Nursery Today magazine

Britain’s Best Grandparents announced

Three sets of grandparents from across the country have been selected as Grandparent Ambassadors by global toy manufacturer TOMY

The winners, from Blackburn, Nottingham and Eastbourne, won a national competition to find grandparents who go above and beyond the call of duty for their grandchildren. As well as raising their own children, they play significant roles in bringing up their grandchildren, providing invaluable support that allows their grandchildren to have a stable upbringing and start in life. 

The competition was held to give recognition to the role grandparents play in the lives of children today, a role which is often taken for granted or overlooked. Grandparents have become the backbone of the parenting nation, both in providing childcare and often financial support. Some, more than is apparent, have sole responsibility for raising their grandchildren.

TOMY joined forces with the national charity Grandparents Plus, which champions the 200,000 grandparents and other family members, known as kinship carers, who bring up children in the UK in the absence of parents.

More and more grandparents are taking daily responsibility for caring for their grandchildren -
“63% of grandparents – 7 million people in the UK, provide essential childcare, often allowing the parents to go work, with one in five (19%) providing at least 10 hours a week.” (According to a study by Kings College London for Grandparents Plus.)

The winning grandparents and their families enjoyed a day out at TOMY headquarters in Surrey, receiving a bundle of toys and baby products to try out at home. Along with lunch and the run of the toy room, the winners also provided comment on some new product ideas being trialled for next year. TOMY look to their ambassadors for provide input and support across their range of products and value their all-round experience and knowledge.

Single Grandad, Graham Leach, took on the role of caring single-handedly for his two grandchildren when their mother was no longer able to care for them due to her battle against drug and alcohol abuse. Despite recovering from ill health, Graham took the challenge on board and has never looked back since. It has meant significant changes to his lifestyle and confrontations with the local authority as well as coping on a tight budget but Graham is passionate about his role and his grandchildren and has created a strong bond with the boys. He is determined to give them a good educational start in life and puts a lot of energy into playing with them, sharing stories and using a variety of toys and games to stimulate their minds and encourage development.

Beja and Alan Morrison from Eastbourne have five children and four grandchildren. Their youngest child is nine years old and they also have full time care of their nephew, only a year old. Despite working four days a week, Beja takes her role as grandparent very seriously, providing a warm welcome, support and a solid base on a daily basis for her children and grandchildren alike.

Ivan and Debra Walker from Aspley, Nottingham have three children and five grandchildren and Debra works full time to support the family as her husband Ivan has been unable to work for the past four years due primarily to rheumatoid arthritis. Due to a difficult domestic situation, one daughter and grandchild had to move back home full time for several months. Although they are now rehoused in a safe house, they continue to spend a lot of time with Debra and Ivan and look to them for support.

Joanne Gray, Marketing Director at TOMY UK, commented, “Good product ideas are made even better by listening to customer feedback and watching children play. As well as parents and children, grandparents have their own specific preferences and needs when it comes to toys and child related products and their input is invaluable. We have really enjoyed meeting our first Grandparent Ambassadors and look forward to getting to know them better over the coming year.”

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