Pop Up Play Village UK – AN INSPIRATIONAL mum from Basingstoke who thought she was going to die of cancer five years ago is now celebrating her first year in business.
Erica Mudd was working as an early years teacher when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015.
As a single mum-of-one, she was terrified of dying and leaving behind her young daughter, describing the year of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy as a “dark, horrible time”.
“It was a really hard. I wanted to be there for my daughter, I thought I was going to die,” she recalls.
Erica went through two rounds of chemotherapy, as the first one failed, before enduring radiotherapy.
She still had cancer as she returned to her teaching career, but realised it was not what she wanted anymore.
“I thought ‘this isn’t what life is about’,” she said, adding: “I left and then a month later I was put in remission. I’m still all clear which is such a relief. It’s been a bit of a journey. But it made me revaluate my life. I was working all the hours in the world and I was never there for my daughter, I hardly ever saw her. That’s not what life is about.”
Erica quit her job with the hope of launching her own business to allow more time to see her daughter, and last year joined the Pop Up Play Village UK franchise, as the very first franchisee.
The 39-year-old is now celebrating her first year of running the pop-up role play business, which offers themed role play opportunities for children, with toys, props and dressing up clothes such as a hospital, vets or construction site.
Erica is supported by her husband Frank and was delighted to find out the initiative was a runner-up in a category at the Hoop Awards 2019, which celebrate the people and organisations that go beyond to entertain, educate and inspire children.
Erica said: “This means so much to us. We make it educational as well as fun, I watch the kids learning and it’s awesome to see. We think about how to make the sessions different and exciting with a different theme each month.”
As well as running play sessions in community centres and village halls in and around Basingstoke, Pop Up Play also offers birthday parties, wedding entertainment and for the second-year running will be at Wellington Country Park during the May half-term holiday, offering outdoor activities in the woods.
Erica is pleased she turned her negative experience of cancer into a positive, admitting she may never have changed her life without the diagnosis.
She explained: “I was missing out on time with my daughter and I didn’t want that anymore. I knew the decision was right and I wanted to find something to let me live.”
By Emily Roberts
Source: Romsey Advertiser