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A new childcare centre on campus at the University of Sussex has been declared officially open (Friday 7 March) by two of the children who are enjoying its state-of-the art facilities.

Harrison Duhampton, aged four, cut a pink ribbon yesterday (Thursday 6 March) to mark the opening as his three-year-old friend Zara Berman looked on.

Some of the guests at the event have a somewhat longer association with childcare facilities on campus.

Dr Stephen Yeo, who lectured in history at Sussex for two decades or more until he became Principal of Ruskin College in Oxford in 1989, was among a handful of parents who started a crèche on campus in the early 1970s. His son Jake, now 41 years old, was a founding member.

Dr Yeo returned to campus with Jake’s mother, Professor Eileen Yeo (also a former member of the history faculty at Sussex), for the opening and said: “This is a very important day for us –it’s unbelievable. It is wonderful to see this enterprise at work.”

The new childcare centre – for up to 101 children aged from three months to five years – brings together in one location the Nursery and Pre School, which were previously based in two separate buildings (Norwich House and Silverstone respectively) and provided a total of just 71 places.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Farthing, added: “The construction of this building has been quite a long journey. Its opening is the wonderful end of a journey and the start of a new one.”

In the large outdoor play area, the children can enjoy an adventure garden with a tunnel, water play, slides, bike tracks and a planting area.

Inside, they benefit from age-appropriate facilities and resources including touchscreen technology.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Olivia Birch, a director of the Midcounties Co-operative, said: “This nursery really is state of the art, with the latest technology. It’s a fantastic learning environment.”

The Co-operative Childcare (which is part of the Midcounties Co-operative) has managed the Nursery (for babies and toddlers) and Pre School (for three- to five-year-olds) since November 2012.

The University has granted the Co-operative Childcare a 15-year lease to run the building, which is open to children of staff and students and other campus bodies as well as the local community.

The Vice-Chancellor said: “We’re absolutely delighted with this partnership. We will benefit from the Co-operative’s experience in other places – which can only enhance the service we offer here.”

The new building is conveniently located for parents to drop off their children, just off Knights Gate Road at the top entrance to campus.

The new childcare centre is open from 7.30am–6.30pm, Monday-Friday, 52 weeks of the year.

For further details or to arrange a visit, call free on 0800 954 0669 or go to www.thecooperativechildcare.coop.

A childcare voucher scheme is available to help working parents at Sussex to pay for the care of children up to the age of 16 and for all types of registered or approved childcare, including the Co-operative Childcare.

IMAGE CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX
Harrison Duhampton, aged four, cut a pink ribbon to open the new campus childcare centre as his three-year-old friend Zara Berman looked on.

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