County Durham teacher opens gaming centre - and employs former pupils to run it

Restless North East Ltd has opened in County Durham, 10 years after Andrew Aberdeen, 42, first thought of the idea

Jonathan Hutler and Andrew Hemsley at Restless North East
Jonathan Hutler and Andrew Hemsley at Restless North East

A teacher has opened a gaming centre with two of his ex-students, transforming their shared hobby into a business.

Restless North East Ltd has opened in County Durham, 10 years after Andrew Aberdeen, 42, first thought of the idea.

He said: “A decade ago, the internet didn’t have the power that it does now. The technology is available now to make my pipedream a reality.”

The centre, which is in the Durham Business Centre in Langley Moor, offers electronic video gaming, alongside tabletop fantasy gaming, including card games, board games and models.

Mr Aberdeen, who lives with his wife Lisa, 34, in Brandon, said: “As far as I know, we are the only business in the North East to cover this combination of gaming.”

Customers pay to rent video consoles for a few hours or hire private rooms to play in. The company also sells specialised board games and model sets.

The business teacher, who works at St Bede’s Catholic Comprehensive School in Peterlee, has been gaming since he was a child and now enjoys playing Xbox and Warhammer, a fantasy game played with model figures.

It was a shared interest in Warhammer that brought Mr Aberdeen and his employees, Andrew Hemsley, 23, and Jonathan Hutler, 22, together.

Mr Aberdeen said: “I run a Warhammer club at school and the lads were members when they were students. They kept coming back to help me run it even after they’d left.

“When the lads were unemployed I decided to get them involved in the business as they had kept in touch after leaving school. I knew I could trust them to run the business day-to-day so I could keep my teaching job.”

Centre Manager Andrew Hemsley, from Peterlee, said: “Andrew has always had this vision and the market is right for it now.”

The business hopes to target young people who enjoy gaming and want to pursue their interest in a social environment.

“Gamers can lose their social skills when they play games in their bedrooms. We are trying to bring them face to face,” Mr Aberdeen said.

Deputy manager Jonathan Hutler, from Peterlee, said: “Various gaming societies at universities show that there is an appetite for social gaming.”

Despite his teaching experience, Mr Aberdeen stressed that setting up a business of his own was a challenge.

He said: “I’ve learnt more in the last six months about practical business than I have in teaching the theory for 20 years.”

Mr Aberdeen hopes to expand the business and create more centres if Restless North East Ltd is successful.

“I have plans for another dozen centres in the North East as a long-term plan but we’re focusing on this one for now.”

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