PARTNERS at Windmill Hill Day Nursery, which is employee-owned, have had a good start to the year with a £750 dividend.

Staff at the nursery, on Whitehill Way, are all counted as shareholders in the parent company, the Childbase Partnership, and therefore receive an annual payout based on the company's performance.

The tax-free Partnership Dividend payments of £750 go to every employee, adding up to £1.2 million when spread among the more than 2,000 staff across the partnerships 43 nurseries across the south of England.

Celebrating at the day nursery, staff broke open a treasure chest piñata filled with chocolate coins and listed the holidays and purchases made possible by the payment.

Lora Worthington said the Dividend Day celebrations were the perfect antidote to post-Christmas blues and reminded everybody of their value.

“There is a real energy in the nursery at this time because the dividend payment reminds us all that we are personally invested in giving our children the best possible nursery experience

"Happy and engaged staff ensures confident children ready to realise their full potential,” she said.

A delighted Gemma House, who is getting married in March and intends to use the payment towards a Maldives honeymoon, said: “Such a lovely surprise, I couldn’t be happier. What a great start to the new year!”

Shannon Williams, qualified nursery practitioner, said the payment will be used towards the deposit for a house.

While Julie Huntley, nursery support, said the payment will be used to cover the care costs of her horses

Mike Thompson, Childbase Partnership founder and chairman, congratulated the partners for their hard work.

"The important thing to remember is that this payment is based on hours worked so full-timers, from apprentices to the chairman, get the same Partnership Dividend payment because we are all owners and everybody’s contribution, irrespective of their role, is vital to our success."