The Italian-inspired North Wales kids playground the Duchess of Cambridge would approve of

These North Wales youngsters must surely have one of the country’s coolest play areas. Already they have a tree house and a mini castle, both made from recycled pallets. And should they tire of these, the youngsters can choose to play in mini dens, tackle an adventure trail or get mucky in mud kitchens.

Homestead Nursery, in Gresford[1], near Wrexham, focuses on outdoor learning to encourage children’s innate curiosity and imagination. Where possible natural materials are re-used, whether it’s for outdoor bug houses or indoor tables for making recycled art from books, bottle tops and fabric. It’s the kind of place where plastic toys are frowned upon.

Now the nursery’s incredible facilities are about the get a whole lot more impressive thanks to a donation of wooden pallets and old truck tyres. They were delivered by haulage company McCarthy Distribution, based on Wrexham[2] Industrial Estate.

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Louise McCarthy, the firm’s marketing manager, said she and husband Mike had been bowled over by the nursery’s sensory-driven environment[3]. “The nursery has such a homely and welcoming feel,” said Louise.

“It’s bursting with all sorts of creativity and the children all look so happy and engaged.”

Young Rupert Cheetham has the time of his life, watched by Louise McCarthy (left). In the background are nursery owners Rachel Lloyd and Kim Sankey-Jones

The nursery, on Old Wrexham Road, was established two years ago by friends Kim Sankey-Jones, a former nurse, midwife and health care visitor, and Rachel Lloyd, who previously worked as an early years teacher.

The pair, both mothers-of-three, had become frustrated by traditional nurseries and so quit their jobs to put research-based beliefs into practice. They admired the Reggio approach for early years education[4] which encourages children to engage with the world around them: for a short while both worked in a nursery in northern Italy, where the Reggio ethos originates from.

The Italian-inspired North Wales kids playground the Duchess of Cambridge would approve ofBy the wooden pallet treehouse are, from left, Kim Sankey-Jones, Louise McCarthy and Rachel Lloyd.

They’re with children Martha Harran, George Davies, Molly Driffield and Nina Wisinger

Kim said the McCarthy donations will be put to good use – and urged other companies to follow suit. “We are always on the look out for all sorts of different things,” she said. “It could be books and magazines, off-cuts of card, material and felt.

Or trophies, Formica samples or unbroken tiles which are no longer wanted. “It could be bottle tops, cup holders, beads, candles, old jewellery – or larger items like the pallets McCarthy Distribution so kindly spared.”

The Italian-inspired North Wales kids playground the Duchess of Cambridge would approve ofLouise McCarthy with youngster William Mossford at a table made out of pallets

The nursery’s approach chimes with that of another mother-of-three, the Duchess of Cambridge[5], who believes that spending time outdoors can help children grow up to become happy, healthy adults. Kate, who last month launched a UK survey about childhood development, said playing outdoors can benefit physical and mental wellbeing.

It’s a belief she put into practice in her Back To Nature Garden at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

The Italian-inspired North Wales kids playground the Duchess of Cambridge would approve ofChildren play on some of the pallets already at the nursery

Every week, the Homestead team review its provision to ensure imaginations are constantly stimulated. The idea, said Rachel, was to encourage the children to be independent. “We have very little in the way of plastic toys,” she said.

“We prefer to focus on natural products and other interesting items which means there is no one-sided outcome from playing with them.”

  • To donate unwanted items to Homestead Nursery, call 01978 853946 or email


  1. ^ Gresford (
  2. ^ Wrexham (
  3. ^ environment (
  4. ^ education (
  5. ^ Duchess of Cambridge (

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