Staff Information

Joanne Hall
Joanne Hall

Hi I'm Joanne Hall or as the majority of children at Sandcastles know me Jo-Jo. I have been with Sandcastles since it opened in May 2004 as a Supervisor originally in the baby room and as the nursery grew, aided opening the Young Toddler Room where I was supervisor for five years. During my time at Sandcastles I have stepped into the positions of Toddler Room Supervisor (for nine months) and Deputy Manager (for sixteen months) both of which were to cover maternity leave. I have recently returned to my position of Toddler Room Supervisor following my time as deputy manager and I am enjoying the opportunity to once more engage with the children under my care on a one to one basis, getting messy and helping each child reach their own potential.

I thoroughly enjoy working in Sandcastles because it feels like a home from home. I feel like part of a family who care about each other and the children they take care of. I enjoy nurturing children, guiding them through all the different stages of development and I take pride in the fact that I have played a part in the life of a child's early education.

In my previous employment I was a supervisor in a local After-Schools Club working with primary school aged children on a daily basis. I have also experience of working in local schools and playgroups, and whilst at university child minded three school aged children in their own home.


BTec National Diploma in Childhood Studies (distinction)
BSc Hons Social Administration and Policy
Curriculum and Policy Development incorporating Anti-Bias Curriculum
Student Tutoring Scheme with University of Ulster
Supervisory Management in Childcare
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Children and Adolescents
Staff induction, Supervision and Appraisals
Moving and Handling in Childcare
Fire Warden training
Child Protection Training
First Aid
Risk Assessment
NEELB workshop certificate in Games

Interests and hobbies

I have been a member of a local Girls brigade company for 26 years, coming up through the various sections before becoming an officer in the Explorers section. During this time I have completed the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award and Queens Award, and I am responsible for planning and organising the Explorer programme each year.

I also teach a mixed aged Sunday School class incorporating games and crafts into the learning each week.

Amongst my other hobbies I play the piano and enjoy paper crafts, creating wedding invitations, scrapbooks and greeting cards for my friends and family. I also enjoy baking and last year ran my first Delicious, Delectable Desserts party in aid of Breast Cancer. Continuing on the same lines I like to be involved in fundraising for local charities which over the years have included Make a Wish Foundation, The Smiles foundation (supporting orphanages in Romania) and Coleraine Gateway Club.

Claire Walker
Toddlers Room
Clare Walker

My name is Claire Walker and I was born on 23/3/1990, I left Dunluce School in June 2006 and went to the Northern Regional College in Coleraine to study a BTEC National Diploma in Health & Social Care over a period of 2 years. During these 2 years I had 3 different placements, elderly, children and special needs placement.

For my children's placement I went to Ballytober Primary School, just outside Bushmills, which I absolutely loved. I helped the children with their class work, helped with supervising at play and meal times. I learned a lot here from the way in which children learn and develop to their social and emotional skills and interaction with each other etc. after I left NRC I managed to get a few more part time hours at a Garden Centre where I had previously worked evenings, weekends & holidays, but I knew that wasn't what I wanted long term.

I then applied to Sandcastles and was successful and started my employment in June 2008. I was originally covering maternity leave and fortunately managed to secure a permanent position at the end of that contract. When I started in June 2008 I was working in the Young Toddler Room which was a great experience, learning a lot from some very experienced and excellent staff. In August 2010 I moved to the Toddler Room which I love too. I thoroughly enjoy my work and have learned a great deal from my time at Sandcastles

Apart from my BTEC I also have certificates in First Aid, Fire Safety & Manual Handling with Children & Child Protection Like most girls I like to socialise with friends, but my main hobby, which takes up a lot of my free time, is horse riding. In the past three years I have become involved in the North Antrim Riding Club. We organise lots of activities for the children within our club all year through. I am also involved in fund raising for charity through the club.

Eimear Boyle
Toddlers Room
Eimear Boyle

My name is Eimear Boyle and I was born on 25/02/1991. I left school in 2007 and started Rutledge Joblink in Coleraine in 2008. I started in Sandcastles in 2009 and I work in the toddler room. I really enjoy my work and playing with the children.

Apart from working here, I also have lots of experience babysitting my neighbour's children and work experiences in Primary schools during my placements.

Apart from my qualification in Childcare I also have certificates in Emergency Life Support, Community Drugs Awareness Level 1 & 2, & First Aid. I am also working towards my Level 3 in Childcare.

I enjoy working with children and playing with them especially being involved in water play, messy play and play dough. I also like doing craft with children as it is fun to watch them use different materials. I believe that my strengths are that I am kind and I communicate well with children, staff and parents alike.

My hobbies outside work are reading, walking, socialising with my friends and listening to music.

Hannah Gordon
Toddlers Room
Hannah Gordon

Hi I'm Hannah Gordon and was born on 16th June 1990. From a very young age I've always had an interest in childcare, from babysitting neighbours children to having many young relatives. I was always keen to pitch in and help where I could.

I joined Ballymoney Regional College at 16 completing my NVQ level 2 in Early Years and Education. I loved my time at the tech and had great placements which spurred me on to complete my BTEC National Diploma in Early Years. The main thing I loved in tech was work placement which gave me the great opportunity of working with all age groups. I gained experience with babies, toddlers, preschool and primary aged kids.

