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Why the locals love living and working in Knutsford

View from The Moor. Photo: John Cocks
View from The Moor. Photo: John Cocks

We meet three people whose hometown of Knutsford is very close to their hearts.

Great British Life: Kaley Gibbons of Mini and Moi.. PHOTO:Kirsty ThompsonKaley Gibbons of Mini and Moi.. PHOTO:Kirsty Thompson

Kaley Gibbons

Owner, Mini and Moi, Minshull Street

I used to come over to Knutsford a lot with my partner David, so we decided to move here about five years ago and I absolutely love it. I’ve got two children – Quinlan, who is four, and Ivy, who is one and I’ve met so many people through the children.

At the time of having Quinlan we were living in Didsbury and before I left to have him my job was very full on. I was always aware I had to make a decision about my future. When Quinlan was about two weeks old, I started to panic about what I was going to do. Then the idea for Mini and Moi clothing and accessories just came to me: a place that was not just for babies but for mums as well.

We sold online and stood Altrincham market before opening in Knutsford a year last August. I knew there would be an audience here and I knew that if I was going to attempt to open a shop I may as well do it in my hometown . The premises that came up had my absolute dream shopfront but inside needed quite a bit of work, so I renovated the whole thing with new electrics, new flooring... just took it back to basics.

My original plan was to have a beauty bar in the shop for mums so they could come in and have their nails done – the whole concept was thinking about the mum as well as the child. I had the studio upstairs – a beautiful light, airy loft space with a big black fireplace and gorgeous sash windows – and I thought that’s where I am going to do my classes such as baby massage, crafting... any classes relating to mum and baby. But that was really hard to do. I was new here, the people running the classes were new here and it wasn’t getting noticed quickly enough. So, last November, I set up a playroom above the shop called the Playroom at Mini and Moi, a place you could drop in on during the week with private parties at the weekend. But that got so popular I just couldn’t cope. I was a person who had a shop, an online store, the playroom, all while looking after two young children. I hit burnout, so I decided to sub-let the upstairs space. A lady called Lucy Norris who has a business called Second Hand Styling UK came into the shop one day and we chatted for ages, and I thought, 'that’s not the last I’m going to see of you'. Anyway, fast forward to after Christmas, I was watching Dragon’s Den and she was there with her business. I contacted her straightaway and within a week she’d agreed to take the space upstairs.

She runs her business and brings her baby with her in the way I have my children downstairs, so it’s become a place where two women are trying to make a business work together alongside their children, working flexibly. If she’s got an appointment, then I’ll hold her baby while she’s busy; it’s a really supportive thing.

Now we also have Gosia Potrzeba who runs a beauty bar and I am finally bringing together all the parts of the puzzle. Gosia's business is called Go Glam Knutsford and she’s here three days a week, Thursday to Saturday. We also offer is mini haircutting by Katy Collins, twice a month. I’ve always wanted to launch this concept store, so in the end, I have kind of achieved that.

The thing about business is you start with a plan, it never goes to plan. But in the end, the plan might come together.

Great British Life: Nicola Grogan, Estate Team Manager at Tatton Park. PHOTO:Kirsty ThompsonNicola Grogan, Estate Team Manager at Tatton Park. PHOTO:Kirsty Thompson

Nicola Grogan

Estate team manager, Tatton Park

It’s been just under two years since I came here from the North East. My role entails managing the ranger team at Tatton Park. It’s visitor managing, supporting the events; it's conservation management and land management with the deer and sheep and it’s very hands-on. My role links in with all the other departments around Tatton.

November is when the deer rut so we are involved in making sure the public is distanced from the deer. We will also be doing the daily deer feed because during the winter months we give them a supplementary feed of two tonnes of carrots a day, which we do by tractor and trailer. A lot of people stand and watch because it’s quite a spectacle when you have a few hundred deer coming from all corners of the park onto the feed line.

As visitor numbers are lower at this time of the year it tends to be when we do our project work. That means we move on to fencing repairs, tree work and hedge planting. We have a couple of events coming up before Christmas too. This year we again have the Christmas Mansion opening, with the theme of Alice in Wonderland, and a new event called Yuletide – A Glittering Winter Adventure, where the gardens will be lit up throughout the winter months with actors entertaining. This starts at the end of November through to December. The farm will be doing its Meet Father Christmas as well from the end of November. There’s always a lot going on.

I am a very outdoorsy person. As much as I have to do essential admin, I believe it is really important for me to be in the parkland, supporting the rangers and speaking to the public to understand what is going on, all of which helps me plan future work. That’s important to me because I love the place and sometimes you can get bogged down in paperwork but all it takes is to go out into the parkland to remind yourself why you’re doing it. It is a very special place; it serves so many purposes. We get the people who come in to see us as a visitor attraction but then you have locals who use it as a facility. It’s great to be part of that.

I live on the estate. It’s amazing, particularly in the summer when we close at seven and I still have a few hours left to enjoy the park and go on a nice walk. We’ve got a bit of a community here because there are a few properties on the estate for people who work here so someone is always around.

I love Knutsford. It’s brilliant. It has just enough so you don’t need to go very far to do your shopping and for entertainment. In the evening you’ve got all the pubs and restaurants, it has a nice feel and I love that it’s got bunting up all year round. I had friends visit recently for a few days and they didn’t want to leave. It’s a place quite unlike anywhere else. With Tatton here and the town just outside the gates and having all that on my doorstep I feel incredibly lucky.

Great British Life: Audrey Horth. PHOTO: Kirsty ThompsonAudrey Horth. PHOTO: Kirsty Thompson

Audrey Horth

Maker of dresses for Knutsford’s May Queens

I started making the dresses in 1990 but this year will be the last time as my arthritis is too painful and I can’t do it anymore. It began because I knew the 1990 May Queen’s mum I said to her, 'Is your Mel (Melanie Assion) going in for May Queen? As a friend will you let me make her dress?' and it just went from there. If the May Queen wanted me to make their dress, then I would. I never asked to do it, but it just seemed to carry on and they’d say, 'will you make a dress for me?'. My granddaughter, Naomi Steer, was May Queen in 2005 and that was very special.

I’m self-taught. At Balfour Road School, in Runcorn, where I am from originally, we had to choose a subject, and I said I’d like to do sewing. My mum had also taught me from the age of nine or 10 and it was something I enjoyed.

I moved to Knutsford in 1970 with my husband Geoff and although it is changing a lot I still love living here; I’ve always loved it here. We’ve got Tatton Park and lots of lovely shops. I used to play crown green bowls and I made most of my friends.

Knutsford Royal May Day festival is just fantastic. It’s been going since the year dot and it’s massive. The streets are just packed. Since I came to Knutsford it has been my thing, so I’ll be lost next year. I feel like crying when I tell people I’m not making the dresses anymore.

This year’s dress took me three months to make, it was so intricate. It was fantastic and on the day the sun shone from morning until night. It was fantastic and on the day the sun shone from morning until night. I went out on a high.



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