IT HAS been a community hub for young families throughout the last 25 years.

But Riverbank Kindergarten in Martyr Worthy has closed its doors for the last time.

The preschool had been struggling with funding and the health crisis proved to be the last straw.

A spokesperson said: "Riverbank Kindergarten has been a true hidden gem in the Itchen Valley, providing excellent childcare and learning through play for all the hundreds of little ones who have passed through its doors over the last 25 years.

"For those who have connected with Riverbank, you will know it represents something extremely special and which is becoming rarer in today’s society.

"Many local faces have been involved in running Riverbank through the years and invested a great deal into creating such a wonderful and happy place.

"Our families have always been impressed with the calibre of the staff and their care and devotion to the children. We are therefore very sad to announce that Riverbank has closed its doors this summer for the last time due to the ongoing funding crisis in Early Years.

"We wish to thank all the families and local folk who, through the years, have supported the kindergarten and built foundations and memories with us."

Launching out in 1995 as the childcare at Abbots Worthy House closed, the kindergarten quickly became established in Martyr Worthy Village Hall.

Over the years it developed and adapted to incorporate all the latest learning directives from Government to meet high standards of education.