A DETERMINED group of Old Kilpatrick parents and grandparents admit they weren’t sure where to start when they stepped in to save their kid's playgroup by taking it over.

In December last year, locals Mari Nicol, Jacqui McCormack, Linda Kane, Christine Johnston, Dani Dolan, Ellen Gallacher and Carol Adam were left heartbroken when they heard the news their young one's Old Kilpatrick Playgroup Toddlers was set to close its doors after 50 years.

The mix of mums and grandparents decided they had to act quickly and keep the doors open to the twice-weekly tots club which led to them coming together to hatch a plan.

And now, less than a month later, OK Stay and Play is into its second week and fourth session, with numbers continuing to rise every time they meet on a Tuesday and a Thursday morning.

Clydebank Post: The group are inviting people to entertain the kidsThe group are inviting people to entertain the kids (Image: Tom Grant)

Clydebank Post: The kids just loved the musicThe kids just loved the music (Image: Tom Grant)

Telling the story, co-founder Mari explained she was desperate to do something when she heard the previous group’s manager had decided to close the doors at the end of the year.

Speaking exclusively to The Clydebank Post, she said: “A few of us just spoke amongst ourselves when we were here anyway with our kids, and we were like, I am happy to volunteer.

“All of a sudden there were seven of us who were like, I don’t want this to shut, I want this to remain.

“It is an amazing place for the community and for the kids so we couldn’t let it close.”

Before adding: “The number one thing was to keep the group open. At the exact same time as what it was and the exact same days because we got so much out of it.

“For me personally, I came here when my daughter wasn’t sleeping at night, and I would be sitting talking to other mums who would be able to relate.

“It has established relationships for both the parents and the kids.”

Clydebank Post: Mari stepped in as one of the seven who saved the groupMari stepped in as one of the seven who saved the group (Image: Tom Grant)

Clydebank Post: More than 20 kids attendedMore than 20 kids attended (Image: Tom Grant)

The new playgroup – which is a completely separate entity from the previous club – is thriving, with the magnificent seven going from strength to strength every week as they learn the tricks to running a successful community group.

They are consistently getting more than 20 children to their morning meets, which run from 9.30 am until 11.30 am and are a mix of fun times with toys and special guest appearances such as this week’s music performer.

Perhaps the reason they have hit the ground running is because they pooled their combined knowledge of raising kids as well as took feedback from other parents.

“The previous group playgroup wouldn’t have worked for us at all,” Mari continued.

“So, we were advised to restructure it and reform it, start again, so that's what we did.

“We completely removed any affiliation with the Old Kilpatrick Playgroup Toddlers.”

“We decided on a Stay and Play. We got some feedback from previous mothers who attended, and they had communicated with us that they don’t want to leave their children within the playgroup.

Clydebank Post: There are big plans for the future with more activities to comeThere are big plans for the future with more activities to come (Image: Tom Grant)

Clydebank Post: It's Meddy Day on ThursdayIt's Meddy Day on Thursday (Image: Tom Grant)

“They felt the youngest were just too young to leave there.

“So, with us, you are responsible for their own kid.”

The team, who admit they “didn’t have a penny” when they first started noted many of them had to go into their own pockets to initially get the new scheme up and running.

But they also called on the experience and expertise of nearby food bank Old Kilpatrick Food Parcels, who will provide teas, coffees and snacks for the little ones.

Maureen Cummings, OKFP founder said: “They asked if we would consider helping them with basic provisions for the children and teabags etc for parents.

“We had previously offered that to the original group so the offer was still on the table and we were more than happy to support this great new group.

“We formalised the agreement at a board meeting yesterday in Napier Hall between members of OK Stay and Play Committee and OKFP Committee.

“We have agreed to supply all snacks and drinks for the rest of the year and will be providing them with the use of the Grand Hall at some point during the summer months to host a fundraising social night and children’s party.”

Next up for the group is a ‘Messy Day’ where the kids are given licence to run riot with arts, crafts and paints.

Mari finished: “I couldn’t have a messy play in my house, she would have the walls painted.”