A former ranger has turned her passion for wildlife into a successful business teaching children about gardening and the environment.
Claire Davison, who has worked for both Northumberland County and Newcastle City councils as a ranger/warden, spotted a gap in the market with the Government's launch of `Sustainable Schools', a strategy designed to put environmental sustainability at the heart of school life by 2020.
So she launched Ladybugs Gardening Services to help schools, community groups, special needs and Surestart groups to begin wildlife gardens and run environment- related educational sessions.
A pilot garden in the grounds of Burnopfield Primary School, in Gateshead, has led to a flood of enquiries from other schools and groups across the North.
The Burnopfield project includes developing the yard area of the nursery to make it more stimulating for the children, with plants and features to encourage all the senses. A Bog Garden and a new vegetable garden plot are planned, both of which will be sustained by children aged three to 11 years.
Claire is working with the school to raise new ground funds and seek out grants from such providers as the National Lottery.
Despite a degree in countryside management and experience as an educational assistant for Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Claire lacked business skills so she contacted New Entrepreneur Scholarships, managed by Entrust. NES is a programme dedicated to removing the obstacles to setting up a business and during the four-month, part-time programme, Claire learned all aspects of business planning and management.
She said: "It is fantastic to realise my dream of teaching children about wildlife, gardening and the environment.
"I have the subject knowledge from my degree and my work experience. Now NES has given me the business knowledge and confidence to make that dream a reality."
Claire has also opened a regular stall at Tynemouth Market, selling homemade bird and wildlife feeders.
Entrust NES manager Richard Moffitt said: "Claire had tremendous enthusiasm for her business idea and that is really all we need at NES.
"If someone has the vision and drive we can provide the business skills. We look forward to helping Claire further as her business grows."