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Diane

Hello, I’m Diane, and I have been a qualified nursery nurse for over thirty years. Having owned, established and run my own nursery in Blackburn for seven years, I prided myself in providing the best opportunities for the children we cared for, and the reputation we had was second to none. During this time, about fifteen years ago, I attended a training course where ‘Scandinavian Forest Kindergartens’ were brought to my attention and a small spark was lit!

Some of my most wonderful childhood memories are with nature: lying in a meadow with long grass surrounding me, looking up and making shapes out of the clouds, playing hide and seek in the woods, climbing trees, ladybirds landing on the back of my hand, jumping in big muddy puddles and in the winter-time playing in the same muddy puddle and cracking the ice that had formed.

There can be no doubt that a huge proportion of my formative years were spent outdoors, mainly in our family garden or at the local farm and riding school where my sister and I were very fortunate to have our own Shetland pony. I was also in the Girl Guides, where nature and camping played a major part. No matter what the weather was, I would be outside, and I feel blessed to have had the freedom that all of this gave me. My only wish would have been that there were thermal clothes and good waterproofs available back then.

Michael (my husband) and I have brought up our children, Jennifer and Samuel, also respecting and enjoying the outdoors, and walking in Roddlesworth Woods still plays a big part of family life. Even though our children are all grown up now, we all enjoy camping, where we are given the space and opportunity to explore the countryside and spend fantastic time together.

I feel both lucky and privileged to now have the opportunity to combine my passion for our beautiful countryside and working with pre-school children, who never fail to delight me with their imagination, curiosity and their freedom of expression.

Naomi

Hi everyone, I’m Naomi, and during my twenty seven years as a qualified practitioner it has been my pleasure to share my passion in caring for nature in all its forms: plants, animals, bugs, birds etc. As parents of three happy and curious children, my husband Stewart and I feel strongly that the countryside, seaside and outdoor environment provides our family with the opportunities to be together without twenty-first century distractions, enabling our children to have the freedom to create their own happy childhood memories.

My childhood years were spent in a small village called Chatburn surrounded by fields, rivers and nature. My overriding memory is one of great freedom and adventure in the form of picnics in fields with my younger brother, swimming in the River Ribble with family and our family dog, and collecting small posies of flowers for my mum. I have vivid memories of Youth Group midnight walks up and along Pendle Hill, with often a long and wet trek home!. It seems to me that a huge chunk of my childhood and teenage life was spent with friends and family enjoying and making the most of the wonderful Ribble Valley.

When Diane approached me with the idea of opening up an outdoor nursery together, I had no hesitation in saying “yes”! Having already formed a very good working relationship together during my seven years employed as a Deputy Nursery Practitioner in her pervious nursery, and now still as close friends, there was no question of passing up such a wonderful opportunity.  Caring for children and being given the chance to see the natural world through their eyes fills me with anticipation for the joy, wonder and excitement that the children will experience during our time together in the outdoor environment.

Louise

Hi, I’m Louise. Lots of my childhood memories are of spending many school holidays walking over Whalley Nab, from Great Harwood (where I was brought up) to Whalley, collecting blackberries, looking at flowers and admiring stunning views along the way. We would be out for hours without a care in the world! These are most definitely my favourite memories! In fact, I remember most of my childhood being spent outdoors, happy and carefree, and returning home with very rosy cheeks!

I now have three children of my own, and living in Pleasington we are lucky to have the countryside on our doorstep. My husband, Mike, myself and the children spend many a weekend walking Arnie our dog around Houghton Bottoms, which we all love.

I first met Diane and Naomi when my children all attended the fantastic nursery that Diane owned and Naomi helped run. We have wonderful memories of really happy times there. Whenever we talk about nursery days and look at photos, my children’s faces light up with fondness remembering the fun times they had there. Consequently when Diane and Naomi told me of the outdoor nursery that they were opening, I felt very excited at the thought of being able to be a part of it. I feel that this is a wonderful opportunity for children to experience the great outdoors, whilst learning and growing, and I will feel very privileged to be sharing these experiences with them.

Gemma

Hello, I’m Gemma. I’ve been lucky enough to work in the outdoors since 2004 having jobs at charities where caring for the environment through practical nature conservation and education have been the principal focus. I’ve had positive and rewarding experiences working with adults and children but training to become a Forest School Practitioner in 2011 opened up a whole new world to me and made me realise just how beneficial being outdoors is for children and how being in a natural environment can stimulate so much learning.

Thinking back to my childhood we were outdoors a lot, walking with family in local countryside and camping in France during summer holidays. I grew up in Accrington but despite the built up environment, we lived close to lots of open green space and spent lots of time immersed in it. My most vivid memories are simply playing in the local park near our local house, watching the frog spawn in the pond, climbing trees, riding our bicycles and playing on a rather risky rope swing! My younger brother and I used to leave the house after breakfast and only come back home for food. One of my treasured memories was when my Mum took me and my younger brother up to the top of the biggest hill in Accrington, the Coppice, where we ate breakfast overlooking the trees with a view of Pendle Hill.

I still live in Accrington with my partner Darren, daughter Evie, son Isaac and our two dogs. We walk around the Coppice almost every day and it always reminds me of the time we had breakfast at the top! I hope we can bring Evie and Isaac up enjoying, exploring and respecting the outdoors and that one day they will have wonderful memories just like I have.

Being offered the job at Beyond the Walls has enabled me to move my career in a direction that I have felt more and more passionate about since training to become a Forest School practitioner and having children of my own and I’m proud to be part of the team. It’s very rewarding to work with the children and be a part of their outdoor nursery experience; to see them get excited about the world around them, be so inquisitive about nature and to be so playful in many creative ways

 

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