A popular Gateshead play centre is reopening after a significant upgrade thanks to a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.
Michael and Samantha Taylor acquired Mister Twister’s Jump Centre in Follingsby Park after returning to Samantha’s native North East following Michael’s retirement as an airline pilot in the Middle East.
And as well as making major improvements to the Centre’s play equipment, infrastructure, catering facilities, seating area and online booking systems, the couple have also opened an OFSTED-approved nursery on the site which will take up to 50 children in the first instance.
Michael and Samantha worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure the £75,000 Small Loan Fund investment and are expecting to create up to 15 jobs in the first instance, with more to follow as the business grows.
Mister Twister’s reopened its doors on 17 May in line with the latest easing of the government’s pandemic restrictions and will be holding an official reopening event towards the end of June.
Alongside the soft play area, which has had a fully refurbishment and its netting replaces, facilities now include a football cage, mini golf course and a new Laser Tag area.
The centre’s kitchen has been fully refitted, a new seating area has been created, the menus in the Mad Hatter’s Café have been updated to include more healthy eating options and the centre’s lift has been repaired to make its second floor accessible to all.
Plans are already in place to add new play facilities in the coming months, as well as to increase the number of places available at the nursery, and the centre is also now offering sleepover parties for birthdays and other special occasions.
Michael Taylor says: “When we took it over, the centre clearly needed a fair bit of attention across the board, and we’ve been working ever since to make improvements and add exciting new facilities that have really changed the atmosphere for the better.
“All the work we’ve done has been designed to give kids the best possible play experience in a location that their parents, grandparents and families will be happy to spend their time too, and the feedback we’ve had so far has been really encouraging.
“With the space we have available, the nursery is a natural development of our service and we think there is a lot of local potential to make more places available in the fairly near future.
“We’ve got many more plans in place to keep adding to the Centre’s play offering and can’t wait to show families old and new everything that we can now offer them.
“NEL are focused on creating and maintaining jobs in the North East, which is what we’re looking to do as well, and the investment team made applying for this capital an almost seamless process.”
Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Mister Twister’s is a great North East family brand and the improvements that Michael and Samantha have made create a venue that customers of all ages will enjoy visiting again and again.”
Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.
It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
For more information on NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.