retired or who works part time.”

As well as drinks and cakes, the toddlers attending can enjoy music time, games and crafts, for a weekly cost of £2.50 a family. New families are always welcome to come along.

The group also welcomes donations of toys such as Duplo, cars and fancy dress outfits.

Anyone able to help out can contact Edds and Tales via its Facebook page or come along on a Monday morning.

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