Against All Odds – Dean Holden and Danielle Nicholls

Against All Odds – Dean Holden and Danielle Nicholls

Against All Odds: Danielle Nicholls and Dean Holden

By Lolo Stubbs, Editor-in-chief

__________________________________

When TV presenter Danielle Nicholls married her childhood sweetheart and professional footballer Dean Holden, their life was as near to a fairytale as it gets. After a perfect wedding, Danielle became pregnant on their honeymoon, welcoming a beautiful boy Joey, with their second baby boy, Ellis, arriving only 18 months later. Then the loved up couple completed their family with the arrival of their eagerly awaited princess, Cici, just a few years later.

Life was crazy and chaotic,  just like so many families with three children under five, but it was full to the brim with love. After taking a few years away from the spotlight to concentrate on being a mum, Danielle was ready to return to our screens. Following a successful meeting with a TV Producer, everything was lined up for her comeback. Danielle couldn’t wait to reignite her career, and she was all set for the next stage following a family holiday to Lanzarote. That excitement was soon to become a distant memory though, as no-one could have imagined that what should have been a fun filled family holiday, would have turned into every parent’s worst nightmare. Only 24 hours after leaving Manchester Airport, the loving couple tragically lost their beloved baby girl Cici, who was only 18 months old, to Meningococcal Septicemia – a bacterial infection which causes blood poisoning, leading to sepsis.

Danielle Nicholls, Dean Holden and their family

Danielle Nicholls, Dean Holden and four of their children © BROOD Magazine

Danielle and Dean bravely opened up about how they managed to keep going through the unimaginable heartbreak; the emotional scars they were left with; how they stayed together despite the statistics being stacked against them; how they welcomed another two wonderful children, Mitzy and Chase, into their family, and how against all odds they continued to build an incredible life for themselves and their children – continually honouring the memory of their beautiful baby girl, Cici, along the way.

You’ll find it hard to find a more inspirational couple. Their outlook on life and how they strive to achieve their goals for themselves and their children would motivate anyone.

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Danielle Nicholls, Dean Holden and four of their children © BROOD Magazine

You both had successful careers when you first started a family, how did that look and how did you manage that?   

Dean – “Because of our careers things have always been a bit chaotic, and we’ve always had to commute lots. When we got married I was playing for Peterborough, so I was commuting there half the week from our home in Manchester, and Danielle was travelling throughout the week to London, Birmingham etc.”

Danielle – “I was progressing in my career at the time. I had moved away from Children’s TV and I was doing bits on This Morning and Tricia, and I was also presenting Night Fever on Channel 5. I was still working when I was heavily pregnant with our first child Joey. Then New Years Eve – the tree was still up – and I was ready to pop, Dean comes home from training at Peterborough and says we’re moving to Scotland!”

Dean – “Yes, she was 8 months pregnant, it was the night before a match, and my manager knocked on the door and said, the Scottish Premier League are coming for you, you’re free to talk to them.”

Danielle – “I’ve never been as angry in my life! [she laughs] You know what it’s like with your first baby you plan everything to a tee, then the next thing you know I was packing up the whole house with my sister and brother in law, and we were on our way to Scotland!”

Dean – “Then 18 months after Joey was born we had Ellis, and it wasn’t long after he was born that we moved back to Manchester.”

Danielle – “Yes, and I loved my boys, but I remember thinking I’m way too girly to have boys, I need a girl! [she laughs] So a couple of years later, we tried again, and we were so lucky to get our little princess, Cici. I said, ‘we’ve two boys and a girl. We’re done now!’ We were happy with that. Then when the boys were starting school and Cici was nearly 18 months old, I decided that I was ready to go back to work. Dean was playing for Shrewsbury, we had Media City on our doorstep and we were back in Manchester with our family. So it just felt like the right time.

So I had a meeting with a producer at the BBC, and we were in talks for me to do some work on BBC Bitesize, to get me back into things again. Which was great, but I said well I’m going on holiday next week and he said, ‘You go on your holidays, and I’ll see you when you get back.’ Of course that didn’t happen because Cici died on that holiday.”

I can’t even begin to imagine how devastating the loss of Cici was and how traumatic that was for you all as a family. 

Danielle – “It sounds silly, but I’ve always been quite a spiritual person and I used to get my palm read and they would always say I had a split lifeline. And remember one lady saying, ‘You’re going to really change; you’re going to be one person and then you’re going to be another person.’ And it always puzzled me, but now I know exactly what she means. Because, I don’t think either of us will ever be the same as we were before Cici died. We actually talk about the ‘old Danielle and Dean’, as if they’re different people. Don’t we? [Turns to Dean] Because of what they went through…”

Dean – “…Yeah, we feel sorry for them.”

Danielle – “When I look back, you know, we had our two beautiful boys, our little princess – we didn’t have loads of money, because I had been a stay at home mum for a while – but we didn’t need the flash car and all the trimmings, all we needed was what we had right there.”

Dean – “I think one of the weirdest things was that although I’d just been released by Rochdale, it was the happiest we’d ever been.

And when we go on holiday, it’s chaotic. It always was chaos, every time! The taxi would turn up and we’d be racing round the house, and we would always get to the airport late!”

Danielle – “We’re never organised! We’re always last minute.”

Dean – “Yeah, but that was the strange thing, we were early that time. We were sitting having a brew in the living room, waiting for the taxi. Everything was really calm.”

Danielle – “He kept saying it’s all too smooth this.”

Dean – “And obviously, by the next morning in Lanzarote, Cici passed away. Now when anything is calm and organised with us, it makes me panicky and I start to worry, it’s like a trigger.”

Danielle – “Yes, we obviously both had PTSD after what happened. You know. The trauma of the speed of it. The upset. Being in a foreign country, it was just, I can’t put it into words. She just had a cold, or so we thought, you know. I can still remember her playing in the soft play area in Terminal 1. Everyone was laughing and smiling, looking at her, because she was running up and down carrying one of the soft play blocks over her head.

They’ve moved it now, but for the longest time could never ever go over that side of the airport, because that was the day before she died. You just can’t get your head around that.

I would rather live in the a scene of a horror movie everyday of my life, being chased by someone with a chainsaw or a machete, than to ever have to live that day ever again! It felt like we were in a horror movie.

I remember following the ambulance in a taxi – they wouldn’t let us in the ambulance, because they were trying to save her life. We just knew it was bad, didn’t we? [Turns to Dean] I think we left our body, when you’re that frightened you do just leave your body, because I can remember everything so vividly, yet it doesn’t feel like it was me.”

Dean – “I think for a long time after we just survived. Obviously you have to look after yourself to some extent because of our kids. And then the realisation hit us, that we didn’t want the kids to grow up with parents who are always sad. You know, we didn’t want them to think, they were ok until Cici died, but then they became alcoholics or they split up, etc, because the stats are against you and if you look at the internet in terms of that – it’s a bit of a scary place. So, we went the other way  and we made a decision to make a go of our lives.

For a long time we couldn’t have spoken about it like this, but the physiological work we’ve done is the reason we can. We’ve done all sorts of things to get here – for example, I’m a big fan of Wim Hof. To learn about your brain and how it deals with trauma is really helpful and now we are in a position where hopefully people can look at us 12 years on, and it gives people hope. Yes, we’ve got a tragic story, but we are still together. Although we have had our issues and it has been difficult at times, but we’re still here – together. We’re doing well in our careers, our kids are happy and healthy, so hopefully it provides some inspiration for others that may have experienced losing a child too, or another trauma.”

Danielle –  “Yes, that’s definitely what we hope we can do, because there is no point saying it doesn’t affect you. I feel like I was a ghost for ten years of my life, and just to be able to talk about the day was a huge step for me. I couldn’t ever talk about it, it would make me feel ill for a week afterwards.I had to have hypnotherapy and that doesn’t fix it, it just means you don’t emotionally go back there every time.” 

The pain you were suffering at that time must have been excruciating, did having the boys to look after help you to keep going?

Danielle – “Yes. If we didn’t have the boys, we wouldn’t be here now. After Cici died, just a few days after, we sat on the edge of a cliff, and we just looked at each other. We both knew what we were thinking, without saying a word to each other. If it wasn’t for knowing that our boys were back at the villa, [both Danielle and Dean become emotional]  I swear that neither of us would be here today. The pain was physical. It’s unimaginable. Unbearable.”

Dean, do you remember that first football match after Cici died?

