Thousands of children have been cared for by a Broadstairs grandmother who is marking 35 years at the helm of York Street Methodist Church’s toddler group sessions.
Marjory Dobson, 68, set up in the group in 1984 when she was looking after her first child. She said: “When I had my first child there was a young wives group and we would have a speaker and the children would be looked after. When that finished my friend and I said we should have something for the little children in the church. We arranged to start the group but she got a job so her mum helped me instead. Then the family moved but I carried on with it.
“When I started the toddler group there was virtually no other groups going. Now of course you have nurseries so we lose the older children to those although some mums come here on group days instead.
“There is an average of about 20 children a week at the group and then our Christmas party will have around 60 children so I may well have looked after thousands of children! I’ve seen generations come here.”
Marjory’s four children attended the group and Sunday School. Her youngest child Hannah, now 27, currently works at Helter Skelter nursery which has been based on the lower floor of the church building for 10 years and her son Edison attends the toddler group.
Marjory’s husband Neil, a retired maths teacher for Thanet schools including 17 years at King Ethelbert, also pops in to give a helping hand.
Former music tutor and Northdown and St Peter’s primary teacher Marjory said: “I just love seeing the children come in and of hearing about their progress. The toddlers who were once here now come with their own children, which is lovely, and we see lots of them and the mums at our Christmas parties and Christingle services.
“We do not force the church on them but they know it is a church organisation and if they have any problems they can talk to someone and we will help them and pray for them.”
Marjory has been helped by a host of volunteers over the years including Ann Farmery who has attended for 32 years.
Marjory said: “ Ann was a m um who came with her own children and she has kept on coming to help.”
And Marjory is happy to continue giving her time to run the group every Wednesday. She said: “When I started I did not really think about it, I just do it every Wednesday and have no plans to stop yet. It is just such a nice thing to have at the church.”