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Nursery children celebrate with Beverley Puppet Festival preview

Anna Ingleby of Beverley Puppet Festival entertaining the children at Educare Nursery’s 20th anniversary celebrations

A children’s nursery in Beverley recruited some help from one of the town’s top arts and culture festivals as it celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Children at Educare Nursery in Mill Lane were entertained by Anna Ingleby, co-artistic director and founder of Beverley Puppet Festival, and enjoyed a selection of birthday cakes as they partied underneath a horse chestnut tree which has grown from a conker planted on the site in 1997.

David Whincup, owner of Educare, said: “Ever since we opened we have been committed to playing a part in the local community by supporting local businesses and events.

“We gave a lot of thought to finding a local personality or celebrity to attend our birthday party as guest of honour and we decided that puppets would be a perfect fit. We were delighted when Anna told us she would be able to come along.”

The eighth Beverley Puppet Festival, presented by Beverley Arts Trust  and supported by organisations including Arts Council England, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Beverley Town Council,  will take place over the weekend of Friday July 13 to Sunday July  15.

It will bring together more than 30 companies from the UK, Hungary and the Netherlands to perform ticketed theatre shows at Beverley Friary and Gardens, Beverley Masonic Hall, East Riding Theatre and Toll Gavel Church Hall. The programme will also feature free performances at the Friary Gardens and seven other outdoor locations around the town.

Anna interrupted her preparations for the festival to visit Educare with Saraswati, a dancing marionette which she brought from Rajasthan when she began performing professionally in 1991. She led Saraswati on a swirling routine with a dancing cobra puppet as the children sat enthralled in the nursery garden.

David said: “We didn’t know what to expect but the children really were captivated and I’m sure many of them will now be looking forward to the festival. We’ve brought in entertainment featuring live snakes in the past so weren’t scared of the cobra!”

The garden party was part of a programme of anniversary events. Last month Educare sponsored a dinner with Sir Ian Botham which raised more than £5,000 for charities in Hull and the East Riding. Other events will include a teddy bears’ picnic and publication of a cook book showcasing some of the children’s favourite dishes produced by Educare’s in-house chef.

David said: “The nursery has changed a lot over the last 20 years to accommodate the current numbers of 80 pre-school children and another 40 in the out-of-school club. The tree is a constant reminder of how we have grown. Our first group of children planted a conker and it worked! For a few years it was very delicate but everyone has looked after it and it takes pride of place in our garden.”

Anna will perform her Indigo Moon Theatre production of Mermarella – Cinderella of the Sea, at Beverley Puppet Festival in the theatre tent at Friary Gardens on Saturday July 14 and Sunday July 15. For full details of Anna’s show and the full festival programme visit www.beverleypuppetfestival.com