Dean – “I didn’t have a club at the time, I was 33 years old, I didn’t have an agent and so I spent my summer ringing round clubs. Dean Smith at Walsall was my saviour. He was like our angel, because most managers would have said, you’re 33, you’ve had loads of injuries etc, and Dean said, ‘I’m really worried about your family situation’ – it was only a few weeks after Cici had died – and he said he couldn’t make a decision on it straight away. So I started doing meditation twice a day, going to see a psychologist, etc and he gave me an opportunity as a player/coach and I wouldn’t be in the game without him. And from then on I was just programmed to make him proud. And pre-season is ridiculously hard, any footballer will tell you that, so I had to focus. We hadn’t made anywhere near enough money for me to retire, it’s not like people may think. We had no savings, we lived day to day, so I had no choice, and I wasn’t prepared to lose my career, or my marriage, or for our family to suffer anymore, on top of losing my daughter. There was just something inside me, and I had to keep thinking this isn’t going to break us.

That’s obviously how I got into coaching, and now I’m a manager. I have always loved football, for as long as I can remember. Every memory as a kid involves football and I never thought I would love anything as much as I love playing football, but the manager eclipses that, I absolutely love it. When your team wins a match it’s a great feeling. I also think when you go into management and you’ve had experiences personally that you would never ever choose in a million years, it helps you to empathise in a way that the coaching courses can’t teach you.”

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Danielle, at what point did you know that you needed to start working on your career again and how important do you think it has been for you?

Danielle – “It was covid. Dean had got a great manager’s job at Bristol, and I’m not going to lie I was a bit jealous, because he was off living the dream and because of covid there were a lot of restrictions and so most of the time I was at home with the children. And I had started doing online gaming, as a way of switching off, but also as a way of spending time and having fun with my teenage boys. Then my brother said we should start streaming and suppose that gave me a little taster, although it wasn’t what I wanted to do and then when the lockdowns hit I genuinely had a bit of a midlife crisis. I had gotten to the point where I didn’t know who I was anymore. It sounds so cliche, but I was suddenly like ‘I’m Dean’s wife, I’m the kids’ mum, but who am i?’ and I can remember my mum saying it when I was younger, but it’s so true. It turns out I was also going through perimenopause and it really is a difficult period in a woman’s life. On top of that I lost access to the support groups that had kept me going and I couldn’t go to the gym, or see friends and my mental health really started to suffer. And I got to the stage where I looked at Dean and my kids – and I’ve only ever loved my kids – but I just felt like I wanted to walk away from it all. Thankfully, because I had done so much work over the years, I found myself observing myself and thinking – what is going on here? I love being a mum, I love being a wife. I love my husband, I love my kids, what is wrong with me? But then it was almost like a phoenix from the flames moment, because sometimes when everything falls to shit, you should grab that moment, because that is your moment to reinvent yourself and that’s what I did! So I sorted out my hormones. I realised I had lost myself and I needed to do something about it.”

Dean – “Danielle getting her career back saved our marriage.”

What challenges did you face, in terms of getting back into the world of TV?

Danielle – “I met with an agent and she said ‘You’re on the wrong side of 40 love, you’ve got no chance, you won’t work in TV again!’

And I asked her how old she was. She said 52, and I said to her so the last 10 years have been non existent to you? And she replied by saying, ‘yes well I’ve never stopped working though, you can’t do what you’ve done and then just come back!’ Like it was a luxury, or choice! And I said, ‘I don’t expect to just waltz back in. And I also intended to come back to this years ago!’ But, with TV presenting you’ve got to give a part of you and I couldn’t sit there, putting a front on, knowing that inside I was still a big mess. So, I had to take that time to figure stuff out. Dean was my hero, [Danielle holds back the tears] because he never stopped working, he never took that time to heal – he didn’t get the chance because he had to support us and those kids, and I don’t know how he did it.”

Dean – “I was going to an event, near the shard in London, and Danielle came with me and she bumped into an old colleague from CITV, who was now working at Talk TV as a producer and he asked her if she wanted to come on the show the next day as a guest. And we were actually due to go on holiday the next day, but the opportunity was just what she needed so I went on holiday with kids on my own.”

Danielle – “People are reluctant to take a chance on you when you’ve not done anything for a while, but you can’t do anything until someone gives you a chance and Chuck, was my angel.”

Dean – “And now she’s got her own Saturday night show!” 

You both have an amazing drive to keep going towards your goals and dreams despite the challenges you may face? How do you maintain that level of motivation?

Dean – “The thing is nothing is handed to you on a plate. We grew up in Swinton in Manchester and we worked hard to get to somewhere in our careers and we want to instil that message into our kids. But you do get knocks, setbacks  along the way, like when I was playing for Bolton, Everton put a bid in for me, but on that same day I broke my leg. I lost a 1cm and a half off my leg bone. I was 19 and was never the same player again. I’ve broken my leg three times – and never had a free kick for any of them by the way [he laughs] and so I lost about 5 or 6 years of my career in the end. But, I made the most of my career, I played till I was 35, despite it not being the career I dreamt I would have had in football. The key to all of it, which I truly believe in my heart is when we found true gratitude and that takes a long time, but when you can wake up in the morning and go to sleep every night and just be grateful to the universe for what you’ve got, it’s a magical thing because it takes away all the feeling sorry for yourself. Cici was a blessing and for a long time I would have done anything to erase my memories because it was just so painful, I would have lost all the love and everything just to lose the pain, but now I can look at it differently.”

Danielle – “It’s so hard to wake up with a positive attitude when you’ve spent 10 years waking up to remember that your child has died. Every Chrsitmas, every birthday, someone is missing, and you learn to live with the sadness and the pain, but it never goes away. You never wake up being ok with the fact she’s gone, but wake up knowing it’s ok to carry on, that’s what you learn.”

Dean – “I got sacked three days ago, and that’s hard to deal with, but no pain will ever compare to what we’ve been through, so It’s just wasted oxygen feeling angry about stuff. Obviously when it happened, the first night I was upset and angry, and we talked it through. But,then I was like, right, how can I move forward, who can I surround myself with to get back in the business. I know that phone will ring and i’ll be back in the game.”

Danielle – “I think people need to talk more about what they’re going through. We’ve got our trauma yes, but I think most people are walking around harbouring some kind of trauma and we need to feel able to be more open about it. That’s why I love doing Talk TV, because they allow the discussions and the debates. People don’t need the portrayal of this perfect picture anymore. They need realness. People need to be able to talk about how hard it is trying to balance their careers alongside bringing up the kids, and to balance living with trauma and going through the knocks of life on top of that, and I feel lucky to be in the position that I can vocalise that.” 

Both of your careers have meant that you have had to split your time between London and Manchester recently. With all 4 children in school in Manchester how have you managed to juggle it all?

“It’s absolutely chaotic at times. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely shattered sometimes. But, it’s been a juggle. I’ve been so exhausted, but so content, so it’s completely worth it. Thankfully we’ve got good family and friends, who we know we can count on for support. Luckily we’re at a nice stage where the oldest is able to look after our youngest – only for short periods of time but he’s perfectly capable. The older ones are so good with the younger ones. And when the kids have to pitch in I say to them, we’re a family, we’re a team, we work together and if we all help each other we’ll all benefit in the long run. We are both doing what we love doing and that’s so important.”

UPDATE MAY 2024:

Since this interview Dean was appointed as assistant manager for Saudi Pro League club Al-Ettifaq, alongside the teams Manager Steven Gerrard. Danielle shared a little insight as to how chaotic it’s been for the family since, in BROOD Edition 3’s BROOD Moments.

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Inspiring and honest Interview with Karina Jadhav & Ben Wilkinson: “I’m still finding it really hard to juggle!”

Karina Jadhav & Ben Wilkinson

Inspiring & Honest Interview: “I’m still finding it really hard to juggle” 

By Lolo Stubbs, Editor-in-chief

__________________________________

Inspirational entrepreneur and Mum of two, Karina Jadhav, has continually made waves in the business and hospitality world over the last decade; after first stepping into the hospitality industry in 2010, as a bartender and as a waitress. Then, after years of successfully building businesses, from a food truck to award winning restaurants, Karina has firmly cemented a name for herself within the notoriously challenging sector.  In 2015, Karina embarked on her biggest career achievement to date when she launched Menagerie Restaurant and bar, making her the north west’s youngest independent female business owner.

Menagerie immediately stood out with its innovative concept, dazzling interiors, amazing menu and immersive entertainment, quickly making it Manchester’s hottest restaurant, and attracting international celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Perrie Edwards and many more.  When Karina met her husband Ben Wilkinson – the Manager of Manchester City Under 18’s squad – Karina’s passion for her career and business was all consuming, before the couple went on to have their two children – who it’s clear to see have completely stolen their hearts!

