Hooray! Christmas has finally arrived and for some reason I have been really looking forward to it this year – maybe because last Christmas all our plans were dashed by the Covid lockdown, (the most excitement we had was a drink in my mother-in-laws garage in the freezing cold), or maybe because 2021 has been an incredibly busy year for The Owl Centre and me, and I’m looking forward to a little rest (this picture of me last Saturday just about sums it all up).

To share a short summary of the year, we have been working hard on many things:

– Continuing our pursuit to provide the very best assessment and therapy services to support families and schools who need some top-up care which always continues to be our number 1 motivator!
– A wing of the Owl Centre became a charity in September 2020 and we are really keen to expand this – but I wish someone had warned me that running a charity was INCREDIBLY hard work!
– We wonderfully became CQC registered this month. CQC is the Health Care equivalent to Ofsted and is a governing body which, believe it or not, we applied to be inspected by! After 3 fairly intensive and stressful interviews with Rods and me, it’s done and we did it – phew! We’ll be inspected fairly regularly from now on (although not too soon into the New Year I hope).
– We have recently picked up our 6th NHS contract to help with waiting lists for Speech and Language Therapy, OT and Autism diagnostic assessment / post-diagnostic care. We have also branched out into the disability departments of some Universities, Imperial College being our latest, which is gorgeous at Christmas time.
– All the little training projects and supervision sessions we run to ensure our, ever expanding team of therapists are the very best they can be which has led us to start an Owl Centre Academy next year.
– Organising our first Owl Centre conference for 1st July 2022. Please save the date!
– Developing a little acorn of an ADHD assessment and treatment service – watch this space…
– And of course, celebrating The Owl Centre’s 10th Birthday this month. I can hardly believe it, and wowzers – a lot has happened in those years (a bit more about that below), and although the advise is, never to mix work with relationships, someone Rods and I are ok, in fact I will go as far to say that we are good!

(Although, I’ll tell you one thing that has gone by the way side – the social media! It’s on my New Year’s Resolution list I promise).

This year we also said bye bye to our wonderful admin support, Emily (who has gone back to teaching), and we recruited our fabulous Kate in May and Jo in September. They are so amazing and I have to pinch myself that they’re part of our team. ❤️❤️❤️

So, with a warm glow in my heart, I want to say thanks to all our clients (children and adults), families, schools, colleagues in the NHS and general supporters or flag wavers of The Owl Centre! We really hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and a very happy and healthy 2022, from Nicola and all of us at the Owl Centre xx

Here’s the YouTube link:



Take care and bigs hugs to you all xx

Below is a brief summary of The Owl Centre’s 10 years:

2011 – the Owl Centre begins, slightly by accident – Rhodri had started a Language school in Oxford and needed some help to pay the rent on the building they’d rented, and so Liz Connolly, Mary Pegler, Polly Mitchell (3 speech therapists, 2 of whom still work with us and 1 has just retired from The Owl Centre) and Nicola begin seeing children in the Language school. The Language school’s logo was an owl and so we called the therapy rooms “The Owl Centre”.

2012 – The Owl Centre starts to grow and Nicola leaves the NHS 😢 wanting to streamline her life a bit! The Owl Centre recruits their first OT and a psychotherapist.

2013 – Nicola publishes her first book with Macmillan and ends up on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and BBC Breakfast (the interview embarrassingly ends with Nicola impersonating a horse – for which she has ridiculed to this day! 🤣)

2014 – The Owl Centre expands to Hertfordshire when Lydia Ebsworth (who had been working for Owl in Oxfordshire), moved there. OC2 begins! The therapists in our team are predominately speech therapists, OT’s and psychotherapists.

2015 – Nicola and her family move to Gloucestershire and The Owl Centre continues to grow. The Owl Centre Gloucestershire opens up, alongside Owl Centres in Wales, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Kent. We now have clinical psychologists recruited into our team.

2016 – Nicola, Rhodri and their daughter, Jess move to France for an adventure for 6 months. Rhodri leaves his Management Consultancy job so he can dedicate 100% of his time to The Owl Centre. Nicola publishes another two children’s books with Macmillan UK, Spain and USA, and even Marks and Spencer have them on their shelves! Rhodri receives an accolade by a parent who he’d spoken to over the phone, who later spoke to Nicola tells her, “That admin boy has completely undersold himself” . This provides a laugh to the team to this day! 😁

2017 – The Owl Centre goes north to Manchester, started by one of Nicola’s old work colleagues from her NHS days in Oxfordshire, Lisa Dobraszczyk.

2018 – The Owl Centre picks up its first NHS contract to help work through their autism diagnostic waiting list in Manchester. Dr Q. Our paediatric psychiatrist is head-hunted so that NICE guidelines can be met. We start a contract with a local authority in Greater Manchester as part of a Giving Voice project.

2019 – The Owl Centre now covers most of England and Wales in terms of therapists and their locations. We have doctors (paediatricians, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists), speech and Language therapists, psychotherapists and OT’s offering assessment and therapy to families, schools and other contracts. Rhodri can’t cope with any more spreadsheets and so contracts the services of an IT company to build the Nest, our computer data base. This was meant to be a one-off job lasting about 6 months…

2020 – A branch of The Owl Centre becomes a charity for its work overseas in Vietnam and in India – whatever happens, Nicola’s dream of running a therapy charity has come true!
The Owl Centre begins a contract with the BBC’s Tiny Happy People.

2021 – The Owl Centre is restructured with fabulous learners and picks up more NHS contracts whilst continuing to grow. (Nicola speaks to an NHS commissioner and suggests we might manage 10 Autism assessments per month. This is completely blown into smithereens when 185 Autism Assessment cases are dealt with in November 2021).

CQC registration is awarded – CQC is the health care equivalent to Ofsted.

Happy 10 years to the Owl Centre – our wonderful family business!

2022 and beyond – The adventure continues…!