THE owner of a nursery on the outskirts of Chester has hailed staff after the nursery was named the best in the UK.

Smarties Children's Nursery at Cotton Edmunds, Christleton, was crowned the National Day Nurseries Association Nursery Awards winner for the central region at a ceremony in the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.

The nursery then reached the final and was named the NDNA overall winner for UK nursery of the year.

The accolade came about as a result of nearly 150 parents casting their nominations saying why the nursery should receive recognition.

Nursery owner Annie Silcock, who opened Smarties with first employee Corinne Loizidis in 1989, said the award success had still yet to sink in.

She said: "We were not going to apply for the award originally, we have been going for 30 years and we don't advertise ourselves.

"It was a parent who insisted we apply for it, and then said 'Annie, we will do it for you'.

"I honestly didn't think there would be much uptake but it was massive; we have got about 160-170 parents who send their children to the nursery and we got 140-150 nominations.

"Some of the things they wrote moved me to tears. We have got some parents who have gone through difficulties in their lives, whether it was themselves or their children, and they thanked us for how we had supported them.

"The NDNA inspector came around to see the nursery and she said 'do you know how special this place is?'

"The award has not sunk in yet – what has been lovely has been the reaction of staff.

"It's the staff who have made this place – I could not do it without them."

Annie would like to thank all the staff at the nursery, including manager Dawn Lloyd-Jones and deputy managers Lisa Porter and Becky Forster.

Annie added: "We are going to have a big party to celebrate!"

For more information on Smarties Nursery, visit