STAFF are asking the community to pull together and "help save" Ropley Pre-School as there is "a very real chance" it will be unable to re-open its doors in September.

With low birth years and many children that attend the school currently coming from surrounding areas, staff said the rural organisation, due to celebrate its 60th birthday next year, is "being overlooked".

They take children from two years to school age, open term-time 9am-1pm and have places for 30-hours funding.

And yet, there are currently just five children registered for the new school year.

A spokesman said part of the reason new members of the community moved in is that Ropley is still "a traditional village with a shop, school and pre-school".

"All of these only exist if they are used and shortly that might no longer be an option unless everyone can come together and fight for it," the spokesman added.

"One mum said, ’I genuinely don’t know how I am going to tell my little girl that she can’t go to her favourite place in the whole world because there is nobody to come and play with her and her friends’."

Now the school believes the only way it can survive until September and beyond is two-fold:

"Parents need to register their children for the pre-school in advance and for as many sessions as possible. It might only be one or two mornings but once funded it could be more.

"Register them as soon as you can so the setting knows they are on the horizon, giving them the chance to plan. With Government hourly funding far short of the hourly rate required to operate more children are needed than ever before to break even, this is the only way to pay their qualified staff and basic costs such as the hall hire and insurance."

And the second part of the two pronged attack is money: "Help us fundraise! Is there a generous benefactor or two out there? Or even small contributions that would mount up to keep a charity that has been part of the heart of the village for so long beating?"

Without funds in the bank to give them "a cushion", re-opening the doors in September is "a scary prospect" unless something significant happens in the coming months.

The school held a fundraising event, a Real Ale Night with The Thermic Syphons (runners-up in Alton’s Battle of the Bands 2018), on Saturday, March 2. And with the campaign now in full swing, this is likely to become one of many.

Next there will be an open morning at 9.30-11.30am on Thursday, March 28. People can also phone/ email about coming to look around at any point. Staff said they are open to "any ideas" or "offers of help" from the general public.

Email [email protected], phone the pre-school leader Sarah Harry on 07510 684055 or write to Ropley Pre-School, Ropley Parish Hall, Vicarage Lane, Ropley, Nr Alresford, SO24 0BH.

The spokesman concluded: "We really don’t want to go."