The early years
On the 24th of August in 1953, a meeting was held to form a committee with the aim to start a preschool in Apollo Bay. A committee of 17 people where elected and office bearers where appointed, they voted to open a bank account and received their first donation of one Pound.
This was the first meeting of the Apollo Bay Preschool Association.
From there they instated a constitution and got down to the task of fundraising. Their first fundraiser was a square dance for children. Street stalls, raffles and baby shows soon followed.
Miss Margaret Davison was made the first Honorary Member (later changed to life member), of the Apollo Bay Preschool Association.
The next job was to find a place to run the Preschool, in 1955 a room at the National Fitness Hall (now the Youth Club) was made available.
On August 27th 1955, they held the official Opening of the Apollo Bay Preschool.
The first teacher was Miss Deidre Biddle, and the committee had the task of running a Preschool.
They had to equip it, make up parent rosters for cleaning the room and washing hand towels. As well as continuing to fundraise for a new Preschool building.
They also received advice and visits from The Department of Health Advisor, who was most impressed with the centre.
In 1956, they appointed a new teacher Mrs Alma Leorke, she continued as the teacher for the next 12 years.
In 1956, the Preschools days of operation where, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Morning sessions where 9.30 to 11.45 and afternoon sessions where 1.15 to 3.30 pm.
The fees where two pounds per term per Family.
At a meeting on the 2nd of October in 1956, the committee discussed the need to buy a block of land on which to build a Preschool, as the youth club was in need of the rooms the Preschool was using.
At the meeting on March 5th 1957, the committee passed the motion that they buy the block of land on the corner of McLachan st and Pengilly ave, for 200 Pounds. Plans where started on the building of the present Preschool.
At the same time the committee, where greatly concerned that there was no Infant welfare centre or nurse in Apollo Bay to look after the needs of baby and families in town.
They believed Apollo Bay families were in great need of an Infant Welfare Centre, and had been urging the Shire of Otway to establish a centre in Apollo Bay. They offered the use of the soon to be built Preschool as a dual-purpose building. They where successful in getting a Government Capital Grant .The conditions of which that the Shire of Otway was to be the owner of the land.
The April meeting moved that the new building could be designed as an Infant Welfare centre and Preschool, if the Shire Council so Desired. The secretary, Nan Davis wrote to the Shire to advise them of the offer to build a dual proposed building as an Infant welfare centre and Preschool.
At the May meeting three trustees where appointed with authority to oversee the upcoming building project.
The Shire Council decided in November to establish an Infant Welfare service through out the Shire with the use of rooms and the assistants from concerned groups such as the Apollo Bay Preschool Association.
The Preschool then changed its name to the Apollo Bay Preschool and Infant Welfare Association.
In December 1957, the land was transferred to the Shire of Otway for 200 pounds sterling. This money was then given back to the Shire of Otway to be used on the building, as the Shire of Otway was to control the building money.
In February 1958 the Infant Welfare service stared in the Church of England Parish Hall, the Preschool Committee was responsible for making sure the hall was ready and cleaned for the Infant Welfare Nurse each week.
In March, the health Department-Capital Grant was made available (4,068 pound sterling) and the building plans where accepted by the Shire Council.
To make up the short fall of money needed to build and equip the Preschool and Infant Welfare Centre the committee took out a loan with the National Bank with committee members, Mr. H.M. Bell, Miss M. Davison, Mrs N.L. Davis, Mrs C.E. Beaton, Mrs M.T. Coop and Mrs .M.M. Barrow being grantors for the loan. A courageous undertaking for them to embark on.
The construction of the Preschool building started in 1958 and was ready for sessions in February 1959.
The official opening of the Apollo Bay Preschool was on the 9th of May 1959, it was opened by Dr Meredith, the Director of Maternal, Infant and Preschool Welfare for the Department of Health.
The Preschool has continued to operate as a Preschool from this building since then, providing Kindergarten to the Children of Apollo Bay since the opening in 1959 .The infant and Maternal Welfare centre (now Maternal and Child Heath service) operated from this building until 2000. When the days it was operating changed and clashed with Preschool operating hours. It now operates from Otway Health and Community Services.
The Preschool continues to be run by a volunteer committee made up of parents of Preschool children.
They continue to be responsible for managing the Preschool, making sure we comply with regulations, managing all the moneys, fundraising and employing a staff of five part time workers, and supervising any maintenance work and renovations needed.
Helene Fabb - Preschool Assistant for 19 years at Apollo Bay Preschool