A KILLINCHY After School Club is celebrating success after picking up an award.

The club was recently rewarded for having the Best After School Club at the Families First NI Early Years Awards ceremony in the Titanic Centre, Belfast.

The club was judged on its childcare setting and play activity programme as well staff performance and community engagement.

Killinchy After School Club caters for children from the local area, and currently picks up pupils from Killinchy Primary School, Derryboy Primary School, Carrickmannon Primary School, Alexander Dickson primary, in Ballygowan and St Mary’s Primary School, Killyleagh. 

Established in September 2015, Killinchy After School Club has experienced a remarkable journey, evolving dynamically from its inception.

Originating under the NI Executive Bright Start scheme, it opened its doors with only two children on the first day.

From those humble beginnings, it has blossomed into a thriving childcare setting, now catering to over 80 families with a team of qualified play workers dedicated to delivering a fun-filled, child-led, and action packed experience in a safe and stimulating environment.

Collecting the award from Cool FM’s Pete Snodden was the manager, Mrs Clare Wilson, who said: “We are absolutely thrilled with this award. It’s wonderful to have our childcare setting recognised in this way.

“I’m so proud of the staff for what they have achieved through their hard work and dedication. The children really love coming to us and it’s a joy to see them happy and thriving each day.

“I’d also like to thank the parents for their support. As they say ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’”

Local mother, Louise McKeag, who uses the setting, said the love and care the kids get is amazing.

“The staff support the entire family when needed,” she said. The learning and programme they do is amazing and keeps the kids entertained.

“I would be lost without Killinchy After School Club and so would my son. He absolutely loves going and even asked to go at half term holidays when I was off.

Another local mum, Sarah McKelvey, said the ladies who run it are fabulous.

They go above and beyond for each child, they always have an array of amazing activities and things to keep the children busy,” she said.

“But most importantly, they provide a safe space for each child. My children are so comfortable there and can be themselves, let off some steam if they’ve had a rough day and are always guaranteed kindness.

“It’s like leaving them with family. I would be absolutely lost without this club.”

Killinchy Primary School teacher, Mrs Lesley Bleakley said school staff have direct contact with the wonderful staff at Killinchy Afterschool.

“As our pupils use this after school facility daily, we see the excitement and anticipation when the children cannot wait for their afternoons of fun and the amazing variety of activities always so carefully planned and executed,” she said.

“The club has also hosted the most wonderful outdoor learning experiences for our Foundation and KS1 classes. We have visited and been made feel so welcome. Activities have been curriculum linked, topic based and engaging for our pupils all in the fresh air under the protection of the outdoor learning tent.

“It’s fair to say, the staff at Killinchy Afterschool always go the extra mile. Their dedication and commitment to the children is second to none.”

The chair of Killinchy After School Club, Rev. Dr Stanley Gamble, congratulated the management, staff and children on the award.

Dr Gamble said: “This is fantastic news for everyone connected to Killinchy After School Club. It’s a positive affirmation of the superb work that takes place on a daily basis. Clare Wilson and the team do a fantastic job and their efforts have been rightly recognised.”