His­toric child­care cen­tre turns 70

Monthly Chronicle - - News -

It started as a col­lec­tion of mod­est wooden build­ings and 18 small chil­dren. To­day, 70 years on, it may have 125 chil­dren com­ing through its doors every week but the build­ings have barely changed.

The Pen­nant Hills War Me­mo­rial Cen­tre (PHWMCC) turns 70 this month mak­ing it one of the long­est-run­ning child­care cen­tres in Aus­tralia, and to mark the an­niver­sary it’s go­ing to have a party on Sun­day May 27.

Max Rud­dock, the fa­ther of cur­rent Hornsby Mayor Philip, was on the orig­i­nal set-up com­mit­tee, but it’s wel­com­ing past, present and fu­ture fam­i­lies of the cen­tre to come along and join the party.

Af­fec­tion­ately known in the dis­trict as ‘Shields Lane’, the preschool has grown from hum­ble be­gin­nings in 1948 to the pop­u­lar child­care cen­tre it is to­day.

“The Cen­tre was set up as a pub­lic me­mo­rial to the war and thereby qual­ify it for tax con­ces­sions,” ex­plains Di­rec­tor Jill Crispe. “The Chil­dren’s Cen­tre was of­fi­cially opened on 18th May 1948 with 18 en­rol­ments and prac­ti­cally no equip­ment be­yond ta­bles and chairs, a sand­pit and a swing.”

Then Di­rec­tor, Jean Reid, re­ported that “progress was due en­tirely to parents and cit­i­zens will­ing to donate time and money to the pro­ject.” They fundraised with card nights, a dog show, a flower show, street stalls, Rose Day but­ton sell­ing and mu­si­cals.

That as­pect has changed lit­tle too - to­day the Cen­tre is still not for profit with a vol­un­teer preschool par­ent based man­age­ment com­mit­tee. De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing cou­pled with fees keeps it go­ing, while the kids get on with it with ac­tiv­i­ties in the bush tucker garden, yarn­ing cir­cle, veg garden, or get­ting cre­ative with arts and crafts, sand­pit and all the other usual play-based learn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of preschool cen­tres.

At the an­niver­sary party there will be a walk down mem­ory lane with class pho­tos from 1968 to the present, as well as chil­dren’s ac­tiv­i­ties, an ap­pear­ance by award-win­ning chil­dren's’ au­thor Les­ley Gibbes who’ll read some of her sto­ries, and a Wel­come to Coun­try & Smok­ing Cer­e­mony.

“We even have sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of the same fam­i­lies com­ing through the Preschool and this year we wel­comed a third generation fam­ily!” said Jill.

Grand­mother Dale Turn­bull went to the Cen­tre soon af­ter it opened, in 1956. To­day she drops her grand­son Noah off there. “Our fam­ily has been lucky enough to en­joy the preschool for three gen­er­a­tions. We love the preschool for its pas­sion­ate, cre­ative and car­ing staff. There’s a real feel­ing of in­clu­sion and re­spect for one an­other and ev­ery­one is val­ued and cel­e­brated.”

The 70th cel­e­bra­tion is on Sun­day 27th May 2018 from 11am to 2pm in Shields Lane, Pen­nant Hills. For more in­for­ma­tion call Margo at the PHWMCC on 9484 1133.

Stand­ing the test of time: the Cen­tre to­day (above), and in 1968 (be­low).

Three gen­er­a­tions of the Turn­bull fam­ily - Jake, Noah and Dale, have at­tended the cen­tre.

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