IT was farewell but not goodbye for a pre-school in Winton as it closed after nearly 60 years.

Parents, staff and children gathered at Winton Baptist Church to say so-long to Winton Pre-School.

They enjoyed cake to celebrate the decades, with well-wishers sending in thank you cards, displayed on the wall.

There were ‘mixed emotions’ on Friday, however, a new chapter is just beginning with the managing team, Sally Burnell and Louise Tovey, planning a new venture.

Bournemouth Echo: Sally Burnell and Louise Tovey of Winton Pre-School.

Sally said: “I’m really sad because it’s been such a journey for myself personally from when I started as a volunteer and then doing all my training and progressing in this building, and all the families we’ve met and everything else."

She added: “For me, it’s super sad, but then I’m really excited.

“Louise and I have worked together now for seven years.

“We’ve always talked about opening a school up ourselves for the community of Winton, so we’re doing it.”

Sally first began at the pre-school as a volunteer, when her daughter, now aged 16, was attending 14 years ago.

Bournemouth Echo: Former children and staff sent in their well-wishes and thanks to the pre-school.

She fell in love with working with children and completed her training to begin working full-time, before taking over as manager in 2016.

Louise’s story is similar, beginning volunteering at another pre-school, before she joined Winton seven years ago.

She said the pair had worked ‘really hard’ to make it the best it could be.

It was awarded a rare rating of ‘Outstanding’ at its latest Ofsted inspection in 2019, which the pair are ‘really proud’ of.

It regularly sees generations of families coming through its doors, which Louise said was ‘so lovely’.

The pair thanked the pre-school community for its support through the change, and everyone who had helped make it ‘as beautiful as it has been’.

Bournemouth Echo: The closing of the pre-school was marked with a celebration on Friday.

“The families have been absolutely phenomenal,” Sally said.

“The support that they’ve given us throughout this whole process, the words of encouragement, it’s been quite heart-warming.”

The pre-school was given notice to vacate its current premises in July. Sally and Louise then worked non-stop to find a new location to begin their new business.

Their venture will open next week, with all children and staff set to join them again.

“We love everything about Winton Pre-School, all its values, history, everything,” Louise said.

“So, although we are a new entity as such, we are very much carrying over everything that we value about Winton Pre-School.

“We’re really excited for the future.”

The new Winton Pre-School Little Explorers at St Bernadette’s Church in Draycott Road will be hosting an open day on Saturday, October 28 between 11am and 3pm.