Passion2Profit UK Graduate on BBC Radio

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Allison Ferns: Our ‘My Life’ guest this afternoon is mother of four, Christine Blackledge. Christine is from Worthing and she’s being hailed as an inspiration after transforming her career in just 18 months.

Yes, in the last 18 months she’s launched a series of new businesses. She now runs her own consultation service for start-up recruitment agencies. She’s introduced a care-standards programme for a group of UK nursing homes. And she has just started a will-writing service.

On top of that she’s also fulfilling her childhood dream of getting a law degree and she is currently studying law at Brighton University. So my first question really had to be, “How on earth do you manage to fit it all in?”

Christine Blackledge: The secret is that I actually get up at 4 o’clock in the morning Monday to Friday. I make sure go to bed at 9pm…

Allison: Wow…

Christine: …so I’m also passionate about what I do, so I enjoy what I actually do and that gives me the encouragement and the motivation.

Allison: Wow…there must be…

Christine: …and helping people.

Allison: There must be the odd day though when the alarm goes off at 4 o’clock and you think, “Nooo!!!”

Christine: No, I don’t actually feel that way…

Allison: Really!

Christine: …cause I’m so passionate, because I’ve seen the effects of things not being done correctly. So, for me, I’m passionate, I want things to be right for people.

Allison: Let’s go right back to the beginning. Let’s talk a bit about your childhood.

Christine: Yes

Allison: Happy memories growing up?

Christine: Yes, very happy memories. My father was a very strong working man in Leicester. He was a foreman, and he always brought me up, and my mother, very strong people, very hard-working…

Allison: That’s where you get the work ethic from.

Christine: That’s right, yes. And they’ve always brought me up, you know, to say there’s, whenever I’ve felt sort of weak, that there’s no such word as, “You can’t.” Keep doing what you need to do.

It all really started from when I was 18 if I can take you back to when I was 18 from where my passions really started from. And, you know, I was working for a law firm in New York…very, very high-class law firm, and I really wanted to do law back then.

But unfortunately I got into a negative relationship, and there was an earthquake and a hurricane at the same time in one month and that gave me the boot to sort of move away from New York, and go back to Nottingham which is where I was born and grown up at.

Allison: And get out of that relationship.

Christine: Get out of that relationship, yes. Yes, definitely.

Allison: So that was the turning point really for you.

Christine: That certainly was and it made me, at that point when I was 18 I wanted to be a lawyer, but unfortunately because I left the States I couldn’t continue with that career path.

Allison: Sure.

Christine: So I came to the UK and I was working 9-to-5 doing night shifts, as well working in pubs…

Allison: And what were you doing?

Christine: I was working for Reed Employment doing temp work, typing, paralegal secretarial skills, receptionist and I was obviously working at night time. And I had a baby when I was 23 years old, and that was as negative relationship, but the baby was a positive out of that negative relationship.

Allison: Tough though, 23 years of age…

Christine: …Oh definitely.

Allison: …baby and not in a happy relationship…not easy.

Christine: And we, sort of, had to sort of face homelessness as well. We went into a shelter. But that’s fine, because it makes me strong! I had to do something about my life, like every other woman out there.

Allison: How long were you in the shelter for?

Christine: For about three weeks.

Allison: Gosh.

Christine: So I’ve made sure that I was able to get out of that.

Allison: How did you get out of that?

Christine: I managed to get out of that because I started to do three jobs, because I didn’t understand about that people can claim benefits because my parents have never claimed any form of benefit. Moving to the States they definitely don’t, so I wasn’t aware of claiming benefits. So, again, I thought, right, okay, I need to get three jobs. So my auntie actually helped look after my little boy while I was able to go out and work, and then I was able to get my own place and then it all started then.

I then met my husband when my son was three months old, and we got married and I’ve got a wonderful relationship. We’ve been together for 25 years, over 25 years actually.

Allison: Brilliant! Where did you meet?

Christine: We met in Nottingham. It was called a…it was a discotheque. It was called, “Grab A Granny” night on a Wednesday.

Allison: Hahahaha!

Christine: So that was hilarious. I wasn’t the grandma!

Allison: Obviously not! Obviously not! And your little boy, how old is he now?

Christine: He’s 26 now. He’s just finishing his degree at Portsmouth University. I’ve got three other boys, of course.

Allison: They must be extremely proud of their mum.

