Four generations and many hundreds of Narrabri Shire kids have grown up with access to a world of toys thanks to the dedicated volunteers and staff of the Namoi Toy Library.

Last week Toy Library supporters, staff and volunteers were joined by parents, carers and children to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the library’s launch.

From its beginnings in a small space and nowadays in its own premises, the Toy Library has grown, stocked with an evolving range of toys for all ages to entertain and educate hundreds of children.

The Toy Library is about fun, developmental toys and learning and is one of Narrabri Shire’s great community assets.

Its dedicated workers over the years have ensured there are toys for all tastes and ages, a boon for parents and children alike.

There are up to date toys to ride on, push, carry, build, interact with, puzzle over, work with and cuddle. Many a parent, grandparent and carer has said ‘thanks’ to the Toy Library.

Narrabri District Community Aid Service is the umbrella body that administers the Toy Library in its Tibbereena Street premises.

On Thursday, NDCAS CEO Joshua Pattison welcomed visitors, staff and volunteers to the 40th birthday in the grounds of the Toy Library.

Original Toy Library committee members and librarians were on hand for the occasion and recalled the early days of the service, the enterprising volunteers who drove its growth and success.

Mr Pattison acknowledged the work of all the people who had gone before, ‘people who care about kids’, their vision, dedication and good management, establishing and developing the Toy Library and making it the great community service it is today.

Mr Pattison recalled he had been an early Toy Library borrower.

“We enjoyed the regular rotation of toys for my sisters and I to play with – and remember the smell of Dettol as Mum cleaned the toys,” he said.

“Many things have changed since those days but those core experiences remain the same for many kids in the shire today, including my own.

“I started my employment with NDCAS as the Toy Librarian in 2018. The Namoi and Wee Waa Library positions had just been combined.”

The Toy Library nowadays takes a van loaded with toys from its premises to Wee Waa, Gwabegar and Pilliga – ‘an amazing job’ said Mr Pattison. “You basically get to be Santa Claus 52 weeks a year.”

Over the years, hundreds of children from many groups use the library and facilities, including schools, pre-schools, playgroups and others. The Toy Library began as a mobile service to areas west of Narrabri, Wee Waa, Burren Junction, Gwabegar and Pilliga, part of the Namoi Family Program in the early 1980s.

Family Services co-ordinator Ron Paix, Judy Nelson and Jenny Regan and Liz Willis launched the service under the umbrella of the Community Aid Service. When the library was being set up Judy Nelson’s house was used to catalogue the toys while premises were found and its first home was St Xavier’s convent. Liz Willis was employed as librarian from the beginning.

Original executive committee members from those days were president Judy Riley and secretary Robyn Barnes who has continued in that role.

When the toy library was launched, the service was for children with a disability but soon embraced all children, moved to the Narrabri library building and then to the current Tibbereena Street premises where it is now well established.

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