The team at First Class Kids, Penrith, was ‘honoured’ to be named Best Early Year Provider at the Golden Apple awards this year.

Acting Manager Laura Fleming and her team were presented with the award at a ceremony on Thursday.

“I am so proud of our amazing team at First Class Kids, we work so hard to provided outstanding care for our children and their families,” said Ms Fleming.

“Early years is everyone’s passion, and we are honoured to be recognised for this award by our parents.”

Ms Fleming’s team was commended for their friendliness and passion for the job and in one nomination Ms Fleming was praised for running the nursery with ‘enthusiasm’ and ensuring the safety of staff, children and parents throughout the pandemic.

Nominators all agreed the nursery was ‘fantastic’ and many said Ms Fleming has introduced lots of fun learning activities and is always on hand to speak to parents or give advice.

One nomination read: “Fantastic nursery, brilliant team everyone is so welcoming and friendly.

"My little boy loves his time there they are always going above and beyond with sourcing resources and activities for the children.”

Another read: “First Class Kids is a fantastic nursery, and it is Laura and her team that make it such a great place. Our daughter has been attending this nursery on a full-time basis since she was eight months old, and she absolutely loves it!

“Laura is such a positive person, always greets the parents and children with a smile. Since becoming Acting Manager she has had to react to the challenges of COVID, ensuring policies and procedures are in place to protect children, parents and staff.

“She is very passionate about her work and a very caring person.”

Appleby Primary School and Kiddlywinks Nursery, Penrith, also made the awards' shortlist after nominations flooded in for the establishments.

The team at Kiddlywinks was praised for its ‘personal approach’ and the time staff spend with children on their development.

One nomination read: “I feel very grateful we found them as they have made such a positive impact on my daughter’s life.

“From the second we got in touch with them, after we had just relocated to the area, they could not have done more to make us feel welcome and ever since we have felt like part of their nursery family."

And Appleby Primary School was hailed for the support it has given pupils and their families throughout the challenges of the pandemic.

Nominations commented on how the school had made home-schooling fun and the care it had given children of key worker parents.

One nomination read: “Throughout this whole pandemic the school has not only supported all the children but the parents and grandparents in the home schooling.

“All the staff have pulled together to make it as child, parent and grandparent friendly and fun to do as possible.

“Since going back to school they have done their utmost to make sure every child was happy and settled back at school.

“Thank you for all your hard work to make Appleby Primary School such a happy and inclusive school.”

Headteacher David Spruce said: "We are delighted to have been nominated and shortlisted as finalists in this category.

"At Appleby Primary School we are very proud of our innovative and creative approach to ensure that every child thrives in an active and nurturing environment and this has proved invaluable over the last 18 months."