SHE IS a down-to-earth grandmother of five who has fought tirelessly to improve the lives of people on her Southampton estate for more than 20 years.

Now Trixie Neilson from Thornhill is celebrating after reaching the final six of a national campaign to find Britain’s Top Real Role Model 2012.

And the 67-year-old unsung hero has been praised by leading female entrepreneurs including Jo Fairley, the founder of Green & Black’s chocolate.

She now has the chance of winning £10,000 to start up her own social enterprise along with a chance to be mentored by the chocolate guru.

Trixie told the Daily Echo: “It is such an honour to have been considered and I am overwhelmed.

“You don’t think anything like this happens to ordinary people like me.”

The mum-of-four, who lives in Hinkler Road, made the shortlist after launching a lunch club in Thornhill during the school holidays to ensure children are fed.

Many children get free school meals during term time, but their families find themselves struggling during the holidays.

The sessions, which were launched 18 months ago and now feed more than 40 children, are run from St Christopher’s Church every Monday during the holidays between 12pm and 2pm.

The children, aged from toddlers to 15-year-olds, go to the sessions with their parents and are offered sandwiches, cakes, fruit and a drink.
They also get the chance to take part in a variety of activities, from cake decorating to discos.

Trixie, who is on the board of directors for Plus You Ltd, was the former chairman of the Thornhill Community Association and is involved in Thornhill

Community Voices, said: “I am passionate about helping my local community and supporting children and their families in any way I can.

“The cost of living has gone up and we want kids to eat and enjoy themselves because so many people are struggling.

“My dream is for it to get bigger and for it to be rolled out across the city in each housing estate.”

She added: “I’m just pleased to see kids getting something to eat and that they are happy and playing and their parents are happy.”

Sheryl Franklin-Worth, corporate affairs manager at Amway UK, the global direct selling company which launched the campaign, said: “I have been overwhelmed by some of the inspirational initiatives that have been put forward for this campaign.”

The winner of Amway’s Top Real Role Model 2012 will be announced on February 11.