Meet the Staff

Darren & Kate Taylor


Darren Taylor: Degree – Bachelor of Education (with Honours), National Nursery Education Board Qualified, Early Years Professional Status

Kate Taylor: Degree – Bachelor of Education (with Honours)

Securing, renovating and then opening Sandcastles in September 2000 was a massive leap of faith for us.  We had a young family and we took a chance on something we believed in.  It was both scary and exciting in equal measure.  Possibly, if you’re doing something for the right reasons and certainly, if you’re prepared to work hard, you have a higher chance of succeeding.  Sandcastles has succeeded from the day we opened.

It has changed a great deal over the years as children have come and gone along with, from time to time, staff.  We have also seen much change within government and at local level which has brought new ideas and legislation.  Change, at times, can seem daunting and sometimes frustrating but reflecting back, even though the children have always received outstanding care and education, the opportunities the children have now seem endless with so much freedom to be able to access all areas and resources independently.

We consider ourselves so fortunate to have jobs that provide such variety and ones where we can and do, really make a difference to young lives.  It’s wonderful to be able to adapt areas to constantly provide the children with new and exciting opportunities.  It’s also wonderful to work alongside such an amazing group of people.

Parent partnership has also changed over the years.  We have always had strong links with our families but with social media, the sharing of information has become far easier and quicker, to the benefit of all.  Providing excellent customer service is extremely important to us.   We work hard to ensure we offer what is now possibly an old-fashioned service – personal, polite, caring and efficient with a common-sense approach.

In the early days, staff management was probably our biggest challenge as, being teachers, it was something new for us to master.  Putting ourselves on training courses helped but in reality, there’s nothing better than experience.  Like all things here, our staffing team has gone from strength to strength.  We really do work as a team and are all the better for it.  We are very pleased therefore, to introduce to you our excellent, dedicated, highly skilled staffing team all of whom play a key role in making Sandcastles the outstanding setting that it is.



I have been a part of the Sandcastles team since 2003. I have ascended to manager through my years here and am passionate about the home from home environment and atmosphere that we have created. As a setting we have an ‘open door policy’ and this couldn’t be truer of my office door. Children, parents and my team will happily pop in, testament to the relationships that are intrinsic to the running of such a large setting. I am ever present in rooms, enabling me to have a hands-on knowledge of the practise and standards we have instilled and give me insight and opportunity to know all the children personally.

I enjoy working alongside our team to continuously challenge and develop our practise to achieve the highest standards in childcare and education. This can be by reflecting on our practice, analysing the curriculum, enhancing areas with redesign or new additions to our resources, or by identifying staff training needs. Whatever form it takes, I take pride in the fact that these actions are formulated from a collaboration to be proud of, my team.

To close, I have two daughters and a cockapoo called Cooper. We love camping, music concerts and eating out.


Deputy Manager

I have worked at Sandcastles since 2013, carrying out many roles through the years and have been our appointed Deputy since 2016.

I have a degree in Early child hood studies and also a Level 5 advanced early years practitioner qualification.

I feel so fortunate to have a job which is ever changing as no two days are the same. I enjoy spending time in all of the rooms, getting to know and supporting the children and our fantastic staffing team.

In my personal life I am married with a young son and a little dog who keep me busy! We love beach trips, woodland walks and attending music events.


Senior Nursery Practitioner

I joined the Sandcastles team in 2017 and completed my Level 3 Childcare qualification as an apprentice.  Since then I have also successfully completed a degree in Early Childhood.  The knowledge and experience gained is drawn on each day through my work with the children at Sandcastles.  My role as a senior practitioner involves me providing support and guidance to my staffing team ensuring that each child in our care receives the very best care and education daily.   I enjoy spending time with friends and family as well as walking my dogs.


Senior Nursery Practitioner and Acting Deputy Manager

I have been working with children for over 20 years.  I have extensive experience and knowledge in supporting children with special educational needs, specialising in autism.  Prior to joining Sandcastles, I worked for a learning support service in a wide range of settings, gaining many new skills along the way.

In my spare time I enjoy being creative, gardening, baking, making clay creations and sewing.


Senior Nursery Practitioner

I have been working in childcare for almost 7 years since doing my work experience at school.  I volunteered in the summer holidays and worked part time whilst at college.  I took a couple of years out to work on the Royal Caribbean Cruise ships.  I completed my level 3 Advanced Childcare apprenticeship qualification in June ’21.  In my spare time I enjoy going to the theatre.  I especially love musicals.  I am a member of a local amateur dramatic society and perform in pantomimes in January every year at the Palace Theatre in Westcliff.


Nursery Practitioner

I joined the sandcastles team in April 2019. I hold a childcare NVQ level 3 qualification. I enjoy fun and messy activities supporting their development, watching them learn, achieve and grow. In my spare time I enjoy shopping, socialising and spending time with my family, friends and walking my dog.


Nursery Chef

My name is Sarah. I joined Sandcastles in June 2019 after a short career break having two children. I have a level 3 catering GNVQ. I have previously worked as a chef for over 10 years. I enjoy cooking, swimming and having fun with my children.


