I was born in Jersey in 1964. My childhood was spent here apart from a few spells based in Guernsey and in Kent.
Here’s my dad. He joined the army very young, after being evacuated. My mum spent her childhood in Jersey during the Occupation, based in St John where her adopted dad worked as the blacksmith.
Here’s a photo of my class, Prep 4, at Convent FCJ, I’m third from right front row. The FCJ taught me the importance of community.
In the 1980s it was still possible for an ordinary family to buy a three bedroom house with garden. We did this on the States Loan scheme but then sold up a few years later to another first time buyer and left on our adventures. I went to live in Spain and renovated old country Fincas with my then husband and young family. This was a time of highs and lows – big barbecue and pool parties, but also times with literally no money – property values abroad can fall as well as climb. On returning to Jersey in the mid 1990s we discovered all controls on house pricing in Jersey had been abolished and there was now an emphasis on a free market economy with no protection of the resident population. I therefore stood for the States of Jersey as a deputy in St Helier, and was nearly elected – just missed out! My focus was on bringing in a population policy. Not because I didn’t welcome newcomers, but because I wanted Jersey to be a good place to live and could not see this continuing with unimpeded growth. I helped my friend, Karen Corbel, set up Childline in Jersey and through this we met Esther Rantzen and her husband Desmond Wilcox. I became the editor of an alternative magazine which ran for a couple of years.
I had learned a lot from my Spanish friends about the environment and I wanted to protect Jersey’s beautiful countryside, so I became an organic grower and Soil Association licensee, renting fields to grow lettuce and french beans, buying from other local growers and importing organic fruit, vegetables and meat, employing men on a therapeutic work scheme, and running a veg box delivery service. I sold this business a few years later before starting my next business which fitted around the care of my children better, Jersey Home & Petsitters, which launched in 2003, and is still running successfully, now managed by one of my daughters. When I set this up it was a fairly new idea, with only one other pet sitting business in operation. Now there are dozens! We are pleased to see some advances in the pet care business during this time; for example the recommended limits on size of dog walking groups; we have never taken out large groups of dogs.
During all my 20s and 30s I often did other jobs, such as childminding and care work, so like lots of Jersey people I often had two or three jobs at the same time. Ocassionally having time to fulfil my enjoyment of painting and drawing, I also sold paintings and was once resident artist at the Opera House during the Eisteddfod. An incident happened there which some children (now grown up) may remember – I was once so busy drawing, set up quietly in my little box, that I hadn’t noticed that I’d been locked in. I had to leave so climbed out of the box and around some of the seating areas, while children were singing on stage. I apologise now to those children who were most likely disbelieved by their parents when they said an arty looking lady had been climbing precariously along the edge of the dress circle!
Having completed a Degree in environment and innovations, I found there was interest from investors in my innovations project, which was an easy to fold up travel cot / playpen. I discovered I had an ability to create design concepts and make working models. The next few years involved doing extensive market research, setting up companies, finding investors ( we gained more than 20 investors) establishing a market, sourcing manufacturers, organising shipping and warehousing, running trade show stands, employing staff, and much more. With help from the Jersey Business team, we were the first business to receive a loan from the Jersey Innovation Fund, which we paid back in full with interest. Our product became the top selling travel cot on Mothercare online. We also established markets abroad. I then focused on designing our second product, an extra safe bedside crib. These products included unique features which have been patented. I spent so much time with my patent attorney that they once offered me a job! To publicise our brand I took part in TV programmes and gained investment from Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Drinks, and took part in Sir Richard Branson’s Voom project to find the best new businesses. Our products won 16 design awards over the years, both UK and international, including the prestigious Junior Design Awards Best Travel Product 2019, and Loved By Children Platinum Award for Best Baby Bed 2018.
This photo is of a Guinness World Record having just been made – the longest ever business pitch. I’m in the back row celebrating with business friends and management from the Virgin Group. My business, BabyHub, made Sir Richard Branson’s shortlist of the top twenty businesses in the UK and Ireland
This was an exhausting seven/ eight years which taught me a huge amount about trade, risk, management, negotiation, trends and team work. In 2020 I stepped away from the business and a new CEO was brought in. I focused then on my family – one of my children was not well, and my mother had moved into a care home. I was worried that I could not see her due to the start of the pandemic, so went to work full time in her care home, St Joseph’s. I stayed there until after she had passed away. During this time I gained a Level Three Diploma in Adult Care, and was so impressed by the lovely people I worked with in the nursing and dementia units. I also did some zero hours work for Statistics Jersey.
Since then I have launched another small business, Edward’s Angels Grave Care (named after my dad.) This is a lovely business to run – we keep graves tidy by hand weeding (No weedkillers used) and clean the grave stones, adding flowers. We have lots of clients based outside of Jersey, and some based here, who cannot get to their family graves regularly. Nearly all our clients are on an annual maintenance contract, and we have some of the best and biggest monuments to care for too.
When my children were growing up, I also thought we could help some other children, so became foster carers and for five years were lucky enough to share our home with some amazing children.
I currently run the grave business, do some care night shifts for Positive Steps care agency, and am a rates assessor for St Helier. I have five lovely children, Camilla who is a nurse, Debbie who manages the pet business, William who works in Heamatology, Gabrielle who is off to Bournemoth University this year, and Reuben, doing his GCSEs.
I have been a member of Reform Jersey for a few years. They are a great team of intelligent people and we share the same values. They have brought many propositions to improve the lives of people in Jersey, some of them approved (like the great bus scheme for young people) and some which would just need a few more Reform Jersey candidates in The States to be voted through.