A NURSERY in Kinmel Bay has been crowned 'Early Years Wales Setting of the year'.

Little Lambs Day Nursery was named winner in the category: Setting of the Year, registered for 20 children and over, during the virtual awards on December 8.

Sam Maitland-Price, owner of Little Lambs Day Nursery, said: "When they announced Little Lambs and our photo came up on the screen we literally cheered, and I could hear the staff take themselves off mute and cheer. It was amazing.

"We have never entered these awards before but have entered other awards and always come second place so its amazing to finally take the win.

"We always work hard and my team go above and beyond to support so many families but these last 18 months we have worked to the bone."

The team found out they had been shortlisted earlier in the month.

The nursery has been newly renovated.

The nursery has been newly renovated.

Sam said: "Early Years Wales enhances the development and education of pre-school children in Wales by encouraging parents to understand and provide for their needs through high quality pre-school provision and childcare.

"They are committed to supporting members by sharing information and providing guidance. As a charity they work collaboratively with other organisations including other early years, childcare education, play charities and statutory agencies, to deliver their services, such as access to affordable, flexible and high-quality childcare and play provision.

"Above all else they are here to offer a listening ear and to support members to achieve their goals.

"Held annually since 2019 the Early Years Wales Awards have been designed to bring to the forefront the passion and dedication their members bring to the childcare sector in Wales.

"Winners are chosen by a panel of expert judges that make up the childcare sector and have the knowledge and experience to assess each entry."

Sam, who is married to Rich, said the nursery stayed open during lockdown.

"We worked to support so many families over the Covid-19 pandemic and we also renovated and built a new extension and opened a new setting in Rhyl," she added.

The nursery has been newly renovated.

The nursery has been newly renovated.

"To be awarded this trophy was unbelievably amazing. I could not be prouder of my team.

"The families that supported us, the children who have been so resilient and the nursery we have built and created... it has really put the icing on the cake to the end of such a busy and difficult time."

Recently, Sam and her team hosted an open day for nursery parents and families to come and look around the newly renovated nursery, including the new extension.

Sam said: "It was so nice to invite parents back into the building to show what's been going on.

"We still have the nursery kitchen renovation and some more additions to the garden to finish but hoping for them as we go into 2022.

"We originally only planned to have an upstairs extension but instead we have been able to complete the upstairs and renovate each and every room inside the nursery as well as adding three more renovated outdoor spaces and an external brick wall including tarmacking the car park."

Speaking about how this year compared to 2020, Sam said: "2020 was such a difficult year for so many reasons. There was so much uncertainty and worry that it over shadowed any positive news.

The nursery has been newly renovated.

The nursery has been newly renovated.

"The childcare sector has truly been rocked by the whole pandemic and I feel that our sector has not been shown the recognition and appreciation it deserves. Practitioners from settings across Wales worked when everyone was told to stay home. We supported our key workers and then we supported families as they went back to work.

"Going into 2021 was worrying but we had things to look forward to; a new extension, a bigger nursery, a renovated nursery and we even bought a new setting in Rhyl. 2021 has gone from strength to strength for our nursery and we look forward to what 2022 will bring.

"I'd like to say well done to all childcare settings who are still standing strong. We are all in this together."

Sam added: "I would like to say thank you to those who made all this work possible. I am truly grateful to Tony Thackeray and Team from T&P Building Solutions, BGB Scaffolding, and all the site. Thank you to my team of practitioners who have worked tremendously hard during not only a pandemic but for most days a building site. They ensured every child still had an engaging, busy and fun day regardless of what jobs were going on.

"Thank you to my senior team of managers, Emma Rafferty and Laura Bennett, who I couldn’t do this without. Not only did we survive a pandemic, build and construct a new nursery inside and out and remain open while doing it but we also took on a new setting in January 2021. Together we achieve so much and especially over these last 18 months we have smashed it.

"Thank you to our family and friends, who always support us, and a special Thanks to my husband, Rich, who has always supported my dreams and big ideas."