A SPECIAL nursery in York has become the latest nominee for the 2011 Community Pride Awards.

Little Green Rascals Nursery in Dunnington Lodge was opened two years ago by Vanessa Warn, and was one of the first organic nurseries in the country.

The nursery, which encourages care for the environment from pre-school age, uses all environmentally-friendly cleaning products, biodegradable nappies, and provides organic food and drinks, including some grown on site.

Vanessa and the staff at the nursery have been nominated in the Service With A Smile category by Margaret Lee, of Wheldrake, who has worked as a chef at the nursery since it opened.

Margaret said: “It was the first totally organic nursery in the north of England, and Vanessa is passionate about providing the best possible care and environment for all the children. Not only did she gain a gold award for food from the Soil Association, she also gained an Outstanding from Ofsted in the healthy lifestyle category.

“She always has time to offer advice and support to all staff and parents, and is constantly looking for ways to add benefit to the care she offers the children.”

Vanessa trained as a homeopath for three years after leaving her job at a credit card company, and set up the nursery as a way to provide the care for children she wanted for her own three, and now Little Green Rascals looks after 77 children, and employs 27 staff.

Vanessa said: “I’m delighted, really delighted to have been nominated, it’s very sweet of Margaret.

“We’ve also had very good feedback from parents at the nursery and staff, which has been lovely. I never considered myself to be an ‘unsung hero’, just got on with it.”

The awards are held each year by The Press, with City of York Council and a host of local businesses, to celebrate inspirational individuals and unsung heroes across the city.

All nominees must live or be based in the City of York Council tax area, and the winners will be invited to a special awards ceremony in October.

Nominations can be submitted online at before Friday, July 22.