EDUCATION AWARDS: Winners’ parties for Swineshead Pre-School and The Willows Day Nursery

EARLY YEARS CHAMPIONS: John Hayes MP, on behalf of category sponsor Riverside Training, presents the Pre-School of the Year Award to nursery manager Carolynn Fletcher of Swineshead Pre-School, joined by her staff and those from finalists Sunbeams Playgroup and Wygate Foundation Nursery School.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
EARLY YEARS CHAMPIONS: John Hayes MP, on behalf of category sponsor Riverside Training, presents the Pre-School of the Year Award to nursery manager Carolynn Fletcher of Swineshead Pre-School, joined by her staff and those from finalists Sunbeams Playgroup and Wygate Foundation Nursery School. Photo by Tim Wilson.
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Two of the best centres for early years learning in Lincolnshire can start planning victory parties for their youngsters after Education Awards success in Spalding.

Swineshead Pre-School Centre is now Pre-School of the Year, taking on the title won last year by The Willows Day Nursery, Fleet Hargate, whose children’s team won the Pre-School Staff Award.

Led for the past 21 years by nursery manager Carolynn Fletcher, Swineshead Pre-School Centre is celebrating its fourth major award in the last two years.

Mrs Fletcher said: “We were shortlisted as the one of the top six pre-schools in the UK for this year’s Nursery World Awards and all the feedback we’ve ever had from parents is that our children never want to leave us at the end of each day.

“We’re a good team and although we don’t advertise ourselves, we get children from a mile out of Spalding up to Boston and across to Billinghay (near Sleaford).

In recent years, the pre-school has been recognised by Ofsted which judged it to be “outstanding” in all areas in August 2013.

CHILDREN'S ANGELS: Victoria Pitts, owner of The Willows Day Nursery, receives the Pre-School Staff Award from Stephen Stray, group editor of Lincolnshire Newspapers, with nursery staff, Dawn Tucker, of Willoughby School, Bourne,  and staff from Swineshead Pre-School Centre.  Photo by Tim Wilson.

CHILDREN'S ANGELS: Victoria Pitts, owner of The Willows Day Nursery, receives the Pre-School Staff Award from Stephen Stray, group editor of Lincolnshire Newspapers, with nursery staff, Dawn Tucker, of Willoughby School, Bourne, and staff from Swineshead Pre-School Centre. Photo by Tim Wilson.

A year later, Mrs Fletcher was named both Pre-School Manager of the Year at the Nursery Management Today Awards and Nursery Manager of the Year at the Nursery World Awards, followed by an award for Outstanding Contribution at the same awards last year.

Mrs Fletcher said: “Parents who visit us say that all the staff seem to be friendly and there’s a homely, easy-going feeling here.

“We’ve come a long way in 21 years and it’s basically down to out passion and vision for the pre-school.”

Other finalists in the Pre-School of the Year category were Sunbeams Playgroup, Sutton Bridge, and Wygate Foundation Nursery, Spalding.

All the feedback we’ve ever had from parents is that our children never want to go home at the end of each day.

Carolynn Fletcher, Nursery Manager, Swineshead Pre-School Centre

A similar “passion and vision” can also be found at The Willows Day Nursery which impressed judges by the way staff worked together, despite personal difficulties individually, to put their children’s education first.

The Willows finished in front of Dawn Tucker, leader of the Rainbow Group for under-fives at Willoughby School, Bourne, and the staff at Swineshead Pre-School Centre.

Victoria Pitts, owner of The Willows Day Nursery, said: “We were thrilled last year to win Pre-School of the Year, but this was after the parents had nominated us.

“This year, I nominated the staff myself for what they’ve done and for being there, both for the children and each other.”