A day in London for the launch of NEYTCO (National Early Years Trainers and Consultants   2 comments

Monday 15th December had been in my diary for quite a long while as an important date and the launch of NEYTCO on that day was something that I fully intended to attend.

When the event was first mentioned, I thought that I would need cover for my childminded children, and so had my childminding colleague on standby – however as it turned out I did not have any childminded children booked in for 15th December, and so I was free to attend without having to ensure alternative care was in place for my minded children (or feel any guilt at disrupting plans of  parents or my colleague at this busy time of year)

For a change I did not have to catch the just after 6am train and had the luxury of catching the later train – direct to London Marylebone  which left Kidderminster at 8.09 am and arrived (slightly late) at about 10.44 am.

The journey was uneventful apart from doing a few tweets about the forthcoming event and texting a couple of people that I hoped to speak to at the event.

OH AND – a text to me!

My friend and colleague Bea Heath who is a director of the Independent Childminders Social Enterprise (ICM-SE) and a board member of NEYTCO text to say her morning meeting had been cancelled and was I free to join her for lunch?

As it happens I was, because despite my attempts to use my time in London wisely none of my friends or colleagues were able to meet with me that morning.

If you have not heard of ICM-SE take a look at their website Link to ICM-SE website

I am a member of ICM-SE and they are one of the organisations that I work closely with – however as I say, Bea is now also a personal friend. I have found that over the last couple of years, several of my professional relationships with those I engaged with have turned into personal relationships as well – which is great, but not really that surprising as I have found that many of those who I engage with professionally, share a very similar ethos to myself – and share my passion for ensuring that the children of this country are provided with the best possible life experiences and opportunities – and when they are not – do something about it, by representing the voice of the child (and their family) – and of course the voice of those professionals who provide the hands on childcare and indirect support for those children.

Indeed it was this shared passion and commitment that first  connected me to Laura Henry – who is the person behind the idea of NEYTCO – and Laura is now another person who I consider a friend. I will come back to Laura and the NEYTCO launch in a little while – but as is my way, I shall continue with my recall of my day in London.

As I was not in any hurry, I stopped at Marylebone for coffee (and cake) before heading off on the underground. The underground still terrifies me and I still get lost on occasion – but I am getting much better not only of coping but also of getting off at the right station. I decide that my best route was to get on at Marylebone and stay on the Bakerloo line until I get to the Embankment (mainly because it is the changes of line within the underground system that usually throws me). So I arrive at the Embankment and set off for a leisurely walk towards Portcullis House (the modern bit of the House of Commons) not because it is time for the NEYTCO  launch but because I know where that building is  and will be able to use it as a reference point to find the hotel where Bea wants to meet me. I pause and look around several times during the walk – especially when I pass Whitehall and the gardens with the statues.

I decide to go in a couple of shops – including the House of Commons gift shop – some lovely things are for sale  including a pop up book of London that I think my foster child would like – but I resist temptation – one because of the price and two because I don’t want to carry it around all day (Glad I didn’t give into temptation, as I have ordered a copy online and saved £3 – plus I did not have to carry it around all day).

By now I need to find a ladies loo – and this is where my ‘getting better’ knowledge of London came in – I now know where there are some loo’s – both those to avoid and those that acceptable in the area near the House of Commons. As I have time, I cross the river and head towards the London Eye (been on it once – never again as don’t like heights and don’t like going round – even if as slow as the London Eye) but I digress – the loo’s in the building there are acceptable – clean and free.

As I come out of the building, I get another text from Bea – telling me she has arrived and is sat by the Christmas tree in the Marriott Hotel . Off I set – and I can’t find it! Turns out it is set back and difficult to see from the road (despite the signs)

I eventually find my way to the ‘front door’ – and I realise that it is a rather grand building – complete with doormen (I should mention here that usually if I am getting a quick lunch before a meeting – I tend to go to McDonald’s! Not because I particularly like McDonald’s but because I know a) I can afford it, b) they sell stuff I can eat as I am VERY fussy).

If you want to take a look – here is the Link To Marriott hotel website

So the Marriott is a bit of a culture shock for me – but there is no time to think, or chicken out of going – as Bea is already inside and waiting for me. And there she was – as promised by the Christmas Tree. (Funnily enough last time I was in London – I met a friend by a Christmas Tree – goodness knows how I will cope when it is not the season for Christmas Trees!) We hug warmly – and exchange greetings, then Bea says – I hope you don’t mind but I have booked a table for lunch here – and its my treat. I object and I am over ruled by Bea who reminds me that we are friends and that I always help her whenever I can with advice, looking at documents and so on – so she will treat me. END OF!

