This Northamptonshire toy maker is building pre-schools for children of Bangladeshi factory workers

A Northamptonshire company that makes knitted dinosaur toys is helping families in Bangladesh by building pre-schools next to the fair trade factories it uses.

Friday, 21st June 2019, 7:01 am
Gaynor Humphrey and Elizabeth Cochrane from Best Years at the opening of the third pre-school the Daventry firm has helped to open in Bangladesh

Best Years has been using profits from the sales of knitted and crochet toys to set up a place for the children of their suppliers' workers to go while they are at work.

Children do not go to school in Bangladesh until they are six so under-fives are often left to themselves during the day, resulting in many tragedies - particularly drowning.

Commercial director of the Daventry firm, Gaynor Humphrey, has recently returned from the country to opened the third pre-school they have backed with their suppliers, Pebble.

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Children under five in rural Bangladesh usually have nowhere to go but the pre-school gives them safety and a head-start on their education

"It's always an amazing experience to open a school but what was particularly exciting this time was that the teacher was a local girl who is doing a political science degree in a nearby university," she said.

"She was smart, enthusiastic and going places. A great role model for these young kids and you could almost feel the optimism for the future."

Best Years has been working with Pebble for ten years, helping to create 12,000 jobs for women in rural Bangladesh and support its growth despite the uncertainty caused by the EU referendum.

Gaynor said they jumped at the chance to use their success to help the families who have nowhere to send their children under-five during the day, with nurseries and pre-schools not part of their culture.

Gaynor cuts the ribbon for the new pre-school

And with Bangladesh having three large rivers and often suffering flooding during the monsoon season, drowning is the single biggest killer of children under five in the country.

"So creating preschools alongside the Pebble rural factories is not just about educating children and giving them a good start and a better chance of getting into school at six years-old, it is also about keeping them safe while their mummies are working," Gaynor explained.

The schools are not what we would expect to see in the UK, as the building would perhaps once have been a house, or even a storage area.

The children learn in Bangla, the country's main language, but they also start to learn English, which can help in later life as all the computers in Bangladesh are in English.

The school is often in an old house or storage area

Best Years' toys are sold in independent stores and museums across the UK, such as Boswell's and the Victoria and Albert in London, as well as online.

To find out more about the award-winning company, visit