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Mum in the Hood: Sara Perkins of Caper.co in Richmond

Caper Sara Perkins

We love our local London mums! In our Mum in the Hood series we speak with mums around the greater London area to find out what they love about where they live. This week we spoke with Caper founder Sara Perkins who is currently discovering her new ‘hood of Richmond. Find out what she loves about it!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself…

I’m Sara Perkins and I am the co-founder of Caper, an app that helps families play together outdoors in nature through immersive adventures. I left a corporate career to start Caper with my co-founders Ben Geliher and Graham Denney earlier this year, and we have had a whirlwind few months. I’m proud to say that Caper has helped thousands of families have fun and keep active through lockdown, and now we have made a special Halloween Half Term caper called Spellville, which is FREE for the whole of October. Spellville gets families out to the local park to have a magical adventure making wands, discovering their inner wizard and having loads of fun!

Prior to Caper, I spent many years as a musician and then worked in marketing for various family brands including Disney and Mothercare as well as education company, Pearson, and publishers Mills & Boon and Harper Collins. Taking the leap into the start-up world in my 50s seems like a crazy decision in retrospect, but if 2020 has taught me anything, it is that time is too precious and the future too unknown not to just go for it! In a few short months, Caper has gone from being an idea to receiving backing from LEGO Ventures and the Founders Factory, and we even got to showcase the app at Number 10!

I have two daughters, aged 14 and 24 – so one millennial and one digital native. I have been obsessed by the impact of screen time on the mental and physical well-being of children for some years, and Caper is my way of addressing a huge social, physical and mental health challenge: How might we use tech positively and get kids as addicted to nature as they are to screens?

Due to their age gap, my daughters have had very different childhoods when it comes to the ubiquity of smartphones, and I have witnessed the negative impact of increasingly sedentary lifestyles and the anxiety induced by apps designed to keep you scrolling and alone. Caper is a whole new way of using tech to balance the digital experiences our kids crave with the real-world nature-based play we remember as parents.

  1. Which area do you live in, and what do you love about it?

We moved to Richmond this month after living my whole life in North London, apart from a few years in California, so this is my first experience living south of the river! I first fell in love with Richmond years ago when I worked for Mills & Boon who had their HQ at Eton House at the time. I loved my lunch hours spent by the river and the abundance of green spaces. After lockdown, as a family we were craving somewhere greener, and my youngest daughter started studying music at The BRIT School (which is in Croydon) so we decided the time was right to have a south-of-the-river adventure!

 

 

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Where do you like to hang out as a family?

Having older kids, we tend to hang out together at home, but walks in Richmond Park to spot the deer, and strolls along the river are enthralling for us as it’s such a new experience! Kew Gardens has always been a family go-to for us, and I’m on a mission to be able to identify every tree there! We always go and see the Kew Gardens light show at Christmas. Occasionally, I manage to lure my husband and the girls to Petersham Nurseries with the promise of cake at the cafe, while I browse the plants.

 

 

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What is/are your favourite family-friendly eateries?

With a teenager in the house, eating out usually revolves around pizza so Caffe Mamma near our house is a winner. We love the vegan offerings at The Retreat Kitchen and Bill’s is always a good option for families with lots of different dietary needs.

What local activities do you and your family take part in? 

My daughters and I enjoy thrift shopping and love walking across the bridge from Richmond  to St Margaret’s to visit the charity shops. We also love hanging out at The Basement Door – it’s an incredible charity and venue run by Kev Westbury that helps train young people in all aspects of the music business from setting up and running gigs to performing. In fact, my daughter played a gig at the firework display at Richmond Athletic Ground last year after an invitation from Kev! I really hope the charity can survive the current crisis impacting live events so severely, I really miss live music.

 

 

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I am going to be joining a kayaking club in the spring, I am not quite hardy enough for a winter on the water! I do classes at Bootcamp Pilates and have booked a moonlight dip night swim at Hampton pools; we’ll see if the family will join me in that one or leave me to it!

Where’s your favourite place to escape in your area for a little me time? A shop, spa, café etc..

I am a member of the National Trust and have recently discovered Ham House and the silent spaces they have set up in the gardens. They are little huts where you can just stop and be still, even in the rain.  Nature is always a balm for the soul for me!

 

 

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Where’s the best place(s) for date night? Mums’ night out?

I’d say cocktails at Rock and Rose with girlfriends, and a meal at 144 on the Hill for date night. My all time favourite restaurant for a treat is Annie’s, in fact I had my 40th birthday there many moons ago, even before I lived in the area.

Is there a little hidden gem in your area you’d like to share?

I don’t think I have lived in Richmond long enough yet to have a true hidden gem, for me it’s all so new and lovely I feel like a tourist! But I do love the walk from Petersham nurseries back into Richmond along the river, the light is gorgeous as it hits the water. Simply heaven, I feel very lucky to finally be living here.

Find out more and download Caper for free until the end of October here: www.caper.co

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