About Tiddlywinks

Tiddlywinks Day Nursery was founded by husband and wife, Imelda & David Mihell in the Summer of 1994 and the company officially opened their doors the same year.

The long term vision from Imelda started at our Hill Lane nursery in 1994 following on from the conversion of a previous farmhouse where the family had lived. The upstairs of the nursery used to be a flat when the Hill Lane Blackley nursery first opened.

Imelda oversaw the day to day running of the nursery, creating such a warm, welcoming and homely feel as Nursery Manager where the nursery was full of character and charm which the children and families viewed as a home from home.

Over the years Tiddlywinks Day Nursery have steadily expanded from their original 18 place nursery at Hill Lane to their current provision of 7 day nurseries providing daily care for over 700 children and 5 Tiddlywinks Out of School Clubs, providing daily care for over 185 children.

Tiddlywinks growth across Greater Manchester was recognised nationally with awards for their staff teams and the company directors. The expansion of Tiddlywinks Outstanding childcare service with additional sites became a milestone for the family run business, after sons Ashley and Ben joined the company in 2007. Ashley and Ben began working alongside their parents while completing University Studies to achieve their Bachelor Degrees.

Meet Our Team

Imelda Mihell

Managing Director

Hi, my name is Imelda Mihell, everybody knows me as ‘Mel’ as its much easier for the children to say! My dream came true when my husband, Dave and I bought our Hill Lane building in May 1994, just 2 days after giving birth to my second son Ben. We opened Tiddlywinks Day Nursery on the 2nd of September 1994 after lots of help from our family and friends. I am qualified with a NNEB qualification and before establishing the nursery I had undertaken employment as a nanny for a family for three years and I was a Deputy Manager for a nursery in Bury for 5 years.

Over the past 26 years I have grown in confidence, skills and knowledge and have gained valuable experience meeting lots of people, many who have been inspirational to myself and the growth of my nursery.
Personally and professionally I have developed myself through attending training courses relating to all areas of child development and the business. I achieved my assessors award to support and guide our apprentices and now I have developed a programme to nurture and teach them every aspect of childcare and development to provide the best service possible. I undertook further studies with Bolton University to achieve my Early Years Degree in Early Years and Childcare, proudly graduating in July 2012.

I am extremely passionate about childcare as I thrive to provide a high quality childcare service and I strongly believe to make this possible you have to be personally involved. I am very proud of my nurseries and out of school teams and welcome many other settings to come and view our environment and outstanding practice.

David Mihell

Operational Director

My name is David Mihell, before developing Tiddlywinks Day Nurseries into our beloved family business; I had previously worked in retail for several years until my wife and I began the journey to restructure and plan ahead for the future. This became such an amazing venture for our family and I am delighted to see how these changes we made to move forward assisted with our development and growth into a nursery chain.

I am qualified with a Level 6 in Business, Leadership & Management. I have a number of years’ experience in retail management and I aim to drive the business forward within this new and challenging commercial environment. I hold a Health & Safety Co-ordinator certificate along with my paediatric first aid certificate.

As the operational director for Tiddlywinks Day Nursery I aim to plan and direct projects to improve productivity and the efficiency of our nurseries. I will ensure the smooth operational procedures and core tasks are completed to our high standard. When I official joined my wife with our nursery business in the summer of 2005, we only had one nursery on Hill Lane which was an old converted farmhouse. When the company first started to provide childcare, we actually lived upstairs in the little nursery on Hill Lane in Blackley as it was many years ago.

As my role in Operational Director for Tiddlywinks, I aim to work closely with Manchester City Council and liaise closely with other professionals to continuously provide our outstanding childcare service and maintain our high standards. There are several different ways Tiddlywinks Day Nursery can do this at this moment in time and plans to improve the environments of which the children learn, develop and play are currently being examined for possible schemes to improve each of our nursery.

Ashley Mihell

Financial Director

My name is Ashley Mihell, I started working with Tiddlywinks in September 2007 while completing university studies, to which I am now qualified with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Development and I am also qualified with a Level 6 in Business, Leadership & Management.

