Kamelia Kids celebrates 40 years of caring for children

Worthing mayor Paul Baker with the team at Kamelia Kids. Picture: Derek Martin DM1866813a
Worthing mayor Paul Baker with the team at Kamelia Kids. Picture: Derek Martin DM1866813a

Kamelia Kids has held a big celebration to mark 40 years of caring for children in the Worthing area.

The day nursery and beach school, formerly known as Camelia Botnar Children’s Centre, welcomed guests for an open day and mad hats tea party on Saturday.

Dorothy Calderwood, executive officer, said: “This was no ordinary open day event. This was a celebration of caring for generations of children and giving thanks to the local community for their support.

“It was an extravaganza open day where the public were invited to a tea party, listen to music, see a magic show, eat ice cream while at the same time see what an amazing nursery we have in all its splendour.

“It was very hot but it was a great day.”

The nursery, in Wellesley Avenue, Goring, rebranded in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength.

Dorothy added: “We are immensely proud of what we have achieved since then, during which time we have undergone many changes.

“In addition, the event helped raise funds towards creating a much-needed flexible new outdoor space for the children to play and provide them with new experiences, helping improve their knowledge and understanding of the world.”

The nursery continues to occupy a unique place in the community, providing services to a significant number of children with complex and additional needs, and has won awards for making a significant contribution to the community.

Worthing mayor Paul Baker, town crier Bob Smytherman and East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton were among guests. Mr Baker and Mr Loughton joined forces to judge the mad hats competition.

The children’s centre was founded in 1979 by Octav and Marcela Botnar, in memory of their daughter Camelia, who died in an accident at the age of 20. Care was originally provided free, being funded by the Camelia Botnar Foundation and small local authority grants.

The foundation gave its final donation in 2009 and despite fundraising efforts and pleas for assistance to local authorities and the Government, the centre’s future began to look bleak.

The Herald backed a campaign to save the centre from closure and West Sussex County Council announced in June 2014 it would fund it until the end of that year.

After the rebrand at the start of 2015, the centre remained a charitable trust but introduced charges to help support it long term.