Nursery World Awards 2021- Lifetime achievement
By Jane Evans, Lasting Life Change Coach and parenting expert
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Laura Henry-Allain MBE, global early education specialist
Honour Celebrate Appreciate.
Three words that go perfectly with Laura Henry-Allain’s lifelong contribution to the children, practitioners, status, integrity and growth of early years care, professionalism and status.
A global influencer, Laura has worked in and with many countries, always bringing and generously sharing her expertise, knowledge, and passion for improving young children’s development and joy of life.
Laura credits her beloved grandmother, the original Gran Gran from the successful and affirming CBeebies ‘JoJo and Gran Gran’ series based on Laura’s much loved story book, as her inspiration to step into the world of early years. Gran Gran was a childminder who loved the children in her daily care, and Laura saw this first-hand. And years later, she applied for her NNEB course at her local college, where they clearly spotted something special in Laura (how could you not?!) and overlooked her not having all the qualifications required.
There began Laura’s ongoing love affair with children, which is still going strong 30 years later and has touched the lives of many, many children when she’s worked in and with early years settings. And in Laura’s previous role as an Ofsted Inspector, she focused on ensuring our youngest children had access to the best standard of care and education in their foundational years.
If you meet or work with Laura you never forget her kindness, generosity of spirit, wisdom, insights, depth of knowledge, infectious fun and joy and her willingness to serve. Laura still has practitioners she’s trained and supported contact her and share key learning and specific phrases she used which had a huge impact on them personally and in their work. Families too who Laura touched as a key person continue to pass onto her the very real changes her child- and heart-centred approach made then and now.
Personally, I’ve experienced how Laura will go out of her way to support her colleagues. Many’s the time in my fledgling years as a trainer, speaker, and coach that Laura would recommend me far and wide, even bringing me into Dubai. She did not have to do this; she has always been there for me and many, many others.
Laura has always shared her clarity of vision, accumulated knowledge from her direct work and studies, her compassion for the role of the practitioners, and her strong desire to see everyone excel for the benefits of the children, but also for the families and practitioners too.
Of course, Laura has always been seen and felt as a shining light. Her dyslexia and humble beginnings as a working-class second-generation migration family have never been barriers Laura has dwelt upon or allowed to hold her back. She is mum to two incredible young men, devoted daughter, supportive sister, and fabulous friend, international speaker, author, and consultant.
Laura brings this world so much in her work in early years, and wherever she goes. Laura mentors and directly supports many behind the scenes, as it is in her DNA to raise others up, and she does this with humility, integrity and always bringing her joyful view on life.
In 2010, Laura wrote her first children’s book based on the story of herself, as JoJo, and her beloved Gran Gran. A precious story that’s touched many children’s lives. Fast forward to 2020 when Laura’s beautiful book has become the first ever animation on UK TV to feature a black family, bringing much needed affirmation to young children who have never seen themselves represented on mainstream TV. It’s a huge hit with children and their families!
However, Laura is not one to rest on any laurels, not even her MBE laurels!
Next is Laura’s greatly needed new book My Skin, Your Skin, out in October, which has already been pre-ordering at record levels. Set to support more children on their journeys to fulfilling all of their potential regardless of barriers…sounds like someone we are honouring, celebrating and appreciating here?
Laura, with huge joy and gratitude we honour, celebrate and appreciate you for you and all you do.
2003 - set up own consultancy
2004 onwards - wrote articles for Nursery World and other sector press
2006 - started to work on a global level, countries included Dubai, USA, India, and South Korea
2008 – mentoring young people
2009 – World Forum National Representative for England
2010 – wrote first JoJo and Gran Gran children’s book
2014 – Vice-President of Early Education
2021–co-launched the Black Early Years List with Liz Pemberton, Jamel Carly-Campbell and Joss Cambridge-Simmons