Staff from a Waterside children’s nursery say they will have “peace of mind” thanks to a donation from ExxonMobil Fawley that will be used to buy COVID-19 testing kits.

Like other nursery settings, Saplings Children’s Day Nursery Ltd, which is based in Holbury, did not fall under the current lockdown guidelines introduced at the beginning of January governing the closure of educational establishments.

Hannah Moody, Manager at Saplings, said: “When the whole country went into lockdown on January 5, we were advised by the Department for Education that we would be expected to remain open to all our children as usual.

“We have robust systems in place to protect everyone from COVID-19, however, we all feel a certain amount of anxiety knowing how virulent the new variant of the disease is.

Although we have been told that the transmission rates in young children is low, the nature of our work means we still have a lot of indirect contact with many individual families.”

Saplings is a community nursery run by a voluntary management committee made up of parents and professionals.

It provides day care for children from three months to five years. It is not eligible to receive free COVID-19 testing kits, leading staff decided to seek alternative arrangements.

Hannah said: “To try and relieve some of the anxiety we were feeling, I looked at the cost of testing kits. However, the last year has been difficult due to the pandemic and we have very limited funds available.

I decided to contact the committee directors, who themselves work in the education sector, to see if they had any suggestions or information that might help us further.”

One of the suggestions that came back was to contact ExxonMobil Fawley, and the site promptly stepped in to help with a contribution of £500.

Hannah said: “This very generous donation means we can purchase the kits we need to make sure staff can be regularly tested over the next few weeks.

This will minimise the risk to us all, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the staff, the children, and their families.

The tests will give us peace of mind that we’re not putting any of our colleagues or our own families at unnecessary risk.

Everyone at Saplings is incredibly grateful for ExxonMobil for coming forward to help.”

Alison Jones, Community Affairs Manager at ExxonMobil Fawley, said: “We have very robust COVID-19 measures in place at Fawley to help protect our staff and contractors, so we know how important it is to have that kind of reassurance.

We were very pleased to be able to offer our help to Saplings during what is a challenging time.”