A HAMPSHIRE entrepreneur is celebrating the success of her baby swim school going national after helping more than 5,000 children learn to swim since launching in 2012.

Laura Skilton, who grew up in Chandler's Ford and attended Barton Peveril College, has rebranded her popular Baby Paddlers swim school, launching a national franchise programme which is already gaining interest from all over the country.

Baby Paddlers – now known as Baby Squids – is based in Winchester and puts on classes for 0 to 4-year-olds, focusing on building children’s confidence and their love of the water.

Laura said: "When I had my son Harry, I was frustrated at not being able to find swim classes that created a fun, and relaxed atmosphere and encouraged water confidence.

"So, following redundancy from my job I decided to set one up"

She has built the business from scratch with husband Martin, and has 24 staff overseeing 188 classes per week across 19 swimming pools in Hampshire, Dorset, and four other southern counties.

Laura added: "I’m so passionate about our business and the unique way we teach swimming, I always knew we were going to go national.

"It was always a matter of time. So, after our third child turned one, we knew we had to go for it.

"It’s been a hard slog for us to get this next step off the ground. A real labour of love.

"I’m so proud of what Baby Squids can offer parents, children and local communities."

Baby Squids runs in eight separate pools in Hampshire, including one in Southampton and three locations in Winchester.

Over the years, Laura’s business has raised money for charities including the Special Care Baby Unit Winchester, Macmillan and Winchester NCT.