Nursery owners recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

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The founder of Children’s 1st Day Nurseries has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

margaret-mason

Children's 1st chief executive Margaret Mason left school at 15 with no formal qualifications, and has been awarded an OBE

Also honoured is Cathy Bache, who opened the Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery in Fife in 2007 - Scotland's first outdoor nursery - has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM).

Gillian Smith Founder and Manager, Gooseberry Bush Day Nursery, Camborne, Cornwall is also awarded a BEM.

Chief executive of the Children's 1st nursery group Margaret Mason, whose career in early years spans 60 years, has been appointed an Officer of the British Empire (OBE).

Mrs Mason left school at 15 with no formal qualifications and became a nursery nurse, receiving a special certificate early on in her career for changing nappies.

The nursery owner was also one of the founding members of the National Day Nurseries Association, and co-write the ‘Quality Counts’ document, one of the first nationally shared quality assurance documents.

Mrs Mason moved on to roles with increasing responsibility in Scotland and Lincolnshire, including working in advisory positions for local authorities, social services and the voluntary sector including the Scottish Pre School Alliance.

She opened her first nursery in Long Eaton in 1988, and the group now operates 23 nurseries across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

In the 2016 Nursery World Nursery Chains supplement, the group was second in our Ofsted quality table with 11 outstanding nurseries and seven good grades.

Mrs Mason said, ‘I am thrilled to receive this honour from her Majesty. It came as a shock as my colleagues had done a such a great job of keeping the award nomination a secret. Little did I realise when I started my career as a nursery nurse in Stoke back in the 1950s that I would one day receive such a prestigious honour!

‘While it is my name on the award, I’d like to pay tribute to my close family and colleagues who have been by my side throughout my career. Children 1st is a family business and what we have achieved together in raising the quality of provision for young children and their families is testament to the family ethos of the company.’

Children’s 1st employs more than 600 people, runs a training academy, and supports more than 3,000 families across the Midlands and South Yorkshire.

Children 1st director Cathy Griffin, who co-wrote Quality Counts, said, ‘The key word that comes to mind when I think of Margaret is inspirational. She has an aura about her which makes people want to be the best they can be and not disappoint.

‘Through her example, her contagious passion to be the best she has inspired thousands to raise their level of achievement, thereby ensuring that children and their families receive exceptional care and education both within her nursery group and beyond.’

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association, said, 'We are thrilled that Margaret Mason will receive this OBE which she richly deserves.

'Margaret was a founding member of NDNA and chair of the original board that steered the organisation to attain charitable status in 1999. She played an important voluntary role establishing NDNA, driving its development and widening its reach to become the national voice of the sector.   

'Margaret devoted considerable voluntary time to developing our flagship childcare quality accreditation scheme, Quality Counts, a demanding scheme that goes well above regulatory requirements.

'Margaret works to further the long-term development of the nursery sector.  She is actively involved in policy development, contributing to NDNA’s work to inform government and policy-makers.'

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