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Star Teacher Winner - Summer 2019

Congratulations Nikola!

Puddle Ducks Nottinghamshire and North Leicestershire Star Teacher – Summer 2019 is...... Nikola Nascimento!!!

We often say we have the #bestjobintheworld and the nominations that our customers have sent in for #StarTeacherAward are absolute testament to that!

Shirley Towle, the owner of the Family Grapevine in Nottinghamshire, a local magazine for parents from pregnancy to teenagers selected the winning nomination, from Lindsay and Annabel. Shirley wrote that it was getting harder and harder to choose the winner because all the nominations are amazing. She also wanted to give her congratulations to all the teachers for every nomination received.

A huge congratulations Nikola and thank you to Lindsay and Annabel - your words mean so much:

"Annabel and I would like to nominate Nikola as Star Teacher for her work with the Little Dippers at The Nottingham Sherwood Hotel. Every session is full of fun, enthusiasm and laughs. Her teaching is superb as she engages each and every child and seems to get the best out of them. Due to mild cerebral palsy, keeping up with her peer group can be difficult and frustrating for Annabel, and as her mum, I have found other swimming lessons a little stressful. Nikola makes every lesson about what we can do, not what we can’t.

She nurtures Annabel’s love of water and never makes us feel any different to the other Little Dippers and their mums. We have swum with Puddle Ducks on and off since 2016 and Nikola is by far the best teacher we have had to date. She deserves recognition for this.

Nikola really is great. Not just with Annabel, but all the other kids in the lessons. She always gets the ones who are uncooperative going and can diffuse tantrums etc!”

Nikola will now be a contender for the national Puddle Ducks Star Teacher award – Good luck Nikola and many congratulations as this is very well deserved!!

Nikola teaches our Baby and Pre School lessons at The Key Health Club and the Nottingham Sherwood Hotel. She also teaches Swim Academy at The Key Health Club.

Thank you to everyone who nominated their teacher for the Star Teacher award as it really means a lot to the individual teachers and also us as a team. We hope that you enjoy reading every nomination received, all of which are detailed below as they speak volumes about our teachers and the work that they do with the parents and children who swim with us.  


Nikola Nascimento

“I would like to nominate Nikola who teaches at The Key Health Club in Keyworth.  Nikola always welcomes both the children and adults with a great big smile and throughout the lessons is supportive and understanding.

My little one has gone through a stage of pushing boundaries/ testing me and often does the opposite of what he is meant to be doing and Nikola was there with advice and re-assurance that made me feel better about the situation. This has lead me to continuing with classes when I’d seriously considered whether I should.

Similarly, with other children, she recognises when a child looks uncomfortable with a particular exercise and she proactively adapts it for that child and/ or provides an alternative focus for them.

She really is fantastic!”

Nominated by Kelly and Oscar

“Our daughter had colic and screamed for the first 3 months’ worth of lessons. Nikola was so patient. She adapted each activity to meet our needs so that it worked for our baby. We could have given up yet we were always made to feel welcome. After a LONG journey, Penelope now loves swimming and that is down to her. Taking the swimming aside, the support shown to us was really appreciated. “

Nominated by Tim, Charlotte and Penelope

Emma Richardson

“My vote is for Emma who teaches at West Gate School. My daughter Zahra is quite shy and apprehensive but has really come out of her shell and progressed rapidly thanks to Emma's constant encouragement and 1-to-1 chats in the pool. Zahra loves coming to swim knowing that Emma will be there!”

Nominated by Abbas and Zahra

“We would once again like to nominate Emma Richardson for Star Teacher. Ben, Izzy, Charlotte, Oliver and Arabella all swim on Saturday at West Gate School - 3 children are in Dippers and 2 in Splashers. They have all been taught by Emma since starting in Floaties.

We are incredibly proud of the progress they have all made and this is all thanks to Emma’s teaching. She is gentle, encouraging and patient with them all which has really helped them grow as individual swimmers. Thank you for all your hard work. 

Nominated by Reema (Ben and Izzy’s Mum), Kelly (Charlotte and Oliver’s Mum) and Ellie (Arabella’s Mum)

Rebecca Hulme-Edwardson

“We absolutely love Rebecca from the Hilton Hotel in Nottingham. Paige loves her and always has a great lesson. Rebecca is so good with the kids too. She is definitely our Star Teacher!”

Nominated by Danielle and Paige

“We nominate Rebecca. Rebecca is just so lovely, she makes everyone feel so welcome. She makes swimming enjoyable and has made my little boy so confident in the water. He used to get upset and he didn’t like being handled but now he is so at ease. We swim on a Friday at the Hilton Hotel and we look forward to it every week because of Rebecca”.

Nominated by Beckie and Blake

“Rebecca is the best swimming teacher because she is really nice and a great teacher.  I used to feel scared and shivery and I wanted my mum and not my feet off the floor. My favourite time in swimming now is when Rebecca tells me to jump!

