AN assistant headteacher who is repaying "an act of kindness" by helping disadvantaged children across Wirral has been honoured with a prestigious award.

Louisa Blake, founder of social initiative Looby Lou's Lovely Lunches, and an alumna of Birkenhead High School Academy, is winner of GDST (Girls Day School Trust) 2020 alumna of the year award.

Last year's winner was Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman.

The year before it was won by Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner in London.

Louisa - who attended Birkenhead High School from 1981 to 1989 - said: "I would just like to say how grateful I am for receiving the GDST Alumna of the Year 2020 award.

"I want to say a huge thanks to everyone who voted for me.

"Whenever I look at the award, I get butterflies in my stomach and goose bumps - because to represent Birkenhead High School as Alumna of the Year is something really to be very proud of.

"When I was told I had won I couldn't believe it. I was up against someone from the UK Space Agency."

Looby Lou's delivers free lunches to disadvantaged children across Wirral during non-term time.

Louisa's story struck a unique chord with voters.

Assistant headteacher at Heygarth Primary School, Louisa set up Looby Lou's Lovely Lunches to deliver lunches during school holidays to children who would otherwise be going hungry.

She noticed how some pupils' behaviours changed before holiday-time, as they faced the uncertainty of not having a regular meal each day.

And having had difficult times in her own early childhood, she understood this only too well.

Louisa, from Prenton, was already a volunteer for Wirral's Homeless CIC, and this in part is what inspired her to set up Looby Lou’s Lovely Lunches.

She started by delivering packed lunches to 150 children who would normally receive free school meals, and has built it to the point where now, for six weeks in the summer, two at Christmas and two at Easter, she and her team make over 250 lunches a day throughout the holiday periods.

Looby Lou does not receive any formal funding, relying on the kindness of friends, family and volunteers from schools across Wirral.

In her acceptance speech, Louisa said: "When I was a young child, my parents separated and that left us in a dire financial situation.

"During that time, my mum reached out to the Salvation Army in Wirral.

"They provided us with food, presents and a tree for Christmas.

"Without that, we would have gone without.

"Now I've been a primary school teacher for around 27 years, I find myself in a position where I can pay things forward and pay back the act of kindness that was given to us when I was a small child.

"Working in schools all over Wirral, I can see that sometimes, over the holidays, children change; they begin to lose their stability, their place of safety, their place of warmth and where they are going to get a hot meal everyday.

"The Government provides free meals for children during term-time, but when it comes to the holidays, they don't provide any.

"So I felt, as a primary teacher, seeing the difference it makes during the holidays, and having had that experience myself as a child, that I could put those two things together and reach out to a wide level of support, being a teacher.

"It's about making a difference to help others."

For more details on Looby Lou's Lovely Lunches see their Facebook page of follow on Twitter.

Louisa's speech can be seen here: