Rugrats and Half Pints team having won Gloucestershire Live Small Business of the Year 2023 | Randall & Payne
Category: Awards

The visitor attraction in the Cotswolds which reinvented the soft play offering

Rugrats and Half Pints were awarded Small Business of the Year at the Gloucestershire Live Business Awards after the judges learnt how the business reinvented the soft play offering and are now listed in the top 10% of attractions worldwide on TripAdvisor.

Rugrats and Half Pints logo

  • Rugrats and Half Pints is the region’s largest Childrens Indoor Activity Centre.
  • Caroline Bevan, Owner and Managing Director, has created a unique activity centre providing exciting and stimulating play for all age groups in Cirencester, after establishing a successful soft play centre in Banbury.
  • Purchased in 2018 the old Magic Land site was completely refurbished with a wider range of play facilities to address a niche in the market, namely new mums with young babies.
  • 30 staff work across the activity centre and nursery.

The winning entry:

A year or so after opening, Rugrats and Half Pints had to close due to Covid for almost two years, but despite this, at the point of entering the award, the business turnover had doubled year on year. The previous owner had closed the soft play centre due to making a loss but it’s now a profitable business with profits being reinvested into more facilities and used to purchase the building itself.

During Covid, a nursery was created using offices which were part of the site, which two years after opening is also a successful profitable business, with an Ofsted rating of Good and 10/10 for reviews on

Caroline has reinvented the soft play offering, creating a USP for her business and widening the potential customer base. She created a unique area where new mums can stimulate their babies in a safe environment but also increase their support network. By creating sensory rooms within the main play frame, the business also caters for special needs children. Particularly innovative was the introduction of an interactive wall system with games attracting older children and even adults.

The business model was revolutionised by the introduction of sessions, rather than turn up and play as staffing levels can be managed more efficiently, which has made the business more profitable.

Rugrats and Half Pints has made a huge impact on the community within Cirencester offering play facilities for all ages of children, and the inclusion of activities suitable for children with special needs means that local special needs schools also use their facilities. They are the only centre providing facilities specifically for mums with babies and in doing so provide an opportunity for these mums to meet each other.

Caroline discovered how much the community valued her business when it was closed due to Covid and her customers set up a funding page to helping her to pay the rent during this period to ensure the business survived!

Within a year of opening, Rugrats and Half Pints became a visitor attraction for the Cotswolds and is proud to have received a Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice award for the past five years (2019 to 2023) which means they are in the top 10% of attractions worldwide and is based on the number of 5 star reviews they consistently get about their welcoming staff. This will in turn impact the local community with the additional visitors shopping and eating out.

Caroline Bevan comments:

Winning the award for Best Small Business in Gloucestershire and being a finalist in the overall Best Business and Businessperson of the Year, has been an amazing validation for me personally and for the business.

The soft play industry, historically, does not have a good reputation and was always considered somewhere you went to and endured for two hours.  I have strived to create a soft play centre which surpasses my customers’ needs, in terms of our professionalism, welcoming environment, and cleanliness.

These awards have demonstrated to our customers that we are a professional business, delivering a fantastic experience consistently and we are considered by other businesses in the area to be at their level.

As a single mum, working by myself, making decisions which affect my entire company alone, these awards and the Everywoman award, has helped give me the confidence that my instincts are right and what I regard as ordinary decisions, others see as extraordinary.  It’s given me the impetus to continue to grow and am currently looking at several new options.”


Gloucestershire Live Business Awards 2023 | Partner Randall & Payne logo