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Bright Beginnings moves to Pembroke

Photograph by Raymond HaineyNew home: Victoria Cunningham, owner of Bright Beginnings nursery school, with some of the children in her care at her new premises on the outskirts of Hamilton at St John’s Church, Pembroke

Bright Beginnings nursery school has started afresh in new premises close to Hamilton.

The nursery, opened more than a decade ago at St Mark’s church in Smith’s, has found a new home in the former Government nursery attached to St John’s Church in Pembroke.

Bright Beginnings founder and owner Victoria Cunningham said the move means more convenience and less travel for parents — as well a massive outdoor play area, which is fenced in and stocked with slides and other play equipment.

Ms Cunningham said: “St Mark’s was doing renovations and told us we had to move while they were done.

“We had planned to go back, but it’s very hard to move a nursery — it’s not like a dress shop.”

She added: “We had been looking for five years to move to closer to town because most parents and clients work in town. It’s convenience more than anything else.”

The nursery was based in Dundonald Place near Victoria Park in Hamilton for a few weeks before moving to its new home last month.

Ms Cunningham said: “Dundonald Place was a lovely space — but it had no dedicated play yard which is not what I wanted.”

But she spotted a story in The Royal Gazette that the St John’s Government nursery was to amalgamate with the one at Victor Scott Primary and contacted the church authorities.

She said: “We called them, put in a proposal and made it. The space here is brilliant. It’s in town, but with out of town amenities like a large play yard and lots of parking.

“We put in fencing around the play yard and dry wall to separate the baby room from the preschool room and we painted.

“But it was already zoned as a nursery, which was a good thing and we didn’t have to do much to meet all the Government regulations.”

The nursery held an open day earlier this month to highlight the move — and Ms Cunningham said she expected the new, more convenient location, to boost enrolment numbers.

She added: “We have had a lot of enquiries, but a lot of people still don’t know where we are. We would certainly expect more children now that we’re closer to town.”

Ms Cunningham, who set up Bright Beginnings in 2004, was a primary schoolteacher at BHS in Hamilton for several years before gaining a Master’s degree, focusing on early childhood education.

She said: “It was apparent to me that was where I wanted to be — I took a chance and opened my own business with a lot of family support.”

Ms Cunningham added that the business had weathered the economic downturn well — but an exodus of expatriates as the recession bit had hit enrolment at the nursery.

She said: “Numbers went down significantly — in one summer, we lost close to 20 kids. That was about four years ago.”

But Ms Cunningham added: “Things seem to be on an increase at the moment — people are still having children, of course and if you’re Bermudian, both parents are probably working and grandparents are often still working as well, so you don’t have them looking after the kids as much as they used to.”

And she said: “I’m very pleased with the move — the church has been really wonderful and they’ve been open to the improvements we want to make.”