Ben led his Manchester City Under 18’s squad to a historic Premier League National title win in his first season as head coach; carving out a name for himself in the world of football. Ben, a former professional footballer, was submerged into the world of football, from an early age, as his father is the legendary football manager, Howard Wilkinson, and Ben was just five years old when he watched his father lift the league title at Leeds United, so Ben knows all too well the impact of watching your parents achieve their goals, and how much that can inspire and influence our children.

So, we sat down with this impressive and extremely humble couple – after a fun, slightly chaotic, and very entertaining photoshoot with their adorable boys, Henry 4, and Beau 21 months, to find out just how they manage to juggle the pressures of having such successful and demanding careers,  alongside bringing up their beautiful brood! Ben had to dash off straight after the shoot to take Henry to school, and joined us again to chat as we were putting the world to rights with Karina, with Beau pottering around the studio with us. 

Ben Wilkinson and Karina Jadhav

Ben Wilkinson, Karina Jadhav and their children  © Tom Pitfield Photography for BROOD Magazine

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At what point in your career did you become a parent and how did you find that transition?

Karina – “I became a mum way into my career – when my career was my entire life! And I had kind of got to the point where it was like, ‘Right it’s now or never. If I don’t make the decision to do this, it’s never going to happen for me’. And I never really knew how it was actually going to work out, because my career was so consuming. But I think that the universe always has a plan, because we went into lockdown when Henry, my first child, was only 6 months old. So everything stopped and that meant that I got time with him that I wasn’t going to have. Which was obviously not great for the world, or for the business, but for us as a family it meant that we had a lot of quality time together that was really, really special. I say that so reluctantly because for so many people it wasn’t great. But because the hospitality industry is just not an industry that is set up for women to have children, I was really grateful to get that time.”

Of course, the hours are long and classed as unsociable hours in hospitality. How have you found balancing family life and work life since the pandemic ended and things have returned back to normal?

Karina -“I’m still finding it really hard to juggle. How to keep the restaurant where it needs to be, and to put myself into it the way in which I need to be. It’s supposed to be a party venue. It’s very vibrant. It’s open until late into the night and at the same time I’ve had two children that have had a lot of health issues, and don’t sleep well, and so I’ve been sleep deprived for years and they are up between 5 and 6am every morning – actually if they sleep until 6am that is a lie in and we have the biggest celebration ever! [She laughs] So I’m still trying to figure everything out and it’s a constant daily juggle…it’s just chaos basically, [she laughs] constant chaos! And I don’t know if I’m doing a great job at either thing really. [She lets out a slight sigh] I just try and take each day as it comes really.”

You most definitely are doing a great job, but I think we all feel like that at times. You are running an amazing business, and you have two adorable little boys! How different was it for when you had Beau, your second child as obviously we weren’t in lockdown then. Did you manage to take any time to have some form of maternity?

“Well, I had made this huge plan, I made a calendar in advance. I planned everything in the lead up to my c-section – as I had to have a c-section with Beau, and I had such a bad birth with Henry that I was actually terrified in the lead up; I redid my will – I know that sounds crazy, but I was so scared! So I did as much planning as I could and everything was in place, and I had actually booked a night nanny – which is like crazy now when I think about it, because I don’t know what I was thinking, but I had this idea because my friend had a night nanny and it had worked for her because she had twins, and I just thought well, ‘I’ve got Henry who doesn’t sleep, I’ve got the business and I’m going have a newborn too!’ But anyway, when Beau was 3 weeks old he developed sepsis, so we ended up in hospital with him for a week and he was so, so lucky because he was given the right treatment straight away. He had a course of really strong antibiotics, but then as he was coming out of hospital he started with something called bronchiolitis – well that’s what they said it was and it wasn’t. He was constantly vomiting every time he had a bottle of milk. Long story short, everything I had planned went to pot, so I had a maternity leave of sorts, but it wasn’t what I had planned and hoped my maternity leave would look like. And since then I’ve been trying to claw back all the mess that had happened within the business whilst I was away from it, because I was completely absent and that had just never happened before. It was just one of those times in your life where you have to choose what is your top priority, and obviously your baby is always going to take priority. I didn’t really care about anything else and I just thought I’ll figure that out later. But cleaning up the mess after everything had calmed down with Beau’s health and getting back into the business was really hard, because it was a shambles. I feel like I’m still kind of tidying that up now and he’s nineteen months old.”

Ben Wilkinson & Karina Jadhav Menarie and MCFC

Karina Jadhav & Ben Wilkinson images © Tom Pitfield Photography for BROOD Magazine

Sarah Jayne Dunn Brood

“I’ve always been a massive perfectionist and since having children, I’ve had to try and let go of that. “

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That must have been so tough, nothing is worse than seeing your child poorly, and on top of that your business had been your baby for so long it must have been very hard.

Karina – “Yes, in the past I would have been sending emails at 2am in the morning, because I really felt that by being a female in that industry, that I had to keep trying new tactics to keep people on their toes, so that they would take me more seriously – at least that’s what I thought I was doing at the time. And so I was so used to that 24/7 way of life, that then having children, I found it very difficult and obviously I couldn’t maintain that. It was just all consuming! I’ve always been a massive perfectionist and since having children, I’ve had to try and let go of that. I actually said to Ben this morning that I’ve realised I’ve become a much calmer person, because I’ve realised that there’s so much you can’t control. That applies with the kids and in the business. I keep saying to myself I can only do my best, and that can be really hard for somebody who likes everything just so.” 

What do you think is one of the hardest things about being a working parent, specifically being a parent who runs their own business?

Karina – “I think the hardest part of being a working parent, especially running a business, is finding the time to do your work. I find myself sometimes really resenting my work as I want to be able to spend more time with my kids, but then when I’m with the kids 24/7 I really miss work! It kind of feels like one big contradiction and I almost always find myself feeling like I should be doing something different to what I am actually doing at that time. When I go to bed at night I find myself feeling bad about all the things I haven’t done or that I feel I’ve not done well enough on. It’s very overwhelming at times – I’m really not selling this am I? [We laugh]

And as I’ve gotten older I’ve learnt a lot about how my brain works. I’m a really, really creative person and I’m also very analytical, but I have to be in the right frame of mind for one or the other, and that’s really hard because when you’ve got kids you’re given an allotted amount of time where you might have to work, but you might get interrupted and I can’t get into that head space, just because it’s like ‘Right I better do that now!’ If I’m not in that head space, I just can’t switch that on. So, I always have to do the work when I’m inspired to do so and then I become possessed. I keep saying it’s hard, but it’s not necessarily that it’s hard, it’s more that it’s not organised, and I guess that’s life when running your own business alongside having two small children! It’s just a constant juggle and trying to figure things out as you go along!” 

[Ben joins us again after taking Henry to school]

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Ben, just to catch up with you, at what point in your career did you become a dad and how did you find that transition?

Ben – “I became a dad during my second year at Manchester City. I’ve loved the transition, although it certainly has made life more challenging in terms of managing schedules and trying to keep all of the various plates spinning – I think that’s probably been the biggest challenge, but in terms of the other side of it, I’ve absolutely loved it. I’m just trying to be present, as becoming a dad is something I’ve absolutely loved and it’s taken centre stage in my life really.”

Karina obviously, we’ve discussed the challenges that come with running a business, but what would you say has been your career highlight to date?

Karina – “ I think the fact the business still going strong after 7 years, is my biggest career highlight, because before I opened this business hospitality was on a complete high, it was at its peak, and people thought it was easy and people were opening places left right and centre, that are no longer open and we’re really weathered the storm. I mean we’re in a recession and having an independent business when there are big London brands coming to Manchester and opening all the time, that can bring its challenges. But I’m really proud of how we keep evolving, we keep up the moment and the creativity that we need to keep people coming back. I’m also really proud of how the team stays with us, that we have a high staff retention rate too. The fact that I have an amazing team of people that I like, and trust is a massive achievement for me, as well as managing to stay open and ticking over – and even though it’s not maybe a glossy, glamourous career highlight, I feel like that’s huge!

Sarah Jayn Dunn, Lux Sol & Padel Club

“I think you need to be kind to yourself and others, and not be so quick to judge other people’s situations.”

Ben, being a football coach is renowned for being high pressure, how do you manage to switch off from that  and go into dad mode when you’re at home?

Ben – “I’m lucky actually with the job I’m in at the moment for a job in Football, we tend to get most Sundays off and something in the week which allows me to spend quality time with the boys and i feel like in those moments i can be really present. ,           

Karina – “Ben’s job is perfect for our family. And we think it’s really important for him to just enjoy this job and focus on that rather than look to try and move into first team management at this time, because if he took a job abroad or somewhere else in the UK as a first team manager then we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. I know I would really struggle.”

