NDNA’s 25th Anniversary Conference Celebrates Winners of Prestigious Awards

National Day Nursery Association (NDNA) celebrated 25years since becoming a charity at its annual conference and awards evening.

The NDNA conference 2024: ‘Growing together, championing change for children’s futures’ brought members and sector experts together to inspire and generate new ideas for the future of the early years sector and celebrate the achievements of leaders and practitioners.

Hosted by Ashley John-Baptiste the NDNA 2024 award winners were revealed during a glamorous event held at Coventry Building Society Arena.     

Celebrity guest Ashley John-Baptiste addressed guests saying: It’s amazing to hear about all your incredible work and everything you do for children. You should all be very proud. It’s been absolutely wonderful.”

Overall Nursery of the Year, The Sunflower Children’s Centre Hyde

The Overall Nursery of the Year award was presented to The Sunflower Children’s Centre Hyde, Cheshire who were elated to receive the most prestigious award of the evening along with North of England Nursery of the Year award. Commenting on their success Elaine Sagar, CEO of The Sunflower Childcare Group said: 

“We are absolutely thrilled and deeply honoured to receive these awards. This recognition is a testament to the hard work, passion, and dedication of our entire team. We would like to dedicate the awards to our wonderful colleague Devon Leigh who sadly lost her battle with leukaemia just a few days before but has been an inspiration to our team. She would be proud for us to receive these honours.” 

Celebrating alongside NDNA members NDNA’s Chief Executive, Purnima Tanuku OBE said:

“This year’s annual NDNA conference is a very special event as we celebrate 25 years of NDNA becoming a charity and it’s a privilege to reveal the winners of the NDNA 2024 awards here tonight.

“Congratulations to our winners and finalists and thank you to all the dedicated parents and carers who voted. The quality of entries has been extremely high this year and our expert panel of judges have faced a difficult task in making their final decisions. 

“I am always so proud of the inspiring things that happen in early years, the amazing people who work in our sector and the strength, creativity and resilience shown daily. The new awards that we introduced this year have further given our members the opportunity to showcase their success and promote their skilled practitioners and high-quality settings that are valued by many.” 

Chuckles Nursery Newport, South Wales was named Nursery of the Year Wales and Ankerville Nurseries & Training Centre Alness, Ross-shire won the top prize in Scotland.  Nursery of the Year award in Central England was awarded to Greenview Nursery Hereford, and Port Regis Montessori Nursery Broadstairs, Kent won the South of England Nursery award.  

Leanne Eastwood, Practitioner of the Year

The coveted Practitioner of the Year Award was presented to Leanne Eastwood, First Friends Day Nursery @ Wootey in Alton, Hampshire.  Leanne was thrilled to receive her award saying: “This makes me determined to carry on making such a difference to children’s lives. I really appreciate being recognised for that.”


Manager of the Year was awarded to Sarina Kukadia, Bright Little Stars Nursery Mill Hill, London. Sarina Kukadia started as an apprentice aged 17 and became a manager at 21 years old.

Sarina Kukadia, Manager of the Year

Celebrating her achievements Sarina said: “It’s wonderful to know that you can start as an apprentice then go on to achieve really amazing things. Hard work really does pay off. This job means everything. As a mother of two young children myself, I just wanted to give children a really loving start to life and the best opportunities regardless of their background and home life. For those just starting out as an apprentice, it’s incredibly rewarding, the fact that you can change so many children’s lives and their parents’ lives.”

During the award ceremony Purnima Tanuku OBE was also celebrated for her incredible commitment and dedication to the early years sector over the last 20 years and presented with an Outstanding Contribution award on behalf of the NDNA Board of Trustees.

On receiving her award Purnima commented: “This is totally unexpected, what a surprise. My passion comes from all of you, visiting you and seeing the wonderful work you all do.”

Training and Development Award, Little Dragons Montessori

Speaking at the event, the team from Little Dragons Montessori in Harrogate said on receiving the Nursery Training and Development award that: “Anybody can flourish, and anybody can thrive by breaking down barriers.”

And the winners are:

  • Nursery of the Year 2024 – Overall Winner (sponsored by Christie & Co) – Winner: The Sunflower Children’s Centre Hyde, Cheshire
  • Nursery of the Year 2024 – England North (Sponsored by Christie & Co) – Winner: The Sunflower Children’s Centre Hyde, Cheshire
  • Nursery of the Year 2024 – England Central (Sponsored by Christie & Co) – Winner: Greenview Nursery, Hereford
  • Nursery of the Year 2024 – England South (Sponsored by Christie & Co) – Winner: Port Regis Montessori Nursery Broadstairs, Kent
  • Nursery of the Year 2024 – Wales (Sponsored by Christie & Co) – Winner: Chuckles Nursery Newport, South Wales
  • Nursery of the Year 2024 – Scotland (Sponsored by Christie & Co) – Winner: Ankerville Nurseries & Training Centre Alness, Ross-shire
  • Practitioner of the Year 2024 – Winner: Leanne Eastwood, First Friends Day Nursery @ Wootey Alton, Hampshire
  • Manager of the Year 2024 – (Sponsored by Citation) – Winner: Sarina Kukadia, Bright Little Stars Nursery Mill Hill, London
  • Outstanding Contribution 2024 – Winner: Elaine Sagar, CEO of The Sunflower Childcare Group
  • Apprentice of the Year 2024 – Winner: Kelsey Johnson, Mill Cottage Montessori School (Daycare) Brighouse
  • Excellence in Additional Needs Award 2024 – Winner: esSENtial Early Years Birkenhead
  • Community Support and Charity Fundraising Award 2024 – Winner: Growing Places @ Morelands Hampshire
  • Network of the Year Award 2024 – Winner: Essex Network – Andy Melbourne – Willow Garden Day Nursery
  • Network of the Year Award 2024 – Winner: Lancashire Network – Philippa Perks, University of Cumbria Pre-School and Sharon Fenton, Rising Stars Lancaster (Co-Chairs of Lancashire Network)
  • Nursery Training and Development Award 2024 – Winner: Little Dragons Day Nursery Harrogate 
  • Learning Through Play Award: Outstanding Baby Room Practitioner Award 2024 – Winner: Jayana Linsdell, Honeybear Nursery – Whalley Range, Manchester

NDNA received a significant number of parent and carer votes for these awards, which supported the panel of judges in choosing the awards winners. 

The headline sponsor for the Awards was NDNA’s nursery resource partner Hope and employment law and health and safety partner Citation.  Nursery World was the media partner sponsor.

Visit our Facebook page to see the photo gallery of the awards event.

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