Offering inspirational childcare since 2003
Ofsted rated Outstanding 2013 & 2019
Woodend Country Childcare Mission
Going that extra mile!
I am Claire Sharpe,the director/manager of Woodend Country Childcare.
I will start by telling you how I set off this unique childcare on domestic premises.
A farmers daughter I left school knowing only that I would work in the family farming business. I cared for all the sheep and cows and drove the tractors at harvest time and supported my father with the paperwork.
I always had a dream of owning my own retail business and was very interested in fashion back then.
So at 23 years old, I was excited to set off a fashion shop, having saved up through the sale of my two cows and pedigree sheep enough to lease a shop and to stock it in our local town.
A year later I married my fiance of seven years and moved into Woodend.
I continued expansion building upto three shops in the town.
I had a son 3 years later and continued to work in my business.
I found my dream came to an end, when three years later I gave birth to twins and one of my twins the little boy was found to be severely disabled. I was devastated! Not knowing anything about disability at the time.
I had no choice but to sell my successful fashion shop.
I began pursuing my new position in life of being a full time carer, visiting hospitals on a regular basis with my three year old and baby twins, life seemed so busy and hard, I was exhausted. But one day a nurse gave me a poem
This poem is special to me that is why it is on my website.
This poem describes how it is to bring up a child with a disability.
After this my son had a tough time undergoing operations at three and five months old. And nearly losing his fight for life after falling ill to meningitis.
It was a terrible time but it made me realise that we had to make the best of his life and that myself and the family had to make the most of every day, not to look back, go forward and " live life to the full".
And thats what I did.
I enjoyed bringing up my children, their was never a dull day painting baking, water sand and exploring the great outdoors, I realised I really did love making everyday exciting for them. And craved a new adventure.
I mentioned to a friend at the local playgroup my new found passion of working with children and a few parents expressed interest.
So I decided to go to college.
My husband would come in from the farm and I would leave for college.
I set off one night a week to achieve my level 3 NVQ in childcare and Education and another night training to be a childminder.
And so Woodend Country Childcare opened in June 2003.
I set off working three days childminding local children we had such funpacked days especially learning outdoors in our large garden.
After the first year I decided to take on 2 assistants that loved what I had achieved and supported me with my disabled son as well.
Over the years I carried on expanding and employing caring, enthusiastic experienced, qualified girls who had to have the love of the great outdoors, of course.
In 2013 I had the most wonderful year, that I will always remember!
I graduated from University of Cumbria achieving BSc (Hons) in Childhood and family studies, still don't know how I achieved this alongside caring for my son and running the business, but I did! I also celebrated ten years in business and the icing on the cake an Outstanding ofsted all in the same month. The next month I organised and hosted a celebration inviting passed and present customers, family and friends it was a most wonderful evening.
Over the years to today my business as grown from strength to strength and in 2017 its status changed to limited.
I am lucky to have a dedicated long standing team of girls that work hard alongside myself to provide
outstanding care and learning for the children in our setting.
We provide an emphasis on children spending as much time outside as they do inside.
I believe in going that extra mile getting to know all my parents and carers, and providing support as needed. Knowing each child personally, I build up friendships that last years with past and present families.
I also have an ambition and with the support of my family, customers and my great team of girls striving for this too, Im sure it will be a reality one day.
Welcome to Holland
Emily Pearl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.