Jo is a former teacher specialising in English and Drama who subsequently worked with Learning Through Action, an educational charity focusing on children and young people. During this time she facilitated workshops, directed educational videos and presented at a national level on children’s’ learning and behavioural patterns. Jo then created Pottytree Puppets, where she developed a range of interactive puppet and drama workshops addressing issues of communication and behavioural development across all age groups. In 2012, Jo brought Pottytree Puppets and Learning Through Action together to create The Hands-On Company.
Melissa studied Drama and Theatre Arts at Chester University. She taught in Hampshire, running successful Drama departments in secondary schools while advising on KS2, 3 and 4 English teaching, focusing on KS3 SATs Shakespeare. Initially Melissa joined Learning Through Action as a facilitator and has continued this work with The Hands-On Company. She is also a GCSE Drama examiner and Principle Moderator for A Level Performing Arts with the exam board Edexcel.
Role Play Presenters
We are particularly proud of our gap-year presenters and young, professional actors. This hall of fame includes:
Phoebe Gast, Scott Hunter, Rory Hill, Laura Hannawin, James Radcliffe, Tasha Marks, Sam Jacob, Mike Aylotis, Elysia Carroll, Claire Heatheringham, Josh Vince, Becky Jones, Casey Andrews, Brad Clapson.
Gill is always on hand to help with sewing and creating beautiful hand-made circle time mats. A teacher and workshop facilitator in her own right, she is happy to work with your children to create a masterpiece mat, or to make one especially for you. If you are interested in having one of these for yourself, or for a school, please contact us and we will pass your details on to Gill.
We employ a wide selection of puppets with more being made all the time. Here is a selection of our characters.
Mrs Pottytree and Fred
Mrs P as she’s known to her friends has been with the company telling stories for a very long time. Although she could have retired years ago she still likes to be involved…in anything. Naughty is unfortunately the word used to describe Fred. It’s best to be honest about his behaviour. At times there have been incidents of throwing socks at children and pulling faces behind grown-up's backs. If we take him out for the day he always promises to be good – but ends up making children giggle with his antics. Being cheeky is in his nature but underneath the mischief is a good heart.
The Hands-On Company have a great fondness for dogs. We have a lot of dog friends, and one of our favourites is Meatballs. Known for his sense of humour and friendly manner he is loved by children and adults alike. He always likes a cuddle, a chat and a biscuit.
Arthur and Alice
Arthur is the oldest member of the Hands-On Company. We believe he is in his early 80’s but he is usually evasive about the year in which he was born. What we do know is that Arthur loves life. Don’t be deceived by his age. Yes he does still nap a bit too much, but he likes nothing more than going out for a day with his grandchildren for an adventure. What can we say about Alice? Some days she can be a sulky teenager – on these days she’ll sigh a lot and rolls her eyes whenever an adult tries to speak to her. However, most of the time she is quite delightful. She’s very sporty and loves reading. but she also spends far too much time looking at her phone and having a good old gossip with her friends.
Our lovely Hugo is misunderstood. This is mainly because he is big and often a little clumsy, but in actual fact Hugo is very shy and extremely gentle. Hugo has overcome his difficult past and is now very proud about his size. Don’t be deceived – Hugo is a gentle giant.
Although Lottie is a dog, we see her as an honorary member of our team due to her attendance at various rehearsals. It simply wouldn't be the same without her!