Ellesmere Port caretaker wins national School Superhero award

Ellesmere Port caretaker wins national School Superhero award

An Ellesmere Port school is celebrating after one of their staff members won the top prize in a national competition.

Joe Holland is the site supervisor at Parklands Community Primary and Nursery School and scooped the £250 cash prize for his school in the School Superheroes competition organised by Miconex, the fintech behind the Town and City Gift Cards programme, including the Chester Gift Card.

Headteacher of Parklands, Kim Cairns said Joe’s efforts to support the school during lockdown and beyond have been invaluable to both families and school staff:

“Parklands is located on a housing estate in Ellesmere Port. We have incredible families at Parklands who are both proud and generous. It’s a small school, very inclusive, and we’re like a family. We also have a great provision for children with additional needs including various rooms like the Butterfly Room and the Bee Room, places where both nurturing and intervention can take place.

“As with all schools, the pandemic was a challenge. No headteacher wants to close their school, but we had to close with 48 hours’ notice. We had to find innovative ways to support our families. Around 65% of our families are eligible for free school meals.  During the closure, we were delivering school meals to over 100 children across the estate and further afield in Ellesmere Port, providing devices for home learning, and providing childcare for vulnerable families.

“Mr Holland has supported us through the pandemic, working right through the lockdowns to help keep our children safe. Other sectors may have closed or moved to home working, but Mr Holland was here every day, even stepping up to support other schools.

“When school re-opened, Mr Holland and I were there at the gates ready to welcome families back and Joe is especially good at supporting those children who may find it a little tricky to come into school sometimes. He’ll greet them in the morning and walk them to the classroom door and it means a lot to them. Consistency is so important to all children. Mr Holland is a positive male role model for the children, hard-working, calm and quiet and that’s great for them to see.

“It’s not just our families that Mr Holland supports. One of Mr Holland’s favourite phrases is ‘not a problem’, whether it’s putting up a display in the classroom or changing a car tyre, Joe is always there to lend a hand for our whole school team.

“When we look back at what we achieved as a school through the pandemic, and when our parents tell us how visible we were, it’s evidence of how much our staff care about our families and how resilient they have been during a really difficult time for everyone. As a headteacher I’m proud of Mr Holland, and all of our staff team, for their work during the pandemic and beyond.”

Joe was nominated for the School Superhero award by his sister Kelly Holland, who said: “I am so proud of Joe and what he has achieved, he works hard and always has a smile on his face. Joe has a medical condition that meant he had to have part of his lung removed but nevertheless, he worked right through the pandemic, even with a newborn baby, and supported other schools whose site staff were isolating.  Site supervisors and caretakers are so important to keeping a school running smoothly, they’re the ones staying late to lock up and doing a million little jobs that no-one really thinks of. It’s nice to see Joe getting the recognition he deserves.

“Joe started working at the local college and from there went to Parklands. Joe’s background means he has an empathy and understanding with children who may be feeling unsure and nervous about going to school, and it’s lovely that he has an opportunity to be that reassuring, friendly face for the pupils at Parklands.”

Asked about his role at Parklands, Joe Holland said every day is different: “The job at Parklands came up after I completed my apprenticeship. I hadn’t necessarily thought about working in a school, but it’s a great environment to work in. In a day I could be unblocking toilets, dealing with site security issues, decorating, every day is completely different. It’s nice to hear what everyone has said but really I’m just doing my job, and if I can help the children to have a good start to their day by saying hello and walking them to their class, then I’m happy to do that.”

Joe will receive a £50 Chester Gift Card with Parklands receiving a £250 cash prize which Mrs Cairns says will go towards creating nurturing spaces in each classroom.

The Chester Gift Card can be spent with over 110 businesses in the city, including shops, cafés, attractions, restaurants, salons and more, launched in November 2020 as part of Chester Business Improvement District’s (BID) battleplan to support high street shops from the effects of lockdown.

Carl Critchlow from Chester BID said: “This program not only helps the businesses on our high street but is also great way to say thank you to the school teams that have put in an amazing effort to support pupils and their families during incredibly challenging times.”

Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex and said: “We had an incredible response to our School Superhero competition with so many potential and very worthy winners. The School Superhero competition was designed to shine a light on the amazing work of schools, and school staff, over the past 18 months who have gone above and beyond to support their children and families. Town & City Gift Cards are really popular school staff appreciation gifts, so the campaign was our way of giving back to schools and school staff. Congratulations to Mr Holland and Parklands.”

Press information

Miconex was founded in 2010 and works with towns and cities across the world, helping to support successful local economies. Miconex developed the UK’s first city-wide gift card programme in Perth through its Town and City Gift Cards initiative in 2015. In 2021, over 60 cities/towns across the 4 countries of the UK are part of the Miconex Town and City Gift Card programme. This programme is designed to lock in money locally for participating businesses, drive footfall and stimulate economic activity, in effect creating a local currency through the Mastercard network. In 2018, Miconex launched Mi Rewards, a loyalty programme that automatically rewards consumers for spending money at registered businesses in a specific local economy, encouraging consumers to spend more in their town or city. The data and insights provided through Mi Rewards generate data and insights to help towns/cities and participating businesses to better understand customers, customer behaviour and to drive loyalty.

Published 9th November 2021