Half-term may be over but the fun for little ones continues at Hitchin Lavender even though children are back to school. Aside from our mainstay attractions such as the play fortress area and purple tractor that our younger visitors seem to love, pre-schoolers also have the opportunity to join in with a brilliantly entertaining storytelling class hosted here every week by Lucy Harrigan.
Lucy is a local mum of 3, who trained at the Italia Continue Academy of Theatre Arts in Dance and Drama, with the likes of Pixie Lott, Julianne Hough and Mark Ballas amongst many others. Since graduating she has worked as an actress, producer, choreographer and teacher. She’s also the originator of Toddler Tales and Move – a fun and interactive class filled with lively stories, dancing and treasure hunting activities for energetic youngsters.
In our blog today we hear a little more about the story of Lucy’s background and why she loves working with children.
You juggle many work “hats” but which is your favourite?
Yes, I wear many hats (and I’m not just talking about fancy dress and costumes!) I am a producer and performer with FoolishPeople, a self- employed bookkeeper, I run my Toddler Tales and Move sessions, as well as Luna Dance parties. To be honest, I love doing a bit of everything because they satisfy different parts of my brain and I never get bored with any of them. I’ve always been someone who has endless enthusiasm for so many things and found it hard to choose between all of my interests.
What led you to work with children?
Working with children is such a rewarding thing to do – their imaginations and energy are incredible! Aside from participating in productions when I was younger, I only started working with children after I’d had my own, even though I’ve always loved reading stories and dancing with them more than anything. My husband used to record my efforts from time to time and actually it was him who really encouraged me to start my own business. It took me a little time to build up enough confidence to take the plunge but when the opportunity arose at Hitchin Lavender, I just had to give it a go.
Why did you create Toddler Tales?
I wanted to start a business to entertain at children’s parties after “starring” as Queen Elsa for a pre-school fundraiser but when I discovered I was pregnant with my third child, I decided it would be better to start with classes (because no one wants a pregnant Elsa!) and I feel like it was absolutely meant to be! I adore working with young children – seeing them laugh and smile during sessions is absolutely wonderful. I put a lot of effort into my classes to try and make them as immersive and interactive as possible, and I’ve been so lucky to have had such special children come along.
What happens at Toddler Tales?
A typical Toddler Tales and Move session will involve some warm up dancing, a treasure hunt or immersive story, sitting down for some stories and snacks, and then more dancing! For my holiday sessions, the whole session can be one long story adventure although it will still incorporate the usual elements. We use props and puppets, and there are always bubbles!
Is there a particular children’s story that you love to perform?
I adore children’s books so it’s impossible to pick out just one but to name a few favourites: I love re-creating Princess Pearl from Zog and the Flying Doctors, the PB Bear Pirate Adventure, The Detective Dog and Tabby McTat. And of course, everyone loves Going on a Bear Hunt with me! Probably my all-time favourite character and story though is Windy the Witch – she crash lands at Hitchin Lavender every Halloween! Windy and Spook the Cat were created by my husband and I, especially for the landscape of Hitchin Lavender.
What are the benefits of hosting Toddler Tales at Hitchin Lavender?
Hitchin Lavender is such a unique and special place to facilitate Toddler Tales and Move – my classes have evolved and grown here. I’ve always loved working in a site specific way and this landscape offers such fantastic scope for my stories and hunts, as well as providing lots of opportunities to have fun. Kids love getting outside and running off some of their energy and I think this location is key to making my group feel different to other classes out there. The staff are wonderful to work with and the tea, coffee and cake is always superb too.
If you’d like to find out more about Toddler Tales and Move or would like to book a place at one of Lucy’s sessions, please see our events page or contact Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org.