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Innovation

Innovative mums turn redundancy into a success story with the launch of Ayrshire business news

A pair of Ayrshire mums made redundant during the pandemic have carved out a new career by helping curious youngsters appreciate the great outdoors.

Kathryn McNally, 40, and Katie Walker, 42, both from Ayr, were let go of their jobs during lockdown and teamed up to create UnderSky, offering community play events, outdoor school lessons and eco-friendly play tins.

UnderSky’s aim is to get kids, aged 4-9, and their families enjoying local green spaces and the wildlife around them.

Mum-of-one Katie, who worked as a countryside ranger for the National Trust for Scotland at Culzean for over 15 years, said: “We love to spend time exploring and playing outdoors with our kids and so lockdown and unemployment became the perfect storm. for our creative ideas to emerge.

“Due to restrictions on indoor socializing during the Covid-19 pandemic, spending time outdoors became a necessity and, at first, our aim was simply to help families to not only enjoy but gain from this enforced time spent outdoors.”

The Ayrshire Live app is available to download now.

Get all the local news in your area – plus features, football news and the latest on the coronavirus crisis – at your fingertips 24/7.

The free download features the latest breaking news and exclusive stories while you can customize your page with the sections that matter to you.

The Ayrshire Live app is available to download now on iOS and Android.

UnderSky's play days help youngsters learn about wildlife found on their doorstep
UnderSky’s play days help youngsters learn about wildlife found on their doorstep

Katie and Kathryn came up with the idea to launch themed play tins, which are packed with hours of fun ideas for outdoor play including challenges, games, fun facts, and stickers.

Mum-of-two Kathryn, a former textile and graphic designer, said: “Whatever the theme we aim to ensure our tins are suitable for play in any green space and in all seasons.

The environmentally friendly play tins are packed with hours of fun learning activities
The environmentally friendly play tins are packed with hours of fun learning activities

“It’s vital to us that our products are environmentally and ethically friendly, for example, we use biodegradable paper, card and stickers, and print at home to order on our EcoTank printer.

“We source our props from small UK producers wherever possible; and the glitter we use is Bioglitter ™ – the world’s only certified fresh water degradable glitter.

“Our aim is that our tins never contain single use plastics.”

The duo have also previously received funding from South Ayrshire Council to provide free community play days – of which over 300 kids and adults attended their Easter events held in Craigie, Castlehill, Dalmilling and Forehill.

Katie said: “By using small local parks our aim is to help families realize the potential for fun exactly where they live – there’s more to parks than just kicking a ball about!

Katie helps the kids look for creepy crawlies on their minibeasts hunt in Castlehill Woods
Katie helps the kids look for creepy crawlies on their minibeasts hunt in Castlehill Woods

“You’d be surprised at the amount of wildlife living in the little scrap of grass and trees near you.”

UnderSky are eager to work more with local schools and are currently in the process of developing their curriculum linked program.

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