Nursery World Awards 2021 - Covid-19 Hero

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Ashley Bereznyckyj, Stars Day Nurseries, Peterborough

You can download the digital Awards book here

When Little Stars was chosen as a pandemic hub for key workers in Peterborough, the setting was thrust into a brand new way of working overnight.Ashley’s role was to ensure the setting remained open during lockdowns, liaise with the local authority to provide childcare places for keyworkers all over Peterborough, and adapt that provision to be COVID-secure from day one of lockdown.

The task was enormous, but Ashley was determined to show that Little Stars was the best place for these children, and she acted quickly to adapt the provision, advertise the setting so parents were aware of its change in function, and support staff to run the setting.

With staff worried about their own families and finances, they were under a lot of pressure, but Ashley put them first throughout, prioritising their welfare and creating a culture where the whole team felt valued and, most importantly, safe.

She set a standard of excellence, care and commitment which meant the nursery was able to carry on providing outstanding childcare and creating a safe haven for families in the centre of a world in chaos.


Mandy Lacey, childminder, London

Mandy kept her setting open for children of key workers, enabling parents to keep working in jobs that were vital to saving lives during the pandemic.

She put in place handwashing stations at the door and took other necessary measures to keep everyone safe, forming a closed bubble with the two sets of key worker families.

Crucially, she talked to parents about how to explain what was happening to the children so everyone could be be consistent.

Mandy picked up extra days caring for the children, free of charge, while parents worked emergency shifts, and when a set of parents who were working in intensive care were struggling, she sent them home with dinner each night.


Hayley McCann, YMCA Thames Gateway

As family inclusion co-ordinator, Hayley is responsible for sourcing funding to ensure school and home environments are properly resourced during the pandemic, as well as planning and delivering workshops for families.

During the last year, her work has included 25,800 emails, the creation of 137 activity sheets, some personalised for children with SEND, five story video recordings, 1,650 family support emails and 60 live interactive workshops.

She has worked closely with over 63 families, delivering outcomes to support their well-being.


Karen James and team, Kiddlywinks, Penrith

Planning meticulously and ready for anything, Karen ensured her team was prepared for working through a pandemic. She researched guidance and ordered in PPE for staff.

She became a volunteer on community social media groups, allocating support to the vulnerable, and trained to be a volunteer vaccinator. She headed her setting’s ‘You are not alone’ initiative, ensuring children and families stayed in touch.

Karen got the police, air ambulance, nurses and fire services to read bedtime stories to the children.


Kirsty Bradburne, Village Nursery Group, Manchester

Amy Delooze, Village Nursery Group, Manchester

Natalia dias Pinto Pena, Seahorse Nursery, London

Kilsby Pre-school, Rugby

Kimberley Munro, Blue Grass Purple Cow Nursery, Stockport


Open to anyone working in early years whose response to the challenges of the pandemic, lockdowns and restrictions has been truly outstanding in supporting children, families and staff.

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