Happy 20th Birthday Prebbleton Childcare! A brief history.

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

In the month of May 2020 we celebrated the 20th Birthday of Prebbleton Childcare!

Prebbleton Childcare was founded by local Prebbleton residents Melissa Brain & Rodger Searle. Melissa came from a Playcentre background and spent the years 1990-1995 working as the supervisor for Prebbleton Playcentre. It was over this time her passion for early childhood education and working with the youngest members of our community flourished. At that time in history, Playcentre had a 5 year limit on supervisors working within a Playcentre. Once Melissa's 5 years (sadly) came to an end she moved to Landsdowne Terrace Playcentre in Cashmere. However, her heart always remained with the Prebbleton community, and this is where her dream of opening a childcare centre in Prebbleton came into being.

In the late 90's Melissa's children attended Ladbrooks School with Rodger's children. Melissa had recently brought a home at 542 Springs Road for herself and her 2 children. It was purchased with the intention of renovating into a childcare centre, however, for 2 years Melissa had no idea how this would happen (being a single mother on a low teaching income). It was on a Ladbrooks school camp, whilst the parents played cards over a few hot chocolates (well after the children had been relegated to bed) that Melissa shared her dream with the group. At that point in time, Rodger had just sold his business "The Buy, Sell & Exchange" newspaper (that's what we used pre-Trademe!) and was looking for a new adventure. He suggested a partnership. After that fateful Ladbrooks school camp, Melissa's dream became a tangible reality. Melissa was able to provide the property (and Early Childhood Education know-how) and Rodger the financial backing for renovations and business experience.

In May 2000 the doors to Prebbleton Childcare & Education Centre opened. Prebbleton at this point was a little known farming community on the outskirts of Christchurch. No development or community growth had yet happened. Prebbleton Childcare was a quiet, rural centre that stood mostly on its lonesome, the paddocks next door were home to horses, not to Cairnbrae as it is now known. By 2004 the centre was at capacity as Prebbleton had begun its expansion. In 2005 Prebbleton Nursery was opened next door, in the brand new Cairnbrae development. It was one of the first builds to be erected in that subdivision. In 2007 South Hornby school approached Melissa and Rodger and asked them to reopen the Kindergarten that sat vacant on the South Hornby Primary School site. In 2011 only a month before the Christchurch Earthquake Prebbleton Kindergarten opened, located next door to Prebbleton Primary school. Each centre was a labour of love, for Melissa especially.

Melissa's daughter Gem joined the partnership as did Centre Manager Melanie Cotter. Each bringing with them different strengths and a fresh perspective on the ever-changing landscape of Early Childhood Education.

Over the past 20 years, Prebbleton Childcare has had the pleasure of employing and working alongside many talented and wonderful teachers. Dynamic professional relationships and lasting friendships have been forged. It's been a true adventure sharing the past 20 years with so many incredible teachers, parents and most importantly children! It's been an absolute honour for us to be a part of so many children's formative early years and we hope the children who have attended our services have fond memories of their time with us.

To this day Melissa, Rodger, Gem & Mel are still the management team of Prebbleton Childcare. Rodger works away behind the scenes. Melissa you will often see out and about, completing odd jobs (her toolbox usually in tow), managing the health and safety requirements of Prebbleton Childcare and tailoring our ever-changing staff rosters! Gem you will find part-time in the office, overseeing centre operations and marketing. Mel, you will find full time in the office, she is our centre manager and oversees all aspects of Prebbleton Childcare! She works closely with our teaching staff and is available to parents whenever they might need her. We consider ourselves an extended family and this really shines through in the service we provide for our local community.

As we reflect on the past 20 years, it is will nostalgia and fondness we view our journey. Prebbleton has changed considerably over this time and it has been a pleasure watching it transform into the bustling, dynamic township it is now. Looking towards the future we will continue to grow on what we have created, always looking at how we can be leaders in the Early Childhood Education industry.

A huge thank you is due to all the families who have supported us over the years, it is you and your beautiful children who have made us what we are today!

Happy 20th Birthday Prebbleton Childcare! Here's to the next 20 years!

(Above) Melissa pictured in front of the huge tree that still stands at the corner of our carpark.

(Above) Rodger erecting our sign at the end of 1999 before work began to transform Melissa's family home into Prebbleton Childcare.


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