2017 reflection and looking ahead...

Happy New year to one and all! (we can still just about say that at the end of January, right ??)

Here we are rushing head long into 2018 and 2017 already seems but a distant memory. Whilst we want to share the abundance of new and exciting plans that we have in store, and before they eclipse 2017 entirely, we’d like to also take this opportunity to share a wee snapshot of last year...

The 7th year of Playcircle Story saw both the Nailsworth and Stroud story sessions completely full. We have thoroughly enjoyed welcoming so many lovely families into the sessions …with new and time old stories and songs being heartily enjoyed by us all. In fact, we love the sessions so much that in November, we declided to introduce a new session and now the lovely folk of Dursley are joining us for our musical antics too!

With wanting to expand our sessions, and with the absence of our lovely Wendy still being felt, it also became evident that we needed to bring someone else into the Playcircle fold, and that someone was Jess! A Playcircle old timer herself, her musical talents and fabulous voice made her an obvious and perfect choice to support us in our musical adventures.

Meanwhile, in Devon Wendy has rolled out two Playcircle Story Sessions, one in the village she lives in and one in the heart of busy Exeter. We watch fondly and with baited breath as these sessions grow from strength to strength. Who would of thunk it!? Playcircle has gone national!

Our Playcircle drop-in session for parents and toddlers, based at the town hall in Nailsworth is fully established with word of mouth testimonies bringing us a steady flow of new families. These friendly, inclusive sessions have become the ‘lynch pin’ of many a folk’s week and are also now often full to bursting! Whilst grateful for the town hall what we really need is a bigger space (just sending that out there?!), due to its increased popularity, we now also run a similar session on a Monday afternoon ( a sign up session only) which in fact started this week. We intend for this group to be a ‘held’ space offering imaginative free-play for little ones and a creative and nourishing environment for mums.

We would also like to take this opportunity to give a special shout out to our dear friend Kirst, who as well as frequently lending us her illustrative talents, quietly works behind the scenes at drop in, and actually she can be found at most of our events…sleeves rolled up! Kirst’s kind and supportive nature makes all of these events a little more manageable for us all, making her an integral member of the team. Thanks lovely. xx

We also have plans, although a little less formed at this point, to start a ‘babes in arms’ group exclusively for Mums of babies under one year. We are dreaming up a simple, gentle group with possible additional termly visits from speakers, holistic therapists etc. to enrich and empower mums in those early, often challenging stages of motherhood. Also, if that wasn't enough, we’re conjuring a ‘bumps’ group where we will provide a nurturing environment for new mums-to-be to come together and enjoy a few treats along the way…..more information to follow on that later in the year!

Last year saw us collaborate for the first time with Thistledown farm/cafe for our ‘Mouse Hunt’, an opportunity to enjoy an all- weathers stomp around beautiful organic pastures, with songs, dance and nature inspired crafts and then back to the café for tea and delicious cake. Following the hunt’s roaring success, 2018 will have us hunting for that cheeky little mouse again no doubt!

The highlight of the Summer was of course the debut of our first ever family camp. This was a feat of epic proportion for the Playcircle team, but made possible by all the wonderful parents who chipped in; offering their service, running workshops, time, talents, experience and resources. To them we are so grateful because we now have a solid blueprint on which to build this year’s event. It promises to be bigger, better, even more special and we hope a little sunnier! It was so amazing to stand back and behold .….music playing, fires roaring, bunting flying, lights twinkling, the camaraderie of our Playcircle families and the joyous laughing of children as they played together in the ‘village’ that we all took part in creating.

Whilst talking about success, we have to mention our third consecutive Autumn fundraiser which rolled out all the usual delights in November; an awesome jumble sale, cakes, mini singing workshop, holistic treatments, fantastic autumnal crafts and of course a magical musical journey with Chloe, Mel and Wendy, (who returned especially for the occasion). We were also thrilled this year to have the very special addition of Claire from Tiny Talk as she joined us to sign the story as it was told, and some very talented musical parents helped us to create such a beautiful session – thank you. Together we raised over £1300 at the latest fundraiser for UNICEF, an international children's charity that is close to our hearts.

Chloe and Rachel closed the year with an ‘advent string’ making workshop…based on a wintery tale, 24 little gifts were lovingly made and wrapped, to be opened by excited wee ones in preparation for Christmas. Drawing on it’s popularity and requests for something similar to be done again, Chloe and Rachel are teaming up to provide a series of craft sessions throughout the year giving parents the opportunity to create some beautiful ‘treats’ for their children. The first being a doll-making workshop that began last Friday.

This year we will also be hosting a Playcircle Story Event and Craft Fayre. This is bound to be a rich and colourful event as we plan to give the very talented folk who attend Playcircle the chance to showcase and sell their wares! I, for one, am super excited about celebrating the talent and creativity that we have in the midst of our Playcircle community!

Whilst talking of talent and creativity, it would be amiss of us to not celebrate the huge success of our lovely Mel here. As well as being a brilliant musician and accomplished songwriter, turns out she’s also a very talented author! Last year Mel received a super duper book deal! We are so unbelievably proud of you Mel! Needless to say, she’s going to be a busy lady in the coming months. Whilst Mel will continue to have a strong presence and still be an integral part of Playcircle, she will also need to focus on her writing and we therefore look forward to welcoming another lovely lady with musicical talents shortly.

Phew! As I write, I realise the scale of what was achieved last year, and this year only promises to be even better. We are so very grateful to all the wonderful people who join our ever-widening circle.

We wish you all much love and light for the year ahead…

Holly, on behalf of Playcircle


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