Alex Nicol, (5) of Ettrick, helped open the Teviot Valley Educare Centre’s new playground on Sunday.

The opening was part of the centre’s 20th anniversary celebrations and 41 people attended the afternoon tea, including past pupils and committee members.

Manager Ange Cahill said the centre had provided hundreds of Teviot Valley preschoolers with sensory focused play and education at the Hawick St, Roxburgh, premises during that time.

‘‘We have just received a parcel of three books from one of the first children to attend the centre, Madison Pannett, now of Wellington.’’

The playground includes a small version of a miner’s cottage, as well as a water sluice, a mud kitchen and new play equipment.

It is surrounded by large schist rocks and planted with native plants to depict the Central Otago environment.

The playground cost $65,000, and they received $25,585 from the Central Lakes Trust and $15,000 from the New Zealand Community Trust, along with additional fundraising and help from the centre’s staff and community volunteers, as well as the donated use of Digger Dave Nicol’s excavator to help with landscaping and installing the huge rocks.

‘‘We had about 10 pupils when we first started and we now can have up to 30 a day, from 6 months old to 5 years.’’

Ms Cahill has been with the centre for the 20 years, at first as an untrained teacher, and then once she earned her early childhood diploma and degree through correspondence, she took on the role as the centre manager.

Alex, who attended the Educare facility for three years and now goes to Roxburgh Area School, and Mrs Cahill pulled the ribbon to officially open the playground.

In the future, the committee intends to raise more money to repaint the building, provide a new computer for the office and upgrade the kitchen as well as on-going maintenance.

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