After serving children turkey twizzlers and pork hippos for 16 years, the mother of three from Nottingham eventually took advantage of her position as a school catering manager by introducing a range of nutritious options to the school lunch menu.
Her actions caught the attention of the Soil Association, who invited her to an awards ceremony in London.
Mrs Orrey, who had never been to London before, spent the evening discussing the state of Britain’s school dinners with Jamie Oliver, who also attended the event.
The dinner lady’s words struck a chord with the chef and he went on to take the campaign across Britain and America, with astoundingly successful results.
Mrs Orrey has since written two books on the subject and currently advises the Soil Association on an organic initiative that involves more than 4000 schools and encourages children to grow their own healthy food.
“I read the letter in my office when it came and was just shocked,” she said, when asked about her MBE.
“Then I realised I couldn’t tell anybody I was getting it. I’m delighted, honoured, humbled and shocked to have received it.”
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