Richmond MP Rishi Sunak has visited a Northern childcare provider, Rosedene, to thank its teams for looking after the children of key workers during the COVID crisis.

Rosedene welcomed Mr Sunak to its Northallerton nursery, which was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during lockdown to care for hundreds of key workers’ children, at a time when more than 50 per cent of the sector in the region closed their doors.

Mr Sunak, who recently wrote to Rosedene, which operates 11 nurseries across Tees Valley and North Yorkshire, to commend its staff for all their hard work, has followed this up with a personal visit to the business to thank them in person.

The team at Rosedene gave the Chancellor of the Exchequer a tour of the facilities, he met with employees and parents to discuss their childcare experiences over the past few months. Mr Sunak also spent time with the children taking part in Forest School activities, including planting lavender plants in the garden.

With the start of the new autumn term all children returned to nurseries and schools across the country, Rosedene also opened a new setting last week on the opposite side of Northallerton at Broomfield School to accommodate the increased demand and to start a new partnership with the school, developing a new way of delivering early education and care.

Alice McCullagh, director at Rosedene, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome our Chancellor to Rosedene today with his acknowledgement of the vital role Rosedene have played in providing a safe and caring learning environment for our children and their families.

“Following Mr Sunak’s letter praising Rosedene staff for their hard work and commitment, Rishi’s visit to our Northallerton nursery is further testament to their dedication and resilience throughout the past 6 months. We know the pandemic is far from over, however it’s great that the Chancellor has taken the time to understand how we and many other providers are taking measures to minimise risks and facilitate safe practice for children, so parents don’t need to worry.”

Mr Sunak said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic to see all the kids in such a happy and nurturing environment with a team of people here who are so dedicated to their work. As a parent, I know how important good childcare is, and that’s what we’ve seen here today.

“As we are now reopening our economy and trying to get our lives as back to normal as possible, childcare is a critical part of that, and for people to go back to their workplaces knowing they can have their children somewhere that is safe and secure that they feel comfortable with, that’s a vital part of making that all work.

“Childcare facilities like this at Rosedene are absolutely critical as we slowly get our economy going again. I’m delighted to see that happening today with lots of happy kids, happy parents and a happy team here as well.

Rosedene’s key worker ‘hubs’, located close to acute medical sites including James Cook Hospital, North Tees Hospital, Northallerton Hospital and the primary care facilities in Redcar, at the height of the pandemic were open round-the-clock.

across the region, Rosedene catered for the shift patterns of all key workers including doctors, nurses, paramedics, police and fire officers, care workers and the wider range of people classified as key workers.