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Nicola reflects on 20 years of Jigsaw Arts

I honestly can’t believe it’s been 20 years. I don’t know that this is what I intended to do, but it was definitely what I was meant to do. Part of me wanted to be Julia Roberts, but looking back I was destined for this!

Aged 9, I ran Shell club in the garage at the bottom of the garden and all the kids in the street became members.  I bought penny sweets and sold them for 2 pence and used the profit to buy more felt pens and activities for the club! There was a timetable of activities. We also put on shows which I directed and starred in (probably the only way I was ever going to star in a show) and then we sold tickets to parents and the money raised went to a worthy charity.

So Jigsaw was a perfect place for me to combine my love of business and performing arts. I’m not sure my business skills would have survived outside of performing arts, and my performing arts skills only made sense through business.

Jigsaw came into fruition when I met Colette at Mountview Theatre School.  We actually became friends because we both had boyfriends in Cheshire so got the train together every other weekend!  They were rubbish boyfriends but thanks to them we created Jigsaw Arts on the train from London to Cheshire.

Backstage at Jigsaw, quietly beavering away has been the technical genius that is JB. I think JB has probably done almost as many hours at Jigsaw as me over the last 20 years.  Probably more if she admits to all the extra hours she puts in at home.  I am very grateful to JB for her years of loyalty to Jigsaw.

There are lots of other die-hard Jigsaw staff who have done more than 10 years that deserve a Jigsaw medal or two! Debbie Morris, Jo Messina, Michael Twaits, Hayley Carver, Steven Mills and Kate Cohen have all done more than 10 years. Congratulations to you all.

My heart-warming joy is when Jigsaw students become Jigsaw teachers. Imogen Katz was the first, then followed Kimberley Kofou, Andrea Perides, Rege Page, Jack Matthews, Joe Clarke and Chloe Brandon to name a few. And more recently, our lovely Natasha Vasandani who has also helped with the production of the 20th anniversary film. Thank you to Natasha for bringing the joy!

So I have always surrounded myself with lots of brilliant people and currently have a fabulous Jigsaw family that I work with on a daily basis. My work husband Andy is my Jigsaw rock. I really couldn’t do this without him. We have our lovely daughter, Tahra who is an uncanny mixture of us both at times and we are often concerned at what we have created. But she lives and breathes Jigsaw as much as we do and I am so grateful to them both for their resilience and undying commitment to Jigsaw. We have also adopted our long lost cousin from the North, Katie who brings some extra humour to the day and luckily is also really clever!

I also need to mention my real family, Neil, Callum and Frankie for living and breathing Jigsaw as well and sharing me with Jigsaw every weekend.

I believe finding out what you are good at and doing what you love is the key to a happy future.

It’s great for me to share in and be a part of the success of so many young people’s lives. I am really proud of so many of the students and what they have achieved.

Looking to the future, I’m excited to pass on the enjoyment of running a Jigsaw Performing Arts school when supporting our new and future franchisees.

Thank you to all of you that contribute to Jigsaw, old and new friends, students and teachers. I love it and I hope that you love it too!

Jigsaw Performing Arts is dedicated to developing performance skills, promoting self-expression and building confidence. We offer performing arts classes for children aged between 3 – 18. Find your nearest school by entering your postcode into the search on our home page