Little Lancashire Village: Burnley business has seal of approval from former Coronation Street actress Helen Flanagan
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Having started in Burnley in 2020, Little Lancashire Village has grown into a multi-venue family affair beloved by children and parents alike.
Among its fans is former Coronation Street actress Helen Flanagan who treated one of her children to a birthday party at the Darwen site last weekend, and has previously visited the Burnley venue.
Founder Holly Harker said: "Helen is lovely. She sent me a voice note saying she loves it because her kids have an amazing time and all play together nicely.
"It's massive for us to have her support. We've had a lot more followers since she shared it, and we featured in The Sun last fortnight. It means a lot to us, and is fantastic for the area."
Former teacher Holly launched the first venue in Burnley’s Maltings Mill in Sandygate after struggling to find something different to do on the weekends with her two girls.
They visited children's role-play centres nationwide but couldn't find anything similar close to home. Seeing a gap in the market, Holly left her teaching job to create Burnley's first dedicated role-play centre for youngsters up to seven. It took off, and sites in Darwen and Rawtenstall followed.
The 28-year-old added: "It's the best decision I've made. It's been amazing.
"The business is educational and something a little different.
"We're busy, which is good, and we hold a lot of parties. People come from as far as Cheshire and Liverpool, and we have a lot of regular customers who come each week."
The play centre teaches children about the world and helps to promote spelling, writing, and vocabulary, with many school trips taking place there.
Holly now runs the business with her mum Helen Harker and partner Jamie Ainsworth.
Helen (57) came on board after losing her job.
"I was made redundant after 31 years working for a company as a designer. I became part of Holly’s business, which has been a massive change, but it's the best thing ever."
Helen, who does "a bit of everything," uses her design skills to make and mend all the children's role-play outfits, create party bags, and bake cakes.
Each site has unique features taking inspiration from the owners. Darwen has an airport, Harks & Spencer, and Helen's Haberdashery, while Rawtenstall has a fire station, Ainsbury's, Ava's Fast-food Restaurant, and Maisie's Beauty Salon - named after Holly's children. And Sandygate supermarket, a hair salon, and a police station are in Burnley.
With the business going from strength to strength, the trio is now looking for a fourth site to bring its wonderful world of role-play to the Ribble Valley.