It will give away my age immediately, but it barely seems like 25 years since my Mum (Pippa) realised that Thai children attending The Elms School, where she was Head Matron, needed a kind host family to take care of them at exeats and weekends. As all entrepreneur-led businesses will know, the family was involved from the outset, and as a teenager I really enjoyed having international students to stay.

And here we are 25 years on, so much has changed, but actually the important things, have stayed the same.

When Mum set up Pippa’s Guardians she was communicating by letter and by fax; she often needed the services of an interpreter and children had very little contact with their parents. There was no AEGIS, no regulation at all.

Whilst technology has changed how we work, what we do now in 2022 is essentially the same as it was when Mum began, and how we do it makes us the successful, highly reputable company we continue to be.

I asked Mum recently what she felt the most important deeply ingrained principles are that makes Pippa’s the success it is today. I wasn’t surprised by her answers, but I share them with you because it is a useful time to reflect on our core values.

Firstly, she said: “you’ve got to be interested in children and like them”. Our child-centred approach continues to this day, our Area Managers know all of the children in their care, visit them regularly, organise all of their travel and match them to carefully selected host families, who in many cases become their regular “home from home”, driver and chaperone for the whole of their time in UK education.  When our Area Managers are selecting host families as well as the many checks we undertake, their instinctive response to the question “Would I want my child to stay here?” is as important as inspecting the home.

Secondly, that “safety and security are fundamental”. When Mum began there was no regulation, she craved it so much that she began to meet other people offering similar guardianship services to share best practice, and out of this AEGIS was born. The 300+ standards that gold accredited guardian companies like Pippa’s adhere to mean that the utmost attention is paid to the safety of the arrangements and environment that we place the children in.

Thirdly, “there can never be enough kindness”. Our students and their families have made a massive undertaking to have their children educated far from home, and we never forget how hard that can be. All of our undertakings are done with the best interests of the child in mind, as well as with kindness in our heart. The little touches, the arrival meetings, gifts, the photos, birthday cakes, trips to the dentist, checking in with the host family are what make us unique.

So, whilst WhatsApp has replaced fax, email has replaced letters and Eden Yang is now our in-house interpreter, the fundamental service is what Mum set up 25 years ago: we look after our students kindly and securely.

Here’s to the next 25 years.