Merry Go Round Preschool is an independent, charity preschool run by a passionate team of staff and committee members, all of who are committed to making Merry Go Round the best it possibly can be for nurturing our young children. We are committed to creating a positive, team environment where our staff feel valued and enabled to grow and reach their full potential. We are constantly looking at ways of supporting staff professional development with relevant training opportunities, so that they can best support our little people in line with the Merry Go Round values.

As an independent, charity-run preschool we cannot operate without our committee of hardworking, volunteer parents (both past and present).  The committee are responsible for the regulatory, administrative and financial processes of Merry Go Round, as well as organising a number of fundraising and social events throughout the year.

When a child joins Merry Go Round their parents or carers are encouraged to play an active role in shaping the preschool, by contributing their time, skills or experience through a variety of ways.  This could be as a committee member or by contributing to a fundraising event or community work day. If you are interested in getting involved please get in touch with Genie, either in person or by email at [email protected]

Staff

A photo of Alison Pope

Alison Pope

Manager

After leaving college with a National Diploma in early childhood studies, Alison became a private Nanny for 6 years, working with two families over this time. It was whilst doing this that she was approached to join a preschool as their supervisor, during which time she achieved her NVQ level 4 and trained as a Thrive Practitioner. This training gave her the skills to support the emotional health and wellbeing of children so that they are ready to engage with life and learning, something that she’s particularly passionate about in her role of Manager at Merry Go Round. Having worked solidly in Early Years for 18 years, she can confidently say she’s doing a job she truly loves – every day is an learning adventure and never a dull journey! Alison is a mum of two, and when she’s not working she’s out and about with her little family – a firm favourite is walking to the beach almost on her doorstep with a picnic. She enjoys reading, music, meals with friends and family and going to the cinema… She’s a complete Marvel nut!

A photo of Sarah Aubrey

Sarah Aubrey

Deputy Manager

When Sarah was a child she was always told she was great with children and that when she grows up she should work with them! She soon realised that she loved being around young children as they always put a smile on her face. She has two of her own children and two step children, all teenagers now! When her children were younger Sarah completed her NVQ level 3 in Childcare whilst working at a preschool, where she loved working with a team and watching children grow and transform into their own little characters. In her spare time Sarah likes to read, listen to music, spend time with friends, walk her dog to the beach and enjoy quality time with her husband!

A photo of Moira Laidlaw

Moira Laidlaw

Forest School Leader

Moira has worked with Merry Go Round for an impressive 24 years, the last 12 of which has been as our Forest School Leader. She initially started as a parent volunteer, but quickly realised how much she enjoyed the challenges of working with young children, and how she would like to build a career from this. She completed a Level 3 NVQ in Early Years, then proceeded to train as a Forest School practitioner, and then a Beach School practitioner. All 4 of Moira’s children attended Merry Go Round and although she has seen many changes over the years in how childcare is provided, she feels the Merry Go Round ethos and core values remain the same now as they have always been. She enjoys working for Merry Go Round as she feels being an independent preschool allows the staff to keep their high levels of aspiration. “I love being in Forest School with the children, as I feel some really important learning happens there. Everyday is different but central is allowing the children time and space to find their voices and place in the world. The children develop a lot of resilience being out for a full day in all weathers.” In her spare time, Moira enjoys being outdoors, making things (usually from wool), gardening, reading, walking her dogs and most importantly spending as much time as she can with her partner and nearly grown up family.

A photo of Ali Daw

Ali Daw

Preschool Assistant

Ali has worked in Early Years since qualifying for her level 3 in childcare in 2006. For over 16 years Ali has supported many children in a Foundation unit with their learning and development. Ali enjoys working with Early Years and providing them opportunities and support to achieve their full potential: she loves the magic of the awe and wonder of their inquisitive minds! When Ali is not working at preschool she is a mum of two grown up children, who she enjoys spending time with doing activities such as kayaking and going on coastal walks. Ali enjoys hot holidays abroad, but her main love is spending time at our beautiful local beaches. Ali is a social butterfly and enjoys spending time with her husband, family and friends, going out for meals and cooking at home.

A photo of Emma Breeze

Emma Breeze

Preschool Assistant

Emma has a background in caring for the elderly where she worked for 15 yrs and gained her qualifications. She then decided to take a new carer path when she and her husband set up their own business in boat maintenance. After having 3 children Emma decided to follow her passion, looking after little people. She gained her Level 3 Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning while training in a primary school. This confirmed to Emma that Early Years is where she wants to be. Prior to joining Merry Go Round she ran a successful baby group in Dartmouth and worked in a small pre school. Emma is excited to putting her knowledge from her Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce (Early Years Educator) into practise at Merry Go Round. When not working Emma enjoys time with her husband and 3 children and 2 dogs. They love the outdoors, walking, the beach and paddle boarding.

Committee

A photo of Rosie Beard

Rosie Beard

Chair

Rosie grew up in the South Hams and enjoys living in this wonderful part of the world along with her husband and four children. Her youngest son currently attends Merry Go Round and has settled well into preschool life. Rosie is keen to support the fantastic preschool so it can carry on providing a caring and nurturing environment for children for many more years to come.

A photo of Matthew Lethbridge

Matthew Lethbridge

Treasurer

Matthew was born and grew up in Stokenham, and went to Merry-Go- Round as a child, in Sherford Village Hall. He is a farmer and loves farming. When not farming he likes to try and keep fit by cycling, although perhaps not as often as he likes! When looking for a playgroup for their daughter Megan, Matthew and his wife wanted somewhere she would be encouraged and happy. They were impressed by what they read about Merry Go Round, and the fact that outdoor play and weekly forest school features heavily in preschool life. Upon meeting Alison and her team at a fundraiser, their minds were made up. Megan has moved on to school, and now her little brother James has started at Merry- Go-Round. James has settled in well, and is always excited when it’s time for playgroup. He’s made lots of friends, and loves looking at birds in Merry- Go- Round’s garden. Matthew is keen to help Merry- Go- Round however he can.

A photo of Hannah Pearse

Hannah Pearse

Secretary

Hannah and her husband moved back to Devon in 2017 after the birth of their daughter Poppy (4). They now run a local mooring and events venue and love the outdoor lifestyle that the South Hams affords them and their children. Poppy joined Merry Go Round aged 3 and adores the staff and the setting where she is actively encouraged to play and learn at her own pace. Poppy's sister Charlotte (2 1/2) joined her at Merry Go Round on her second birthday and she too is thriving in this friendly, and predominantly outdoor learning environment. Hannah joined the committee in 2021 and is pleased to be able to help with the running of Merry Go Round to ensure that it thrives today and long into the future. When not working, the family can be found enjoying the water and local beaches either on paddleboards or on their sailing boat.