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Meet the team
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Sam Victoria

Founder of My Little Explorers

I am just a big kid at heart who is very passionate about outdoor learning! Growing up in the Dorset countryside, memories of my childhood were out in the fields with my siblings, letting our imaginations run wild as we made bridges across ditches, built dens and look out towers in the trees. We were out all day, Mum would ring the cow bell when dinner was ready! It wasn't until I had children of my own that I really appreciated how lucky we were and so I set out to create a place where kids can be kids, love nature and learn at their own pace.

I have been working in Early Years since 2001 and qualified as a Forest School Practitioner in 2012  this combined  knowledge has built the foundation and passion for our settings. With our move to Broadlands Estate it has enabled my husband and I to live on site where I run the nursery. We have two grown up children that come and go, chickens, guinea pigs and three working cocker spaniels Kayla, Simba and Tikka who enjoy visiting the children in the Nursery. 

  • Favourite campfire recipe - Pumpkin soup and ash cakes

  • Favourite woodland animal - Owl or hedgehog (I can never find either!)

  • Favourite woodland activity - Lying under the trees and watching the clouds float by!

  • Scariest things - Computers and admin!

  • Favourite quote - “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination” – Albert Einstein

  • Hobbies -  Being outside with the dogs, walking along coastlines, wild swimming & cruising!

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Emily Downes

Head of Early Years & SENCo Lead

When Emily is not at work she is often walking in the forest or along coastlines.  Emily has a PGCE in Primary and Early Years (3-7), she holds a QTS and has Level 3 CACHE in Children and young people’s workforce. Early childhood development and supporting children’s curiosity about the world around them are her passions and she loves to explore alongside children and experience the awe and wonder of nature with them. Her favourite experiences always tended to involve being outside and getting muddy so it made sense to move out of the classroom and into a forest school setting.

•       Favourite Campfire recipe – Baked apple with cinnamon and raisins

•       Favourite Woodland Animal – Owl

•       Favourite Woodland Activities – Playing in the mud kitchen

•       Scariest Things – Jellyfish

•       Favourite Quote – “Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn” - Fred Donaldson

•       Hobby – Swimming

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Claire Wren

Nursery Manager

Growing up with a mum that ran a preschool Claire was always around children, and child care just became natural. Leaving school she completed her cache diploma in child care & education and has been working with children ever since. Recently she had been working as a nanny for a family with 3 children, spending a lot of time outside with them on walks through the forest or visiting our favourite park or farm.
Claire and her husband are often visiting family in Cornwall, or cruising to take time to themselves and explore all the countries they visit. They are both animal lovers, having rabbits and Guinea pigs in the garden, but they also love their reptiles.

•       Favourite Campfire recipe – Marshmallows

•       Favourite Woodland Animal – Deer

•       Favourite Woodland Activities – Bug hunting

•       Scariest Things – Jellyfish

•       Favourite Quote – “Hakuna Matata"

•       Hobby – Watching Netflix

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Erin Finn

Forest School Leader & Early Years Practitioner

Erin loves exploring the UK countryside with her family, camping and visiting historical places. When she is
not out and about, you can find her in the garden crafting, building, archery, growing vegetables and
foraging. She likes to keep busy but also enjoy slowing down and savouring the moments (especially in
the hammock).
Erin studied Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at university and visited places such as Sweden and
Denmark to see how they carryout conservation and education. In 2016 she was an education trainee
at the wildlife trust and this set me on the FS path and passion for working with children in nature. She
has been Level 3 FS trained since summer 2021 and currently working towards her Level 3 Childcare
(NCFE).

  • Favourite campfire food: hedgerow crumble wrapped in hazel leaves

  • Favourite woodland animal: badger

  • Favourite woodland activity: Creating tree spirits with mud/clay and scavenging the woodland floor for items to bring them to life

  • Scariest thing: being stuck indoors

  • Quote: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, they find it attached to the rest of the world" - John Muir.

  • Hobby: Archery

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Michelle George

Forest School Leader & Early Years Practitioner

Michelle loves everything about nature and if she isn’t bouncing around in our woods she might be seen out hiking with her family, bird watching or just chilling by the sea. Michelle studied Environment Science at University has a level 3 Playwork and Forest School qualification, she is a member of the FSA and has an outdoor paediatric first aid training certificate. Michelle has worked with Sam since 2014 and now has her own little explorers, Xyla and Zevi, who can often be seen at Farley Mount and in the Nursery when Michelle is working.

•       Favourite Campfire recipe – An onion hollowed out, filled with stuffing and baked in the ashes.

         Yum!

•       Favourite Woodland Animal – The woodlouse - cousin of the crab

•       Favourite Woodland Activities – Exploring and looking for minibeasts and climbing trees

•       Scariest Things – You can't scare me...I'm not afraid of the big bad wolf!

•       Favourite Quote – “Play in the highest form of research” - Einstein

•       Hobby – Exploring the great outdoors

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Emma Davies

Early Years Practitioner & Admin Support Team

Emma loves outdoor play and adventure with her three boys who all were Little Explorers.
When not working, Emma can be found exploring the countryside with her two dogs (Rosie and
Bertie) or enjoying the Hampshire coastline. Having worked in other childcare settings, Emma is
completing her early years practitioner level 3 and has a paediatric first aid certificate.

•       Favourite Campfire recipe – Baked banana with chocolate

•       Favourite Woodland Animal – Barn Owl

•       Favourite Woodland Activities – Bug hunting

•       Scariest Things – Being trapped in a small space

•       Favourite Quote – “You never know what someone is going through. Be Kind. Always”

•       Hobby – Running

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Isabell Wilkinson

Nursery Assistant

Isabell is an enthusiastic mum-of-three, always up for the next adventure. She loves feeling the rain, wind and sunshine on her skin and she is most at peace in nature. With three young children it is busy at home, so getting outside is one of their favourite things to do and they love exploring the New
Forest and the beaches as a family. For a moment of peace, she likes to hide with a book and a cup of tea, but she also enjoy running, cycling and Pilates. Isabell has a degree in Languages and has worked as an English language teacher in different countries with students of all levels and abilities. Currently, she runs a toddler playgroup and will be supporting the team as a Forest Nursery Assistant.
•       Favourite Campfire recipe – Bread on a stick
•       Favourite Woodland Animal – Roe deer
•       Favourite Woodland Activities – Climbing and balancing on trees
•       Scariest Things – Graveyards at night
•       Favourite Quote – “Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.”

         – Dalai Lama
•       Hobby – Cross country running

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Jade Palmer

Early Years Practitioner

Coming soon

Luisa.heic

Luisa Dunn

Early Years Level 3 Apprentice

Coming soon

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Nesha Victoria

Office Manager 

Sam's stepdaughter Nesha moved from Holland to the UK with her son Noah in 2018. With her computing, administration skills and accounting background Nesha has been a great support to Sam as the dream of setting up a forest nursery became a reality.

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Vlasta Eames

Nursery Cook

Coming soon

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