Multi-million pound project will transform derelict building into a nursery and private Autism centre

A derelict Shropshire building which dates back to the 1860s is set to undergo a multi-million pound refurb to transform it into a leading children’s nursery as well as accommodating a private Autism centre.

The Hollies site in Sutton Road is the former home of Shropshire’s county training services and the new home of nursery provider Childcare at The Hollies.

The three-storey building at its heart is set to be transformed into a brand new Autism centre for children in the county and provide a new home for the current nursery based in its grounds.

At the helm of the transformation is county family Grant Charlesworth Jones, his partner Juliet and their five children.

Juliet will return from maternity leave to take charge of the nursery and plans are in place to launch a forest area and a range of new offerings including French classes and a child-led programme.

“I have a vision for the nursery and I want to use the children’s own curiosity and interests to lead us in our planning,” said Juliet, who has worked in childcare for over twenty years, previously at an Outstanding setting, and is an Early Years Teacher.

“We have big plans for the Spring, one of which being an extensive refurbishment of our outdoor area so that we can host Welly Wednesdays, and Forest School training will commence in March so that we’re all ready for the children to enjoy the outdoors in the warmer months with mud kitchens, a splat wall, bug hotels, bird boxes and more.

“We are also developing our Discovery Evenings, designed to help parents learn more about their child’s development and how they learn.”

The new HENRY initiative will also be launched at the nursery this month.

“HENRY stands for Healthy Eating and Nutrition for the Really Young, which is also something that we stand for at Childcare at the Hollies,” adds Juliet.

“The programme aims to give babies and young children the healthiest start possible and with the new Hollies building extension we aim to give babies and pre-schoolers the best start in every way.”

The nursery will expand its staff team for 2020 as they roll out the new initiatives, including holiday clubs, and plan for the future so Juliet’s face is not the only new one parents will see.

The Charlesworth-Jones family is working with Summerfield Healthcare, which operates private GP practices, and Shropshire Autism Service, led by Dr. Lisa Williams, to plan out the Autism Centre, which will also be based within the Hollies building.

Dr Charlesworth Jones said: “The nursery will provide much needed high quality childcare for families in Shrewsbury with plenty of outdoor space and with five children we certainly know what that is all about!

“The Hollies will make a perfect space for the Autism Centre to provide diagnostic and therapeutic services for Children and Adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorder that cannot be found elsewhere in the Midlands.

“Shropshire Autism Service has been working with dozens of families since its launch last year and Dr Williams is working very closely with us on the centre and what it needs to provide.”