Campaigners are desperately trying to raise money to save a village school.

The 'Stickleberries' pre-school and day nursery in Winterborne Stickland, about four miles west of Blandford, suddenly closed its doors in August 2023 - leaving hundreds of children without a place to go. 

The pre-school not only served the village, but the surrounding area, including children from Blandford. 

The building was originally built and gifted to the village by the Hambro family in 1861 to serve as its village school, which was run by the Diocese of Salisbury, before closing in 2013. 

The nursery was then set up which also offered after school clubs and school holiday clubs for children up to 11 years old before closing.

The diocese, which is a trustee of the building, now wants to sell the building at auction for £320k - meaning it could demolished by any potential new owner.

Leading the charge to try and buy the building and save the pre-school are Anna Way and Carole House.

Anna said: "It was very sudden, it just shut down on a Friday and people had the weekend to find a new one - lots of families were affected.

"We have a huge amount of money to raise and we are running out of time - the whole village is behind it though."

Children looking into the Winterborne Stickland school premises which closed in August 2023Children looking into the Winterborne Stickland school premises which closed in August 2023 (Image: Anna Way)

Anna has helped set up a community interest company (CIC) which will run and operate the school, if they are able to buy the building.

The whole village has backed the project including a property lawyer and a property surveyor who have donated their services free of charge.

A group of woman in the village have also been busy knitting blankets in anticipation of the pre-school being reopened.

Anna added: " We have nothing in the village, no bus, no shop but we do have this lovely building.

"We are a tiny north Dorset village and the building could just go and no one would know.

"In Blandford there is such a desperate need for a pre-school in the area, especially one with wraparound childcare.

"We feel like David versus Goliath but we feel it is such a good cause and we don't want to go away. 

"We don't want the original legacy of the school to go either - we want it for our children."

The group are looking to reopen as Winterborne Stickland Nursery School and already have more than £70k in the bank towards their target.

Donations can be made by visiting the groups Gofundme page at