Toad Hall to re-open setting after arson attack

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Toad Hall's Woking nursery is to re-open next month, after it was burned down in an arson attack in 2012.

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The new nursery in the process of being re-built

The setting, based at Goldworth Park in Working, which was destroyed by fire in December 2012, has been entirely restored in time to open its doors to new children by mid-September.

Toad Hall, which currently runs 13 nurseries across the south of England, has worked with Woking Borough Council and architects to redesign the entire building.

Chief executive of Toad Hall Ruth Pimentel said, ‘The original building was very high but the redesign has fewer storeys so it’s got a nice look and isn’t so obtrusive on the local environment. We’ve reconfigured the whole inside and there will be a beautiful outdoor area to which all six rooms will have access. It will be new, clean and gorgeous by the time we reopen.’

The original nursery opened in 2002 and, as Toad Hall’s largest setting, provided 112 registered places to local children. The newly built setting will offer 105 places.

The nursery will retain its manager from before the fire, Katrina Tye, who will work in the redesigned building with a team of six new members of staff employed for the opening. Toad Hall will also be looking to hire more staff as it increases in occupancy.

Ms Pimentel said the area had felt the loss of the nursery. ‘There was a lot of sadness amongst local people after the fire because they really felt they had lost a key part of their community. It was a very big and popular setting and it’s got a beautiful location in the middle of a park, so it really was in the centre of a whole community.’

The group also suffered from the extended closure, as its business interruption insurance only covered 12 months following the fire.

 ‘That was the biggest lesson for us,’ said Ms Pimentel. ‘I don’t think many providers are probably aware that they’re usually only covered for 12 months. Obviously it hit us very hard. We’ve had to work very closely with our insurance company to review all our cover. You just never think it’s going to happen to you, but unfortunately, it can and it does.’

She added, 'We’re hugely excited to be back up and running. Of course we would have had the opportunity to build on an existing nursery before, but now we have the chance to work on something that’s a lot more magical.’

‘It’s not like a brand new nursery where you’re worrying about attracting new people. We’re fairly well known in the area, with settings in nearby Ripley and Ottershaw, and we’ve kept in touch with lots of the parents from the original nursery and although their children are mostly grown up now they’re really keen to see it back. We have been running stay and play sessions at a nearby sea cadets building over the summer too.'