“There HAS to be a place!”
These were my very thoughts in 1995 as I sat in a dentist’s chair - mouth full of equipment and a squirming toddler in my lap. At 15 months, Andrew was too young to be left playing alone in the waiting room and too old to sit quietly in his pushchair. Like many young mothers in the area, I lived miles away from my family, and friends weren’t always available to help. All I needed was a few hours each week for myself.
So I started to search.
Babysitters were expensive and he’d have no other children to play with. Lots of mother and toddlers groups around, but then I’d have to stay. Crèche? “Only if you belong to the club, madam!” - or they were so chaotic and noisy that Andrew was beside himself. Finding the right childcare was proving to be a nightmare!
What I wanted for Andrew was the equivalent of my Italian aunt’s living room - complete with cousins, toys and lots of hugs. My big wish was "Fun for him, free time for me!" That’s how Scallywags came about.
When I was looking for a playgroup for my son, Henry, I read Nancy's story and thought, "That's just how I feel! I want a warm, friendly place for my toddler!".
I couldn't believe my luck at finding such a place for my son and later, for his sister, Florence. As a primary school teacher, I know how essential those early years are and how those first play experiences are vital for the development of young children. Both my children attended Scallywags and had a wonderful play experience which really set them up for that first transition to 5 day nursery.
Years later I happened to run into Nancy who was contemplating her retirement. I leapt at the chance to take on Scallywags and am so very happy to continue its great legacy and service to the families of Richmond, Twickenham, Kew, East Sheen, Mortlake and Barnes. For over 25 years now, Scallywags has been helping families give their toddlers that same warm, happy play experience that my toddlers had (AND giving parents a much needed break!)