The Alliance Outstanding Member Awards 2018

We know you and your colleagues in the early years sector show extraordinary commitment every day.

In such challenging times, it becomes even more important we celebrate and recognise the enormous contribution made by our sector in supporting the development of our children.

That's why in 2018 we launched our Alliance Outstanding Member Awards 2018

Outstanding Member Awards 2018

Celebrating success

The Awards are a way to acknowledge the enormous contribution made by Alliance members and volunteers and an opportunity to help us to recognise an outstanding individual or team whose enthusiasm, expertise and commitment has made a real difference to the learning and care of young children in your community.

Managers and colleagues have a chance to highlight and share what they think makes an Alliance member or volunteer so special to the young children and families they support. 

And the winners are...

On 1 June the winners of the first ever Outstanding Member Awards were revealed at a ceremony hosted by broadcaster Jenni Trent Hughes and attended by around 600 delegates at the Alliance’s annual conference, Minds Matter.

The Outstanding Member Awards 2018 winners

Kate ShepherdOutstanding early years individual

Kate Shepherd, Bright Sparks Playgroup, Hereford


Kate first attended Bright Sparks as a child, while her mother worked as manager at the setting. She later trained with the Alliance and eventually took over from her mother as manager. Despite challenges, Kate has lobbied local councillors, local schools and the local MP to ensure the setting’s survival, while also seeing the setting progressing from a ‘good’ to an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating.

Steady Steps

Outstanding early years team

Steady Steps, Gosport


Based in a military town, Steady Steps is based in a location that sees a high level of parent absenteeism. The team recognised that children in their care often struggle with anxiety and anger. Manager Julie created the role of Emotional Health coordinator, who she now works with to provide specialist emotional support.


Lydia CoveneyOutstanding newcomer

Lydia Coveney, St Alban’s pre-school, Macclesfield


Lydia first joined this setting on a work experience placement, before training for an NVQ. She is now a full-time member of the team and key worker for 19 children, while also studying for a foundation degree. She is described by her team as a “young star”.

Carol ImmsLifetime achievement

Carol Imms, volunteer at Mill Lane Pre-school Association, Broxbourne


Carol spent 40 years as Permanent Secretary at Mill Lane Pre-school, working hard to ensure the smooth running of the organisation so that other members of staff could concentrate on taking care of the children. Working on countless fundraising events, she has helped ensure that the setting has access to the latest equipment and opportunities.



High expectations

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “We were so excited to launch our first-ever Outstanding Member Awards this year and the calibre of the nominations we received surpassed our high expectations.

“All across the sector, there are passionate practitioners – both paid and volunteers – working tirelessly to delivery quality care and education and provide vital support to local families, and it was such a pleasure to be able to celebrate this through our awards.

“All of this year’s winners and nominees demonstrated a commitment to the early years and a willingness to go beyond expectations to support children and families, and they should be very proud of what they have achieved.”

The Shortlisted nominees for 2018 

Special Commendations

The very first year of our Outstanding Member Awards saw such a wealth of incredible entries, the judging panel felt it necessary to award Special Commendations to a small number of nominees, in recognition of their outstanding practice and dedication. The Special Commendations 2018 were:Special commendations list


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