A FORMER Boston College student has received one of the nursery industry's top accolades.
A passion for working with babies and toddlers has led to Victoria Stafford, from Spilsby, being presented the Early Years Practitioner (EYP) of the Year award at the prestigious Nursery World Awards in London.
The awards recognise the best of the best in Early Years settings across the UK. Victoria, known to friends and family as Vikki, has been an EYP at Wellies Day Nursery in Horncastle for just two years and in that time has progressed to become a member of the nursery's senior management team at just 25.
As EYP she oversees the whole nursery as well as supporting individual staff with their own personal development, and generating staff morale.
She is also supervisor of the baby room where she is responsible for two rooms, and four full-time staff who care for up to 24 under twos.
Wellies' owner Kathy Christie, who nominated Victoria, said: "I am delighted that Vikki's work has been recognised in this way and by such discerning judges.
"She leads a highly qualified and skilled staff team and with her knowledge and passion they create wonderful real life experiences for every child, every day, all day.
"That is more than simply doing your job, it is special and we are all incredibly proud of her."
In the two years she has worked at Wellies, Victoria has introduced a new and consistent approach towards planning, observation and record keeping, improved the quality of learning journals, encouraged the use of real life experiences for the children and implemented consistency with outdoor play, as well as developing a warm, homely environment in the baby department.
On winning the award Victoria said: "When Kathy nominated me for the award I was very overwhelmed believing I didn't deserve it as I do the job I'm meant to do to the best of my ability.
"The whole experience has been a great opportunity – a once in a life time experience, and I believe I wouldn't be the practitioner I am without the support I gain from Wellies and Kathy – she recognises that I need to be challenged and encourages me to continue to develop myself."