Our Story

Learn about the history of Pippa's Group

1986 — Founded

Pippa Campbell was invited by Lewes Children’s Social Services to set up a small specialist playgroup, in her own home in Gundreda Road, for children who could benefit from  a small pre-school.  She was helped by Jean Toy, who already knew most of the families through her work as a Community Family worker.

Jean & Pippa worked together for nearly 10 years.  Pippa’s Group numbers increased to about 6 children per session, and the children enjoyed the large family garden, complete with sandpit, Wendy house, climbing frames, goats and dogs.

1997 — Relocation

Pippa moved house, and the Group relocated to Christchurch Hall, Prince Edwards Road, Lewes.  The Church were most welcoming, arranging fencing for the garden and allowing the group to put up a garden shed for outside play equipment.

1999 — Charity Status

Pippa’s Group became a Charity helped enormously by Jack Smith, the then Manager of Lewes Children’s Social Services. He organised a contract for us with East Sussex County Council to provide funds for salaries for staff. However the contract only lasted 2 years and the group then started the fundraising programme which has continued ever since.

2001— Parent Support Group

The Group’s activities were expanded to include a ‘Friday Parent Support Group’ for parents with young children.

2004— OFSTED Registration

The Playgroup was registered with OFSTED as a playgroup for 8 children aged from 18 months old.

2006 — Sessions for 3+ years

The Group was further expanded, at the request of Health Visitors, to include 2 afternoon sessions for children of 3+ years of age as they felt that older children would also benefit from a small group.

2007 — 21 years of success

The group celebrated 21 years of success in 2007.   Many people who had connections with the group at the outset turned up to join the party.   Jack Smith, the manager of Lewes Children and Families team, who had been instrumental in setting Pippa up, gave a speech expressing his delight at how the group had thrived.   Norman Baker MP and Ruth O’Keeffe, East Sussex County Councillor also gave their congratulations.  There were grandparents who had been parents in 1996 and there was even a former pupil who was now a parent of a child attending the group.

2008 — Move to Pells

Because of the need to expand further, the Group moved to a purpose built Portacabin building in the grounds of Pells CE Primary School, Lewes

2016 — Pells Closes

It was announced that Pells C of E Primary School would close and Pippa’s Group was given a year to find alternate accommodation, which was an immense challenge.

2017 — Securing the Future

Pippa’s Group Charity Trustees working with local people and other charitable groups managed to secure the purchase of the community buildings known as the Old Boys Club or the Landport Youth Centre from Lewes District Council for £190,000 as a new home for the Nursery, together with the Dance Academy, as well as keeping the Landport Youth Club open.  All of the groups will be fundraising for many years to come to purchase the Landport Community Hub as the building is now known, but it has given greater security to all the groups who had previously rented in a variety of different venues.

In September 2017 Pippa’s Group re-opened its doors with just 9 children for the new school year. By two years later in 2019 there were 35 children on roll and a waiting list.