A pre-school in Gosport has said a sad farewell to a highly-respected volunteer after 25 years.
Ferne Fowler was given a delicious meal, flowers and a beautiful card signed by dozens of children to celebrate more than two decades of lending a helping hand at Badgers Pre-school.
It was the end of an era for the 73-year-old who had been visiting the pre-school since the time it was known as St Matthew’s Play Group. In 1996 the newly-named Badgers moved down the road from St Matthew’s Church to Holbrook Primary School, in Wych Lane.
Speaking from her home in Alverstoke, Mrs Fowler said: ‘I will miss Badgers so much. For me the experience was all about the children and seeing them happy.
‘I loved helping out when I could and I’m sad now that I won’t be able to do that.
‘I tripped over and fell on my back last year. For health and safety reasons I can’t work there any more.
‘But I will definitely make sure I visit and say hello. I’ve had a good 25 years and going to Badgers was definitely the highlight of my week.’
The widow still keeps active with sewing groups, volunteering for the Guides and Brownies and fundraising for Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
She is also doing a lot of babysitting for her daughter Tanya Cutler’s two children Laura, nine, and James, 11.
Sharon Davies, pre-school manager for the past three years who has worked alongside Mrs Fowler since 1998, said: ‘Ferne has been a real asset and we all miss her now that she is gone.
‘She would come in voluntarily once a week but whenever we had a fair or a special activity day she always offered to do extra.
‘The wonderful thing about her was that she added another dimension to Badgers. We don’t have many grandparents involved in the pre-school, so the children loved speaking to her.
‘Some of them didn’t have grandparents and they would ask her questions like “why are you old”, but she was always happy to answer.
‘We wish her all the best and she’s promised to stop by every now and again which of course we would love.’