A British Empire Medal for Services to Children by Penny Webb

10th November 2016

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How it links everything together

In the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2016, I was awarded a British Empire Medal for my Services to Children, after a nomination from Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY). This was a totally unexpected honour, as in my wildest dreams I did not expect my volunteering to ever achieve anything other than to make a difference to children and families. penny-webb-bem

To have what amounts to over 30 years of work in one way or another connected to children, recognised is fantastic.

So what is it that I do?

Well, I am passionate about children, early years settings – particularly childminding settings, and I have always promoted high-quality care, professionalism, and partnership working with the aim of enabling every child to flourish. Although I have now retired as a registered childminder, I will not be retiring from my volunteering and campaigning, and I will be continuing to make a difference in as many ways as I can.

What is it about me that made PACEY put my name forward to be considered for a medal?

I do not volunteer, or campaign to gain fame or even fortune. It is just not me, any spare personal money usually gets ploughed back into paying for my volunteering and campaigning.  I prefer not to be the centre of attention as my anxieties often overwhelm me and I become a nervous wreck

BUT – and it is a big but …..

…… to achieve my aims of making a difference and being an advocate for children, I have to overcome my fears and put on a ‘good show’ of being confident, of knowing what I am talking about,  and indeed climbing on my ‘soapbox’ to ensure people get my message about the rights of children to be provided with opportunities to flourish.

I have been a member of Pacey (and before that of NCMA) for many years, and I have been a key volunteer for them in past, but these days Pacey are just one of the organisations that I work in partnership with – attending meetings, email communications and very positive professional relationships with staff.

What was really nice about PACEY’s nomination was that it recognised everything I do and have done in the past to support children, families and early years settings – from my hands on role as a registered childminder, my volunteering for Brownies; playgroup and school committees; chairing of many different early years committees over the years, tutoring and assessing – and starting the first petition against increased ratios.

As well as the things above I also write blogs related to my opinion about Government policy and practice in early year setting, and attend meetings whenever I can – including for the last two years Childcare Expo Early Years Breakfast Summit. It is opportunities like the Childcare Expo’s Breakfast Summit that enables me to represent the voice of childminders, and also to advocate for children and families.

So with my British Empire medal now presented to me what am I go to do next? Well – continue with all the things I have been doing, including working in partnership with PACEY; Pre-school Learning Alliance; Save Childhood Movement; Early Education and TACTYC, but also look for opportunities to reach a wider audience through writing articles, speaking at events and even doing some training around the issues connected to my volunteering and campaigning.

With this in mind, I have agreed to write some articles for the Childcare Expo, which I hope people will find useful.

If there are any topics you would like Penny to write about, please get in touch today.

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