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New nursery and forest school venture will open its doors in Prudhoe following grant funding to create more rural jobs

ByNicky Dawson

Jun 28, 2019 #Business

An outdoor-focused childcare business in Prudhoe is to start major renovation work, following a successful grant application that will help create more than 26 local jobs over the next three years.

My Little Kingdom is a brand new business due to launch at the Kingdom Hall in Prudhoe in the autumn. The day nursery and forest school is hailed as a much needed addition to the town and has been established by friends, 38 year old Emma Nelson and 32 year old Sarah-Jane Sewell.

The business has received a grant of £64,000 via the North East Rural Growth Network (NERGN), a programme accelerating business growth and job creation in rural communities in Northumberland, County Durham and Gateshead.  The grant will be used to renovate the building and outdoor space, allowing the business to accommodate children in a natural learning environment

“Getting this funding has made such a difference to us.” says mum-of-two Sarah-Jane, who currently works assessing childcare level two and three students at day nurseries, early years and schools, “It means that all of our ideas for the business can be realised. There will be so much more space which enables us to deliver a really high quality of childcare provision. It’s made a huge difference.

“There is a need for more childcare provision in Prudhoe. Some families currently have to travel to Stocksfield and Heddon-on-the-Wall for their childcare, so this will make a big difference to local people and we know that there is a lot of demand.  My Little Kingdom Day Nursery is in a central location, the bus stops right outside and it’s convenient for the station.”

Business partner Emma Nelson explains more about My Little Kingdom, named after the building that will be its new home: “We’ve always wanted a nursery that reflects an organic approach to learning, both indoors and out. We’re thrilled to be able to offer this to local families.

“When we saw the Kingdom Hall became we knew it was the right place for us. It has a very prominent position in Prudhoe and we have been able to secure two pieces of good land adjacent to the site to help us ensure constant access to outdoor learning.”

She went on to say: “We want to create an environment where children can learn through outdoor play and activities. Even mealtimes become a homely, social experience. We are in talks with Prudhoe Gardener’s Association on an allotment space where we will grow our own food. With woodland areas, shops and parks all within walking distance, the area offers us plenty of opportunities to extend outdoor activities beyond our own site and involve the children in their local community.”

The pair are hoping to accommodate 80 children in the Kingdom Hall and will be using the RGN grant funding to add an 80m2 mezzanine that will eventually cater for around 30 children and will also provide space for an office.

Recruitment has started for seven new jobs that have been created at the nursery which will open in the autumn, including level two and three nursery nurse positions, management and apprenticeship roles. Within three years My Little Kingdom will have created 19 more local jobs, bringing the total to 26.

Rural Growth Network Manager Katy McIntosh worked with the new business owners to identify the rural grant funding opportunity and complete the successful application:

“It is very satisfying to work with two business owners who have identified an opportunity which will help a great many families in Northumberland.  Emma and Sarah-Jane demonstrated a strong knowledge of the market and their passion for providing excellent childcare was evident throughout the application process.

We are very proud to assist SMEs throughout the region, and we believe that My Little Kingdom will deliver an excellent childcare environment for years to come.  We at RGN felt that the business had the potential to provide a much needed local service and we are proud to be working with the business from the outset and throughout its growth”.