An enterprising family have invested £100,000 in turning a former South Tyneside pub into a children’s nursery.
The Little Jems Nursery has now opened its doors to children and parents following an extensive revamp of the old Alkali pub in Swinburne Street, Jarrow.
The Montessori-style nursery has been set up by Sandra Pearce, 43, and Vivienne White, 58.
The day-to-day management of the centre will be led by Vivienne’s daughter, Jemma Coulter.
Jemma said: “Having worked in childcare most of my professional life, I have always had the longer-term goal of one day managing my own nursery.
“My mum works as a child therapist and Sandra, a long-time family friend, works at a Sure Start centre, so both were interested in the idea of setting up a nursery.
“Montessori-style nurseries offer a different way of learning, with a child-centred focus to imitate the home environment in a calming atmosphere.
“There are no brightly-coloured walls or areas to over-stimulate children. Instead, we focus on providing hand-made wooden toys for safer play.
The busines has been helped by start-up agency Tedco Business Support and a collective family effort.
Jemma added: “Although we knew we wanted to open a Montessori nursery, we needed help with the commercial side of setting up the business.
“We worked with Tedco Business Support, and it helped us with our business plan and premises. It’s been a real learning experience from start to finish for all of us, but the feedback from parents has been wonderful.
“We offer flexible pick-up times and opening hours for shift workers and have an all-in fee which includes all-organic baby products, such as nappies and wipes.
Bill Hartshorne, an adviser at Tedco Business Support, said: “The team at Little Jems Nursery are vastly experienced in the expert delivery of childcare services.
“Where they needed the additional help was in the commercial set-up and running of the day-to-day business and a point of call to bounce questions off at any given opportunity.
“The dedication and hard work of the team to create a new use for the Alkali pub has created a wonderful new nursery, and I wish the team the very best of luck in making their family business a success.”