‘We’re reopening and hoping to stay that way’ - Wigan play centre

The day marked in red ink on many parents’ calendars has arrived – play centres can reopen!

Owner Bev Collier-Nelson, mum Lin Collier and Kathleen Ackers at Little Buddies play centre and cafe
Owner Bev Collier-Nelson, mum Lin Collier and Kathleen Ackers at Little Buddies play centre and cafe

Much-loved by mums, dads and children alike, their closure has brought misery for many local families.

And the owner of a popular soft play centre has expressed her excitement at reopening today.

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Bev Collier-Nelson (pictured), owner of Little Buddies, said the business had “lost its heart” after being shuttered for all but three weeks of the past 14 months.

But the play centre and cafe, based in George Street near the town centre, is now ready to welcome back its loyal customers once more.

“We can’t wait. We are absolutely beyond ecstatic,” said Bev.

“We are just praying that everything continues in the right direction so that we can stay open. We’ve had loads of contact with parents during the closure, my inbox has been full through the whole lockdown. We’ve kept in touch with a lot of parents, and they’re desperate to come back. We are so ready for them.”

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Bev and her small team of staff have been making sure the centre is Covid-safe ahead of their big reopening.

She said: “We are renowned for being a really clean play centre. If anybody talks about Little Buddies, they will talk about how clean it is. We’ve not stopped, but we’ve done it top to bottom again. All the restrictions are in place. We are a member of the AIP (Association of Indoor Play) so we are heavily guided by them as well. Everything is ready.”

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Bev added: “The first day back, we are fully booked. Most of the week we are quite busy. People are just desperate to hear now when we can go ahead with parties. If we get the go ahead on June 21, we are booked solid.

“Parents just want their children to integrate with each other now. They want them to get back out and mixing. Little Buddies lost its heart. The whole point of the play centre is children. When you go in and there’s no children, there’s no heart in the building, and we just need to get that back now.”

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Bev is now hoping, as the lockdown restrictions continue to ease, that Little Buddies’ darkest days are behind them.She said: “It’s been hard for us. We’re not a big company. I left teaching to go on this new venture, and we made it really good. Little Buddies worked for us, and the last year has been so unbelievably difficult.

“It was touch and go as to whether we’d be able to reopen again, but we are here, reopening, and hoping it will stay that way. We just need our customers back.”