Nursery World 2019: Individuals - Outstanding Contribution

Elaine Hargrave, Holmsdale Manor Nursery Ibstock


A cornerstone of the team at Holmsdale Manor, Elaine Hargrave joined as a nursery practitioner in 1987. This autumn marks her 32nd year. Over the years she has become team leader in the toddler room, a position she relishes owing to the time she can spend with the children, and later deputy manager – but has always been keen to remain based in a room rather than the office to maximise the time spent with the children.

During her three decades at Holmsdale, Elaine has seen many ideas, approaches and perspectives come and go. Throughout, she has always remained committed to ensuring the welfare of the children and families she works with, while remaining up to date and fully embracing new developments.

Day-to-day, Elaine spends her time deeply involved with everyday life in the toddler room, modelling outstanding practice in her interaction with children. She naturally draws the best out of each individual, whether child or adult. Elaine takes an active role in running her room and managing her team, plus acting as key person, yet also finds the time to contribute to the wider management of the nursery.

Elaine's wide-ranging role includes everything from nappy changes to eating with the children, leading story time or music time, and engaging in creative opportunities. She leads Forest School sessions, having undertaken Forest School training in 2015 as part of her professional development. She also takes the children out on trips into the community, with visits ranging from a scarecrow festival to the local farm.

Elaine also plays a key role in facilitating team development. She is excellent at identifying development priorities and offers support to staff with their ongoing development. For example, she takes part in a witness interview to support completion of EYP/EYT status.

She has been a strong influence on many children and their families, often caring for every sibling in a family and, increasingly often, having also cared for more than one generation in a family. Although Elaine is supportive of all children and families she comes into contact with, she takes the time to offer further personalised support when required. The difference Elaine has made to individuals and families over the years was clearly shown by the many touching comments made by families when Elaine marked 30 years at Holmsdale.

She can be relied upon in any situation, and is sure to arrive at work regardless of personal circumstances, even in the case of serious health issues that would cause others to falter.

From a management perspective, Elaine is a skilled, experienced and invaluable member of the leadership team. In fact, she has been and remains a huge asset to the whole team at Holmsdale for all of the last 32 years.


“A true unsung hero who clearly makes a difference in the lives and development of the children she cares for

– judge



Teresa Lascelles, St George's Childcare, Tunbridge Wells


For an individual whose long service and dedication in day-to-day work with young children is truly inspiring

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