Nursery Practitioner

I joined Sandcastles as an apprentice in June ’21.  Since then, I have gained experience in all rooms and have passed my Level 3 qualification.  I have developed a passion for childcare and am loving working in the Starfish room.

In my spare time I like to spend time with my family, listen to music and see my friends.


Senior Nursery Practitioner

In June ’21 I completed a degree in Furniture and Product Design.  During this I designed and manufactured a number of children’s furniture items – one of which has been put to good use in Dolphins!  I joined Sandcastles team in June 2021 as an apprentice which I have now completed, achieving a level 3 in childcare, with distinction.

In my spare time I enjoy sailing and am a Beaver Scout leader.


Nursery Assistant

I joined the Sandcastles team in March 2022. I thoroughly enjoy working with all age groups and am currently studying towards my Level 3 Early Years qualification.

I have 2 boys so much of my free time is taken up going to my local parks and fields with footballs, scooters and bikes.


Nursery Practitioner

I have enjoyed working in childcare since 2012.  I’ve worked in a number of settings throughout those years, as well as nannying.  In January 2021, I joined Sandcastles as part of their team of bank staff.  I was soon offered a permanent position.  I currently hold a Level 2 in Childcare qualification and am planning to start my level 3.

I enjoy spending time with my little boy, my family and friends.


Nursery Practitioner

I am currently working towards my level 3 Childcare Qualification with Sandcastles, I joined the team in February 2022.
Before this, I worked aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships as  ‘Youth Staff’ in the entertainment division for 4 years and was able to travel and enjoy lots of amazing places.
I have a 1st class BA Hons degree in Performing Arts from Canterbury Christ Church University which I am very proud of. Even though I didn’t take a career in performing I am still an active singer and actor and part of a ladies choir and a Amateur dramatics group called ‘The Wednesday Players’, I also love going to the theatre in my spare time.
I love working in a childcare environment and have been working since the age of 16 in voluntary roles.  I am so excited to gain my qualification in August next year with the support of Sandcastles and see where it takes me.


Nursery Practitioner

I have a Childcare Degree BA Honours in Early Years.  Over the years I have supported children of all ages in nurseries and schools.  I had an amazing experience as a supervisor at a creche in Rhodes as a summer job.

I love to spend time with family.  I enjoy puzzles and keeping fit.


Nursery Practitioner

I joined Sandcastles in March 2023 and am based in the Starfish room.  I qualified in July 2012 and have enjoyed working with children ever since.  My last job was in a full care nursery setting where I was part of the Senior Leadership Team.  In my spare time I like spending time with my family.


Nursery Apprentice

I joined Sandcastles in March 2023 and have enjoyed every second working with the children.  I am gaining experience in all the rooms but am mainly based in Seahorses.  I am working towards my Level 3 Childcare qualification.

In my spare time I play rugby and it was through coaching younger children that I decided I’d like to become a nursery practitioner.  I also enjoy spending time with family and friends.


Nursery Apprentice

I joined Sandcastles in March 2023 as an apprentice and am currently working towards my Level 3 qualification.  I have always loved being with children and am enjoying building my knowledge and understanding of their development.  In my spare time I love going for long dog walks and going on holiday.


Nursery Practitioner

I joined Sandcastles in October 2023 after completing my level 3 qualification in childcare at college.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my friends and family.


Nursery Practitioner

I joined Sandcastles in October 2023.  I hold a level 3 qualification in childcare having studied for 3 years in sixth form.  I love working within early years because I love being a part of the children’s journey, supporting them to grow and develop and achieve their milestones.

My hobbies are cooking, going on lovely walks, listening to music and meeting up with friends.


Nursery Practitioner

I joined the team as bank staff in October 2020.  I enjoy the flexibility of the role and working within all age groups.  My main career experience has been supporting children with Special Educational needs in early years setting and schools.

I love music, art and spending time by the sea.


Nursery Assistant (Bank)

I joined Sandcastles in May 2021 as part of their bank staff team.  Prior to joining Sandcastles I was a teaching assistant supporting children with additional needs.

I enjoy spending time with my family, gardening, baking and going to the theatre.


Nursery Assistant




I am Kate’s sister and the mum of three grown up children. For the first 20 years of my working career, I worked in the West End of London and my children attended Sandcastles full time.  I fully appreciate the juggling involved being a working parent with children at school and nursery. I then had a change of career and worked as a secondary school teacher for 14 years.  I am working with Kate to support her and the management team to ensure the smooth running of the nursery.

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 bowls.

Eileen Taylor

I am Darren’s Mum. I generally work at Sandcastles on a Saturday morning after my aqua class!  I sort out the petty cash and deep clean areas of the nursery.  I also keep Darren and David supplied with coffee and sometimes sausage rolls and cake!  I put together flower arrangements and deliver them to our families who are celebrating the birth of a new baby.  This is a role I love as I get to meet so many of you at such a happy, exciting time.

I love to knit and am often given knitting projects from nursery.  I have knitted many characters from well-known nursery rhymes and all sorts of items from well known books.  When I’m not given a specific knitting task, I tend to make clothes for the Sandcastle’s dolls!

Outside of nursery I love to see my friends and family and am so lucky to be a Nanny to many grandchildren and great- grandchildren!