As the financial director for Tiddlywinks Day Nursery, I oversee the day to day financial management of the business and its economic performance. While continuously aiming to source platforms and strategies to improve the output and the productivity of the company to achieve its objectives. I will develop and maintain all necessary systems, policies and procedures to ensure effective and efficient financial management while monitoring external contracts and services provided by suppliers to ensure that these are operating effectively and provide the best value to the company.

I aim to work closely with Council’s and liaise closely with professionals and partners which enables us to continuously provide our services. I provide financial advice and guidance to the company’s management teams to enable them to achieve their objectives and maintain our high standards.

Ben Mihell

Advertising & Marketing Officer

My name is Ben Mihell and I started working with Tiddlywinks in September 2011. I am the Advertising & Marketing Officer for all of the nurseries where I work closely with all managers and deputy managers on a day to day basis to liaise with their parents.

I am currently qualified with my BA Hons Degree in Business and Management, an Advanced Apprenticeship in Business Management and Leadership and I have completed my Playwork Level 3 course.

I aim to work closely with our management teams and parents for a smooth day today running of each nursery through the software and technology systems we currently have in place. Our software will provide information and activities for their child’s progress whilst on their early education journey with Tiddlywinks Day Nursery. All parents can view these events from an App on their phone/tablet or through the usual website page.

Claire Ryan

Head of Quality Assurance

My name is Claire Ryan and my journey with Tiddlywinks Day Nursery began in August 2001. I am currently qualified with a BTEC Diploma in Childhood Studies and BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Management. During my time with Tiddlywinks Day Nursery, I have progressed through various roles, including Pre-school Team Leader, Nursery Manager, Development Officer and into my role now as Head of Quality Assurance.

With my many years’ experience working for Tiddlywinks Day Nursery I have gained vital knowledge and understanding of the business requirements, the philosophy and ethos for our settings and I work extremely hard to support and deliver David and Imelda’s vision for their beloved company.

I am extremely committed, passionate and enthusiastic in developing our practice as a company for the benefit of the children and their families and also for the staff team. From their very first day we challenge and encourage the teams and individuals to continue to grow and provide the very best care and education, always striving for Outstanding and beyond, in an ever changing and diverse sector.

As part of the Senior Management Team, monitoring policies and procedures, the nursery environment, day to day practice and the development of the staff team are all areas I focus on, as well as promoting exceptional customer service through partnership working with our parents, guardians and outside agencies.

To nurture, support and guide our children through their learning journey also applies to our staff teams, this is how my career within Tiddlywinks has progressed and this is something I endeavour to accomplish within my role, sharing all of my knowledge and understanding about the company I have worked with for so many years.

Jenny Smillie

Head of Early Years and Education

My name is Jenny Smillie and I began my role as Area Manager/Advisory Teacher for Tiddlywinks Day Nursery in November 2016. I am an experienced Early Years Teacher with 13 years (and counting) of leadership and advisory experience, before starting my role here at Tiddlywinks I was working as a Deputy Head teacher for a large nursery school and children’s centre in Lancashire.

I have a proven track record in leading early years settings to excellence both in my current role and my previous roles. During my first 3 years of working for Tiddlywinks Day Nurseries I have led and supported the nursery and out of school club teams in 6 Ofsted inspections, all of which have been Outstanding in their grading. I have also successfully entered the company into the Nursery World 2019 Awards and my entry for Nursery Group of the Year was recognised as one of the 5 finalists in this category across the UK.

I have a passion for early years education and extending children’s cultural capital and communication and language skills. In my time as Area Manager I have worked hard to establish links with our community partners such as The Manchester Art Gallery, as well as National partners such as the National Literacy Trust. We have established ways of working which broaden children’s horizons beyond the 4 walls of our nurseries.
I am also a strong believer in continuing to grow and develop in my role and I try to also establish this culture within our nurseries, and I see staff development is crucial in supporting children’s early years outcomes.

My teaching and leadership experiences and qualifications have equipped me with the skills to improve outcomes for both children and adults I work with. My previous experiences include teaching in Australia for 2 years where my passion for early years education developed. Since then I have furthered my teaching qualification to support my career as an early years teacher and leader having achieved Early Years Professional Status in 2008 and completing my Masters Degree in Childhood Studies and Practice in 2013.

