MINISTER for Schools Jim Knight read a story and tried his hand at bubble-painting when he officially opened the new premises of St Osmund's Pre-School on Monday.

The pre-school, based in the parish hall in Exeter Street for 20 years, was given notice to leave last September to allow much-needed renovations to be carried out.

The committee and supporters thought they would have to close it but help arrived just in time from Wiltshire County Council and St Osmund's Catholic Primary School.

Melanie Cusack, chair of the pre-school committee, said: "The last 12 months have been very challenging for the pre-school with the real threat of closure lurking in the background. The pre-school is now embarking on an exciting new era and it's definitely a cause for celebration."

Mr Knight was shown around the temporary building in the primary school's playground, which has a computer suite, messy area' with play-dough and a sandpit, and a dressing up area.

He spoke to some of the children and read them a story. He then spoke to the parents and supporters of the pre-school who helped secure its future. He said: "We know how important it is that children get the right start in life. To then successfully make the transition into school is crucial.

"Good luck in your new home and I look forward to hearing about the very prosperous future ahead of you."

The pre-school is in a hired temporary building at the moment, but as soon as they get planning permission, Wiltshire County Council will pay for brand new buildings, designed how the pre-school want them.

Marissa Munro, who has a daughter at the pre-school, said: "It's fantastic. The continuation, when they move to the primary school is smoother because they are already familiar with the grounds and the staff are lovely."