Meet The Team
"The wonderful team at Grace's are out of this world. The love and care that they provide to the children is outstanding and is all the reassurance I need while I am at work..."
James Evans- Director
I am married to Jo and we have 3 daughters and therefore I am completely outnumbered and crave my time at the rugby club with some male companionship! I co-run the garden centre with my cousin Andrew and Jo, Andrew and I started Grace’s Day Nursery back in January 2011 with Michelle. No two days are ever the same when running two such varied businesses but that is part of the enjoyment and I feel very fortunate to be in a business where we represent the 5th generation to be involved.
With regard to Grace’s, the catalyst came when we were looking for a day nursery for our eldest daughter and saw exactly what was in the local area and therefore felt that there was an opportunity to create the sort of environment that we would like as parents. It has been fantastic to start something from scratch and to watch it grow and with such a great team I look forward to the future, as we continue to challenge what we do and to further grow the business. In my spare time I obviously enjoy spending time with the family, keeping fit and going on long family dog walks and yes, all 3 girls have me wrapped around their little fingers!
Jo Evans- Director
I have worked with children for over 10 years but initially in a very different environment as a doctor! When James and I had our first daughter the opportunity arose to start our own nursery with Andrew and Michelle and together we embarked on the most incredible journey of setting up Graces. The last few years have zoomed by and have involved a very steep learning curve but have also been enormous fun.
I continue to work as a paediatrician in London as well as working at Graces and of course looking after our own children. What I love most about working with children, no matter which environment I am in, is that children continually amaze, amuse and generally enchant me! I truly count myself lucky to work with fantastic people at Graces – not only the team but the parents and most importantly the children – no two days are ever the same!
In my spare time I love to bake exceptionally unhealthy food and then attempt to keep fit by running and going to the gym!
Andrew Evans- Director
When we set Grace’s up we decided the Manor House was the perfect location; one of the reasons for this is the Manor House was our Grandmothers home, hence the name Grace’s. Grandma was always a passionate family person and a real believer in education and standards and we have developed Grace’s with her values always in mind and at the core of what we do. As the Nursery bears her name we hope and believe that she would be very proud of the business we have created and would have loved to see all the children thriving and learning in her old home.
My other job is running the Garden Centre with James and between the two we are certainly kept busy!
In between the two I spend my spare time with my wife and son, or doing very stupid things like competing in Ironman’s and half Ironman’s, so I am often found in the pool, on my bike or out running somewhere!!
Michelle Brockwell- Childcare Director
I have been working in nurseries for 19 years and in a leadership role for the past 16 years. My husband is a secondary school teacher and together we have a son, so there is a shared interest in children and definitely a lot of talk and debate about childcare and education in our house...often with us disagreeing! I came to Grace’s to assist James, Jo and Andrew in the set up in 2010 and love the fact that it has such a family feel for both the team and families. I am fortunate to work somewhere where every day is different and alongside excellent colleagues who all share the passion I have for making such a difference to the lives of young children and their families. I think we have created a culture where our team are valued and supported to grow and develop and this is key in order for us not to become complacent as Practitioners.
Donna Cullen- Nursery Manager for Grace's Ruxley under 2's
I have been working in childcare since 1998, which has mainly been in day nurseries as well as a Nanny to a local family.
I always knew I wanted to work with children from the day I left school and I began my career as a practitioner allowing me to develop my knowledge along the way. This then enabled me to progress into Management making me the Nursery Manager I am today. I am extremely passionate about making a difference to the families and children coming to our nursery and watching them develop into strong, confident individuals we encourage them to be.
My days are varied, rewarding and there is never a dull moment at Little Grace's. I believe Grace's is a nursery in which both the children and team are encouraged to reach their full potential.
Lisa Waters- Nursery Manager for Grace's Ruxley over 2's
I have been working in childcare since 2001 and moved into a management role since 2013. I have worked in 3 other nurseries and was a Nanny in Norway for 6 Months.
I am married and have moved to Kent to be with my partner. He has two wonderful children.
I have always been interested in childcare from a young age, and did my level 2 and 3 in Childcare at college, followed by my Level 4. I began my career as a Nursery Practitioner and then worked my up to a Management role. I am keen to continue my studies and do my Level 5. I am very passionate about making a difference and working within a great team, to ensure the relationships we have with the families within the setting are strong ones, whilst also ensuring the children are developing and thriving whilst at Graces.
My days are varied as I like to be within the rooms with the children and work alongside the team, as well as having the opportunity to chat with parents when dropping and collecting their children.
Toyin Oni- Nursery Manager for Grace's Perry Hill
I have been working in childcare for 19 years and my experience comes mainly from private day nurseries, holiday schemes and crèche.
My journey in childcare started back in 1998, on a work experience placement in a private day nursery. Since then, I have pursued my career in childcare, completing an NVQ level 3 in childcare in 2003 which enabled me to further my knowledge and progression to management. I then continued my studies in 2010 with a BA/BSc in Early Childhood Studies and Education in 2013.
I am passionate about working with the team to make an impact on our families, by giving them wonderful experiences and empowering them to support their children’s learning and development, so they can be confident in making choices and becoming resilient individuals.
In my spare time, I enjoy movie nights in with my partner and our 4 children, trying new recipes and swimming.
