A BABY swim school that started in the New Forest has been relaunched as a national franchise after seven very successful years helping more than 5,000 youngsters gain water confidence.
Laura Skilton, a mum herself, now runs Baby Paddlers with her husband Martin from 19 pools across the south, including at Ashurst Lodge in Ashurst and Lymington’s Elmers Court Hotel.
She has now switched the name of the business to Baby Squids, and the school is already gaining interest all over the country.
Laura launched the sessions after feeling frustrated at not being able to find swim classes for her son Harry that created a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
“Following redundancy from my job I decided to set some up,” she said.
The couple, who live in Winchester, now have 24 staff teaching 188 classes per week, but it all started in Ashurst where the first ever session was run by Nadina Robson.
Seven years on, and with a wealth of experience under her belt, Laura is now taking the bold and timely step to launch a national franchise programme.
“I’m so passionate about our business and the unique way we teach swimming,” she said. “I always knew we were going to go national – it was only a matter of time.
“So, after our third child turned one, we knew we had to go for it. It’s been a hard slog for us to get this next step off the ground, a real labour of love, and I’m so proud of what Baby Squids can offer parents, children and local communities.”
Baby Paddlers has been replaced by Baby Squids branding across all on and offline communications and media. But Laura stresses that the business will keep the same ethos.
“We are already talking to a number of people eager to get going,” said Laura. “I can’t wait to see the pins spring up across the UK map as Baby Squids goes nationwide. A real reward for our hard work helping many more children swim across the country.
“It’s not easy launching and running your own business, particularly when you’ve got small kids. But equally, being your own boss means you can make time to be there for the things that matter: the family days, the school pick-ups, the concerts, the sports days.”
Over the years, Laura’s business has supported the community through raising money for charities and organisations like Forest Park School in Totton.