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Acting Head leaves Ilminster Nursery

Acting Head of Ilminster Avenue Specialist Nursery School Matt Caldwell – who has left to pursue a career in the ambulance service – has been a popular figure in Knowle West.

He first came to the area ten years ago as Deputy Head at Knowle West Children’s Centre before moving to Ilminster Avenue Nursery in 2017.

During his time in the area, Matt appeared countless times in The Knowledge – including when he first introduced Jake the therapy dog, who went with him from the Children’s Centre to Ilminster Nursery.

Matt was also part of the formation of the Inns Court Community and Family Centre in 2016 and the new extended building and garden for the Children’s Centre which opened in March 2018.

During his time at Ilminster Nursery, Matt hit the headlines for getting staff involved in a fitness challenge, ‘getting married’ to commemorate Megan and Harry’s big day – and appeared in national media for removing toys from the nursery to encourage the children’s creativity.

The Knowledge will miss him for his wonderful sense of humour and eye for a good story. We would like to thank him for his contributions over the years and for making us smile – and to wish him luck in his future career.

Matt with Jake the therapy dog from Knowle West Children’s Centre and Trish French from New Fosseway School who both became Acting Heads at Ilminster Avenue Specialist Nursery School in February 2017.
Below: Matt and Trish “got married” to give the children an experience of a wedding at the same time as Harry and Megan tied the knot in May 2018.
Matt writes of his experience:

I first started working in Knowle West nearly ten years ago at Knowle West Children’s Centre and Nursery and loved getting to know all the families and working with the amazing staff there.

I remember how the whole school decamped to Inns Court while we were having an extension built and it felt like a home away from home. I really hope the Inns Court centre goes from strength to strength.

Four-and-a-half years ago I was asked to help out Ilminster Nursery School for a few months and I am still here now! I am really proud about our ‘Nursery with No Toys’ project which got us in newspapers, the TV and I even ended up going on to Breakfast TV to talk about it!

I am most proud however of working with such a dedicated staff and with some amazing families with big hearts and a lot of resilience. Standing on the gate every morning and afternoon has meant I have had all kinds of conversations: tears, laughter and the occasional disagreement – all life is there! 

I have also been known for my friend Jake the Dog who was a Hearing Dog for the Deaf and loved running away from children and hiding under desks and begging for treats! Jake is a bit older and has semi-retired but lots of children and families remember him fondly.

I myself am heading for the ambulance service and will be driving ambulances around the south west, and in the best possible sense I hope I don’t see you again in my new job!

The formation of the Inns Court Community and Family Centre in 2016. Left to right: Maureen Cole – long-term volunteer; Sue Jones – Centre Manager; Matt Caldwell – Knowle West Children’s Centre Deputy Head; Jake the therapy dog and Bernie Henning – Meet and Greet Volunteer.
Ship Ahoy! Deputy Head Matt Caldwell on the canal boat at the launch of the Knowle West Children’s Centre garden in 2018.

Below: Taking on a fitness challenge to run the Bristol 10k for the NSPCC with staff at Ilminster Avenue Specialist Nursery School.