Dedicated childminder wins national award for work in pandemic

Vicki Chenery

Vicki Chenery with her husband Peter - Credit: Vicki Chenery

A Norwich woman was described as the "Rolls Royce of childminders" as she was presented with a national award for her efforts during the pandemic.

Vicki Chenery, 53, of St Augustine's Street, was named as the Childminder of the Year during the Nursery World Awards 2020. 

The ceremony took place virtually this month with Mrs Chenery emerging victorious after she had been nominated by Paula Watts of Magdalen Gates Preschool. 

Mrs Chenery, who was rated as 'outstanding' by Ofsted in 2019, is an independent childminder who helps families with issues such as transitions to school, homework and breastfeeding advice.

Vicki Chenery

Vicki Chenery was named Childminder of the Year at the Nursery World Awards 2020 - Credit: Vicki Chenery

She also helps vulnerable children with mental health, and takes children out on daytrips, as well as prioritising her staff's wellbeing with yoga, spa and swimming sessions.

On receiving the award, Mrs Chenery said: "I was thrilled to bits to be nominated for a job I love so much. To get this award during a pandemic means so much.

"The awards would normally be in a hotel but I was sat at home in my fleece with a pizza! The funniest thing was there was a 30 second lag on our screen so, as they said the winner, my phone was going off with loads of messages.

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"I just always try to do my best and for people to describe me as inspirational during the ceremony meant a lot. I thought it was a lovely comment."

The Nursery World Awards are open to everyone involved in early years education and childcare with winners being chosen by a panel of expert judges. 

Mrs Chenery was one of four nominated for the Childminder of the Year award from across the country.

Her husband Peter said: "She was shocked by the announcement. It shows how she goes the extra mile to get in contact with parents at a time of need.

"During the first lockdown, she was looking after keyworkers and took on two extra children." 

Mrs Chenery, who is also a pre-school trustee and Rainbow leader, has been running her childminding business since 1995, working through her holiday to help families during the pandemic. 

She holds a Level 3 childcare qualification, and previously helped a family after the child was diagnosed with a speech disorder which required intensive therapy.

The awards ceremony was presented by Nursery World Magazine with an introductory address by the Minister of State for Children and Families Vicky Ford.

Helena Vannerley, from the events team at Nursery World Magazine said there were a total of 450 applicants with judging taking place over five days. 

She added: "Even to be on the shortlist is a massive achievement. We do a huge amount of due diligence for the people who make it onto the list as we want them to endorse the values of the magazine, which is to give every child the best start in life.

"The way Vicki showed that was absolutely incredible and the way she personally cares about every child means she is someone for other childminders to look up to."