A FAMILY-RUN business that operates four nurseries across Hampshire and Wiltshire has celebrated its apprentices and the work they do during National Apprenticeship Week. 

First Friends Day Nurseries has highlighted the success and achievements of its apprentices in early years childcare and said that is committed to fostering the next generation of childcare professionals. 

Currently, First Friends has five apprentices across its four nurseries, which are in Chineham, Alton, Eastleigh and Barford St Martin, near Salisbury. 

One of these, Alana Long, who works at Barford St Martin, was nominated for Apprentice of the Year in 2023 at the Wiltshire Life Awards, showcasing the excellence and dedication she brings to her

Basingstoke Gazette: Alana who works at First Friends Day Nurseries

She said:  "Passion for working with young children has been my driving force, and this apprenticeship has not only fulfilled that passion but also provided invaluable resources and coursework support."

Rosie Pearce started at First Friends in Eastleigh as a support staff in the summer of 2020. She started an apprenticeship in October of the same year. Having completed one year of her apprenticeship, Rosie decided to pause her apprenticeship to embrace motherhood. This break allowed her to balance her professional and personal life.

Rosie said: “My apprenticeship with First Friends has allowed me to continue pursuing my dream of being a qualified early-year professional whilst earning and being a mum to my little one."

First Friends partners with Showcase Training to provide support for its apprentices. This includes non-contact time during work hours for assignments, regular telephone conversations, and tutor visits. 

Area manager, Rae Oxlade, said: "We are proud of our apprenticeship programme and the remarkable individuals like Alana and Rosie who contribute to the supportive family
at First Friends. National Apprenticeship Week is an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and highlight the crucial role apprenticeships play in shaping the future of early years childcare."