Becky Freeman- Nursery Manager for Grace's Nursery House
I have always known from a very young age that working with children was where I belong and 25 years later I am still as passionate and enthusiastic about children as I was when I walked into my first nursery placement when I was 16 years old.
Growing up, my mum worked in schools, afterschool clubs and I was around children every day and loved it.
I left school at 16 and took myself off to college to study my NNEB and loved every minute of it! Unfortunately my mum fell ill and passed away my second year into this so I did not complete the whole course and soon after I became a mum to my beautiful daughter so my life became very busy. A few years passed and I knew I wanted to continue with my childcare journey so I did my NVQ Level 3.
I started my career at a private nursery in 2006 and worked my way up to gain more experience. I stayed there for 14 years, watching so many children learn and grow before going off to school, each time feeling so proud that I have been a part of their journey that equipped them with the tools they needed to be independent little people.
My vision, ethos and beliefs fit in so well with Graces and I can see across all sites how passionate and valued the team are and how happy and confident the children are. I cannot wait for my new journey to continue with this beautiful place and people.
Emma Jeffrey- Finance Manager
I qualified as an accountant 10 years ago, having joined an accountancy practice straight from school. Since then, I have enjoyed a variety of roles in different industries, building my skills as I went.
I grew up in a close and playful family, with a Mum who eventually came to run the preschool I attended with my siblings, and now my husband and I have two young children of our own. I was thrilled when I was offered to join the team at Grace's and bring my skills to the childcare environment, in a beautiful setting, surrounded by skilled and lovely people who truly care about the development and welfare of the children they care for.
I hope that by working to improve the finance procedures and reporting, and communicating with parents and colleagues, I can support the management team to continue to provide the highest standard of care.
When I'm not working, I enjoy cooking, exploring new places with the family, and crafts with my own little ones.
Stacey Wilson- Deputy Manager for Grace’s Ruxley
My childcare experience began at 17 years old. I started by working a few hours a week in the same nursery as my Mum; my love for the job then grew and I quickly joined the team as a full time member. I gained my Level 2 and Level 3 qualification in Children and Young People’s Workforce whilst working. In 2013 I joined the Grace’s family and have loved every moment since.
I have been fortunate enough to progress from a practitioner to a deputy manager during my time. I love working with a team who are like a family; we are just as fortunate as the children, to have the setting that we have available, from visiting our forest school to seeing the reindeer at Christmas time. To be a part of such an important milestone in a family’s life is so rewarding; seeing the children grow and building trust with the parents and carers is by far the best part of my job. I love how Grace’s go above and beyond to make the difficult transition of leaving your child as easy as it can possibly be.
Debbie Sams- Deputy Manager for Grace's Ruxley
I am the proud mother twin boys and have been working at Grace’s since it opened. Prior to working here, I worked in a pre-school. I began working in child-care when my children went to school. I spent a good deal of time settling them into pre-school and realised that I enjoyed my time there and seemed to get on well with the children. I was offered a position there when my children went to school and then took the relevant qualifications. I began at Grace’s as an assistant practitioner and worked my way up to my current position of Deputy Manager. I am very proud to work at Grace’s as it has a warm, friendly atmosphere in which the team work together to ensure the children feel welcomed, valued and treated as individuals. It is very obvious that the team genuinely enjoy working with the children. It is also a wonderful environment to work in and we are spoilt in that our surroundings are always looking beautiful.
Keeley Rolph- Deputy Manager for Grace's Perry Hill
I began working within the childcare sector in 1998, after completing a BTEC National Diploma in Childhood Studies and joined the Grace’s Family back in October 2010, shortly before it officially opened its doors and became the ‘Outstanding’ nursery it is today. To start with I was the Lead Practitioner of Seedlings, moving to Little Buds 3 and then to Little Blooms. Now I am excited to begin the challenge of being the Deputy Manager at Grace’s Perry Hill.
Throughout my career I have worked within private day nurseries, in a school nursery, as a nanny and on numerous holiday schemes for children aged up to 13, and those with Special Educational Needs.
I can honestly say there is not a day goes by when I don’t have just as much fun as the children, and learn something new, just as they do. I often leave nursery at the end of the day determined to find new activities to explore with the children and team, wanting to enhance all aspects of their learning.
In my spare time I am a keen amateur photographer, and find long walks with my camera a brilliant way to relax and unwind and try to plan my holidays to ensure I can work on my photography skills. I am also a member of the National Trust, and enjoy discovering new places to visit and explore.
Chloe Hedges- Deputy Manager for Grace's Nursery House
I have been working at Grace’s since it opened in 2011 and progressed from Practitioner to Deputy Manager. I love nothing more than a good musical and can often be heard singing the songs to my favourite musical ‘Joseph!’
As a child I spent many happy holidays camping where we mainly spent time outside and taking long hikes. I was also a brownie and girl guide and so when the opportunity came up for me to train to become a qualified Forest School Leader for Grace’s, I jumped at the chance! I think it is fantastic having a plastic-free, natural environment where the children can explore nature. I am always amazed at how imaginative and creative children can be with what they have around them. I think we are incredibly lucky to have a Forest School of our own at Grace’s. There is never a dull day in the nursery and always something or someone to make you smile. It is really special to me that I work with such a fantastic team who all share the same ethos.
"I am pleased that all the staff from different rooms and the admin side of things know us and our son, it means you get a very friendly welcome every time you come into the building..."
To discover how you can become a part of the Grace's Family, take a look at our Careers Page.