I was working as a local authority swimming instructor when I first saw an article about Water Babies in 2003. Little did I think that one phone call to the founder, Paul Thompson, would completely change my life. I originally trained as the company’s first instructor then, in 2005, my family and I relocated to Norfolk to set up our own Water Babies franchise, where we now have 600 clients and seven members of the team.
I am now also a senior tutor, responsible for co-writing the UK Water Babies swimming programme with Paul and, earlier this year, represented the company on BBC Breakfast News. Not bad for a swim teacher from Harrogate!
Obviously this amazing career development has been very closely linked to Paul, and I am very grateful for the constant encouragement and advice he’s given me; not least his innate belief in my ability to achieve anything to which I set my mind. It’s been incredibly inspiring, being so closely involved in a company whose growth has been pretty phenomenal. I’ve experienced first hand the hard work that goes into maintaining the highest standards of quality alongside such rapid growth, but also it’s so exciting being in a company where, quite literally, the sky is the limit for everyone involved.
Running my own franchise (with my partner, Mark) is, to be frank, damn hard work – although this is amply compensated for by the results we achieve with all our children and the fact that we adore what we do. The continuing support we get from HO is invaluable, not least because so much attention is paid to constantly moving things forward and improving things. For instance, we get a huge amount of documentation direct from them which we can simply transfer into our own operations. An example in point is that they’ve recently spent months working on a generic HR policy which, whilst we are all obviously responsible for our own HR, all franchises can adopt, thus saving us hours of work, personal expense and duplication of effort.