Nurse swaps bandages for broomsticks to become The Yorkshire Witch in Barnsley

An NHS nurse who has devoted over 40 years to caring for others has swapped her bandages for broomsticks to create a sanctuary dedicated to exploring the mystical and magical.

Pearl Armstrong launched her Barnsley-based business, The Yorkshire Witch, to challenge preconceptions about the world of witchcraft

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At the same time, and very aware that she had no previous experience of running a business, Ms Armstrong contacted Sheffield City Region Launchpad, a programme that provides free support, training and access to workshops, to help her build her dream business.

Pearl Armstrong, founder of The Yorkshire Witch

Working alongside experienced business adviser Nicole Harte, she began refining her business plans, as well as taking part in a range of courses, helping her to understand what it took to run a successful start-up. Ms Armstrong spent time getting to grips with understanding the finances of running a company, as well as learning how to harness social media to showcase her unusual range of products.

She has successfully transformed the former hair salon into a sanctuary dedicated to celebrating witchcraft and wiccan. Inside, visitors can buy spell bottles, learn more about witchcraft and the healing properties of crystals, as well as enjoying a unique blend of coffee, served in a cauldron-shaped cup, which was created for the fledgling business.

The business has attracted a loyal following already, and Ms Armstrong has even recruited her three daughters to help her. However, perhaps more remarkably, she continues to balance the pressures of running her own business with working on the wards in her local hospital.

Ms Armstrong said: “When most people think of witchcraft, they tend to think of green faced hags flying around on a broomstick; however, the term really means a healer, who often worked as midwives and were responsible for using herbs to create medicines.

"It’s something that has fascinated me since my early twenties, and after a change in family circumstances I decided that the time was right to share what I’ve learned with others and use my knowledge to help dispel a few myths about the world of witchcraft and wiccan.

“Wiccan is about exploring and celebrating Mother Earth. It’s an ancient belief system where crystals have been used for thousands of years for their healing and spiritual powers. Over the years, it has often surprised me to discover how many nurses use crystals to keep them safe during their shifts, and I wanted to create a safe place where people can find out more about how it can be used as a force for good.

"Having worked in the healthcare sector most of my career, I knew running a business would be something very different to my work on the wards, but I saw it as a challenge and a golden opportunity to finally do something I’ve dreamed about for many years.

“The Launchpad programme didn’t just help me to understand what it takes to run a business, it gave me an opportunity to explore and develop my ideas. There’s a real sense of community on the programme, and Nicole and the Launchpad team have been amazing. They are always on hand when I’ve got a question and have given me the belief and encouragement to believe that my idea for a business could work.”

Nicole Harte, business adviser, Launchpad, said: “Moving from healthcare to witchcraft is quite an unusual career progression, but like many entrepreneurs, Pearl decided to build her business around a subject area that she knew well. The challenge she faced was that although she had a great business concept, she was unsure how to transform her ideas into a reality and reached out to Launchpad for help."

Since launching The Yorkshire Witch, Pearl has recruited her two daughters to work in the business, and next year she is hoping to become a celebrant, enabling her to preside over weddings and funerals. She is also hoping to launch a series of podcasts where she examines the history and origins of witchcraft and also develop her online retail store.

Launchpad is the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub’s key business support programme for new businesses. Financially supported by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by local authorities within the Sheffield City Region and the Prince’s Trust, the programme provides free help and support to budding entrepreneurs in the Sheffield City Region who are thinking of starting their own business or looking for help to achieve business growth.

For more information about the Launchpad programme and how it operates throughout the Sheffield City Region, contact the SCR Growth Hub Gateway on 03330 00 00 39 or visit www.scrlaunchpad.co.uk.

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James Mitchinson