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 chair@merrygorounddevon.com

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 Jo Luscombe-Jones

Jo Luscombe-Jones

Deputy Manager

Jo first became interested in Early Years education through her volunteer work with families with the charity Homestart. She wanted to engage more so embarked on qualifying to work with young children. The more she learnt, the more she loved about it! She really enjoys helping to create a happy, positive environment at Merry Go Round that enables children to learn through play, helping them to reach their full potential no matter their ability. She’s committed to working together as a team to help all children to create a positive attitude and outlook as they move onto the next steps of their education and beyond. In her spare time, Jo likes to read crime and detective novels. She’s a keen gardener and helps her husband run his gardening business, both out in the field and in the office. Jo is a very busy mum of four children ranging from 19 down to 4, but she wouldn’t have it any other way!

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 Kevin Hay

Kevin Hay

Preschool Assistant

Kevin has been a part of Merry Go Round for the past 18 years. One of the things he most likes about working with children is encouraging their inquisitive nature. He enjoys being outdoors which is an important part of a day at Merry Go Round, and in the warmer months is often found first thing in the morning in the garden with the hose pipe, tending to Merry Go Round’s lovely vegetable patch! In his spare time Kevin follows NFL and is an avid supporter of Manchester United. He also enjoys birdwatching.

Committee

A photo of Genie Morris

Genie Morris

Chair

Genie first lived in Devon in 2010 when she was just married to her Naval husband Dan who was posted to Britannia Royal Naval College. After that they lived in three more places before deciding it was time to put down roots and the South Hams was their first pick. They moved back in 2017 with 3 children and 2 immediately started at Merry Go Round where they settled extremely quickly with the help of the friendly and caring staff. Only Toby remains at Merry Go Round today but Genie is passionate about supporting the preschool so that it can continue to offer a vibrant, healthy and fun learning environment to other children in the future.

A photo of Lou Gilmour

Lou Gilmour

Treasurer

Lou moved to the South Hams a few years ago with her husband and a small bump, to build a family life closer to the sea! The outdoors has always been important to Lou and she previously worked with husband, Neil, running outdoor adventure holidays for children with acquired brain injury. They now run a business that provides an online assessment tool for supporting the emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people. It was these two things – learning through play in the outdoors and a focus on emotional development – that were top of the list when she started looking for a preschool for her daughter, Erica, and she was thrilled to find Merry Go Round ticked all the right boxes! Erica started in Summer 2018 and has settled really well into the Merry Go Round family and particularly enjoys exploring in the woods on Forest School days.

A photo of Rhiannon Collins

Rhiannon Collins

Secretary

Rhiannon was born and raised in South Devon and moved to Chillington with her family 5 years ago. She currently works with her husband running a busy website business from home. She is also an aspiring Artist and works out of her workshop in Chillington. Rhiannon and her husband chose Merry Go Round because it instantly provided a very nurturing, friendly and encouraging atmosphere for their daughter. Being new to the area at that time, Rhiannon felt that Merry Go Round not only helped her daughter to thrive but that being a part of the preschool provided an invaluable life line, that enabled them as a whole family to be quickly welcomed and included as a part of the local community. Both her children attended Merry Go Round and thoroughly enjoyed the entire range of opportunities and activities it offered including trips to the beach, Forest School, free play, singing, story time, yoga and so much more.

A photo of Camilla Fawcett

Camilla Fawcett

Member

Camilla joined the Merry Go Round committee in 2017. Living and working on a very busy self catering holiday site near Kingsbridge, she and her husband chose Merry Go Round over the more local preschool for its relaxed, fun and wholesome nature. The emphasis on play, outdoor play and Forest School is very important to her and her family and this is all met at Merry Go Round. Both her boys have moved up to primary school now but remember Merry Go Round very fondly. They were very happy and contented there, made good friends and gained confidence all round. They loved the outdoor spaces and Forest School, come rain or shine.

A photo of Jill Mottram

Jill Mottram

Member

Jill moved to the South Hams in 2012 and joined the committee in 2016. Jill is a part time GP and spends the rest of her time looking after her 2 children, 2 sheep and lots of chickens, and enjoying the great outdoors! Jill’s daughter Eva had 2 wonderful years at Merry Go Round and her youngest, Harry, is in his final year. She believes in children learning through play, especially outdoor play, and was drawn to Merry Go Round because of the wonderful outdoor space, Forest School and the warm, enthusiastic staff.

A photo of Tess Baker

Tess Baker

Member

Tess moved from West London to the South Hams in 2015 whilst on maternity leave from her post as a PE teacher with her eldest daughter Juno. She and her husband planned to give country living a go for 6 months but having fallen in love with Devon life quickly decided to stay permanently. Two years later second daughter Lola joined the family. Tess loves sport and all things outdoors, a passion which she and her husband both share. Merry Go Round’s outdoor nature was the perfect choice of preschool for Juno who loves nothing more than being active. She is excited about her transition up to the primary school in September with the lovely friends she has made over the past two and a half years. Lola has recently joined her sister at Merry Go Round and has settled quickly, sharing stories about her kind teachers and days filled with adventures!