Working with children was always Amy Parrotte’s dream – and now she has a successful business doing just that.
Almost five years ago Amy opened the Pitter Patter day nursery in the heart of Llanidloes in Powys, and she is now in charge of a thriving business with around 50 little ones enjoying time spent there throughout the week and providing 15 jobs in the local community.
But without the financial backing and close support of ethical lender Robert Owen Community Banking the 29-year-old is certain her business idea would never have flourished.
Indeed, when she went to a High Street bank requesting a loan with her plans for the fledgling business Amy found the door firmly shut.
Robert Owen Community Banking, based in Newtown, provides a range of loans including Small Business Development Loans of up to £50,000 for businesses such as Pitter Patter which have been running for two years and want to scale up and grow.
The not-for-profit organisation sources the funds locally and reinvests in the community, offering ongoing support and flexibility.
“There is no way I would have got the nursery up and running without the help of the people at Robert Owen”, admits Amy.“I had no money to set up the business although I had a good idea of what I wanted to achieve and the kind of nursery I wanted to offer parents in a town where at the time there was no help.”
Local girl Amy had an excellent grounding for her chosen career with a degree in childhood studies from Aberystwyth University when she approached the community lender Robert Owen with her business plan for the nursery.
Still only 24, she had also already gained a good deal of work experience having helped set up and run a university childcare facility at Aberystwyth, and having worked in a nursery in Newtown.
Luckily, Robert Owen Community Banking recognised her potential and over the next few years it has loaned Pitter Patter £20,000 in total, supporting the fledgling business at crucial moments.
Mark White, chief executive officer with Robert Owen, said Amy was just the kind of client they wanted to help.
“Amy is absolutely right at the heart of what our lending should be about,” said Mark. “It’s a community based business but very much a business.“Amy is a tremendous young entrepreneur with a firm grip on everything that is going on in her business and she inspires confidence.”
Amy said the close relationship with the Robert Owen team helped her come up with answers to problems as they arose. “There was immediate advice close on hand, which was what I needed,” she explained.
Initially, the business started up in smaller premises and on a smaller scale in Llanidloes, and Amy says there were teething problems. At her first Christmas, she warned her team that the nursery might have to close.
But then, as more families became aware of the excellent friendly and professional daycare on offer at Pitter Patter things turned around. Following the move to the bigger space and garden opposite the doctor’s surgery, numbers have expanded to such an extent that Amy is having to turn children away.
Staff at the nursery have grown to 15 full and part time workers and Amy is also offering apprenticeships to grow local talent.
Some of the comments by parents praising the warmth and professionalism of the Pitter Patter team show the impression they are creating among local families.
“We only have space for 11 children in our Holiday Club and the demand is much more than we can cater for.”
In her expansion plans for the future Amy says she would like to be able to buy the Pitter Patter building – currently rented from Powys council and be able to offer more daycare for children aged up to 12.
And if that happens as Amy plans she could be knocking on Robert Owen’s door once more.
“Without question, we would aim to support Amy if she identifies suitable opportunities,” said Mark.
“We would love to help Amy with any plans she might have to expand.”