New Year Honours value commitment and service of early years professionals

Kathy Oxtoby
Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Laura Henry-Allain is one of several leading early years figures named in the 2021 New Year Honours list.

Laura Henry-Allain – 'delighted' to be awarded an MBE.
Laura Henry-Allain – 'delighted' to be awarded an MBE.

Laura Henry-Allain, a well-known trainer, author, and TV children’s series creator, who has spent more than 30 years working in early years, has been awarded an MBE for services to Education in the New Year Honours List.

Ms Henry-Allain, wrote and created the children’s picturebook series Jo-Jo and GranGran, which has been made into a CBeebies TV series, and has provided professional advice across the sector nationally and internationally.

She is vice president of Early Education, a national charity that supports early years educators with training, resources and professional networks and campaigns for quality education for the youngest children.

She is also an ambassador for the Jermain Defoe Foundation, which supports homeless, vulnerable and abused children in St Lucia, Dominica and the UK.

Ms Henry-Allain said she was ‘absolutely delighted to be honoured with an MBE’.

‘I was shocked and emotional when I heard the news. I left school at 16 and worked as a clerk typist before starting a college course in early years education when I was 19. I knew then that I had found my passion.

‘Since then I have dedicated my whole career to working with children, parents and those who work with them. I have gone on to complete more qualifications in education and management and being awarded this MBE, for Services to Education, is simply remarkable. I dedicate my MBE to my cousin, Junior, who recently lost his battle with cancer.’


Childminder Jane Comeau has been awarded an MBE

Former Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) chair, Jane Comeau, has also been awarded an MBE for her services to education.

For over 25 years, Mr Corneau has been a PACEY volunteer and childminder, championing the early years and childcare sector. In 2014, she became PACEY chair, supporting other trustees and helping them understand the challenges and joys of being a childminder.

Thanking PACEY for the nomination, Ms Comeau, who reached the end of her term in October 2020, said: ‘I have been passionate about supporting childminding and the early years sector as a whole throughout my career in a wide and varied way. I have had many highlights over the years, but to have my voluntary work recognised in this way is indeed a great honour.’

Other New Year Honours' recipients include:


Sasi Srinivasan, an early years manager for Brent Council in north London, has been made MBE for services to education.

Jacqueline Mary Bell, owner and manager at Jaybees Nursery, Lochmaben in Scotland, for services to education and to charity

Nicola Black, head of Parkhead Community Nursery, for services to Pre-School Education and to the community in Glasgow

Maria Keaveney-Jessiman, principal of Eveline Nursery Chain and Eveline Day School, London, for services to education.

Jean Shirley Smart, director of Collin Care Group and head of Mayfield Nursery, Glasgow, for services to Pre-School Education and to Charity

Jo-Ann Elizabeth Prichard Pringle, programme adviser, Childcare Works Leeds, for services to Children and Families

Andrew David Briggs, volunteer, NSPCC. For services to Children (London, Greater London)


Peter Thomas Wanless CB chief executive officer, NSPCC, for services to Children, Young People and the Charitable Sector

Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

Anthony Edward Tudor Browne, children's author and illustrator, for services to Literature

Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Paul Boyce, director of children's services, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, for services to Children in Merseyside

Christine Ann Hill, headteacher, Westminster School, Rowley Regis, for services to Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Jayne Mary Vertkin, head of Early Help, Westminster City Council, for services to Children in London

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