England, United Kingdom (PressExposure) April 23, 2009 -- Sarah Cressall, founder of the Creation Station, has won the title Business Woman of the Year at the 2009 Leicestershire Women of Achievement Awards. The annual Awards celebrate the achievements of women in Leicestershire and Rutland and this year culminated in a glamorous ceremony held at the Walkers Stadium on Friday 20th March.
Sarah said: "I felt honoured to be nominated for the awards by the team at Creative Leicestershire and was thrilled to be named one of the three finalists in the Business Woman of the Year category. To be awarded the title was absolutely wonderful and a real privilege."
The Creation Station provides hands-on art and craft exploration sessions which give even very young children the chance to safely experiment with a wide range of materials, tools and ideas. The programme received national recognition in 2008 when the 'Exploration & Discovery' sessions achieved the Gold standard in the Practical Pre-School Awards.
By franchising the business Sarah has given other women the opportunity to operate their own business to fit around busy family life. As well as the sessions for under 5 year olds the programme also includes school holiday sessions for children up to 11 years, birthday parties and events Sarah has also developed a range of merchandise to support the Creation Station brand.
The Creation Station is now recognised as a high quality provider of creative activities for children and parents to share together. This has led to approaches from other organisations keen to tap in to its popularity and the proven benefits of the programme. Leicestershire's Snibston Discovery Centre, Bumpi's play centre, and The Parents Early Education Programme are examples of this partnership. Sarah also provides the creative activities for the popular 'What's On For Little Ones' website, and writes articles for the Pre School Learning Alliance.
Sarah started the business concept in 2002 in response to a lack of quality creative activities for her own three boys. During her three pregnancies she was confined to a wheelchair due to a medical condition. This frustrating experience fed her determination to nurture her relationship with her children through enjoyable and educationally valuable activities. So, she set about organising her own sessions.
With her background in management, design and teaching she developed a programme that involved parents, and engaged the children's senses in a fun and relaxed way. This had the benefit of helping each child to concentrate for increasingly longer periods.
Sarah initially ran the sessions from home in Exmouth, Devon. When she re-located to Loughborough in 2005 she set up the business and established the programme at community venues throughout Leicestershire. As the Creation Station sessions grew in popularity Sarah took on her first employee and recognised the need to build her own business related skills. She sought the advice of local business people, joined support networks and became involved in a mentoring scheme through Loughborough University.
The Creation Station concept had proved popular with Leicestershire families and Sarah looked at ways to grow the business. With a proven and educationally sound model at its core, she decided that developing a franchise would be the best way forward. This would give other mothers the chance to enjoy the same work/life balance she had established for herself.
After significant investment, and work with the British Franchise Association, the first pilot franchise was awarded in 2007 in Wysall, South Nottinghamshire. Since then, four female-owned franchises have been awarded in North Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire Suffolk and Somerset, with a further three currently being awarded in Derbyshire, Bolton and Scotland, Discussions are also underway with a children's activity centre in Egypt.
The Leicestershire Women of Achievement Awards are backed by the Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce. The categories are: Young Achiever of the Year, Business Woman of the Year, Rural Business Woman of the Year, Woman of Determination, Woman in the Community, Woman of the Year.