Ben – “Yeah, I think I’m really aware of what does come next. I am studying for my Pro Licence at the moment and there’s a module on current problems In the workplace and probably 50-60% of the people who are on the courses are managing a first team, and they all talk about work life balance and how they really struggle with it. I have witnessed it myself,      especially as you’re not always blessed to have a job that’s close to home, then you have to move your family, and it often involves travelling, so we’ve spoken about it loads.  I’m really blessed to be at City it’s an amazing place to work and learn, and in terms of growing my knowledge and skill set there’s no better place to be.  I think people can be too quick to jump to the next thing, and always thinking right what’s next, but I’m really enjoying what I’m doing and I feel content with where I am.”

Karina – “It’s so nice for the kids as well, they do loads of stuff for families. I do look at his job and I envy it at times, because mine is so chaotic and Ben’s job is so orderly. [She laughs]”

What impact has becoming parents had on your relationship? There’s so much to navigate through, it can be really challenging to remember to give time to being a couple. How have you found that side of becoming a parent? 

Ben – “I think it’s just different. We’re lucky that we’re on the same page. With everything that you have to manage daily, we are always on the page as to what we should prioritise, so that really helps in a relationship.”

Karina- “I always say to Ben, I’m so glad that the universe sent you to me, because it was like he was just plonked right in front of me and honestly having children     , I don’t think I would have coped if we weren’t the team that we are. Especially as we’ve had so many health issues with Henry, it’s pushed us even closer together. I think prior to having kids we did whatever we wanted to do, and then you have a kid and it’s the biggest life change and it will either make you as a couple or it will break you. And with us it’s brought closer.”

Ben – “I think the fact that we’re both content in how our lives have changed and that we’re happy just sitting down in front of the tele and having a couple of hours together in the evening, really helps too. And it also helps that we’re both understanding if one of us has to open the laptop etc as well”.

Do you have stand out BROOD moments that you can share?

Karina – “Oh there are so many things that happen each week. But I was delivering a team meeting the other week and I was letting them know certain things that I wasn’t happy with. Listing things that needed to be better and all the while, Henry was shouting ‘Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!’ Totally undermining my assertive delivery!” [She laughs]  

Ben – “We were trying out one of them walking baby carrier chairs, the ones that you put on your shoulders, and we were taking a picture and Henry just started throwing up everywhere! So in the photo you just see me smiling with Henry in the carrier on my shoulders and then the sick coming out in stages and me ending up covered in sick!” {We all laugh]  

What do you think the benefits are of your children seeing you have a career that you’re passionate about?

Ben – “Henry is really proud of where we both work. And even though he’s only 4, he is really aware of what we do. If we’re in the car and anywhere near Spinningfields, he’ll say, ‘Are we going to Mummy’s restaurant?’ And he’s always telling people about Mummy’s restaurant. And he absolutely loves coming to city.     . Henry has just started to get into Football. In the last few weeks, he has wanted to play every day, loves putting his City kit on and has also started collecting stickers which he is really passionate about and does not let anyone near!! He also thinks anyone who has anything to do with football is my friend. [He laughs]

Karina – “Who is it that he thinks you are on the football cards?”

Ben – “He thinks I’m Kevin De Bruyne on the football cards. [We laugh] And I’ll take that all day!

What advice would you give other parents who are following their career dreams whilst juggling parenthood?

Ben – “The biggest thing that I follow and what I say to people at work is enjoy the time being a parent – especially the early years, because you don’t get it back. We had someone who went off a few weeks ago and when the baby was around 3 weeks old, they were fretting about coming back to work. I just said, ‘      You’ll never get this time back and it’s amazing, don’t feel like you have to rush back into work.’ So I think just try and enjoy every moment that you can with the kids and then just work really hard at managing your schedule so that you can still maintain your career.”

Karina – “I think it depends on what stage of your career you’re at as well though, as we were further into our careers when we had kids. And even though I was further into my career I still have found it hard to deal with the change in pace, because in my industry a lot of people are men and they will be opening this, doing that and for the last 4 years I’ve felt like I’m a step behind, people will say ‘What’s your next step?’ ‘What are you doing next?’ and I’d be like, ‘I’ve just had a baby.’ But it’s almost like you have to whisper it because of how that is met within the industry, because it’s a male dominated industry and it’s not set up for women to have children. I really regret with Hen not saying, ‘I’m taking this time’, because I didn’t give myself any maternity leave. I thought I would just keep working, and I feel like I missed things because I was so stressed about work at times. One thing I’ve come to realise now that I’m 7 years into this restaurant, is that it doesn’t even matter, because you can spend your time really worrying about something in your business, but then a few weeks later it won’t’ even matter anymore, but when it’s your own business you get so caught up in it, because you feel like it’s make or break, but a lot of the time it’s not and the things you do remember are the things to do with your kids. So you do need to be kind to yourself.”

Ben – “Yeah, and sometimes you don’t have a choice, because you might not be in the position to have that time, because financially you have to look after your family. It is so expensive to have children, even putting them in a nursery to enable you to go work is a massive undertaking alone – not to mention all the other stuff that comes with it. So I do think it’s really tough. We’ve found it hard to find the right dynamic and we’ve been lucky enough to have help and support from people too. To juggle all the plates, you spin as a working parent, and feel like you’re getting enough time on everything is a massive challenge.”

Karina – “I think you need to be kind to yourself and others, and not be so quick to judge other people’s situations.”

JMW Solicitors

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CONFIDENCE

CONFIDENCE Confidence is a preference, as Damon Albon (Blur) once stated. If confidence was indeed something we could choose, would we choose it? I’m not sure that everyone would drink the magic potion even if it was that easy, as I think confidence can be associated...

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CONFIDENCE

CONFIDENCE

CONFIDENCE

Confidence is a preference, as Damon Albon (Blur) once stated.

If confidence was indeed something we could choose, would we choose it?

I’m not sure that everyone would drink the magic potion even if it was that easy, as I think confidence can be associated or frankly confused with arrogance, it’s ugly second cousin.

In my opinion you can be confident but not arrogant, you can be proud but not a “show off” you can have self belief and not a “big ego”, but the key ultimately is to be yourself.

Confidence is a combination of your energy, passion and self belief.
Fear is the one to watch out for, it can tear down your confidence, it’s down to you as to how deal with fear.

Confidence is like magic, the secret ingredient, the wind in your sails, the powder beneath the snowboard or in my case the electric propelling the OneWheel forwards. No momentum without confidence.

What is it… Self-belief?
An affirming validation of our own worth.
If we all kept in mind everything we had achieved in our life so far we’d be oozing confidence daily and propelling forwards at an incredible rate. But we forget and somehow we need external validation to help remind ourselves of our strengths to build our confidence.

Oliver Dunn
Oliver Dunn for BROOD MAGAZINE © 
One Truth 818 Anti Ageing Skincare

Clearly it fades, confidence needs nurture.
I think it’s important to remember this and respect it. It’s not like some qualification or trophy you can win and that’s it for life, you have to keep earning it, keep nurturing it. Surround yourself with people who fill your cup, who fuel your confidence and remind you of your worth.

We must all relate to a lack of self confidence at some point on our lives, perhaps from our childhood, school days, the feeling of not being enough or not being good enough at something which caused a lack of self belief and low confidence.

I’ve battled with that my whole life, but it’s silly really isn’t it, I mean we can’t be good at everything, okay so maybe some people are, but good for them, be inspired by that, not discouraged, bitter or disappointed by it, just be YOU. That’s all you can do. Be proud of the things you are good at and grateful for the things you enjoy. Stop comparing, stop judging yourself.

Fear kills confidence, but what is fear? Fake events appearing real?
Or a worry about other people’s opinions/ judgement?*
A worry that you’re not good enough?
Well fuck that, all of it, if something brings you joy, do it, keep doing it, that way you will continually get better at it, it’s a fact.
Then comes self belief, the perfect weapon to combat the fear, that’s what I’m prescribing here. I’ll say that again, if something brings you joy, do it and keep doing it!

*It’s important to recognise here that it’s not other people’s judgement that is the problem, it’s your opinion of other people’s judgment, which quite simply might not even be correct, this might simply be something we conjured ourselves in our little worried minds.

Remember “worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.“ (Baz Luhrmann Wear Sunscreen/ Class Of ‘99/ from original speech by Mary Schmich.

Repetition equals confidence just like practice makes perfect. Experience will bring you a strong sense of self belief which will naturally give you confidence.

Fashion.

