HANNAH Baird has spent most of her life in the water – swimming for Warrington Warriors and then teaching babies and children to swim.

With classes at The Park Royal Hotel in Stretton and Whitley Village Hall, Turtle Tots North Cheshire teaches essential life-saving lessons to babies from birth while having fun in the water.

Here, in our latest Business of the Week feature, Hannah tells her journey to owning a successful business and what her professional goals are for 2024.

If you would like to appear in one of our business features, email heidi.summerfield@newsquest.co.uk

What’s your full name?

Hannah Baird

What’s the name of the business?

Turtle Tots North Cheshire

What’s the address?

We currently have Teeny Turtle baby classes at Whitley Village Hall, Whitley, and swimming classes at The Park Royal, Stretton.

Are you the owner/manager?

I’m the owner and teacher

Christmas theme week in the pool

Christmas theme week in the pool

When did you open the business?

Turtle Tots was founded in 2011 and is now a network of over 50 small, individually owned businesses across the UK and Ireland operating with the support of a distinctive and recognised brand which parents and children love. I have owned Turtle Tots North Cheshire since January 2021, also having taught at The Park Royal for three years for the previous owner.

Has it always been in the same location?

For me yes

Are you local to the area? Did you grow up here?

I am from Grappenhall originally now living in Appleton so I grew up in Warrington and previously swam for Warriors of Warrington.

Tell me a bit about your business

Turtle Tots North Cheshire is unique, gentle, nurturing and fun baby and toddler early water experience and swimming program. Swimming with us is not only an enriching experience for both you and your little one, spending quality time in the water together, it also teaches essential life skills and aids the way babies and toddlers learn skills out of the pool too. Our classes incorporate bonding and socialising and most importantly, they are lots of fun, with you in the water together! We are among the top leading swim schools in the UK, our teachers are trained to the highest possible level in the industry, which includes study around cognitive development and communication. We have extremely high levels of professionalism, no one works harder than our teachers to make sure you and your little one feel happy and safe in and out of the water. We offer swimming lessons from three months to five years. I also offer lovely early water experience classes introducing 'Teeny Turtles'. Amazing early water experience classes from birth to six months. With little ones in baby baths and you on dry land it's a great introduction to the water, lovely bonding time, introducing water holds and activities while building confidence in and around water for you both, before making the transition to the big pool and our swimming lessons.

What do you do? What services do you provide?

Early water experience classes from birth to six months along with swimming lessons for three months to five years

Teeny Turtles class set up

Teeny Turtles class set up


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Why did you decide to open your own business?

I am passionate about children learning to swim and whilst learning an essential life-saving, life skill also enjoying the water, having fun whilst knowing how to respect it and stay safe.

What’s your business background?

After leaving university I returned to Warrington where I worked as an IT Manager for 14 years. After having my two children, my previous career was no longer working well for us as a family so we made the decision for me to leave my career. I’ve always been a swimmer and enjoyed being in the water. I’d always wanted to qualify as a swim instructor so I took the opportunity to re train. I completed my award and certificate qualifications which meant I could teach any age and ability. I was shocked during my training at how many older children were scared of the water, wouldn’t get in, wouldn’t put their faces in and decided I wanted to teach younger ones to try and overcome these fears and ensure they have a love of water and be ready to progress to older lessons when they are old enough. A friend then sent me some information on Turtle Tots who were looking for a teacher. I completed my baby and pre school qualification and diploma and the rest is history.

Why this type of business?

I’ve always been a swimmer and enjoyed the water. I’m passionate about children being able to swim and enjoy the water. It’s a really fun job and no day feels like work aside from maybe being on my laptop doing the admin side of business. It’s also really flexible and works around my two young children. I love teaching all the lessons and getting to know the little ones and their families - seeing them all having fun and progressing is so rewarding. Hearing about all the progress they make after they leave us to go to older lessons and how well they’re doing with their swimming is amazing. I do get some potentially scary updates when children have had an incident with the water on holiday but it’s great to hear they have known what to do and have been safe - this makes it all worthwhile.

Were you open before/during/after the Covid-19 pandemic? How did this affect your business?

We were open before the pandemic but all lessons stopped when we went into lockdown. I was teaching at the time so couldn’t teach at all during the lockdowns. I loved it when pools re-opened and we could restart lessons. I bought the business during lockdown, which was probably a bit crazy and quite scary, but as soon as pools re opened and we could re start lessons - it was such a relief. It was lovely to see so many of our original swimmers back with us and being able to welcome new swimmers too.

Autumn theme week in the pool

Autumn theme week in the pool

What makes your business different to others in the same area/field? What sets your business apart from your competitors?

As a local, individually owned business where I am the owner and teacher, I feel I offer a personal experience. From your first point of contact to your lessons, it’s always me that you speak to. I get to know my swimmers and look forward to them returning term on term so that I can continue to work with them and see them progress. Being local also allows me to pass on any useful local knowledge on any questions newer parents may have or people who are new to the area. Turtle Tots lessons are truly child-centred - absolutely no ‘dunking’ in our classes - everything is done on their terms which allows them to completely enjoy their experience and gain lots of trust in their adult which leads to more confident swimming. Each child is treated individually and whilst we follow a specially designed programme with our fun, friendly and sociable lessons, each individual’s needs are met. As a teacher I am as qualified as I can be through the Swimming Teacher’s Association, also having the highest level baby and pre school teaching qualification you can achieve. I am also trained to understand more about how babies communicate in the preverbal period, their early brain development, the importance of early attachment and how best to support little ones in this crucial early part of life.

Why do loyal customers return to your business?

I am very lucky to have lots of returning customers. I love seeing familiar faces, as well as getting to know new ones. I am a small, individual and locally run business who is passionate about what I do and really cares about it. I hope all of our swimmers feel they get a really personal service as it’s me that runs the office, business and teaches so I’m always the point of contact. I offer high quality, fun and friendly lessons in lovely, friendly venues at a very competitive price.

What’s next? What do the next few months hold for you and your business?

I’m always planning ahead, looking at what I’m going to include in our lessons and what’s coming up. I’m currently planning our autumn and Christmas themed lessons and looking forward to lots of fun lessons. I’d like to be able to offer a few more lessons a week in the coming months so look out for any new classes that will be advertised on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Apart from that I just want to continue doing what I’m doing, offering the lessons that I love teaching and feeling very lucky to have the privilege of teaching so many amazing little ones and being part of their swimming journey.