A manager at one of Huddersfield’s leading private day nurseries has stepped down after 25 years.

Samantha Richmond leaves Oakwood House Nursery & Forest School in Edgerton to be replaced by experienced childcare professional Gail Howarth.

Oakwood House is part of the Portland Nurseries group which has four sites across Lindley, Edgerton and Birkby.

Samantha joined in 1996 working with then owner and founder Rosemary Murphy OBE, who also founded the National Day Nurseries Association.

Samantha helped grow the company, progressing her career from baby room leader at Portland House in Lindley, to manager at Oakwood House – a post she has held since the imposing Edgerton villa was purchased by the group 11 years ago.

Over her distinguished career Samantha has touched the lives of hundreds of families across Huddersfield and has received multiple Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ inspections, with inspectors citing: “Inspirational leadership with well-qualified staff group who work very enthusiastically as a team. This means children are provided with the very best learning experiences.”

Samantha will take up a part time role as training and management co-ordinator.

Portland Nurseries joint managing director, Anastasia Murphy, paid tribute to Samantha and said: “In this rapidly expanding sector it is unusual to find people working for the same company for such a long time.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Samantha for her contribution to Portland Nurseries and for the positive impact she has had on the lives of the children in our care.

“She has nurtured many little acorns into little oak trees and made a huge impact on hundreds of families.

“During her time, Oakwood has become Ofsted Outstanding and is unique in Kirklees, not just for its fantastic building and grounds, but for the amazing staff team and education provided under her management.”

Gail Howarth takes the reins as manager at Oakwood House, bringing with her vast experience of working across multiple sites and geographic locations including Colchester, Cyprus and Edinburgh as nursery manager and nursery principal.

Anastasia added: “Gail has over 27 years’ experience in childcare and we would like to welcome her on board.

“This was a key appointment for us and we are delighted to have someone of Gail’s calibre join us on the next stage of our journey.

“She will no doubt make a huge positive contribution to the lives of children here at Oakwood and across the Portland Nurseries group and enable us to meet our ambitious goals for nursery expansion.”