I simply couldn’t write about confidence and not talk about fashion.
Going back to my school days I remember my confidence being higher when I had a new coat or pair of shoes, as I write this images of said coats flash into my mind along with the smell of a brand new pair of Kickers. Nostalgia.
That new leather smell, the smell of confidence, like a fresh new haircut.
What you wear speaks before you do. I am very mindful about what I wear and the priority is walking tall.

I always advise Kim “dress for you, not for anyone else, also dress for you and not for a place or environment where the expectation is that you either dress down or dress up, just dress for you” – to a certain extent of course.

I try my best to take my own advise and dress for me, to wear what inspires me, you never know who you’re going to see and potentially make an impression on, be memorable, wear what lights you up inside and makes you shine.

Inspiration is exactly how I shop for clothes, Kim always inspires me to try new styles I perhaps hadn’t considered. I might also be inspired by a place, a personality, an artist or a piece of music which has made me feel a certain way and inspired a vibe (it just flows, it’s cool, laid back and without judgement) that I wanted to express.
I love the LA vibe and I love to see what people wear there, it helps me feel connected to the energy of the place, so whether its the tie die Pete Davidson is wearing or the bright colours of Machine Gun Kelly, or even something wild worn by Miley Cyrus, I can take inspiration from everyone I see to be honest, fashion is expression and art, male/ female whatever catches my eye and inspires me, not necessarily the specific items of clothing but I will take inspiration from elements such as colours/ style/ fit.

Music has always played a huge part in what I wear, representing my inner vibe on the outside and therefore attracting likeminded people.

Shop for you, dress for you, dance to the beat of your own drum.

Task.

Write down 5 things (or 10 if you want) which you have achieved in the past year.
As you write them, feel the excitement and visualise your confidence being boosted, like some video game graphic, level up with the feeling. 📈
Feel the excitement for these like you felt when you achieved them.
Now write down 5 things you want to achieve in the next 12 months, feel the excitement you will feel once you have achieved them.
Remind yourself you are worthy and ready to achieve the next 5, ready to step out of your comfort zone and into your power.

Go after it, no one else is going to do it for you!

Peace, Love, Choc ‘n’ Roll.

Oliver Dunn aka Oli The Choc

“There is no life I know, to compare with pure imagination, living there you’ll be free, if you truly wish to be.”
Willy Wonka

Oli Choc massive easter egg
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read more
MUM OF 3 ON BUILDING A BRAND WHILST GROWING HER BROOD

MUM OF 3 ON BUILDING A BRAND WHILST GROWING HER BROOD

“I DIDN’T REALLY KNOW WHERE TO START, BUT I JUST HELD ON TO THE FACT THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!”

Successful business owner and Mum of three, Sophie Davies, has carved an incredible path for herself – and some might say she has defied all odds since becoming a mum for the first time at the age of 15. Not letting the fact that she was a teenage Mum stand in her way, Sophie went on to complete her A Levels, and embark on a career as a well respected Personal Trainer. It was during her personal training classes that Sophie had an epiphany that would lead her into the world of entrepreneurship, and start up her business SCULPT. During her five years of running her ever growing business, Sophie has had another two children and continued to successfully manage work alongside juggling her brood! We had the pleasure of hearing all about Sophie’s inspiring journey and how herself and her partner of 12 years took a huge risk in order to chase their dreams, and build an incredible business and life for them and their three children, Lilly, 12, Oakley, 3 and Tierra 2, 

Sculpt Active Wear
Sophie Davies, owner of Sculpt
SOPHIE DAVIES OWNER OF SCULPT ACTIVEWEAR |
IMAGES BY TOM PITFIELD FOR BROOD MAGAZINE ©

INTERVIEW WITH SOPHIE DAVIES, OWNER OF SCULPT ACTIVEWEAR

You have 3 children and also run a successful business, how do you do it? 

“Well we had Lilly, our oldest when I was 15 years old. When people ask me how I do it, it’s hard to explain because I’ve never known life without having kids. My entire adult life I’ve been a parent. I’ve essentially grown up with my eldest.

There is only 10 months between my youngest two and I found having them a lot more difficult and harder to adapt to than I did having Lilly. I would also say it’s a lot easier running a business alongside bringing up a family, than it is bringing up a child whilst you are still at school and college. I did my A Levels whilst Lilly was a baby and that was very difficult, so if I can get through that then having a business alongside the kids is totally doable! Obviously having a business is hard and having a baby is hard, but I feel like I was really prepared for it having gone through what I did whilst Lilly was a baby.”

What have you found to be one of the most challenging times since running your business? 

“The business hit a pivotal point when we turned 5 and I think years 3, 4 and 5 are really difficult in a business, because it’s when you go through the transition of being a small business to a medium one. When you’re a small business your outgoings are really small, you don’t have staff and usually when people say ‘we’ on social media or their website like there is a big team behind it, and usually it’s just them; just that one person, or two people at the most, doing pretty much everything behind the brand –  and that was me and my partner! It’s that ‘fake it till you make’ an analogy. But when the ‘we’ actually means ‘we’ properly when you do have a team of staff, then your overheads are big because you have wages to pay, you need a bigger workspace and you have more stock and you have to take bigger risks and it can be a lot more stressful than it was when you started out. So, I do feel I’ve been challenged more in that last 24 months than ever before with the business and obviously having two babies going into toddlers at the same time has been hard.”

What is one of the most important things to you about your business? 

“I don’t want more people to wear SCULPT so that I have more money, I want people to wear SCULPT, so that they are wearing SCULPT, so that they are feeling confident and that they have the best quality on. Because that is at the core of why I started this brand. Our brand is renowned for its quality and we never compromise on that. I think that’s why we have a cult following with SCULPT, who buy every drop. It’s amazing because there are people with SCULPT wardrobes, SCULPT drawers and tagging us in to show us, because SCULPT means a lot to them like it does to me. If you look at our following we have 30k followers but I have friends who have 200-300k followers but they don’t have the cult core customers like we do. They might have people who buy from them as one off but it’s not the same. So I would much rather be where I am with our business and have that loyal customer base who love what we do. I think it shows that aside from what people are trained to think, followers do not equal sales.”

Becky Adlington OBE
SOPHIE DAVIES OWNER OF SCULPT ACTIVEWEAR WITH TWO OF HER CHILDREN | IMAGES BY TOM PITFIELD ©

What inspired you to start SCUPLT and when did you take the leap into becoming a business owner? 

“I started SCULPT five years ago and the idea came to me as I was a Personal Trainer and I used to watch women always pulling their leggings up! And that was the simple inspiration behind it. At the time there were no fashion and fitness brands, where that looked good but equally they were practical too. So Lilly was 6 and was 21, when I started SCULPT. It took about a year where I was trying to find the right supplier and that was a tough process. I didn’t really know where to start, but I just held on to the fact that ‘Anything is possible’ and kept going, and eventually I found somewhere. Then I basically transferred our entire savings to China, which I look back and think was so risky – they could have just taken our money and not sent us anything! [She laughs]

I look back at our first products now and I do not like them at all, but I heard a saying that I like that makes me feel better about that – ‘If you’re not embarrassed by your first products then you launched too late!’ We have come on so much since then. I say this a lot but I really don’t think the quality of SCULPT products can be matched. We pay so much for our stuff so the margins are so smaller than other brands, but it’s so important to us that the quality is unmatched so that’s why we do it.”

Did you always have the ambition of running your own business? 

“Yes, I always wanted my own business, but I never knew what direction it would be in, but I just knew I didn’t want to work for anyone else. And someone said to me once, ‘Usually what you want to do is right in front of you but you just don’t see it!’ When I first had the epiphany I kind of held it off at first, simply because I didn’t know where to start and then one day I just thought, ‘Right, let’s  just get some samples!’ But samples can be really expensive so it was hard to take the plunge initially. But when they arrived I remember feeling this fire in me that I hadn’t ever had for anything else before and that’s when I I knew it was right.”

At what point did the business become successful enough for you to leave behind your job as a PT? 

“I ran the business alongside my job as a personal trainer for around 2 years later, so it wasn’t an overnight success, but I’m glad it wasn’t, as I think sometimes when that success comes so quickly you can get a false sense of security. Whereas when it takes that much longer you don’t take anything for granted. I think you learn so many valuable lessons at the beginning of starting a business, especially when you haven’t had any background in building a business.”

What is the difference between Sophie at home and work mode Sophie?

