Regional Childminder Award Winners

To mark Childminding Week (11-17 May) we want to recognise and celebrate the very best Childminders. Those who make a difference to the lives of the children they care for, who set the bar high and are an inspiration to all in the profession. 

We are delighted to announce the winners of our PACEY Regional Childminding Awards 2024! Thank you to everyone who entered.

Meet our winners

Monira Begum - England,  London

Monira has followed in the footsteps of her mother in her role as a childminder, fostering a warm and inclusive family culture in her setting. We were impressed by her tight-knit connections to her community – networking with other childminders, nurseries, schools and supporting local businesses too. "Shaping the lives of young people and having a lasting impact on their lives has always been a passion of mine, and it is what drives my passion for childminding."

Cassandra Roxy Birch – England, South East

Cassandra's dedication to putting children at the heart of her work is inspiring, and the judges were impressed by her collaborative approach with families. "The pride I feel when I see them head off to school and achieve is what makes this job worthwhile.” She also builds a support network with other childminders, combatting isolation and making sure that her peers are supported.

Sadie Bowden - England, South West

Sadie came into childminding in September 2021 after having a long and successful career in nursery environments. Working with parents, she fosters an individual approach for each child to get the very best start in life. Having noticed the negative impact of COVID-19 on children's speech and language, she pays particular attention to promoting a language-rich environment to help children thrive.

Alison Burt-Ryan – Wales, South

Alison has invested in herself and her business, striving to create the best possible environment for the children under her care. The judges were impressed by Alison's interpretation of the new curriculum in Wales and her important part in the rollout of the Flying Start programme. "I love child-minding because I feel valued.  I am appreciated by the families, I am loved by the children and I love each and every-one of them."

Amanda Calloway - Wales, North

Amanda’s focus lies in empowering children and instilling confidence in them with her Curiosity Approach ethos. Amanda has been actively involved with PACEY in various capacities for over 16 years and her recent work on managing menopause received widespread support from her peers. We were impressed by her dedication to learning the Welsh language and embedding this in her practice to foster inclusivity and a sense of belonging in her setting.

Katherine Cooling-Smith- England, East

Katherine is a brilliant advocate for childminding, campaigning for increased recognition among the media, general public, and government. With a background in English, she has written various articles for PACEY and other media outlets.  "It certainly fuels my fire to be the best that I can be in order to make a change." Her curriculum is heavily influenced by nature and the outdoors.

Stella Esinam – England, North West

Stella’s knowledge of the early years is impressive, with holistic practice underpinned by the very latest in research and evidence tailored to the children in her setting. She has vast expertise in safeguarding and supporting children with SEND and was recognised as a SEND support childminder by Manchester City Council, providing specialist support to her childminding peers to improve practice.

Kimberley Forteath – England, North East

Kimberley is a committed employer, investing in and supporting her childminding assistant in her studies. As well as nurturing the children in her setting, she has an important role in supporting parents’ wellbeing too. She devotes time to CPD and is mentor for other childminders, contributes to press and articles for PACEY and participates in research to push for change within the early years sector.

Maria Machin – England, Yorkshire and Humber

As a mother of 7 children herself, Maria is passionate about the early years. She says "Childminding is the most rewarding job, being trusted to help raise and enhance young minds is such a privilege". She has a Hygge in the early years accredited setting, located by the sea and embeds natural resources at the core of her practice.

Dawn Williams – England, West Midlands

Dawn embeds a blend of different pedagogical styles, always putting children at the heart. The judges were impressed by her efforts to support other childminders, through her work as an Area Lead for the DfE Covid-19 Childminder Recovery Programme she mentors those affected by the pandemic to ensure the best futures for children.  "I absolutely love the fact that I change little lives every day through the adventures we have, the experiences we create which gives them the confidence and self-belief to shine in their own unique way."

We also want to recognise the following childminders for the special work they do. 

Sue Smith

With over 23 years' experience as a childminder, working through Covid and the challenges the changing world brings, Sue continues to learn and develop her practice. From studying Level 4 Foundation Degree in Early Years Practice through the open University to now on the Early Years Professional Development Programme and lots in between her continuous professional development enables her to reflect and embed knowledge into her work. Gaining consecutive outstanding grades from her Ofsted inspections and remarkably looking after the children of children she cared for decades ago, Sue continues to give back to her community. She volunteers her time to network, support and champion the role of childminders and every year fundraises for Children in Need and Child Bereavement UK.
Sue says, “I love my role as children’s educator…offering support in all areas of learning and development, from their very early years, particularly championing holistic development, using our natural environment and encouraging a love of the outdoors.”


Joanna Palmer

Dedicated and passionate with 32 years' experience, Joanna builds strong relationships with families and recognises she makes a positive contribution to the lives of the little ones attending her setting. She describes childminding as providing a more family like structure with differing ages of children able to learn from and respect each other and says “I feel this is a real benefit offering opportunities for children to understand differing perspectives and abilities, thinking about caring for and enabling each other. Older children seem to enjoy sharing their skills with younger ones and learn about safety with babies etc. And in turn the babies learn from their observations of the older ones, and this helps them to develop new skills.  Working with another childminder and assistants as well seeing her now assistant through her apprenticeship she recognises their unique qualities and skills that are utilised within the setting, saying “As a small team and with good knowledge of all the children not just 'key' children we can inspire each other, share learning from any continuous professional development courses completed, brainstorm ideas and plan activities so that we are all positively contributing to the setting and to children's experiences.” When thinking about her career highlights, Joanna says “I am not sure I can name any one thing, for me it is those golden moments and things children do and say that show you that you are making a difference!”


Sandra Brand

After being dissatisfied with childcare options after her maternity leave in the early 1990s Sandra decided to stay home. Along with her own children, she looked after her nieces and nephews, and the children of family friends and neighbours. Eventually, she took a leap of faith and trained to become a childminder. Registering in 2002 and making a career out of doing what she loved best.

Sadly, Sandra passed away in January. Her daughter, Rianne Charles got in touch with us saying this about her mum. “What made Mum so passionate about childminding was her incredible empathy – she treated all children as if they were her own, hoping that if roles were reversed, somebody else would do the same for us. She was the environment, and the environment was her. Every child felt safe with her and that’s all she ever wanted. Mum’s pedagogy style as heart centred. She did everything out of genuine love and desire to see children succeed. She also worked very closely with the local primary school that many of the older children attended, volunteering to help with activities or events and offering her services to any parents who were looking for affordable childcare.”

Sandra clearly touched so many lives, Rianne goes on to say “Mum would probably say that her career highlight was any time that a child she looked after from a young age would visit years later as a young adult. She was always surprised and flattered that they remembered her. Many of them and their parents came to her funeral, and some (as young as ten years old) gave speeches on their favourite memories of her and the impact she had on their lives.”

Thank you to Rianne for getting in touch with us and sharing your mum's legacy.