Offering inspirational Childcare since 2003
Outstanding rating by Ofsted
This is our Story
Woodend Country Childcare
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 up to three shops in the town, and three years later I had our first son, still working in my business.
Three years later my dreams came to an end, when 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 business.
I began pursuing my new position in life as a full time carer; visiting hospitals on a regular basis with my three year old and baby twins, life was so busy and hard, and I was exhausted. But one day a nurse gave me a poem, which since has become very special to me, and it's why you can find it on this website.
This poem describes how it is to bring up a child with a disability.
My twin son had a tough time undergoing operations at three and five months old, and with him 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 our family had to make the most of every day; not to look back, go forward and "LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL". And that's exactly what I did.
I enjoyed bringing up my children, there was never a dull day, we would be painting, baking, play with water sand and exploring the great outdoors. And I realised I really did love making everyday exciting for them, and I craved a new exciting adventure for me too.
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 fun-packed days especially learning outdoors in our large garden.
After the first year I decided to take on two 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, and I will always remember it!
I graduated from University of Cumbria achieving BSc (Hons) in Childhood and Family Studies, I 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 was the setting achieving an Outstanding status by Ofsted; all in the same month. The following month I organised and hosted a celebration inviting past and present customers, and family and friends - it was a most wonderful evening.
Over the years to today my business has 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 children, parents and carers, and providing support when needed. Knowing each child personally, I build up friendships that lasts for years.
I still have ambitions, and with the support of my family, customers and my great team of girls who striving for this too, I'm sure it will be a reality one day soon!
Woodend joins the Healthy Families Cumbria Pledge
We are proud to be be part of the Healthy Families Cumbria Pledge which is focusing on nutrition, physical activity and emotional health and wellbeing. By taking part Woodend Country Childcare are taking active part in promote these areas with children and parents connected to the setting. Claire was also asked to give a talk at a network meet for the Cumbria Healthy Pledge to showcase just how we promote healthy eating and wellbeing here.