Christine: Oh definitely. They can’t believe me. They just think I’m…sometimes they think I’m nuts cause I’m getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning when it’s all quiet and peaceful and that’s when I find that I’m most productive during that time.

Allison: Wow.

Christine: So yeah.

Allison: I find that a little bit nuts as well, just so you know.

Allison & Christine: Hahahaha!

Allison: I don’t know how you’re doing it, but good luck to you!

Allison: This afternoon we are hearing the life story of Worthing mother of four, Christine Blackledge. For years she was an employee, but soon got fed up of working for other people. And so, over the past 18 months with the help of a business mentor, a chap called David Lee, she has managed to turn her career around and has launched a series of new businesses, and as well as studying for a law degree at Brighton University.

One of those new businesses is a will-writing service and she explained that she was inspired to set that up due to events within her own family.

Christine: My father-in-law, my mother-in-law, they fell ill and I was nursing them and then it made me realise once my mother-in-law passed away she did a will, but unfortunately it didn’t protect her as fully as what it should of done. So it caused so much devastation within families, you know, generations of families can be destroyed by this type of thing not being done in the correct manner to the person’s wishes, etcetera.

Allison: Cause of the wording she used?

Christine: It was the… What it was is that it should have been protected whereby she had the Family Independants Act, say for example, 1975, that anyone can come and make a claim on the estate. However, if there was a legacy put in place then that would have…

Allison: …would have stopped that…

Christine: …stopped caveats coming in, from example. So, five years fighting a will, £46,000 is quite expensive. So that’s what really he pushed me into that direction because I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through that suffering. And that’s what pushed me and made me so passionate about becoming a professional will writer.

Allison: Because that’s the thing. Wills can cause so many problems within families.

Christine: Heartache.

Allison: Yeah. If the deceased’s wishes are not clear cut then it does leave the way open for dispute.

Christine: For interpretation, definitely.

Allison: Yeah.

Christine: So that’s what pushed me to sort of get the qualifications that I’m currently doing, a step-advanced will preparation, but also I’m at the University of Brighton studying law and I found out in January 2013 that I was going to university and I was so pleased. I felt like I was a child again!

Allison: Yeah. What is it like going to university as a mature student?

Christine: It’s really…I really enjoy it. Sometimes I feel like…it’s really nice because there’s a few, I call them “oldies”, cause that’s well my age…I’m 49 obviously. So I really enjoy it. I take it all in. I really do take it all in because I feel I’ve been given a new lease of life. I feel like I’m the 18-year-old that’s going to university and I’m 49, but I’m able to really take things in and understand things a bit better than what I probably would have done when I was 18.

Allison: Maybe appreciate it a bit more…

Christine: Yeah, definitely.

Allison: …than perhaps you do when you were a bit younger.

Well, sat next to you is your business mentor, David Lee. What was your first impression of Christine?

David Lee: She was very quiet. What I noticed was she would diligently take notes and didn’t say too much, and she was like the dark horse that the took us all by surprise. But, as you can see from Christine talking, she’s got a lot of story, a lot of life experience in there, and when I started realising what she had in there I could see it more clearly and appreciate it than what she gave herself credit for. And all I did was extract out of Christine what she already had and help her to develop and systemise what she wanted to do.

And it is such a pleasure to hear today talking to you, because to Christine you’re seeing today was not exactly like the one we met 18 months ago, was it Christine?

Christine: Yeah, that’s right.

Allison: So you’ve changed a lot in the past 18 months?

Christine: I’ve become more confident, you know, in terms of… cause if you’re videoing yourself you have to sort get used to seeing yourself on a regular basis and, you know, making sure that you’re doing your videos the way you want them to look like rather than picking up on your habits and faults and things, so yeah, it’s good.

Allison: And I suppose it’s the thing, isn’t it, people often have these ideas and particularly when it comes to business. But, it’s one thing having that idea in your head. It’s quite another thing actually putting it on paper and actually making it happen.

David: And realising that you have the potential to achieve that. Now Christine is like many people that I’ve met, and a lot of women have got this potential. And yet, we’ve got a report here that says a lot of women are doing tasks where they could actually do more. For example, with the life experience that Christine’s had they just don’t know how to go out and what steps to do next. And if more could be just like the example we see of Christine they could achieve so much more.

Allison: Christine Blackledge from Worthing and her business mentor, David Lee

Category : Events

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