“Having three kids is a lot! Having two was hard, but having three is like an army! It’s hard because you are constantly trying to divide your attention between three different personalities of three different ages. When it comes to the kids I’m really soft, I just melt with them, which is totally different to how I am when it comes to the business. I think there are so many qualities and skills that you can take from being a mum that you can take into business life. People always say if you want something doing ask a busy mum – because you learn how multi task so many things! My passion for being a parent and never wanting to disappoint the kids, is the same as I am with SCULPT, as I would never want to disappoint a customer either!”

Brood Shop
Rebecca Adlington SWIM!
Simon Wood
Written by
Tom Pitfield and his daughter Iris

PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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SUPER MUM OF 6 ON TAKING HER BUSINESS FROM HER KITCHEN TABLE TO DRAGON’S DEN

KATE BALL, FOUNDER OF MINI FIRST AID WITH 4 of HER 6 CHILDREN © TOM PITFIELD FOR BROOD MAGAZINE

“I can’t do this and have two tiny babies at home – as well as Alfie and Grace.”

Inspirational Mum of 6, Kate Ball, started her award winning business, Mini First Aid in 2014, right from her kitchen table. She quickly saw the potential for growth and franchised the business a mere year later.  At the time, Kate had two young children, Alfie and Grace, but by 2021 when Kate appeared on the hit BBC series Dragons’ Den, she had 6 children after having two sets of twins! Kate, together with husband and business partner Matt, and four of their six children stepped into the infamous Dragons’ Den, to give an impressive pitch (even with their brood in tow). This resulted in an investment from the hugely successful, multi millionaire Mum of two, Sara Davies MBE!

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Kate at her beautiful family home, and heard all about her inspiring business journey, and the heartbreaking reason behind her drive to educate others about first aid. We also enjoyed one of our most chaotic and fun shoots to date, with Kate and the youngest four of her children – her two sets of twins, four beautiful and lively girls: Emily and Olivia, and Poppy and Amelia! 

Mini First Aid
Kate Ball Mini First Aid with her children
KATE BALL, FOUNDER OF MINI FIRST AID WITH 4 of HER 6 CHILDREN © TOM PITFIELD FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
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 Tell us a little bit about your career before starting Mini First AId and at which point in your career did you become a mum?

“I had a big corporate training role for Mars which I loved and when I had my first child, Alfie, I was really lucky to have a year’s maternity leave with full pay! It showed how much they value staff and their families, and that they want you to go back. And it was fantastic, but when you were back at work, you were BACK!  I managed to negotiate flexible working down to four days. However, this effectively meant that I was still doing my 5 day job, but in 4.I know this is a common story for so many women who return to work after having a baby. So it was really hard, but I actually fell pregnant with my second child, Grace, quite quickly (there’s only 20 months between Alfie and Grace). During my maternity leave with Grace, there was a company restructure and my job was going to change. This was going to mean more travel and time away from home. I had two young babies and I just didn’t want to do that on a regular basis. So, I took redundancy and began to look for other opportunities, which led me to some consultancy work around training and HR. But in the back of mind was always this first aid idea niggling at me.”

What inspired you to start a business in first aid and at what point did you decide to dive into the world of entrepreneurship? 

“Educating people about first aid and specifically CPR, has been something I have wanted to do ever since losing my brother, Matt. Matt had a condition called cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that we have seen in the media more recently having affected some footballers. The condition means that damage to the heart builds and then suddenly the person affected goes into cardiac arrest. When you hear about it happening to  footballers, a doctor is present, the defibrillator is there. Thankfully, we have also seen campaigns for defibrillators to be present at all grassroot football games. Unfortunately, my brother was on a beach in Portsmouth when it happened to him. There was no defibrillator and his friends did not know how to do CPR. We don’t hold them responsible in any way, but it’s always in the back of your mind: What if this group of young people knew how to do CPR until the paramedics arrived? 

So your brother Matt is very much your inspiration? 

Absolutely. I’ve always thought: What can I do to help prevent this from happening to other families? I think when somebody dies, some people go straight into activist mode and set up a charity, or start running marathons, but we as a family weren’t really there when it first happened. It was a huge shock and took a long time to get to that point. My brother was only 22 years old when he died and I was only 24, so myself and my parents were just dealing with the fact that he had gone. But it was something that was always in the back of my mind. And then when the moment came, I knew I had the skills to write quality training courses and identified a gap in the market . Accessible first aid courses weren’t readily available in my area, and that is where the germ of an idea came from.

So how did you get started with your own first aid business?

I got myself trained up and one of my mates worked as graphic designer and I paid him with a bottle of red wine to design me a logo ( The Mini First Aid logo). And he did a really thorough job and we still use that logo today! And then I started running Mini First Aid classes for parents and carers, alongside my consultancy work and juggling my two young children. In the beginning, I ran the classes in  my spare time and saw it as me doing something worthwhile, whichs gave me a bit of extra money. It grew from there and now there are over 70 franchises across the UK and we train around a thousand people adults and children every week in basic and lifesaving first aid!”

As it’s a passion project for you as well as a business, what’s the most rewarding thing about running Mini First Aid?

“We get messages from people every week telling us about different first aid situations which have happened to their baby or child, and because they attended a Mini First Aid class, they knew what to do. Often, this has saved their child’s life. We sent out a newsletter last week, about a family who managed to successfully deliver CPR to their baby, and you can’t read to the end without crying. I am not interested in getting any glory for that, but feel passionately about educating people and making a difference.  The fact that we are growing a successful business that we can earn a living from, and that all of our trainers can earn a living from, gives me a massive amount of satisfaction.”

How has your business developed over the years? 

“As well as training adults in first aid for babies and toddlers, we now train school children in first aid. In the last academic year, Mini First Aid trained 80,000 children, which is incredible! I was amazed by that, but my husband Matt – who runs all the commercial side of the business, made a point in stating that there are 6 million primary school children in the UK, so there is still a long way for us to go! [She laughs] But to go from nothing to 80,000 in 7 years, gives us a real sense of achievement! Watch this space as we’re about to introduce a new groundbreaking class!”

At what point did your husband come into the business?      

“We had just moved into our new house, done a renovation and we decided to have a third baby. When we started trying, I had a miscarriage. Sadly, it was a missed miscarriage – where you don’t miscarry the baby, so you have to have an operation – which was horrible. We had a lovely midwife who told us that although it hadn’t worked out this time around, if we wanted to get pregnant again,we should go for it. Then when I did fall pregnant, we went for the scan and there were two heartbeats! It was a proper fall off your chair moment. It felt like a gift – like the universe was saying you’ve lost one, so you’re going to have two! So it felt really lovely. And at that point I was ‘Mini First Aid’ completely on my own. I was marketing, PR, finance, website – I was everything! I was managing everything to a point and just about getting away with it, but it was very entry level and I said to Matt: “I can’t do this and have two tiny babies at home – as well as Alfie and Grace.” Matt was running an events company at the time (he’s a professional musician), so completely out of the realms of first aid. But he does know how to run a business and offered to come on board for 6 months, to give me ‘a break’ when the twins arrived. As if!’ [she laughs] Six years later, he is the Operational Director of Mini First Aid. We also have a team of 9 people in our Head Office, who look after our franchises, commercial operations and marketing etc. 

Your business is obviously like your seventh baby – especially because of the personal connection, how do you find having franchises of your business, because it can often be hard to let go and delegate when you are so passionate about your business

“Oh my god yes! It was really hard as I am a bit of a control freak. Even now, if I read something that one of our trainers has written on social media and it isn’t quite the wording I would have used, it can niggle at me. I still have to have a word with myself and say: “Right, come on Kate, it’s still getting the message out there, there’s nothing negative about it and it doesn’t matter if it’s not quite in my style.’ I also have a really good Franchise Manager , Gemma, who is really proactive in making sure everything is delivered on brand, and the style of training is replicated to the same standards throughout the franchises. But you do have to learn to let go, as your business grows or you cannot continue to expand.”

Kate Ball and her husband pitching Mini First Aid to BBC Dragon's Den
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE DAILY MAIL | © DAVID VENNI / © BBC, DRAGON’S DEN

What has been the hardest thing that you have encountered since starting your business?

“We had a situation in the very early days where someone picked up what we did and completely copied it! At the time, I felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart, because of all of the blood, sweat and tears that goes into starting a new business, and then someone just gave it a slightly different name and ran with it. It’s so hard because from a legal perspective, you can’t really do anything. We’re also teaching first aid, so you don’t want to be aggressive, because you feel like you should be saying: “It’s brilliant that you’re teaching CPR, but I just wish you weren’t doing it in the exact same way as Mini First Aid!’ I remember someone advising me to take it as a compliment. You have to have thick skin and I’m getting better, because we do have competition in the market now, as people have seen we have a good business model.  

