CEO of Busy Bees receives honorary doctorate

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John Woodward, a founding member of the Busy Bees Group, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Birmingham City University.

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John Woodward received his honorary doctorate in recognition of his contribution to early years

Mr Woodward received the honour at an award’s ceremony at Symphony Hall in Birmingham on Monday (24 February) in recognition of his ‘major’ contribution to the nursery and early years sector.

John Woodward, who started his career as a PE and maths teacher, set up Busy Bees over 30 years ago with Lynn Woodward and their friends Margaret Randles and David Thackery.

Unable to find flexible, high-quality daycare for their children, the three families sold their homes and moved in to a property in Staffordshire, turning the ground floor into their first nursery. The setting, known as "The Rocklands", was opened in March 1984.

Since then, Busy Bees has grown to become the largest provider of childcare in the UK, operating 214 nurseries and eight after-school schemes, offering a total of 19,597 childcare places.

John Woodward also launched Busy Bees Childcare Vouchers in 1998, which he later sold. In 2010, he launched a new childcare  voucher and employee benefits company, Busy Bees Benefits.

He is now chief executive of the Busy Bees Group and Margaret Randles is managing director.

Mr Woodward was recently appointed to the advisory board of Estro Catalpa, the largest pre-school operator in the Netherlands, and last year acted as interim chief executive of Knowledge Universe, a global education and training company.

John Woodward said, ‘I am delighted and honoured to have received this recognition. Busy Bees has provided childcare for thousands of children over the years and currently employs over 7,000 staff, many of whom are based in the Lichfield area.  Busy Bees has an exceptional team and will continue to develop.  We look forward to helping more parents with quality, affordable childcare in the future.’