Child’s Play Private Nursery owner and entrepreneur Laura Leigh Davies has found the business support provided by the Durham Business Opportunities Programme* to be invaluable on her journey to success.
Laura worked as a child care practitioner for nine years, managing multiple sites when the effects of the recession hit, and she found herself unemployed for the first time ever after being made redundant. This proved to be the catalyst to pursue her own dream and Laura opened the doors to Child’s Play Private Nursery at the now Ferryhill Sport and Education Centre with one member of staff and four children in January 2013.
Fast forward six years and the business has grown exponentially with a further two branches opening across County Durham in Seaham and Chester-le-Street employing over fifty-three members of staff and more than 350 children attending the multi award-winning nursery.
Laura described the support received from Business Durham and the Durham Business Opportunities Programme as her business has developed: “I was introduced to Business Durham through my Prince’s Trust mentor. Since day one Michael Harriott and Business Durham have always been on hand to provide me with expert mentoring delivering the support needed at every stage of my journey so far from advising me of potential funding sources – to connecting me to other support organisations to enable my business to grow.
“Being a business owner can be lonely, it’s reassuring to know that Michael and the DBOP team are always there to provide impartial support with the sole aim of helping a business realise their ambitions. Plus, if they don’t know the answer, they certainly know someone that will.”
Michael Harriott, business development officer for the Durham Business Opportunities Programme added: “Part of my role is to provide tailored support specific to the needs of a business, to help them navigate the business support map and facilitate business growth. Laura is an extremely successful entrepreneur; it’s been incredible to have worked alongside Laura and watch Child’s Play Private Nursery go from strength to strength. I look forward to providing ongoing support in the next exciting step of their journey .”
The Durham Business Opportunities Programme runs intensive strands of support which focus in on a specific business sector or theme with high growth potential but that also has barriers to growth. The first strand of support offered by the DBOP programme in 2017 was centred around child care provision, helping businesses in this sector take advantage of the opportunity around 30 hours funded childcare.
The support strand helped 48 businesses with workshops and one on one business support, delivered by industry experts. As a result of the programme’s success Durham County Council Early Years team included business training in their annual training directory. This has enabled nurseries to upskill their workforce helping deliver a better service for customers and provide support to help them become more resilient and profitable.
Michael Harriott added: “It’s fantastic that we were able to help so many early years businesses develop. But even more rewarding is that as a result of this programme and our close working relationship with Durham County Council’s Early Years team many other businesses will benefit from specialist training for many years to come. A fitting legacy for the work carried out.”
Laura added: “My management team have benefitted from the Red Kite Training provided by the DBOP programme. It’s upskilled my workforce enabling them to take a more proactive role in the running of the business which has benefitted our children and successful delivery of the business.”
Looking forward Child’s Play Private Nursery have ambitions to open another two sites and have set up their own specialist early years consultancy after Laura’s husband Gareth joined the business September 2018 as Operations Director. The consultancy will offer advice to other child care providers across the UK sharing their expertise, specialist knowledge and success.
*The Durham Business Opportunities Programme is a six-year programme for SMEs running up until November 2022, helping County Durham businesses spot opportunities for sustainable growth.. It is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council.