Of course being me – I freak out (quietly and within my head – because as friends and regular readers know – I don’t’do’ posh)

We are shown to ‘our table’ by a window overlooking the Thames – and on the other side of the river Portcullis House, where we shall be heading after lunch. It is a beautiful venue – and posh. We order some water and are left to look at the menu – and the ipad type thing  which has all the drinks available on it. Luckily Bea puts me at ease and we chat freely about our families, about childminding, about childminding agencies, about my campaigning, about NEYTCO, and about mutual friends and colleagues – and more.

We are given a complementary starter to sample – it is delicious! Yorkshire Pudding with melted cheese inside. We order our mains, move on to dessert – and before we know it we need to pay and get a move on as time has just disappeared. During lunch another colleague and friend – Sue Allingham has text to say she has arrived and is already in Portcullis House.

There is just about time to visit the very nice Ladies Restroom (note Restroom not loo) before we cross the river and enter Portcullis House. I am pleased that my bag passes through security without any issues. We are directed upstairs and make our way to the large room where the NEYTCO launch is being held.

Personal recall of NEYTCO Launch 

We join a short line to get our name badges and to sign in – straight away I realise that I recognise / know many who are already in the room – but that there are also others that I don’t recognise. I spot Liz Roberts from Nursery World and Neil Henty from EYE magazine, and James Hempstall – then I realise that behind me is a lady whose name I recognise – from the Ofsted Big Conversation emails – and the NEYTCO ones – Kate Peach. We say hello – it is good to put a face to a name.

I then put a face to another name – Catriona Nason who has worked so hard to get this up and running with Laura – we have emailed lots – and even spoken once on the phone – so we have a short chat – short because Catriona has lots to do, and lots of people want to talk her.

I can see Neil Leitch over the other side of the room – and Sue Alligham, Simona McKenzie,  Nancy Stewart . Bea stops to talk to a chap called Neil (that’s THREE Neil’s in the space of seconds!) Bea introduces me to this Neil – I forgot his surname as soon as it is said, but I think he may be on the NEYTCO board – with Bea, the other two Neil’s and others.

We go over to where Neil Leitch and Nancy Stewart are chatting – Nancy smiles and says hello to me – as we have met several times. Neil hugs and air kisses both myself and Bea – we all know each other well.

After that things become a bit of a blur for a while – so many people coming up and saying hello. I know I will forget some – and to be honest I can’t remember who I spoke to before the official launch presentations and who I spoke to afterwards. So I will mention as many names as I can – after my recall of the official presentations ………. apart from one person, who I will mention now  – Laura Henry.

Laura comes over to me – looking stunning in a lovely blue dress – and with a huge smile on her face. We hug – she says something on the lines of ‘So pleased you could make it’ I say something on the lines of ‘ So glad I could come’ – and congratulate her achieving her dream and her goal. Then she is gone – being the perfect hostess chatting to everyone, checking everything is going smoothly. (As I noted so was Catriona and Sarka Juric (who takes care of a lot of the operational side of things), and the apprentices from London Early Years Foundation)

We were all asked to come closer for the presentations – so we did – I ended up stood next to Liz Roberts, behind Neil Henty and Neil Leitch, and just to the side was Beatrice Merrick – and just to the other side Nancy Stewart. I felt humbled by their presence but in good company.

A lady called  Ali Hendry Ballard  from The Garnett Foundation (who I don’t know) started the proceedings off – telling us about why we were there, how NEYTCO came about and what NEYTCO hopes to achieve.

If you want to know more about Ali / the Garnett Foundation   Link to Garnett foundation

If you have not sure what NEYTCO is all about a good place to start is their website Link to NEYTCO website

As with all good presentations / launches there were several inspiration speakers;

Catriona Nason – Daycare Doctor

Catriona is the chair of NEYTCO – and a co founder with Laura Henry

CLINK FOR LINK to the Daycare Doctor Website


Dr Jools Page –  Director MA in Early Childhood Education (UK & Malta) – The University of Sheffield

Jools is the academic representative on the NEYTCO board

For further information about Jools  – CLINK HERE


Swati Popat Vats –  President Podar Education Network, India

Swati is the lead person for NEYTCO in India

For those interested here is a link to an article about Swati and her work Link to article

and here is the link to  Jumbo Kids in India


Neil Leitch  – Chief Executive Officer of Pre school Learning Alliance 

Neil is the voluntary sector representative on the NEYTCO Board

Link to Pre school Learning Alliance website


Laura Henry – Laura Henry Consultancy

Laura is the Chief Executive Officer for NEYTCO

Link to Laura Henry Consultancy website


As always I am not going to repeat word for word what the speakers said, but I will give my personal overview.

All the speakers were passionate about why they do the things they do (and why we were all in the room together); all made us laugh; and  several mentioned LOVE – which I was personally very pleased about as I think it is not mentioned enough and some people are a little scared of the word – and don’t realise that love has many meanings.

