Staff at a west Dorset playgroup are over-whelmed by the support of their local community, with £600 being raised as they celebrate half a century.

Families, both past and present, came together to celebrate 50 years of Beaminster playgroup earlier this month with a fundraising fun day.

The event was opened by Kath Crabb and Yvonne Rawle, the longest serving members of staff with 20 years and 21 years respectively, who cut the cake.

Beaminster Town Councillor Janet Page, who also joined in with the celebrations, said: “As a local councillor, I am still involved in the management and delivery of many vital services within our community.

“Back in 1969, I was one of the very first parents to take my daughter to the playgroup and it has been close to my heart ever since.

“Over the years I have been the manager and committee chairperson. Today I am very proud to be here celebrating its 50th year.”

Sally Wellsford, who is known for her devoted service to the playgroup, has retired after 26 years as a manager, with new manager Mandy Broster taking on the role.

Mandy said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support that people here have shown us. It is such a strong community - the fact that so many old friends joined us really shows how much people care about services like ours.

“Fundraising is more important than ever if we are to future-proof our playgroup.

“While government provision of 30 hours free childcare is great news for children and working parents, the funding we receive sadly doesn’t cover the costs involved. So, as a charity, we have to make up the difference ourselves.

“I want to personally thank the people who gave their time and skills for nothing to make our 50th birthday party such a success, and to the local businesses which have been so generous in donating raffle prizes.

“To raise £600 is such an amazing result for our children.”