I felt most proud when I got my 10 meters badge and Rebecca said ‘Well Done’ and all the mums and everyone clapped as well! The thing I like most about Puddle Ducks is all the awesome things I have got to do, and I might never have done if I only messed about and wasn’t learning new things!”

Nominated by Riley (Age 7) and Sharon

“It is a very hard decision to make but I nominate Rebecca at the Portland Leisure Centre. My daughter is quite shy but I really like the way how Rebecca convinced her to get into water and how with every lesson, she has built the confidence in my child. Well done and thank you!”

Nominated by Jelena and Daria

“My nomination is for Rebecca at The Key Health Club. She is amazing in every way and supports the babies and adults alike. She makes every lesson a joy and has a special bond with our little ones. She has given me the confidence in the water that I never knew I had!”

Nominated by Jenna and Ava

Rebecca Hulme-Edwardson and Rachael Slater

“We would like to nominate Rebecca and Rachael from the Sunday morning class at Portland Leisure Centre. Without them, our daughter wouldn’t be swimming the way she is. They are brilliant!”

Nominated by Rachel, David and Molly

Heather Mooney

“My son’s teacher Heather is amazing. She is so helpful, and my son Jacob loves her. She always has time for all her pupils and has a smile on her face every lesson. She deserves Star Teacher as she is so understanding and happy all the time. Thank you Heather!”

Nominated by Donna and Jacob

“I would like to nominate Heather for Star Teacher. Scarlett looks forward to seeing her each week and has lots of fun while learning to swim. Heather knows all the children individually and how to encourage them to achieve their goals and pushes them just enough to try without them doing something outside of their comfort zone. 

Scarlett has progressed so much since attending Puddle Ducks with Heather and this would be the ultimate way to thank her for everything she does for us each week”.

Nominated by Rebecca and Scarlett

“I would like to nominate my daughters swimming teacher, Heather. Maddie has only been swimming with Heather as a Dipper for 4 weeks but Heather’s child-led approach promotes Maddie’s 'can do' attitude and as a result, she is able to push herself a whole lot more. In a short time, Heather has developed trust with our daughter, and she loves to demonstrate in class.

Heather is able to produce a smile from Maddie, even on her "off" days. She realises Maddie’s potential and can easily redirect an outburst in order to gain results.

I am excited to see future developments in Maddie’s swim abilities. She understands that she is working towards her 5 metres and I believe Heather will be the instructor to gain this result from her. Well done Heather, you've made a difference in progressing our little mermaid.”

Nominated by Samantha and Maddie

“I would like to nominate Heather for Star Teacher. It took my little one Grace a while to come around to a new teacher and Heather has been really patient with her. She now loves Heather and gets excited to go swimming. She has helped her come on and she has now gone from doing very little to doing everything and more. She has a newfound love for swimming. Thank you, Heather for making her enjoy swimming more and more!”

Nominated by Sarah and Grace

“We would like to send our nomination for Star Teacher - It’s for Heather who teaches Theon at Fitness Flex in Mansfield.

I can’t thank Heather enough for her patience, understanding, guidance and not forgetting the big smile that greets my son at his lesson. Heather has made such a huge difference to Theon’s swimming experience as he used to cry every lesson and not want to attend which was upsetting.

After lots of encouragement by Heather and getting to know Theon, Heather now understands his limits and personality so well! Heather really does encourage Theon and praises him for trying every single lesson. Theon isn’t the most confident child in class but anyone that has known him in lessons would tell you what an amazing difference there is. Theon even dipped his nose in the water to blow bubbles last lesson. Heather was FULL of praise for Theon and we were both super proud! You’ve made such a difference to our Saturday mornings and you are definitely one of Theon’s favourite people!”

Nominated by Megan and Theon

“My nomination is for Heather in Mansfield. I have never in my life met someone so warm and welcoming. George has taken to her like a (Puddle) duck to water and gets so excited for his swim lessons every week. No one else deserves this more than her - she is truly amazing!”

Nominated by Laura and George

“I would like to nominate Heather as she is an excellent swimming teacher to both of my granddaughters. She really takes the time and interest to bring out the best in both of them. They are so different in their abilities and I really appreciate all the input and effort that Heather does for both of them. She is an excellent teacher - Thank you Puddle Ducks.”

Nominated by Liz, Harrison and Jasmine

“I would like to nominate Heather as our Star Teacher. She is an exceptional swimming teacher and is so good at what she does. My 2 year old feels very comfortable in the water with her.

Heather makes our lessons so fun and at the same time, she instils confidence in my daughter which is so important for learning. My daughter Asiyah cannot stop talking about Heather to her dad and grandparents after our lessons. We can’t wait for many more lessons with Heather!”

Nominated by Swaema and Asiyah

“I’d like to nominate Heather, our teacher at Mansfield Fitness Flex as Star Teacher this term. She’s been one of our teachers since Hudson was 6 months old (he’s nearly 21 months) and she’s helped him come on in leaps and bounds! Tackling problems from not wanting to have his ears in the water or panicking when submerging, to now jumping in by himself every time we do the signal - sometimes eagerly before!