However in my opinion love is essential in the early years sector to ensure that children are at the heart of everything we do – not making money, or personal fame, or career ladder climbing (although those things sometimes happen as a result of being so passionate about the well being of children). Those who know me well, know that it is my passion and my ethos – and yes my love, that drives me to do what I do – including writing this blog and all the volunteering that I do, and the campaigning that I do – not to mention the day job as a registered childminder.

I recently delivered my first ever keynote speech on funded two year olds in a childminder setting – and it was called ‘What has LOVE got to do with it’. So you will see that love aspect of working with children (both hands on and indirect) is very important to me.

I digress – again – but it is important to me that people understand why the early years sector is slightly different to other sectors within education – and very different to many other professionals, who are driven more by money, fame and career ladders. I am not suggesting that all within the early years sector are driven by passion for what they do – but a huge number are.

All the speakers were very clear about why an organisation is needed for trainers and consultants – and how we can all support each other through NEYTCO. Personally I think it is important that NEYTCO is a community interest company, that it has  Board Members, and that it involves volunteers – as this will help ensure the right people with the right ethos are involved.

Swati has to have a special mention – as her passion – which was very evident in her speech – had driven her to travel from India to London to attend – which makes my journey and effort seem rather insignificant!


Once the official speeches were over and heartfelt appreciation expressed, the serious business of networking commenced – along with drinks and nibbles – personally I did not have any nibbles (still full from lunch) but I really appreciated the cold fruit juice – thirsty work this networking, all that chatting, exchanging opinions and information  – and laughing! Over the next hour, I had 3 glasses of apple juice.

As promised – here is the list of people that I recall talking to – as I say – I know I will have missed some, I know I will have not spelt everyone’s name correctly – so bear with me – and if I did talk to you – but you are not mentioned – or I have spelt your name wrong –  a) please forgive me,  b) why not use the comments to put me right!

Nancy Stewart

Neil Leitch

Neil Henty (Briefly)

Beatrice Merrick

Lois Notts

Sandra Brouet

Jacqui Burke

Kate Peach

Nathan Archer

Simona McKenzie

Sue Allingham

Jenny Barber

Jane Evans

Kathy Brodie

Kathy Hammond

Sue Overton

A chap whose name I can’t remember but who might be called  Lloyd, (we chatted about business models and cost of current EY policies in future)

Catriona Nason

Laura Henry

June O’Sullivan

Bea Heath

James Hempstall (briefly, as in ‘hello’)

Liz Roberts (more of a nod of acknowledgement)

Tracey Seed

Those whose names I have now forgotten (sorry folks, not intentional – just poor memory)

I know there were others in the room that I hoped to speak to – but did not manage to – so apologies – I just ran out of time.


If anyone is wondering why I had been invited to the launch – and it was a invite only event – take a look at the NEYTCO website ON THIS PAGE – I am listed as Lead person for the West Midlands area which is a voluntary role.

I had several interesting chats with others who are lead people or co lead people about how we will network and share information – including one with Lois Notts, who I met for the first time, and who is lead person for East Midlands area.

Time had once again just disappeared and people were starting to make their farewells before dashing for trains. Hugs abounded as old friends said goodbye  and handshakes and nice to have met you comments made, as  new friends parted.

I (and those leaving at the same time) looked for Laura but could not see her, but as we made our way to the restroom – we saw her on the stairs and said our goodbyes and thanks.

Myself and a couple of others made our way to the restroom – passing within inches of Nick Clegg (who was in conversation with others – so I did not interrupt – shame though as a few things I wanted to say to him)

My colleagues followed me – saying ‘Do you know where you are going Penny?  Well yes I did – as this was my third visit  to Portcullis House and each time I had used the rather nice restroom facilities.

I parted company with my colleagues at Westminster underground station – then retraced my steps to the Embankment, onto the Bakerloo line and to Marylebone – where I was very pleased to note, I just had time to buy a drink and make the 18.15 train back to Kidderminster.

I arrived home very tired, but so very pleased – and honoured to have attended the NEYTCO launch.

Huge congratulations to everyone involve – a truly fantastic event – and the start of what promises to be a new era in support for the early years sector through NEYTCO

If any trainers or consultants are reading this – who are not already members – please take a look at the NEYTCO website – and if you are West Midlands based, do get in touch with myself – Penny Webb, or the West Midlands Co leads, Anita Sonia and Anne Gladstone – our contact details are on the NEYTCO website.


Posted December 17, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

2 responses to “A day in London for the launch of NEYTCO (National Early Years Trainers and Consultants

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  1. Laura has worked so hard to get this off the ground so many congratulations. Sure its going to be a great success. Looking forward to meetings in the North East Regional Groups with Jo and Kate in 2015

  2. Pingback: A Day To Remember | Penny's Place Childminding

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