Upper Clapton parent-led nursery celebrates ten-year anniversary

AN UPPER Clapton nursery set up by desperate parents celebrated its tenth anniversary on Saturday (November 20).

Many of the 100 children who have attended Grasshoppers In The Park, which operates out of St Thomas Church hall and crypt in Clapton Common, came along with their parents to the landmark celebration.

Laia Gasch, who lives in Elderfield Road, one of five parents who founded the nursery, which caters for 16 children, in 2000, said: “We were a bit desperate, we were new mums saying, “What are we going to do?””

“Hackney council had closed down three nurseries, and we couldn’t afford private nurseries, so we set one up ourselves in a spare room,” she added.

Government initiative Stamford Hill Sure Start gave them funding to turn St Thomas’ Church hall into a child friendly space and to develop as a non-for-profit organisation.

Ms Gasch believes their vision which may be considered more mainstream nowadays was pioneering at the time – like making sure children enjoyed fresh air every day, eating organic food and making it as homely as possible, with parents working at the nursery alongside professionals.

“At the time people were saying, “Will this survive,” and actually it has - and it means parents who want a different type of child care can be involved.

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“Saturday was beautiful, there were lots of people, lots of children and lots of love, and it was good to mark the moment of something that started as a very small project and was kept going by parents.”

Grasshoppers runs a free parent and toddler session every Friday from 10am – noon.