Haulage boss moves into nursery business with converted chicken shed

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A former chicken shed in Cheshire and an Exeter pub will be converted into nurseries from next month.


An architect's impression of the converted chickenshed, which will become the Kids Country nursery

Renovations to 2,200 sq m hen house are two-thirds complete in the Cheshire village of Over Peover. It will open as the 50-place Kids Country Day Nursery for birth to fives on 1 November.

The nursery is being founded by brothers Michael and Andrew Irlam, part of the James Irlam Logistics dynasty, and will be located on part of the family’s 500-acre estate around Knutsford.

Michael Irlam said, ‘When the building became available … one obvious option was to bang offices on it but we have lived here all our lives and wanted to do the right thing for the village.

‘There are 3,000 staff from Barclays Bank here [at the UK technology centre] and also in the village there is good demand for a nursery.’

He said the new setting will have ‘an outdoors feel’ with a petting zoo, and natural woodland area and outdoor play equipment set in two acres of grounds.

Mr Irlam was formerly managing director of James Irlam Logistics, which was founded in the 1940s by his grandfather. The 350-truck business was sold for £60m to haulage firm Eddie Stobart in 2008. The family now owns a local pub, wedding venue and residential property in the area.

Becky Bugg, previously of south Cheshire college nursery and with ten years' experience in the sector, has been appointed as manager. Ms Bugg, who is forest-school trained, will hire a further 19 staff. Mr Irlam added, ‘Becky has a lot of experience in the nursery world and has been on board for a couple of months now explaining the process and procedures to us and interviewing for the team.’

Meanwhile, Echoes Childcare, in the village of Broadclyst, near Exeter, will open a 45-place setting with 20 staff at the end of the month.

The nursery is housed in what was a Victorian pub and has been founded by nursery workers Joanne Cook and Michele Stevens.

The nursery will have outside space including a stage, a water wall, a music area and a mini-beast zone.

The nursery will also have extended opening hours, from  7am until 7pm with Saturday provision, and a holiday play scheme for school-age children.

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