South Tyneside's largest nursery provider celebrates 20 years of shaping the next generation

A South Tyneside nursery is celebrating 20 years of shaping the next generation.

The Early Learning Partnership, which was founded in 2000, now cares for around 700 children across the borough and beyond.

Pre-schoolers at all five of the company’s nurseries celebrated the 20th birthday in the best way they know how, with an afternoon of fun and games, balloons and birthday cake.

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South Shields couple Eamonn and Susan Gribbon, opened their first nursery West Park Kindergarten on West Park Road at the turn of the millennium, with the aim of creating an environment to inspire the next generation.

Early Learning Partnership nursery founder Eamonn Gribben celebrates with staff and nursery children.

Now they have grown to be the largest nursery provider in South Tyneside with sites in Westoe, Harton, Bede Burn and Rothbury in Northumberland as well as The Bungalow Pre-School on Prince Edward Road.

Over the years the nurseries have earned a highly-regarded reputation with parents and received top marks from Ofsted, being awarded ‘outstanding’ at their three latest inspections.

At Harton Village Kindergarten on Sunderland Road, where Colin Burgin-Plews - or as he’s better known the Big Pink Dress – is the chef, he made a special birthday cake for the occasion.

“It’s absolutely amazing that a company like this has been going for 20 years in the North East,” he said.

Big Pink Dress celebrates the 20th anniversary with children and staff from Harton Village Kindergarten

“It was a lovely celebration and the cake went down very well with the kids.”

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Other staff members described the occasion as a “big milestone” for the nursery and said a fun day was had by all.

Co-founder Eamonn Gribbon, of The Nook said: “In the year 2000 a magical moment was created, not only did we hit a millennium but our very first nursery was established which aimed to provide an inspiring environment purposely for young children. Today we continue to create and magnify a positive pathway.

“All of our nurseries are run by a passionate team who provide and enhance learning in a range of ways to each child, through investigation and exploration.”

He added: “I would like to thank all parents and carers and our dedicated team for their ongoing support and helping us to shape the next generation.”