Nursery boss Caroline Ward thought MBE was an unpaid bill

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A NURSERY boss who has received an MBE in the New Year’s Honours said she was ‘overwhelmed’ when she heard the news.

Caroline Ward, who has been in charge of Little Oaks Nursery in Wavendon for 20 years, was awarded the gong for her services to education.

The 63-year-old said: “The letter arrived in November and my first thought when I saw that it was from Buckingham Palace was ‘oh my goodness, what haven’t we paid?’

“I read it over and over and when I read it to my daughters they grinned because they had been asked for information on me so they knew it was coming.”

Mrs Ward started working at Little Oaks in 1992 after responding to an advert in The Milton Keynes Gazette.

Since getting the job she has had a significant impact on the nursery helping the three to five-year-olds to switch from lessons in a portacabin three mornings a week to five morning a week at Wavendon Community Centre.

An extra two afternoons a week for two-year-olds have also been added to the schedule.

Mrs Ward helped to establish a uniform for the children, which includes brown, green and yellow and depicts Little Oaks.

She said: “A week or so after I arrived I asked if we could incorporate a uniform for the children which is still in use now. The attitude is, and always has been, about doing things together.

“We are helping to develop children and make them believe in themselves. It is about kindness and showing that we are all equal.

“We embrace all children equally and we cater for all.”

Mrs Ward has already had dozens of messages of congratulations from parents past and present and some have even said they will hire minibuses to travel to London for her big day – a suggestion that humbled her.

“After hearing that I didn’t need to go to Buckingham Palace,” she said.

“To know that people are that happy for you is enough. The idea that people wanted to share that was incredibly touching.”

A team of four people were responsible for nominating Mrs Ward and took the first steps in the process back in March 2010. Diane Mason, along with Michelle and Adam Shackel and Heather Harvey, researched the award and made the nomination.

Mrs Mason said: “We nominated her because everyone has been touched by her in a positive way. She goes that extra mile for everyone and she isn’t just the head of the nursery she is so important to the community. She runs things in a way that is amazing to us but obvious to her.

“There won’t be anyone who is surprised about this and we are delighted as a team that our years of hard work have paid off.”

The process saw the team getting letters of recommendation from people around the community endorsing Mrs Ward’s work.

They later presented a copy of the documents to her so that she could see the nice things that people had written about her.

Mrs Ward will now be invited to Buckingham Palace later this year with her husband Michael, daughters Katherine, Josephine and Rebecca and son Michael.