Within my BTEC course we were given the opportunity to go to Geneva to work as student nannies for 12 days, with my love of travel and childcare both, I jumped at the opportunity. Working for Jack Frost really opened my eyes to the opportunities within the childcare field, it was also a great experience as it allowed me to live away from home, be responsible for children on a one to one, and I got to ski (which is one of my favourite hobbies) .

On finishing my course I applied for a temping position at Sandcastles and to my relief got the job! Temping was great as it allowed me to work in all the different rooms and get to know the different staff and children. In January 2010 I was offered a permanent position in the older toddler room. I've now been here since then and I still love it! The children may only be aged between 2 to 3 but they have lots of energy and amazing little personalities.

As well as my NVQ Level 2 and BTEC National Diploma in Early Years and Education, I also have certificates in First Aid, Basic Food Hygiene, Working with Others and Fire Safety Training.

My main hobbies include friends and socialising. I love going to the cinema, listening to music and shopping. I also babysit for other families which is great fun and now that I drive it means I can take the children out for the day.

My greatest hobby is travelling. I love visiting other countries and seeing different cultures. Last year I went to China which was a huge eye opener. We even got a visit to a school which, compared to our schools, was very laid back. Visiting Geneva also allowed me to start skiing again which was great fun and definitely reminded me how much I love it considering I've been twice since.

I love working in Sandcastles for many reasons, the main one obviously being my love for working within a child care environment. Sandcastles is a friendly, professional and very fun place to work. I feel it's a place where I am given both the support and the freedom to come up with new and exciting activities to promote learning and enjoyment for children. I have made so many friends and have met many fantastic children.

Janet McIlroy
Toddlers Room

Hi my name is Janet and I started working for Sandcastles in August 2008. I started out in the Young Toddler room covering maternity leave, and then gained a full time job in the Toddler's room. I thoroughly enjoy this room working with this age group with all the interaction and play that goes along with them.

I started child development when I was in 5th year at Coleraine College, this got me really interested in working with kids. I then started my Cache Level 2 and passed with distinction, after that year I continued studying and achieving my Level 3. During my 3 years of studying I gained experience in 2 different primary schools and 2 different nursery schools in placements.

Currently I am also a nanny for 3 brothers so you could say I really have my hands full but I also love that too and it's such a great experience.

When I not at work I enjoy doing regular things like shopping, going to the cinema or sometimes the gym but most of my time, at the minute, is filled with planning wedding things as I'm getting married later in the year.

Gillian Glenn
Toddlers Room
Gillian Glenn

Hi I'm Gillian Glenn and was born 05/08/1987. I left Dunluce School in June 2004 and continued my education at North West Regional College Ballymoney. Here I studied for a BTEC Level 3 in Early Years and had various placements: Portstewart Primary School, Portstewart Nursery School and a crèche, where I worked with all age groups. I achieved my Level 3 in June 2006 and then decided to continue my skills and experience at Leeds Metropolitan University studying to be a primary school teacher.

Throughout my four year course I taught at various schools with children of all ages. Throughout my experiences in the schools, I planned, taught and assessed the children's progression. I also differentiated for different ability groups and SEN. I successfully achieved my BA Honours in Early Childhood Education. During my time at university I also worked in Sandcastles Day Nursery for three years during the holidays. I enjoyed working in all the different rooms and getting to know the staff and children. Now I am covering maternity leave in the Toddler room and I'm really enjoying it.

Apart from my qualifications I also attained a certificate in Manual Handling with Children in 2010.

I enjoy reading books, cooking, walking my dogs and socializing with my friends. I also like to keep fit at exercise classes.

Anne Marie McWilliams
Toddlers Room
Anne Marie Mc Williams

Hi my name is Anne-Marie McWilliams, however to the children I am known as Annie. I have been working in Sandcastles for a year now based in the Toddler Room as a Nursery Assistant which I am enjoying immensely. I feel it is a privilege to work with children in my care, guiding them through new experiences and watching them learn and grow and helping to support them as well, it's a great pleasure.

I studied for my childcare qualification at college in Magherafelt where I completed my Cache Level 2 & 3 in Children's Care Learning and Development, for my course I was required to complete a number of work placements. I greatly enjoyed this area of my qualification; I spent two days a week for the majority of it at my local primary school where I gained a vast amount of experience working with children of various ages.

Over the three years if my placement I spent the mornings in the Nursery Unit, supporting the children in their learning and helping with the general running of the unit. I n the afternoon I worked in a number of different classes from year one to six which gave me a great opportunity to experience all the different aspects of working with children to meet their individual needs. I have also spent time working on a one to one basis with a child with special educational needs, this is an experience which I truly value and an area I would possibly like to pursue more in the future. In addition to this I spent a brief period in a Day Care Setting to gain some experience working with babies which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and friends, going swimming, to the cinema and out for meals. I have quite a few nieces and nephews who I enjoy spending time with going to the park and feeding the ducks.

219 Seacon Road
Bt53 6PZ
Tel: (028) 2766 6066


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