NMT’s Rising Stars announced

Together with Freelife (by Ontex), NMT has announced the overall winner and 3 runner up winners for this year’s Rising Star competition

The competition recognises individuals who have shown ongoing and exceptional growth in their professions and have demonstrated increased standards of leadership, innovation and responsibility within their setting.

 Their accomplishments at work distinguish them as potential future leaders for the sector. Congratulations to our overall winner and 3 runner up winners.

Rising Star Overall Winner

Melissa Feltham, Happy Days Nurseries & Pre-School.

“Mel holds a crucial role in our nursery and goes above and beyond each and every day in supporting the early identification and intervention for children with special educational needs. Although Mel has allocated time within her working week to undertake her roles and responsibilities Mel is often observed sitting in the staff room in the morning of her day off to go that extra mile to support an individual child. This could involve completing a Transition Fund application to support a child’s positive transition to school when their EHCP application was declined or continuing with her recent project of creating a sensory room to support on one to one targeted support for individual children. The impact of this room has been significant for individual children.

“Mel has always had a passion for ensuring that children are offered high-quality, inclusive, and safe care and education from supporting her older sister from a young age who has additional needs. Her interest in SEND in the early years was ignited when she was appointed as a one to one for a little boy in foster care with a diagnosis of autism. Whilst attending the nursery Mel worked with him providing 1:1 support with the attention bucket, supporting communication using Makaton and visual aids and providing time in a quite space when needed. As a result this child made significant progress enabling him to transition to mainstream school with him now in the process of transition to Year 1. Mel remains in contact with the child and their foster family, being invited to tea on a regular basis.

“Mel was appointed as the setting SENCO in July 2021 and since that time she has shown a willingness and ability to develop specialist knowledge and keep up to date with local and national policy and developments with her recently commencing her Level 3 Award for SENCOs in Early Years Settings.”

Melissa Feltham

Runner Up Winners

Suzanne Charlesworth, Kamelia Kids

“Since taking up her role as nursery manager in 2019, Suzanne has made an enormous impact at Kamelia Kids; her enthusiasm, commitment has impacted on the staff team in a positive way and through her leadership and vision our occupancy levels have increased and continue to grow. When Suzanne was appointed nursery operations director in 2021, she undertook a review of the staff structure and nursery provision, including best use of room space, ensuring affordability and accessibility for children and parents, especially during the recent pandemic.

“Suzanne identified the need to provide Early Years Funded sessions during term time only for pre-school children to those families that do not require or cannot afford our regular day nursery sessions. We have always provided Free Entitlement only sessions but we can now offer them to a greater number of children. We have supported 30 families through this initiative.

“Suzanne leads by example. She inspires confidence and she does not shy away from tough challenges. Her passion for the early years sector is acknowledged. Her friendly nature, clear insight, and guiding vision has earned the respect of all the nursery staff, apprentices, health professionals and most importantly the parents and carers knowing that they have a dedicated, knowledgeable, and confident manager.”

Poppy Richards, Kiddi Caru Grange Park, Kiddi Caru

“Poppy has the children at the heart of everything she does, she is the most passionate 17 year old I have ever come across, she joined the setting in September 2021 as a shy apprentice and has completely blossomed. Poppy works in our baby room, she is so caring and fully understands the importance of understanding routines and forming relationships.

“Poppy understands the nurseries ethos of using natural resources and is always finding or suggesting new things to try, poppy knows the babies inside out and can share information on their individual routines in the absence of her room leader, I can’t wait for Poppy to complete her apprenticeship to see what’s in-store for her next.”

Poppy Brinkley, Spring RAF Honington, Spring by Action for Children

“Poppy joined our team at Spring RAF Honington and started working in our wrap around care, part time whilst studying her childcare qualification Level 3 at college back in 2018. Unfortunately for Poppy she struggled with studying in a college environment. Poppy has ADHD which she manages well, but it can affect her ability to concentrate. We decided it would be better to offer her employment here. Poppy is an absolute asset to our setting and has an amazing infectious personality.  The children adore her, and she is completely attuned to them and meets all their individual needs.

“This term Poppy’s group has been without a room leader and Poppy has surprised me in how she has stepped up and demonstrated great leadership skills. Poppy has done this by working closely with myself (the setting leader) to ensure the staff team are supporting the needs of the children in the 2- to 3-year-old room where she works and ensuring information is shared daily about children in the group with dietary needs.

 Poppy’s ADHD gives her an increased insight into the needs of children with SEND. As her manager, I am so proud of her and how she has grown in skill and confidence.”

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