The very best of the nursery sector was celebrated with a night of accolades at the National Day Nurseries Association Nursery Awards presented by TV star and maths legend Johnny Ball.
Saddleworth Stars Nursery in Oldham, Greater Manchester, won the prestigious title of UK Nursery of the Year as well as the category title of Nursery of the Year for the North of England.
Awards, sponsored by early years resource provider Hope Education, were announced at a glittering ceremony at Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester. The event followed NDNA’s day-long annual conference.
An expert judging panel took into account testimonies from families whose children attend nurseries, making the awards the true ‘parents’ choice’.
Saddleworth Stars impressed judges with its focus on each child’s individuality, strong links with the wider community, parent partnerships, attitude towards diversity, imaginative story scribing and magical garden area – including a fairy in residence called Felicity!
Owners Rafael and Tory Fernandez said: “We are extremely proud of our nursery and overwhelmed by emotion to win this award and be recognised for all that we have achieved. Our aim was to create a place of happiness and enjoyment for all the staff, children and parents. We call it the ‘Stars Family’ and we love being a part of it.”
Category sponsors included Citation, Safer Food Group, Connect Childcare, Pound Gates, KPMG Small Business Accounting, Christie & Co and Morgan La Roche.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “The judging process was particularly tough this year and glowing tributes from parents and family members really helped to form the final decisions.
“Congratulations all our winners who are shining examples of the great work happening in nurseries across the country. These awards are thoroughly deserved and I am delighted for all of our winners, runners up and everyone who was highly commended.”
About 300 guests attended the awards dinner from across the UK and beyond, including representatives from nurseries in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Other winners were:
- Central England Nursery of the Year – Winner: The Wendy House Day Nursery, Wythall, Birmingham. Runner up: Shrewsbury Prepatoria Nursery and Pre School, Shrewsbury. Highly Commended: Swineshead Pre School Centre, Boston.
- South of England Nursery of the Year – Winner: Building Blocks Childcare, Teddington. Runner up: D-Dee’s Day Nursery, Kent. Highly Commended: Westchester House Nursery, Surrey
- Scotland Nursery of the Year – Winner: Arnhall Day Nursery, Dunblane. Highly Commended: Lullaby Lane Nursery, Glasgow. Highly Commended: Flying colours Nursery Barnton, Edinburgh.
- Wales Nursery of the Year – Winner: The Hollies Day Nursery, Cardiff. Runner up: Corwen Day Nursery, Corwen. Highly Commended: Caerleon Child Care, Cardiff.
- International Nursery of the Year – Winner: Willow Children’s Nursery, Dubai. Highly Commended: Aga Khan Early Learning Centre, Dubai
- Healthy Nursery of the Year – Winner: Little Green Rascals Organic Day Nursery, York. Runner up: Monkey Puzzle Glasgow Central, Glasgow. Highly Commended: Lambkins Day Nursery and Pre-School Centre, Birmingham
- Practitioner of the Year – Winner – Sarah Griffiths, The Railway Nursery, Stockport. Runner up: Fazilat Notta, Aga Khan Early Learning Centre, Dubai
- Technology Award – Winner: Sesame Street Private Nursery, Abu Dhabi. Highly Commended: Dream Catchers Day Nursery, Rotherham
- Investing in Your People Award – Winner: Little Green Rascals Organic Day Nursery, York. Runner up: Oakfield Nursery School, Altrincham. Highly Commended: Gigglers Day Nursery, Bolton
- Manager of the Year – Winner: Rebecca Casserly, Little Green Rascals Organic Day Nursery, York. Runner up: Michelle Randle, Maple Leaf Daycare, RAF Digby Ashby De La Launde.
- Champions Award – Winner: Danielle Potter, Little Cherubs Day Nursery and Preschool, Birkenhead
- Outstanding Network Award – England winner: Bristol and Gloucestershire (Nicky Edwards). Scotland winner: West Lothian (Linda Carr and Gillian Mustard). Wales winner: Torfaen and Newport network (Nikola Masters).
- Outstanding Contribution Awards:
- Winner: Philip Siddell, owner/director of two outstanding rated nurseries in Staffordshire is a keen member of the wider early years community.
- Winner: Jo Morris who supports nurseries getting ready for 30 hours will work for their business and has worked on the Champagne Nurseries, Lemonade Funding campaign.
- Winner: Stephanie Dodds, NDNA network Chair of East and Midlothian, who has led the way in fighting for nurseries to either be exempt or have substantial reductions to business rates.