Caroline, how did it all begin? Tell us about your background and what led you to running Stables Daycare.
I love working with children and have done since I was 18, where I started out as a child minder going on to achieve a degree in Early Years psychology and an Early Years Masters, alongside many other courses.
In 2003 when juggling my studies and three children at the time, I found a lot of nurseries only offered set session slots, which didn’t accommodate my day-to-day. So, I decided to set up a form of flexi-creche.
I came across a private school that had recently bought a country estate with various outbuildings and lots of land. They agreed for me to purchase some of the outbuildings – a set of garages and a derelict donkey stable, which was full of asbestos and ivy! It took five months for planning to be approved, and three months to bring the stables back to life – new roof, electricity, the lot.
On 19 December 2004, we held an open morning where over 100 people attended – we even made it into The Daily Mirror and Metro! On 17 January 2005 we officially opened our nursery with eight children.
How has Stables Daycare developed over the years?
It's gone from strength to strength and reached full capacity after our first year in 2006. We opened our Forest School in 2016 and have since dedicated our efforts and expertise to quality indoor and outdoor playtime experiences.
We've come a long way since winning NMT's 'Best Nursery Newcomer' in 2005, which is where I met former Hazlewoods Partner, Andy Brookes, who was one of the judges.
What did you find you needed support with?
When you mention 'HMRC' to me, my mind goes to mush and it's really mind-boggling. But I am, and always will be, cautious with my accounts – they must be done properly.
In the very early stages of my business, I used a local accountant, however, as we progressed, I think we became too big for them.
It's not until I spoke to Andy at the NMT Awards and was then introduced to Hazlewoods Partner, Rachael Anstee, that I realised I was in good hands.