How did appearing on Dragon’s Den change things for your company and also for you as a family as you had all six children at that point? 

“It changed things massively for us, and yes, we did have 6 children at that point! When we did our audition for the BBC, they liked our reference to children’s first aid as they thought it would work well on camera rather than demonstrating our first aid kit. So whilst we were going on there to pitch for investment for developing products, producers wanted to showcase the work we do with children. We were actually due to have other children on set with us, but then Covid hit, so they asked us to bring our own children! At first, we considered changing our pitch as there was NO way we were going to take the children on the show. But then we considered what the BBC had said, and decided we just needed to go for it! So we practised at home and even the night before, and we were still panicking that it was going to be a massive mistake. Our first set of twins were only three at the time, and you know what three year olds are like! We also didn’t want our older two to feel any pressure because that’s not fair on them. Mini First Aid is our business and we didn’t want Grace or Alfie to feel nervous, so we kept reassuring them that it was fine, and there was nothing to worry about. Our children did brilliantly and then left the set whilst Matt and I were grilled. The process is gruelling! We were thrilled to get Sara as an investor, one  – because she is a working mum and two –  because she gets us as a couple, as her husband runs her business with her. We felt that she had the right persona and we’ve been proved right. When we walked out and got into the lift we were like ‘YES! We did it! And I just burst into tears!”

What is it like working with Sara Davies and her team?

Sara and her husband, Simon are just the most down to earth, kind and lovely people. And as much as Sara can’t constantly be involved, nothing is too much trouble for her and we actually see her every quarter for half a day, which is great and we’ve done that for the last two years now. 

Sara has been a really good mentor for me. She does Facebook Live on our internal group with our franchises about twice a year, and has been a huge help with the retail side of our business. We had some retailers lined up to stock our first aid kits before the show, but hadn’t committed, and as soon as we started working with Sara and they knew about Dragons’ Den, it was a done deal. Some of them even doubled their orders. Sara opens doors for us in the media too, because she has really good connections which is invaluable!”

How did the children react to the news that you had been successful in the ‘Den’?

“What was lovely was that the children had been taken off and were being looked after. Then the crew brought the children to wait for us at the other side of the lift and told them the news before we arrived, so they literally leapt on us, shouting: “You did it!” So we all went to McDonalds to celebrate as we’d promised this to the children after the pitch. We had totally forgotten that our microphones were still on, so when all the unedited footage was sent to Sara’s team, Simon (Sara’s husband) listened to the audio file. When we met him for the first time he said: ‘We knew you were our kind of people, because you bribe your kids with McDonalds!’ [We all laugh].

What would advise other people who are only at the start of their journey in business, and how do you keep the vision through those blood sweat and tears? 

“One of the things that I would say to anyone starting a business, is to make sure you do your research and know your numbers, so that you can work out from the very beginning whether you can make some money from it. From the start, you need to look at other businesses that you like and see what they are doing well. What is it that they are doing that appeals to their audience? This can help you take the best bits, to help you build your brand. For me it wasn’t all first aid brands, as I wanted to change the way first aid brands were seen and delivered. I looked at baby brands and how accessible they were. This really helped to guide our website designer for example, as I was able to say ‘I love how this looks and can you make this bit look like that?’ So I think looking around for other brands you find aspirational and you can gain inspiration from is really important. 

And I think the final piece of advice I would give, is finding your own balance between work and family. I would never say I’m an expert because sometimes it can be a nightmare, but I really do try to work when I am ‘at work’ and be ‘in the family’ when I’m with the family. Whenever I’ve tried to mix the two, that’s when it’s gone horribly wrong! If I’m sitting with my laptop when the children come home from school, they will just climb all over me and close my laptop and I may as well give up. So sometimes that means that I might be an hour longer at work but when I’m home I can be present. To help me separate that, I used to go out to work even if that meant I went and sat in a coffee shop, but at least that way I wasn’t balancing my laptop on the playdough or getting stressed if someone made a noise whilst I was on the phone! And I know it’s not always that easy as sometimes things happen to throw a curveball when you have a family, or things don’t fit in with when people want you to do stuff. I was recently asked to sdo a radio interview at 7.30am and I had to go into the bathroom and lock the door and just pray that someone didn’t come knocking at the door shouting ‘Mummy, Mummy, Mummy!’ And I felt so stressed. I think sometimes I do things like that to remind myself how stressful it is and how important it is to keep it separate as much as possible!”

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KELVIN AND LIZ FLETCHER ON CAREERS, PARENTHOOD, AND LIFE ON THE FARM.

KELVIN AND LIZ FLETCHER ON CAREERS, PARENTHOOD, AND LIFE ON THE FARM.

KELVIN AND LIZ FLETCHER | IMAGES BY TOM PITFIELD FOR BROOD MAGAZINE ©. | INTERVIEW BY LOLO STUBBS

“I’ve not got a fear of failure, I’ve got a fear of regret.

Parents to four children under six years old, Kelvin and Liz Fletcher, are a humble yet extremely impressive couple, and their incredible appetite to create a full and vibrant life for themselves and their children is truly inspiring! Both Kelvin 38, and Liz are well known for their careers as actors, with Kelvin in particular becoming a household name through his 20 years on one of Britain’s best loved soaps – Emmerdale. But the careers that they are most recognised for are not what defines this enterprising couple as they recently added the role of ‘Farmers’ to their impressive CV’s. In their early years as a couple, Liz enjoyed a successful career as a fashion buyer but then decided to leave behind that career and return to drama school. They had only lived together for a few short months, before Liz was given the exciting opportunity to attend a Drama school in London, and despite the distance this would put between them (as Kelvin was at the peak of his career in Emmerdale at the time) he insisted that Liz go on to pursue her dreams; showing how supportive and encouraging they have always been of each other’s dreams. 

Pre-covid Kelvin and Liz were all set to embark on a new life in America, but when covid put the brakes on that dream they decided to set out to undertake a new adventure in the countryside when they bought a 120-acre farm. At the time they were a family of 4, before quickly becoming a family of six when their gorgeous twin boys, Maximus and Mateusz joined their brood. As if juggling four young children and running a working farm wasn’t enough, both Kelvin and Liz have continued with their acting careers, and they have just released their very own book – ‘Fletchers on the Farm’ a follow-on from their successful TV series. 

Kelvin and Liz Fletcher - Front Cover of Brood Magazine
© BROOD MAGAZINE. KELVIN AND LIZ FLETCHER
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Kelvin and Liz Fletcher on Careers, Parenthood and life on the farm.

We had the pleasure of seeing Liz and Kelvin, their gorgeous baby boys and their adorable cavapoochon Ginger at their wonderful family home and amongst lots of giggles, we delved into what drives them, their plans for the future, and how they manage their daily juggle of having of 4 kids and a farm! Even though managing all that they do is clearly not for the faint hearted, the endearing way they talk about their family life would be enough to tempt anyone who has a sense of adventure to don a pair of wellies and get stuck into life on a farm! 

“If you know you’re capable of it, then go for it!”

Kelvin and Liz Fletcher - Life on the Farm
KELVIN AND LIZ FLETCHER © BROOD MAGAZINE

So firstly, was life like pre-kids? 

Kelvin – “Happy, wasn’t it?” [he turns to Liz and they both start laughing]

Liz – “Yes, relaxed!” 

Kelvin – “I was in really good shape, I ate really well, did what I wanted, when I wanted! Loads of Holidays..!” 

Liz – “Aww. What-a-life!” [continued laughing]

Kelvin – “We was looking at pictures the other night from before we had the kids and you look different pre kids, young and full faced! 

Liz – “We looked well slept – well rested!”

We can definitely relate to that! So at what point in your relationship did you decide to take the plunge and start a family together?

Liz – “We had been together for nearly ten years, and my dad said Kelvin was ‘freewheeling’” [Liz erupts into laughter!] “I had secretly called him up and said ‘Dad, what do you think about Kelvin?’ and as he’s quite traditional he replied with – ‘I think he’s freewheeling!’. So, I told Kelvin, my dad think’s you’re freewheeling – we’re not married, we’re not engaged, we’ve been together all this time. And I’d started thinking about it because we were coming up to our thirties, I wanted kids – although Kelvin didn’t think I was very maternal!” 

Kelvin – “That was the reason I was freewheeling! I used to think, Liz is great but she’s just not into kids and I want loads of kids – I wanted a big family. So, I just thought I don’t know if she’s going to be my wife because she doesn’t like kids!” [We all laugh]

Liz – “Yet, at the same time I’m thinking I want kids”

Kelvin – “We should have probably talked about it!”  

