Local Face: Ruth Blake
Ruth Blake has become the backbone of the staff at Jack-in-the-Box Preschool because she’s been helping small children develop confidence to be ready for “Big School” since it opened in 1994. That’s why she was chosen for a special photograph, right, at their 25th anniversary celebrations in 2019.
Ruth’s parents lived in Wendover for a while but moved to Hardwick, just north of Aylesbury, in 1954 so she wasn’t born here. Her real ambition at secondary school was to work in child care but when her parents looked into it, the pay was so bad that as one of eight children, they needed a better wage coming in and she was pushed into office work. Ruth is nothing if not adaptable so although she started off as an office junior, she ended up as a wages supervisor in Aylesbury before motherhood.
Adam and Martin, born in Aston Clinton, had Ruth as a parent helper at their Playschool, loving every minute of it. By 1987 the family had moved to Wendover and soon Caroline came along to make it complete. Ruth started volunteering at John Hampden School with needlework. All three of Ruth’s children came through all the Wendover schools and continue to live and work locally enabling her to keep in close touch with her 6 grandchildren, 3 through Jack-in-the-Box Preschool. You can meet Adam at Kings Farm Shop, Martin runs his own Painting and Decorating business and Caroline is a mobile Hairdresser. The family is very much in contact with one another.
Ruth came to work from Day 1 and was attracted to this Pre-school because it is small – currently 19 children – which means it maintains a village feel, being personal rather than corporate. All staff know all children and the older children show great kindness to the younger.
Jack-in-the-Box was so glad to re-open after the enforced closure during early lockdown and their charges were thrilled to be back, too. Even more cleaning is required and twice-weekly lateral flow tests, but fun has returned! They are concerned that “Covid babies”, who will enter soon, have not had the same socialisation as in previous years so that will be a prime focus. They have also discovered that passing children over at the gate rather than the door makes it easier for both parties. Children wash their hands and settle straight into the tasks at hand. There is early drop off at 8.30am and late pick up at 3.30pm with children staying 9-12 or 9-3.
Their home is The Scout Hut in Clay Lane, HP22 6NS, tel 01296 696404, email email@example.com.