A pair of best pals are preparing to launch a new play centre and adjoining coffee shop near Banham Zoo.

Stephanie Tipple and Vickie Wretham met six years ago while pushing their children on the swings at the local park and quickly became friends.

They bonded over their experiences of parenthood and working in childcare and have now put their passion to good use by launching Play Nooks.

Vickie Wretham (left) and Stephanie Tipple (right) met while playing with their children at a local parkVickie Wretham (left) and Stephanie Tipple (right) met while playing with their children at a local park (Image: Play Nooks)

"We share 20 years of early and primary teaching experience between us and are passionate about helping children learn through great hands-on play experiences," the pair said.

"We've both loved teaching and, since having families, we've been keen to create the play and learning environment we've always dreamt of."

They began by volunteering for local community toddler groups - Ms Tipple in Banham during the pandemic and Ms Wretham at Tea and Tots in East Harling.

"We've met lots of families, shared the highs and lows of parenting, been a shoulder to cry on and gained insights into what mums and dads are looking for in those sleep-deprived hazy days of new parenthood."

They hope Play Nooks, located in Kenninghall Road, will be a "calm and inviting haven" for parents to come together while their children engage in imaginative and high-quality play. 

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Indoors there will be a sensory dark room, messy areas for investigative play, spaces for imaginative role play and a baby area with Montessori toys. 

It will also have small world setups and cosy areas to snuggle up with a book.

The outdoor area is set to offer play spaces with natural materials and loose parts so children can pour, scoop and dig.

Play Nooks will be available to pre-book and is scheduled to open later this month.

An adjoining coffee shop called Coffee Nooks will act as a community space for people to enjoy coffee and locally sourced cake.