A NURSERY founder will be made an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Freya Derrick, 47, is the founder of Hopscotch Nursery and has been named in the honours list for her services to education

The mother-of-five, from Hill Head in Fareham, was 30 when she decided to leave her 9am-5pm recruitment job and launch her nursery business. 

She now employs more than 295 staff and dedicated the award to them. Freya said: "I have yet to share the news with the team, and I am so excited to tell them.

"Our team has grown from strength to strength and I hope to expand our business and do great things in childcare with them."

On first hearing about her MBE, Freya said: "They sent me a letter about three or four weeks ago, and it was completely unexpected. 

"To get this recognition is an absolute honour and it is nicely overwhelming.

"My family has been very supportive and they are incredibly proud of me. My parents also hugely influenced me to start my own business." 

In 2005, Freya opened doors to her first nursery in Gosport, and since then she has successfully opened eight more branches, including two in Southampton.

She said: "When I first started the business, I had no expectations, but it's been quite a journey." 

Hopscotch Nurseries has catered to the needs of more than 2,000 children in Hampshire.

Over the last 14 years, they have also assisted parents who serve in the armed forces with dealing with deployment-related issues. 

Freya and her team helped them by referring families to child support groups and providing special resources and educational books to help children adjust to the deployment of their parents.

The excellent work does not end here. Hopscotch also assisted the families of key workers by keeping their doors open during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Freya said: "The lockdown completely disrupted everyone's lives and it was very isolating. 

"But we wanted to help the key workers as they had an abundance of burdens.

"Our staff took extraordinary measures to support them. We wanted them to know that we were there for them."

The Fareham mum has one son and three daughters from her previous marriage, and she is also a stepmother to a seven-year-old boy with her partner, Damian Dingwall.

Previously Freya was nominated for Hampshire regional Woman Business Owner of the Year and featured as Mumpreneur of the Year, a special national award for women who started a business while raising children under the age of 12.