CRAWFORD Park was a celebration of colour and excitement yesterday as the first sod was turned on the new Alstonville Preschool site after a five-year battle.

For decades, the children of Alstonville had enjoyed a premium preschool experience, until the Alstonville Baptist Fellowship decided not to continue running the preschool after 2013.

Alstonville Pre-School president Katherine Buckley said when the committee first heard of the former facility closing, they got to work immediately to secure the future for the kids.

"Our committee has spent countless hours over the past five years fighting to retain a preschool at Alstonville and find an appropriate site," she said.

"And now we're finally here."

"It is absolutely amazing."

NEW START: Narelle Walker, Katherine Buckley, Ballina MP Tamara Smith, and Ballina Mayor David Wright and pre-school students, at the sod turning for the new Alstonville community pre-school.
NEW START: Narelle Walker, Katherine Buckley, Ballina MP Tamara Smith, and Ballina Mayor David Wright and pre-school students, at the sod turning for the new Alstonville community pre-school. Rodney Stevens

Without the massive support of parents and the Alstonville community, Ms Buckley said achieving their goal would have been much harder.

"We've worked tremendously hard with the entire community and I have to say thanks to Minister Don Page, who helped us along the way, to Ballina Shire Council who provided the land and to Tamara Smith, who has come on board very rapidly," she said.

"Thank you also to all those people who have stood and sold lamingtons or turned sausages to help fundraise for this project."

The incredible community effort saw more than $660,000 raised to construct the new preschool, with $384,000 from the NSW government and $120,000 from Ballina council.

Now with construction approved by Ballina council, Ms Buckley said the new pre-school which will cater for 40 children, should be operational in 2016.

"It will help the Alstonville community in providing them with an early education service as well as aiding in that transition to school which is really important," she said.

Member for Ballina Tamara Smith said it was a momentous occasion for the community and pre-school.

"After working out of temporary premises and even a shipping container, this is a very exciting day for the community, the parents, children and teachers involved in the pre-school," she said.



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