SHE'S faced more heartache than most, but thanks to her devotion to one of the icons of the 20th century, she'll always have somebody to love and she knows the show must go on.

It will be no surprise to you to learn that this 42-year-old fan from the New Forest is dedicated to the flamboyant Queen front man - because her name is Freddie Bulsara Mercury.

Freddie changed her name by deed poll in 1992 to pay tribute to the rock star, who died of an Aids-related illness in 1991 (Bulsara being Freddie's real name).

Now as the 10th anniversary of his death approaches Freddie, who herself has battled cancer, been married four times and now has heart problems, is already planning how to mark her 25-year love affair with the crown prince of rock.

Speaking from her home in New Milton, which just happens to be called Mercury, Freddie said: "On the 10th anniversary, I will play Queen and Freddie songs for 24 hours - it's weird because I'm 42, the same age Freddie was when he died."

Her devotion is so great that apart from changing her own name, she has also changed her children's surnames to Mercury.

Everything in her house is yellow because it was Freddie Mercury's favourite colour, her cat shares the same name as the late singer's cat, she has a bountiful collection of memorabilia, and she even once put an ad in a lonely hearts column advertising for a Freddie Mercury lookalike!

And even though many may view her as an eccentric, Freddie is in absolute rhapsody about her Bohemian lifestyle.

"I've been through a lot over the years. I was diagnosed with Hodgkinson's lymphoma in 1992 and now I have a dodgy heart, but I'll tell you something, my love for Freddie has kept me going," she exclaimed. "But most people know about me and I don't get many problems - only on the phone when people are always quite taken aback by my name. I've even had Queen stuff anonymously put through my letterbox.

"I'm a dinner lady at New Milton Infant School and all the children shout, 'here comes Freddie!'"

So what is it about Freddie Mercury (the real one) that makes life for our Freddie Mercury a kind of magic-al one?

"Well, he was just a gorgeous, gorgeous man - and wow, that voice.

"I'll never forget the day he died, it was heartbreaking, it was like losing a member of my family."

As for her children Sharna Mercury, eight, and David Mercury, 16, they are just happy for their mum, and Sharna is quite a big Queen fan herself.

Nobody can rock Freddie into returning to her original name. "I'm Freddie now, and that's all I want people to know me as."