Nursery World Awards 2021 - Nursery Manager of the Year

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Olivia Young, Kidzrus, Manchester

You can download the digital Awards book here

As soon as Olivia started at Kidzrus as a room leader in the baby room, it was clear she had a passion for working with children. She was soon promoted to senior nursery practitioner, completing a degree in Early Childhood Studies at Edge Hill University at the same time, and later mentoring other staff members to do the same.

In November 2019, Olivia was asked to join the management team of Kidzrus’s fifth nursery, and was quickly made nursery manager. Although Olivia is one of the youngest managers in the Kidzrus Group, she is innovative, highly driven and committed to her role, and relishes challenge. She is forward-thinking and constantly shares ideas with her team to improve their daily routine and the learning experiences of the children in her care.

Olivia’s big heart and kind nature ensure that children, parents and staff get the help and support they need from her at all times. Christmas 2020 was tough for many, but Olivia gave up her spare time to support the nursery’s food bank project, holding a Christmas toy appeal to provide Christmas dinners and presents for 600 families across Salford.

She developed a post-lockdown action plan to help parents return to employment, education or training after the pandemic, delivering skills sessions to support parents with interview technique, drafting application letters, compiling a CV and filling in application forms.

Olivia also organised events including Zumba, mindfulness sessions and coffee mornings for parents after lockdown, helping them socialise and make new friends. She has developed support sessions for parents dealing with toilet training and challenging behaviour.

Although Olivia’s father was shielding during the pandemic after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Olivia chose to keep working to support the children of key workers during lockdown. This meant she could only see her family on Zoom calls for many months.

During the 2021 lockdown, she organised sponsored walks for the staff team to walk over 10,000 steps a day, raising more than £1,000 for Brain Tumour Research.

In an extremely tough year, Olivia has continued to amaze with her passion, ambition and drive, making a difference to so many people at this most testing of times.


Karen James, Kiddlywinks, Penrith

Karen is the owner and manager of two private day nurseries in Cumbria, sharing her time between both settings and managing 32 members of staff.

She is proactive in ensuring all her staff access training, and encourages her whole team to reach their full potential on a personal and professional level.

Karen keeps both her teams highly motivated with regular meetings and one-on-one appraisals. She also organises team building days across both settings to strengthen teamwork and good practice between the nurseries.

With 18 years of SEN experience, Karen strives to ensure all children who require support are able to access funding and have EHCP plans in place, and staff are knowledgeable and trained to deliver appropriate support.

During the pandemic, after recovering from COVID-19 herself, Karen qualified as a St John Ambulance vaccination volunteer. She has provided childcare free of charge for struggling families and organised home visits for families who just need someone to talk to. Karen is the heart of the nursery community.


Sallyann Frisby, Shooting Stars Pre-school, Peterborough

Lucy Pottinger, Grass Roots, Sowerby Bridge


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