AN outdoor-focused nursery will open its doors this autumn, following a successful grant application.

My Little Kingdom is due to launch at the Kingdom Hall in Prudhoe in the autumn.

The day nursery and forest school childcare business has been established by friends, 38-year-old Emma Nelson and Sarah-Jane Sewell (32).

The business has received a grant of £64,000 via the North East Rural Growth Network (NERGN), a programme accelerating business growth and job creation in rural communities in Northumberland, County Durham and Gateshead. The grant will be used to renovate the building and outdoor space, allowing the business to accommodate children in a natural learning environment.

“There is a need for more childcare provision in Prudhoe,” explained mum-of-two Sarah-Jane, who currently works assessing childcare level two and three students at day nurseries, early years and schools.

“Some families currently have to travel to Stocksfield and Heddon-on-the-Wall for their childcare, so this will make a big difference to local people and we know that there is a lot of demand.”

Emma explained that Kingdom Hall was the ideal location, due to its prominent position and the availability of two pieces of land adjacent to the site which they have been able to secure for outdoor learning.

“We want to create an environment where children can learn through outdoor play and activities,” she said. “Even mealtimes become a homely, social experience. We are in talks with Prudhoe Gardener’s Association on an allotment space where we will grow our own food.”

The pair are hoping to accommodate 80 children and will be using the grant funding to add a mezzanine that will eventually cater for around 30 children and will also provide space for an office.

Recruitment has started for seven new jobs that have been created, and within three years they expect to have created 19 more local jobs, bringing the total to 26.