Interaction and fun ... Mataura preschoolers attending the Mainly Music session getting right into the dance.

The Mataura Mainly Music preschool programme is about to celebrate a milestone.

In October it will have been running for 10 years.

Although the actual 10-year date is in October, the event is being combined with national volunteers week in June, as team members are all volunteers.

Mataura Mainly Music leader Nicky Coats said as members were mostly farmers’ wives, October was a busy time of year.

“Lambing and farming at that time of year is crazy, so it made sense to bring the celebration forward.” Mrs Coats said.

When they started in 2009, the preschoolers’ music sessions had 19 children enrolled. Today they have 46.

Since 2009, there had been 61 families through the centre with 131 children, taking part in the programme.

“We are Ministry of Education-funded and it is so rewarding to see our numbers growing all the time.”

“Anyone can come along and it is for 0-5-year-olds so over the years we get to see them grow. It is so fulfilling,” she said.

The sessions are community-oriented, with not only the volunteers but also the church ladies on a roster for the morning teas.

“We are very spoilt. Even some of the men pop in to help with setting up and putting away the tables and toys.”

“Having been a leader for three years, I have met a lot of new mums, made new friends and feel very much a part of the community,” she said.

Mataura resident Elvajean Harrington has been volunteering her time on Monday mornings since the centre has been open.

“My husband [John] and I used to bring the grandchildren along, then we just kept coming every week because we love it so much,” Mrs Harrington said.

Mr Harrington died two years ago, but 77-year-old Mrs Harrington still turns up every Monday as a volunteer.

“John loved coming here,” she said.

“He loved the children. He was a gentle soul whom the children gravitated to,” she said.

In remembrance of Mr Harrington, the centre is installing a plaque on the fire drill gate.

“We had a fire drill and John couldn’t get out of the gate with his walker. Since [they are] installing a new gate it seems appropriate to dedicate it to him,” Mrs Coats said.

The Mainly Music group is holding a celebratory dinner at the Falls Hotel Bistro at 7.15pm on Saturday, June 22. There will be a church service at the Mataura Presbyterian Church at 10.30am, Sunday June 23, followed by the remembrance gate dedication and a barbecue lunch.

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