His all time favourite exercise is being thrown into the water, something I couldn’t see him enjoying at all a few months ago. His confidence is going from strength to strength and he really looks forward to every lesson we have. All credit to Heather for everything she has done – We can’t thank her enough :)”

Nominated by Chloe and Hudson

Jayne Ascott

“I would like to nominate Jayne from Puddle Ducks at the Rainbows Hospice on behalf of my son and I. I cannot recommend and praise her enough. My son can become upset at times in the water and she reassures me effortlessly every time. He always wants to help do a demonstration with her too and she ensures he has a turn each lesson. Her teaching skills are incredible and since beginning at 4 months old, my son has progressed greatly and we have Jayne to thank for that.”

Nominated by Louise and Austin

“Imogen would like to nominate Jayne. She has come on leaps and bounds this term thanks to Jayne. She is always adapting things to ensure that each child gets the very best out of the lessons and has fun. Imogen has always reacted badly to the signal so Jayne now remembers to ask Imogen to blow bubbles instead and she's now putting her mouth down for swims and reaching. She also cried everytime the float came in the water but one week,  Jayne made Imogen the captain of the boat and she has loved it ever since. We always look forward to our sessions with Jayne as it is always a laugh!”

Nominated by Alex and Imogen

“I’d like to nominate Jayne - She’s truly amazing and deserves this crown. Jayne by far gets the biggest vote for being the most welcoming, friendly teacher we could have wished for! She deserves a special mention because even though she’s taught Eryn since she was 4 months old, Eryn’s recent move to Swim Academy (without Mummy in the pool) was a huge thing to overcome.

When you have a confident little swimmer, but a socially shy child, the teacher makes all the difference. There was no way that Eryn would have even attempted the move without keeping Jayne. With lots of care and encouragement from Jayne, Eryn received a warm welcome to her ‘big girl class’ and now grins across the pool at me, she’s so proud of herself.

I actually sobbed at the side of the pool watching my independent ‘big girl’ make that step and have the best first Swim Academy lesson ever! Thank you Jayne, you rock!”

Nominated by Ruth and Eryn

“I'd like to nominate Jayne at Kirby Muxloe Primary School. She is so relaxed whilst teaching which rubs off on both us parents and children reducing that fear of the water. She is wholly professional and I'm amazed that she knows how our kids are feeling each lesson and doesn't push them when they're not quite in the mood. It's a pleasure to be taught by her and we thoroughly enjoy our lessons!”

Nominated by Natalie and Scarlett 

“I nominate Jayne who teaches River on Mondays at Rainbows in Loughborough. She is fantastic and River has grown to love her as a teacher and a friend. Jayne to Win!”

Nominated by Lorraine and River

“I would like to nominate Jayne for being an amazing swimming teacher! She has been teaching our little boy for 4 months now and is THE most caring, friendly and supportive teacher. She is always patient and understanding when he has had off days and her passion is so clear. She has made us all feel at ease in the pool and our little boy has come on so much. We think she is a star!”

Nominated by Hannah and Finn

“I want to nominate my teacher Jayne who teaches Splashers on Saturdays at Kirby Muxloe Primary School.”

Nominated by Chloe and Zachary

Jayne Ascott and Rebecca Pridmore

“Macy would like to nominate both Jayne and Rebecca P - She couldn't possibly choose just one of them! They continue to work tirelessly to keep encouraging Macy in ways that are relevant and personal to her (There was even talk of unicorn fish this week as Macy is unicorn mad!). She is getting better every week thanks to her bond with these wonderful ladies!”

Rebecca Pridmore

“We nominate Rebecca at West Gate School.  She has taught Neve for 2.5 years now. Rebecca is a great teacher who guides and encourages the children to always do their very best. She is always patient and kind to all of the children and helps them achieve the very best of their ability. Today, Neve achieved her 5m award at 3 years and 3 months old and this is down to Rebecca’s brilliant teaching. We are very proud of Neve and think Rebecca deserves this award.”

Nominated by Emma and Neve

Alex Shelton-Knight

“Imogen would like to nominate Alex as her star teacher please. Imogen is with Alex at The Key Health Club and she LOVES her lessons, particularly cowboy rides, playing with the ducks and woggles. Alex always has lots of patience with Imogen and they are building a lovely relationship.”

Nominated by Heather and Imogen

"I would like to nominate Alex from our Tuesday lesson at The Key Health Club. Alex is always patient when showing us better techniques for learning the different skills. Alex is really helpful with the demonstrations and is really encouraging if we don’t get it quite right or if Amelie isn’t in the mood! 

Alex is really enthusiastic with the smallest progress that we make and she keeps encouraging us so that we think we’ll get there one day!!"

Nominated by Sarah and Amelie