Cally Smith Childcare has been crowned Nursery World’s Childminding Business of the Year after customers secretly nominated Cally for the prestigious national award.
Cally (nee Hutchinson), a former student at Richmond School and Sixth Form College, always had an interest in childcare.
Following her GCSEs and A-levels, which included health and social care and psychology, she gained level 3 childcare along with numerous other qualifications and childcare courses to better her knowledge in childcare.
After being a nanny for a little boy, Cally moved on to childminding as she preferred that environment, working as a childcare assistant in Scorton for a childminder who was nearing retirement.
In June 2019, Cally took over the business and moved it to her own home in Brompton-on-Swale.
Cally had no inkling about the award nomination until she was notified that she had been shortlisted.
Nursery World produces the leading fortnightly magazine for early years education and childcare professionals, as well as organising the annual Nursery World Show.
Cally said: “It is such an honour to have received this award and it was wonderful to be part of an evening celebrating the early years sector.
“To be nominated by the parents was a complete shock but such a huge gesture and one that we truly appreciate.
“My passion for early years started before I left school and I have spent the last ten years gaining knowledge and skills to ensure all children in my care have the best possible start in life.
“It is an absolute privilege for families to choose us and I could not be prouder of my amazing team who also put their hearts and lives into providing the best for all families in our care.”
Cally’s business was commended for its home-from-home childcare which provides for children from birth up to school age, and also includes an after-school club.
In addition, the award highlighted the flexibility of the staff, their impeccable communication and the healthy nutritious meals provided.
The judging process was stringent, with 29 leading childcare experts on the panel.
They met in person for a series of lively and rigorous debates about the hundreds of high-quality entries received to be able to highlight and reward the very best practice.
Cally Smith Childcare employs two members of staff and an apprentice who is in her second year now.
Cally is married with two little girls so runs her business alongside family life.
Jenna Potter, headteacher at Richmond School and Sixth Form College, said: “This is such wonderful news for Cally.
“To be recognised as the top childminding business in the UK by leading professionals in the industry is a huge achievement and clearly reflects how highly she is regarded by those whose children are in her care.
“Congratulations to Cally and her team – you thoroughly deserve to be rewarded with this accolade.”