A Woking nursery school in a former chapel built more than 120 years ago is raising money to restore its historic bell tower.

The bell at Peter Pan Nursery and Forest School on Littlewick Common, Lower Knaphill, has been silenced and part of its woodland garden closed because the wooden tower has rotted.

The nursery was set up by Jean Mintram in her home on Littlewick Common in 1968. In 1994 Peter Pan re-located to the former St Thomas chapel on Littlewick Common, five years after it closed as a place of worship.

St Thomas was built in 1901 as a daughter church, or Chapel of Ease,  to St Mary’s Church in Horsell.

Peter Pan is now jointly owned and managed by Jean’s daughter Sue Lewis and her daughter Marie-Louise Lewis.

Sue’s other daughter, Jasmine  Lomanto, an early years teacher at Peter Pan, said: “We have always rung the bell every morning to signal that we are opening our doors and then at the end of the session the children take it in turns to ring the bell to signal that we will be letting the mummies/daddies/carers in to collect them.

“The children love to pull the original rope to ring the bell and also to watch the bell in the bell tower move as it rings.

“We noticed that the bell tower had become very wobbly a few weeks ago and we had someone come to look at it, who confirmed that the wood was very rotten and that it was unsafe and needed repair.

“We have since stopped ringing the bell and we have also had to section off that part of our garden so that the children do not go round the building in case the bell tower collapses.

“This is having a big impact on the children as it means they can't fully access our woodland garden, including our big sandpit and lookout, our bird hide, the pyramid cosy shelters and also our music station. We are also all really missing the sound of the bell chime every day.

“We have been quoted over £4,000 for repairs and so we have set up a 'Gofund' me page to start fundraising. We have shared this with family and friends as well as current Peter Pan families and recent Peter Pan families.

“We are also considering other fundraising events, such as a quiz night for parents, cake sales and a raffle at our end of term fun day and a ‘fill a smartie tube’ fundraiser that we have done before.

“Our aim is to have the work carried out over half term as it is not something that can really wait because it is not safe and it is restricting the children's access to the full garden space.

“We really hope we can get some fundraising success, as there is a quite a crisis in early years at the moment due to government funding not covering the costs.”

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com and search for “historic bell tower”.