A nursery in Caversham has been destroyed by sewage, leaving the owners and parents in need of a new site.

The sewage poured into the Orchard Day Nursery site for seven days before Thames Water was able to find the blockage and the flow was finally stopped today (Tuesday, February 16).

Thames Water have sent team today to clear it and the company will also arrange for a clean-up crew to disinfect the affected playground.

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A spokesman for Thames Water added: “We appreciate sewage flooding is really unpleasant and we’re sorry for the disruption this has caused.”

The flooding is located in the nursery’s playground and has ruined the nursery’s outdoor equipment.

The nursery is run by husband-and-wife team Humphrey and Lizzie Boyd, who adapted the nursery to be mostly outdoors to be safer due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) spoke to them and a parent to find out about gravity of the situation.

Humphrey Boyd, manager of the nursery, said: “We won’t be able to open for some time.

“The place was running as usual and we had to send all the children home because it wasn’t safe and we haven’t been able to open since.

“We are looking to find somewhere else to operate because I don’t think it can be decontaminated quickly.

“It could take months to clear.”

Nursery Flooding

Nursery Flooding

Lizzie Boyd, deputy manager of the nursery, said: “We have got parents coming to pick up some of their children’s belongings. They are very stressed out but very supportive.

“I am phoning around local community premises and trying to find a venue.

“We are really in need of a great venue that allows us to continue our work.

“The damage is quite significant. I think there is going to need to be some major structural work.

“Everything is going to have to be burned and we won’t be able to plant anything, according to research I have done.”

But she also struck a hopeful note.

The Orchard Nursery

The Orchard Nursery

She added: “We are trying to keep our spirits up. Things can always be worse.

“We have realised the Orchard Day Nursery isn’t about a building, it is about the people.

“We just need to find somewhere else to do our thing.”

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Joe Cannon, a parent who has two children who go to the nursery, said: “It is heartbreaking.

“It is the owners’ livelihoods that are being destroyed. It is very much a community nursery.

“We just need to get the children in a safe place and so parents can continue to work.”

Ms Cannon, whose husband also works and is a key worker, said the community spirit to try to help find somewhere else has been “incredible”.

“The nursery has 80 children, which is around 150 parents,” she added.

“They are all juggling jobs.”

Recounting her own experience when the leak happened, she said: “It is quite difficult in the middle of a conference call saying I have to dash out because there is a sewage leak at a nursery.

“Having two children there and not being able to send them to a nursery is slightly problematic.

“There are an awful lot of parents working in the pandemic. We get an awful lot of mum guilt. We have to put them in front of screens. It’s a very tricky situation.”

According to Ms Cannon, Orchard is one of the only nurseries in the area that has not had an outbreak because it is an outdoor nursery, with around 85 per cent of activities taking place outside.