ONE of Bradford on Avon’s most popular and much-loved toddler groups has closed after 25 years.

The Little Fishes Parent and Toddler Group was held weekly on Friday mornings at the Bradford on Avon Youth and Community Centre during term times.

The group staged a ‘clear out’ sale of its toys outside the centre on Tuesday, giving parents and children one last opportunity to secure a favourite plaything.

Its founder, Pip Maguire, had led the group for almost 25 years with the support of Bearfield Church.

She said: “Little Fishes toddler group at the Community Centre was naturally going to come to an end in the summer of 2020 but unfortunately the lockdown in March meant that it came to an end abruptly and prematurely.

“We would have liked to have marked the occasion with the annual ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ but due to lockdown regulations we were unable to end in the way we would have liked.

“Little Fishes Toddler Group has been running for just under 25 years and it has been a major part of the town community and under the umbrella of Bearfield Church for a long time.

“Many families in the town have brought their children along to the group on Friday mornings and have fond memories of the friendships that have been made.

“Favourite memories include the Christmas/nativity specials, Teddy Bears Picnics, Children in Need and Sports Relief sessions, to name just a few.

“Above all, we remember the stories and singing, including the ‘hokey cokey’.”

Tuesday's sale also gave parents and children the chance to say ‘goodbye’ to Mrs Maguire and her band of volunteer helpers.

They included Bethan Good, 39, from The Croft in Trowbridge, whose four children used to attend the toddler group.

She said: "It's very sad. We came to say goodbye.

"It's the end of an era. Pip has done an incredible job over the years."

Mrs Maguire's daughter, Kathryn, 37, who also attended the group as a mother of two children, said: “Due to a shortage of helpers and then coronavirus lockdown unfortunately Little Fishes is unable to carry on.

"So many families and children have benefitted from their sessions and community support over the last 25 years. It will be sadly missed in the town.”

Last November, Mrs Maguire was given a Bradford on Avon Town Council ‘shining light’ award for her service to the local community.

She was one of the shining light award winners who helped to switch on the town’s Christmas lights display in November 2019.

But all is not lost. Mrs Maguire will be helping the Bearfield Church to establish a new community activity for babies, toddlers and pre-school children.

Called Bearcubs Fun Time, it is hoped to run the group at Bearfield Church in Huntingdon Street, Bradford on Avon, on Wednesday afternoons from 1.45pm to 2.45pm during term time.

Activities will include arts and crafts, play time, stories and singing.

Refreshments will be provided for adults and children at £1 per family.

Numbers will be limited, so anyone interested should sign up by emailing