Marvellous Mum Natalie Timotheou set up Gingerbread to help connect and support single parents in the local area. She not only run’s Gingerbread as a volunteer but as a busy mum of one, Natalie also juggles teaching English and tutoring.

MMNatalieTWhich part of the Chilterns do you live? Chalfont St Peter

Family members: Me (age TBC!) and my little boy Yasir, aged 3. Going on 14…

Sum up your business in a sentence: Connecting and supporting single parents ☺

Company details: Chalfont St Peter Gingerbread. It’s a friendship/support group for single parents. As part of this, I:

➢ meet with parents on a one-to-one basis
➢ run ‘Monday Meet-Ups’ on the last Monday of the month (meetings addressing aspects of being a single parent)
➢ organise ‘Saturday Socials’ at different venues
➢ provide a buddy system
➢ signpost parents to various agencies for support

What did you do before starting up your business? I run Gingerbread as a volunteer for Barnardo’s, who manage the Chalfont Children’s Centre. I still do my day job which is English teacher and tutor which I love.

When did you start your business and why? I set up Gingerbread in February 2014. Abi, the manager of Chalfont Children’s Centre, approached me with the idea as a way of reaching out to single parents and I jumped at the chance. Being a single mum, I felt this was something much needed in the area. I have a passion for helping people (probably why I became a teacher!) and knew something like this would fulfil me. And I love organising and planning, which is a big part of this role.

The best part of your day / running your own business? Watching parents and children hit it off at a social event… Seeing a mum smile for the first time in a long while… Opening a thank you email from a parent who said she felt supported and listened to… Hearing someone say they don’t feel so alone anymore…

And the worst? Seeing a parent in pain and knowing that sometimes there isn’t anything I can say or do to help them. Because sometimes it’s just about giving it time…

How do you juggle running a business and family life? I couldn’t if I didn’t have the most amazing support network ever. I’m very lucky to have incredible family and friends, especially my parents – don’t know what I’d do without them.

What challenges have you faced? Reaching single dads. I’d like to get them involved and be able to provide them with support too.

Your biggest success? Creating support networks and friendship groups for many single parents in the area.

What business tip/advice would you offer new mumpreneurs? If there’s a gap in the market (or in my case, a need in society) go for it!

Business dream? Aside from getting single dads involved, I’d like to organise different kinds of events. At the moment, I’m planning a ‘Bring N Buy’ which will take place in November but I’d like to organise things on an even bigger scale. Another Gingerbread group is planning a single parent holiday to Italy – that’s something to aim for!

How do you relax? Relax? What’s that?!

What do you love most about where you live? The community feel. I love walking around the village and bumping into friendly faces. We are so lucky to have everything we need so local, especially a great Children’s Centre which runs lots of things to do with the kids.

What are you listening to at the moment? Sam Smith’s album, ‘In the Lonely Hour.’ Think he’s brilliant!

What’s your favourite tipple? Not much of a tippler! Give me a cuppa and I’m happy…

Your simple pleasure? Lounging on the sofa in front of the telly in my pjs with a nice cup of tea.

Favourite film? Too many to choose… I do love a good romcom, though!

Favourite book? You’re asking an English teacher what her favourite book is?! Too many to name just one but one I recently read and loved was ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,’ by Mark Haddon. Loved it so much I went to see it at the theatre – what an amazing production!

Tell us a joke? I’m more funny sarcastic than funny ha ha…

Website: www.gingerbread.org.uk (This is the nationwide organisation, not just the group I run)