New management team at former Hillcrest nursery

Deputy manager Claire Shuttleworth and children welcome new apprentice Beth Wilson (centre) and manager Jessica Low (right) to Poppy and Jacks in Fulwood
Deputy manager Claire Shuttleworth and children welcome new apprentice Beth Wilson (centre) and manager Jessica Low (right) to Poppy and Jacks in Fulwood
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A Preston nursery is hoping to capture the imagination of its youngsters as it is relaunched with a new management team.

Fulwood’s Hillcrest nursery has welcomed its new management team after the business was bought out by Lancashire nursery group Poppy and Jack’s at the end of last year.

Emma Brown making cookies with one of the children at Poppy and Jack's in Fulwood

Emma Brown making cookies with one of the children at Poppy and Jack's in Fulwood

Parents and children are getting to know new manager Jessica Low, owner Sarah Bellamy and a host of new faces who have joined the 12 existing staff members at the nursery in Black Bull Lane.

Since the acquisition last autumn, Poppy and Jack’s is making a variety of improvements to the building and is planning to upgrade and install new facilities, such as a sensory room, woodwork room, phonics room and an ‘imagination station’.

Jessica, who joins the business from the Learning Curve Group of nurseries on the Fylde Coast, has 10 years’ childcare experience including two years in nursery management.

She will be responsible for implementing the Poppy and Jack’s ethos for child-led learning and high quality early years teaching in the group’s latest nursery acquisition.

New owner Sarah Bellamy of the Poppy and Jacks Group

New owner Sarah Bellamy of the Poppy and Jacks Group

She says: “Hillcrest built up such a strong reputation under its previous owner and we’re looking to build on that and take it to the next level.

“Hillcrest’s existing approach was not too far from our own, but there are a number of procedural changes to be made and we will be looking at what training we can provide for staff, to make sure everyone is operating to our exacting high standards.

“We’re introducing recipes from renowned child nutritionist Annabel Karmel, and our cook is excited to get to grips with a new menu packed full of healthy ingredients.

“We’re also making the most of the fabulous outdoor area with its two learning rooms for the older children, and will be introducing more nature-led activities outside for all children.

“The most important thing for me, however, is to get to know our children and their parents.

“We’re hoping parents can spare a few minutes at drop off or pick up to have a chat, and we can answer any questions they may have.

“We really encourage parents to get involved and be engaged with what’s going on at the nursery, as that helps provide continuity for the children’s learning when they get home, and inspires more positive outcomes throughout their education.”

Deputy manager Claire Shuttleworth has been at Hillcrest for 11 years and worked under previous owner Elizabeth Draper, who died in 2015.

Claire says: “Elizabeth was an amazing woman, someone who was ahead of her time and really believed in child-led learning and outdoor play.

“She put her heart and soul into the nursery I see a lot of similarities between her and Sarah, and in the ethos of her team.

“They’ve brought a new energy to the nursery and some brilliant ideas, not to mention the investment in new facilities which are fantastic for the children.

“Everyone is so excited for the future and really pleased to be part of the Poppy and Jack’s group.”

Owner Sarah Bellamy said: “We feel very strongly that early years teaching should be child-led and extremely high quality, and it is that standard we are hoping to bring to more families as we acquire or establish additional settings in new communities throughout the North West.”

Poppy and Jack’s Nursery Group, based in Poulton-le-Fylde, owns five nursery settings in the North West: Peek-a-boo Nursery Cleveleys, Poppy and Jack’s Poulton, Poppy and Jack’s Astley Bridge, Poppy and Jack’s Horwich, and Poppy and Jack’s Fulwood (formerly Hillcrest) in Preston.

The business, which is backed by Foresight Group venture capital, is looking to acquire further nursery settings elsewhere in the region.