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Meet the Staff

Sandcastles Mission Statement

Sandcastles strives to provide the highest standards in childcare and education. Year on year we challenge our thinking and practices to enable us to constantly improve and raise standards.

Darren & Kate Taylor


We are a local family with four children.  We have been involved and worked in education and nursery provision in the area for many years.  Both of us are qualified primary teachers and hold the degree of Bachelor of Education (with Honours).  In addition to this, Darren is National Nursery Examination Board qualified (NNEB) and has Early Years Professional Status.   Kate is qualified to teach English as a foreign language.

As parents we are sympathetic to families leaving their children in nursery care and are always willing to listen to and help with individual’s needs. We believe a nursery is only as good as its staff and to this end all our teaching and support staff are carefully selected by their qualifications, willingness to learn, experience and for their caring, warm approach and love of children.  We follow a continual training programme in order that our staff are up to date with current practices and policies relating to the care and development of children.

 Sarah Connor


I  have worked at Sandcastles since 2003.  During this time I have been a Nursery Practitioner, Head of Room, Deputy and now the Manager.  I think it’s safe to say I know Sandcastles very well and have helped to shape it over the years.  I hold an  NVQ level 4 in childcare and keep my knowledge current through regular training.  I am the designated Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (Senco).   I am married and have 2 daughters.  We enjoy camping and festivals, music concerts and eating out.  I enjoy reading and take part in a book club with friends from my teenage years.

Hollie Furniss

Deputy Manager / Head of Pre-School

I have been a part of the Sandcastles team since 2013.  Throughout this time I have been a nursery practitioner, Head of Starfish, Deputy Manager and am now also the Head of Preschool.  This has given me the opportunity to build relationships with many of the families that use Sandcastles and an understanding of all of the age groups in our care.  I hold a BA Hons degree in Early Childhood Studies and am always keen to refresh and increase my knowledge.  Everyday here is different and it is a pleasure to work in such a warm, friendly and fun atmosphere.  In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking and socialising with friends and colleagues.



Danielle Giggins

Head of Starfish

I prefer to be called Dani.  I have been working in childcare since 2010 and have been a part of the Sandcastles team since February 2014.  I have gained both a level 2 and 3 in child care working with various age groups.  I am particularly passionate about the under 2’s, creating individual bonds with them and their families at such a vulnerable time.  And I love watching them change and grow everyday.  Outside of work I enjoy spending all of my time with family and friends.

Claire Pritchard

Curriculum Leader

I joined Sandcastles team in September 2016 working in the preschool room.  I hold a L3 childcare qualification and have gained many years of experience.  I previously worked in a nursery and when I started my own family I registered as a childminder.  As a childminder I was able to tailor the learning to the individual and I feel at Sandcastles we are supporting the children in this way in a group environment.  I have a family of my own and can empathise with parents leaving them in the care of others.  as a family we enjoy holiday, festivals, trips to the woods and spending time with our extended family.  

Jim White


I have over 20 years experience in cooking and hold a level 2 qualification in food safety.  I like to make good home cooked, wholesome and nutritious meals.  I also like to make food fun as they say we eat with our eyes.  If it looks good it will taste good.  I am married with two young children and am passionate about fishing in my spare time.  

Jackie Bryant

Senior Practitioner

I have enjoyed working with and caring for children in different environments for over twenty five years,  Since starting work at Sandcastles I have worked with various age groups from two up to school age children, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed.  I take a great pride in my work and enjoy watching the children grow and develop.. Being part of their success and achievements makes me very proud.  I love my job as much today as I did when I first started.

Courtney Diss


I joined Sandcastles in October 2016 as an apprentice to support my studies.  I have achieved my level 2 in childcare earlier this year and am now working towards level 3.  I particularly enjoy creative ideas that everyone can get involved in.  Outside of my time at Sandcastles I enjoy socialising with friends and spending time with my niece.



 Sally Glen

Nursery Practitioner

I have worked in childcare since 2008 gaining experience with all age groups.  I have been part of the Sandcastles team since 2013 and am a key person within the Seahorse room.  In my spare time I enjoy going to the gym, taking my dog for walks and socialising with family and friends.  

Aaron Hodges

Nursery Practitioner

I Have been working at Sandcastles since 2012.  I am currently a member of the Dolphins team.  I enjoy interacting with the children and challenging their thinking. The preschool age are my favourites as they keep me on my toes and offer amusing conversation.  I currently hold a level 2 in Childcare and would like to extend my knowledge by undertaking a degree in Childhood and Youth studies and child psychology.

  Sam Stringer

Nursery Practitioner

I joined Sandcastles team as a student in September 2014 based in Seahorses and Dolphins.  Following the completion of my course and gaining my National diploma Level 3  in Children’s Care, Learning and Education I became a practitioner in Seahorses where I continued to build my knowledge and skills as a key person.    I enjoy working with the children and playing a part in their learning and development.  I find it rewarding seeing them thrive.  In my spare time, I enjoy socialising with friends and family.  

Poppy McCabe

Nursery Practitioner

I hold a Level 3 in Children’s development.  During my course I was lucky enough to work with all age groups including a placement within a Special Needs school.  I first came to Sandcastles as a student in 2014 and I fell in love with the setting and just knew that this was the place for me.  I am passionate about children’s development and love to get involved in their play and learning.  Outside of work I enjoy socialising with friends.

Stephanie Hamblin

Nursery Practitioner

I like to be called Steph.  I started working in childcare after completing my Level 3 qualification and have been a part of Sandcastles team since June 2016.  I have experience with various ages but particularly enjoy working with the under 2’s.  I like to watch them as they achieve their early milestones.  Outside of work I enjoy socialising with friends and family.  I have a passion for cars and regularly attend shows and events.  

Amy Loveday

Nursery Practitioner

 Hello! I’m Amy.  I have been working in nurseries since 2014 and joined Sandcastles team in October 2016.  I hold a level 3 in childcare and have attended other training to further my knowledge, skills and support practise.  In my spare time I enjoy listening to music and going out with friends.


Gemma Wenman

Nursery Practitioner

I joined the Sandcastles team in November 2016 as part of the Starfish team.  My previous experience has been with children aged 2-7 in a school based setting and I am enjoying the challenge of the under 2’s to broaden this experience across all ages. I am a very relaxed person with a creative side.  I like to write and draw and do arts and crafts in my free time.  I like to keep up to date on the latest films and TV shows.  I enjoy going to the cinema with friends and family and visit the gym when I can.

Kelly Dalby

Kids Club

I have been working in childcare since 2014.  I have a BA honours degree in English.I joined the Sandcastles team in April 2017.   I  enjoy my role spending time in all rooms within the nursery and then with the after school and holiday clubs.   I love skiing, bike riding and travelling.  In my spare time I like to spend time with my family.

Danielle Goller

Nursery Practitioner

 Currently on maternity leave.

 David Taylor

I am Darren’s dad.  I do work around the nursery to keep it looking nice and to make sure it is a safe place to be.  You will always find me busy in the garden unless I have come inside to fix something.  When I am not at Sandcastles I love to play bowles.  

Sue Mayes

     Spanish Teacher

I teach children Spanish at Sandcastles and some of the local schools.  I have been studying Spanish for over 20 years.   My interest is not only the language, but the culture and history of the mainland Spain.