Dagenham children’s centre closes after 41 years

Staff and children at a day-care centre attended a farewell party to mark the closure of their long-standing “community hub”.

Noah’s Ark Children’s Centre, in Stamford Road, Dagenham, is shutting down today (Friday), 41 years after it was set up by the adjacent New Life Church.

More than 100 children and their families will be affected by the closure of the two pre-school classes, a full day-care group, an after-school club, a breakfast club, a parent and toddler group and a holiday club.

Parents, staff and children were told about the plans two weeks before the end of term in July.

Two more organisations that operate out of the centre – a women’s group and the Girls’ Brigade – will also have to find new premises.

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Director David Burns, 63, who is also the church pastor, said: “It’s unfortunately the economy of the day. The cost of the amenities has soared so much that we can’t afford it.”

The church will also be closing after 80 years.

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The council is allocating children to other centres and the women’s group is moving to Dawson Hall in Hedgemans Road, but the Girls Brigade’s 35 members are still searching for a new home.

The church’s secretary is 85-year-old Vera Reynold. She has been attending the church since she was a child.

Mr Burns said: “She is finding it very difficult and emotional. The church was a community hub for many years.”

‘Sad time’

Gloria Gladden, who managed the centre for 37 years, has maintained her involvement with it since retiring several years ago.

She said: “It’s a very sad time. When I came here we had 12 children each day and it was just a play group. It grew slowly. It was my baby. It’s going to be a great loss to the community.”

Head of childcare Melanie Devonshire has worked at the centre for 22 years.

She said: “Every day has been a different day, and children teach you something every day. Sometimes we forget that you can learn a lot from children. I look at them as flowers that grow. You need to get to that root.”

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