I have a commitment to giving all children the best possible start in life. My vision is to inspire excellence and I hope to engage with all children, parents and colleagues to help motivate them to learn and develop a passion to succeed.

Antony

Finance Officer

My name is Antony and I started working with Tiddlywinks Day Nursery in June 2018 when the company expanded from the Greater Manchester region and opened their 6th nursery located in Bury. Along with our HR and Senior management team, I provide our nursery management teams with vital support on a day to basis to help with the smooth running of their settings. As our managers have additional support from the supernumerary leadership team, this allows our company to be proactive and plan ahead to evaluate any crucial decisions being made on our current provisions for future developments and improvements.

Sam Dudley

Office Manager

Hello, my name is Samantha Shedwick-Dudley and I started my role as Area Manager for Tiddlywinks Nursery Group on 4th January 2021.

Previously I have worked in various settings as a Pre School Leader, Assistant Manager and Senior Manager. Through these roles I have gained extensive experience and understanding of early years education and gained a level 3 in childcare and a level 5 in Business Management. Over the years I have grown in confidence within my management roles and have a love of supporting managers and their teams.

Since an early age I have had a passion for providing Outstanding childcare to each and every child and supporting families through the early years. I consider myself to be very friendly and approachable as well as professional within my role and I am constantly striving to extend my knowledge to share with colleagues and parents.

Parent Partnerships is another one of my passions and I enjoy getting to know families and sharing ideas with them and how everyone can create effective and long lasting relationships with their settings.

Personally, I have 2 grown up children, 2 step children and 3 grandchildren that keep me entertained and I love spending my free time with them and my husband Stephen.

Gaynor

HR Officer

My name is Gaynor Mott and I began working with Tiddlywinks Day Nursery in the very early days of June 1999, when Tiddlywinks had 1 nursery on Hill Lane in Blackley. I have previously managed 2 Tiddlywinks nurseries upon my time with the company after achieving several promotions over the years. I work closely with all of our Nursery Managers to ensure the high standards of our company are always achieved in the general day-to-day running of the nurseries and support management when required.

Our Awards

NMT – Nursery Group.

Tiddlywinks Day Nursery were recognised as a finalist for Nursery Management Today awards 2019. This award celebrates nursery groups that consistently deliver the highest quality care and education and we are up against some of the best nursery groups in the sector across the country.

Daynurseries.co.uk – Top 20 group for 2019

Celebrating our recent award of ‘Top 20 Recommended Nursery Group 2019’ is an incredible achievement for Tiddlywinks Day Nursery! For all the dedicated and hardworking employees who work with Tiddlywinks Day Nursery, to be recognised again by daynurseries.co.uk at this high level is such a fantastic achievement! To be awarded with this Top 20 Recommended Nursery Group 2018 in our 25th year of business simply emphasises the fact Tiddlywinks Day Nursery have continuously developed since their establishment in 1994 at Hill Lane nursery.

Hill Lane: Individual top 20 recommended nursery.  Read More

NMT 2014: Lifetime Achievement Award

Mel Mihell, the nursery Managing Director, has been shortlisted for the Nursery Management Today award of Lifetime Achievement!
Read More

NMT 2014: Lifetime Achievement Award

Mel Mihell, the nursery Managing Director, has been shortlisted for the Nursery Management Today award of Lifetime Achievement!

NMT 2014: Key-Carer

Chloe Mooney from our Clayton Nursery was shortlisted for the Nursery Management Today award for Apprentice of the Year!

NMT 2014: Website

Ben Mihell was shortlisted for the Nursery Website of the Year Award!

NMT 2013

Mel & Dave won the award for Operational / Regional Directors of the Year! The panel of judges said “We have chosen David and Imelda because their commitment and passion both commercially and quality childcare was inspiring and commendable. 19 years in the industry and still focused, energetic and committed. They work well as a team – even though they’re married and excellent childcare is at the centre of everything they do.”

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