THE owner of a nursery which has had to close permanently because of the coronavirus shutdown says she is devastated to be saying goodbye.

William House Nursery, in Darlington, is closing permanently as a result of the shutdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Owner Mary Boulton, who has been running the nursery in Albert Hill for 30 years, said: "We are devastated to make this decision but it had to happen.

"Hopefully other nurseries will be able to continue."

The nursery employs about 25 members of staff and has space for up to 86 children.

Mrs Boulton added: "The Prime Minster said nurseries were to close and that private providers could be closed as well.

"We are not going to go against that. It wouldn't be right. We made the decision when we realised that there was no end to it. It might be until September.

" We would have to operate for five months without any income because we can't charge parents for what they don't receive."

She added: "We didn't want to go into debt so it was time to close."

The Early Years Alliance has warned thousands of nurseries could shut up and down the country unless the government provides more financial support to sustain them during the pandemic.

From Monday, nurseries and schools will be shut except those caring for vulnerable children and those of key workers.

A coronavirus bill has been passed, which includes powers to instruct childcare providers to close or stay open.

William House made the announcement on social media on Thursday and has been inundated with comments from members of the community, parents who use the nursery or have done in the past.

Mrs Boulton said: "We've been here for 30 years and we've had 30 lovely years.

"Staff past and present have all contributed to the success of William House and we can't thank them enough,

"We have had so many lovely parents and everyone has been coming to wish us well.

"They are extremely sorry the nursery is closing but they couldn't have been kinder."

The nursery closed last night but it will be open next week, from 8am to 1pm, to anyone interested in buying its toys and equipment.