Cheryl Hadland founded Tops Day Nurseries in 1990 when she was 30 years old and a mother of 2 small boys. She had been a volunteer committee member and pre-school assistant in a playgroup with her 3 year old, whilst attending a pre-school leaders course. Cheryl decided that opening a day nursery that was open all day rather than just mornings was needed in the area, so she reduced her workload at her scuba dive centre and opened the first Tops Day Nursery, Tops Parkstone in Herbert Ave, Poole.
Cheryl completed a 2 year course with the PPA (now called the Pre School Learning Alliance), a Montessori correspondence course, and then the NVQ3 in Early Years Care & Education. Over the following 10 years she completed her Certificate of Education, Degree, and Masters Degree in Education at Southampton University.
Cheryl opened the first baby unit shortly after the birth of her daughter in 1995, and over the years to date has continued to expand the team and into more sites to provide the local communities with the childcare and education needed.
The age range catered to has gradually expanded from 3-4 year olds to 0-15 year olds (depending on the setting) and opening hours can be as long as 6am until 8pm (depending on the setting), and for 52 weeks of the year, in response to demand from the community. Opening such long hours is not as cost effective as opening shorter hours, but making money has never been the key driver for the creation of Tops Day Nurseries, it has been service to the community and creating a safe, caring, appropriate environment in which to educate our children and provide them with the best possible start for enjoying, learning and contributing as they mature.
Cheryl has a passion for education not only of the pre-schoolers but for apprentices and adults, and it has been through the continuous professional development and lifelong learning of colleagues that the Tops Family of Day Nurseries has expanded in the way that it has, also holding the Investors In People Standard for 15 years and achieving Ofsted “Outstanding” and “Beacon Training Provider” for the quality of training provided through Aspire Training Team, for which she is the Managing Director and sole owner, as for Tops Day Nurseries.
Cheryl continues to scuba dive, having a love of the sea and the creatures in it, and has realised that the nurseries had unwittingly been damaging the environment with their use of one-use plastic (nappies, gloves, balloons, straws etc.) and inefficient use of resources, and has started a drive to reduce, re-use and recycle in order to prevent further damage to the environment that we leave to our children and grandchildren.
Cheryl is active politically on behalf of private day nurseries and early years teachers, and has won many awards in recent years for her work, such as being crowned the “most influential” person in the Early Years Sector in 2018, and has delivered Eco training for early years professional at an international level.
Born and brought up in Hong Kong with a Zambian born adopted brother Cheryl has a strong anti-discrimination, pro individual ethos, welcomes a diverse workforce and shares a “welcome to all” culture with the 600 strong colleague team. Cheryl has 10 family members working in or supported by the organisation including her two grandchildren. Tops is very much a family business and the bottom line that Cheryl evaluates all parts of the organisation is “Are my family members, and the neighbours family members, happy and fulfilled spending time here?” and she welcomes all feedback to help in her mission to serve the community.