Well, yes especially after 10 years! [We all laugh again] So, how did you finally broach the subject then? 

Liz – “Well, I just said one day, ‘If you’re thinking of having kids, and you want this to go further, I just need to let you know I’m not going to have kids unless I’m married…so there you go! I’ll give you until the end of the year!” [she laughs] “So, I left him with that information, and this was the beginning of the year and then it took him until November – he left me hanging until NOVEMBER – and then he proposed!”

Kelvin – “Yes, 28th November!”  

Liz – “I had no idea it was going to happen, and he took me away for this amazing weekend in Anglesey. He’d done a full on reccy before he proposed, there was certainly a lot of effort involved. He’d designed the ring and everything!”

Kelvin – “The ring you don’t wear?” 

Liz can’t contain her laughter – “I know! I don’t even wear it! Well, I’m a farmer now I can’t wear it!”

“Yes, she literally keeps in a mug over there! It’s worth more than the kitchen and it’s sat in a mug over there!” [We are all in fits of giggles at this point] 

Liz – “And then from a year to the day later, we got married!”

Kelvin – “And then almost 9 months later, Marnie was born! And then suddenly that’s when things changed, and your life becomes so different.”

In what way did you feel the changes? 

Liz – “Well, a month before I gave birth, you left Emmerdale didn’t you?”

Kelvin – “Yes, I had been working my two-year notice, as I knew I wanted to leave. And I left really happy as I had a job for 20 years that I loved, but I was ready for a new challenge. I was 32 years old, and I wanted to figure out my next move. I did question if I even wanted to act anymore, as from being 6-7 years old it was all I had ever done and I suppose I wanted to know, ‘Could I do anything else?’ So that was a big transition anyway, as well as becoming a father for the first time. But that helped me too. As obviously becoming a parent is amazing, but also because I suppose it’s like when sportsmen retire sometimes, they can lose all sense of who they are. Who am I? What am I? And I think after 20 years of working that could have happened to me, but that void was quickly filled by having our daughter. So, I didn’t have time to start worrying as to whether I had done the right thing or not, so in that way the timing was really good.”

Liz – “I had started doing voiceovers at this point, so it worked well for me too, as I could do the odd job but most of the time I could be at home with the baby. I was also teaching dance at a little school down the road a couple of hours a week too”

Kelvin – “I took six months off from Acting but I was doing other bits in the background, figuring out what to do next so I never really stopped completely.”

Kelvin – “I guess first and foremost we’re actors, that’s what we are. But you’re somewhat at the mercy of other people’s decisions, so to fill that void and take some control back, we did it with a baby, with Marnie, and then we had a few more children and now we’ve become farmers. And that’s our attempt to create some continuity and consistency through family and our work life, and to make this our little world. And I think it’s healthy for us to have that. I’ve seen so many actors when things are not going their way and it’s all they know, it’s all they are, that it then consumes them in such a way that they can become resentful of themselves and the industry, and it’s understandable that people can find themselves in that position, but I will never allow any skill set, any job, any career to define me. To be the whole me. Because there is much more to life. And it’s easier said than done when you’ve got to put food on the table but I’m never going to allow anything like that to take my happiness.”

What’s the biggest positives of having the farm, for your family life? 

Kelvin – “I think one of the positives is the variety it gives us. For me I personally seek variety and I think that is key. I think that’s healthy, it’s not for everyone but it’s certainly right for us. And I’d like to think that’s something we’ll pass onto the kids. And Liz shares those views as well. It gives us new scope; fresh ideas and it expands your imagination. I also think it makes you more accepting of different people and different situations, and I think it makes you more rounded as a person, which is important.” 

Was the farm always a dream of yours? 

Kelvin – “No, I just woke up one morning and thought let’s get a farm!” 

Liz – “Yes, this was typical Kelvin! We were supposed to be in America! We were sorting a visa out to move to America, and we were 18 months into that process but then the pandemic happened, and all visa’s got stopped. But that had been our mission, and Kelvin had said ‘Well, we’ll just wait for covid to go and we’ll start it back up.’ Little did I know that Kelvin being Kelvin, was like ‘Right well that’s done – what’s next?’” [she laughs] “Then the next minute he’s on a train, he’s on right move sees this place and he say’s ‘Right Liz, how do you fancy going looking at a farm tomorrow?’ I was like ‘Whaaattt!’ [she continues laughing] “And because I can’t say no to anything, I just said ‘Ok, go on then!’ (It was kind of through gritted teeth because I was thinking farming?!”)

Kelvin -“But it wasn’t to farm originally, it was just to live here. I just wanted a different set up for us. Whether that was on a beach in California, or we even looked at New York, and central London, but I just wanted to change things up. Going back to that again – yes, as actors we want to act, and I love the hustle, but we’ve got a life together as parents and as individuals and there’s just so much more to life than just your career. So, I was just like lets just have a change of scenery, because I didn’t want to us to find ourselves in our fifties or sixties and think we’ve never had an adventure, so I just thought let’s bloody do it! And we looked at everything from Castles in Scotland, honestly as random as that, and I’m that kind of person where if I want to do something it will happen – it’s as simple as that! It can be scary and it’s not always that easy, but I think making decisions like that can give you a rebirth. It’s a new chapter and you’re creating memories and having new experiences. It could be the wrong decision; you could drop a bollock and think ‘Ah we shouldn’t have done that.’ But you can always go back.”

Liz – “Although it might seem we do things completely off the cuff, everything we thought about we researched, and we made sure it was possible. We didn’t just move to a farm with no thought behind it.” 

Kelvin – “Yes, I’m sucker for detail!”

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Is that something that you want the kids to take on board?

Kelvin – “Yes, for me that sense of adventure. If Marnie is 18 years old and she says ‘Dad, I want to go and live in America for three years’ it would kill me, but I absolutely would encourage that. But I would also encourage anything they want to do. She might want to stay here and work on the farm, but whatever they want to do but I just want them to have that sense that anything is possible. If you fancy it, you only live once go for it!”  

Since moving to the farm you have gone from having two children to four with the arrival of the twins, how have you found that transition?

Kelvin – “Hard work! It’s hard for me but it’s even harder for Liz!” 

Liz – “Well, every time I have a baby Kelvin gets a job working away! So, I’m not having anymore babies now then he might not get a job away again!” [They start laughing]

Kelvin – “I’ve only had three jobs! Three pregnancies, three jobs!” [He declares, laughing]

Liz – “Just being told we were having twins was an absolute shock. I was filled with worry. I just kept thinking ‘Oh my god two babies, how am I going to do it with the other two?’ because two weeks after they came along Kelvin had to go working away in London. So, I had two new-borns, it was the school holidays, Kelvin was working away – it just all came at once! But do you know what, we got through it, and I always just think – I’m here, we’re in it, I can’t sit here and moan about it, I’ve got to get through it. Obviously, there are days where it was horrendous, I felt like I didn’t know what was happening – I even fell asleep stood up once! But we got through it and now it’s not that bad, plus now Kelvins home again it can only get easier!”

Kelvin – “It is mad, but it’s a good crack, isn’t it? We’ll look back at this and think God we were crazy. 9 out of ten people will think I wouldn’t be doing that – they’re mad.”

Liz – “Yeah, I’ve got friends who say to me. I’m having a breakdown just listening to this story Liz! Because we live in the moment and if someone said, ‘Can you be in London tomorrow?’, we’d be like ‘Ok, yes no problem!’. We’d make it happen, whereas some of my mates are like ‘Nooo, I’d need a full two weeks of organising everything!’

You recently recorded ‘Fletchers on the Farm’ how did that come about?

Kelvin – “I was developing shows with the BBC, and this was just an off-topic conversation, and I told them what we had been up to, (moving to the farm) and I said, ‘I’ve got an idea for a TV show’ and then suddenly that process started. So that in turn gave us more of an appetite to live off the land, to grow our own food and get an understanding of animals and where your food comes from and the more, we delved into that, the more we just found it fascinating. Then we started to look at how we could commercialise it and look at the farming industry in detail. And it is an industry that everyone tells you not to get into, as there isn’t any money in it, but after looking at it we wanted to take on that challenge, because we thought it was something we could do.”

Liz – “Oh if you tell Kelvin he can’t do something, then instantly he’s going to find a way to do it!” 

Kelvin – “We want to build something here and we’re 18 months into that, and although we’re on a long journey, the aim is to make this an enterprise; something for our children, and for their future. We’re mainly a livestock farm so we’ve got sheep, pigs, chickens, we’ve got horses in the stables. We’re looking at going into cattle but as anyone in farming will tell you, livestock farming can only pay you so much really and that’s dictated on the ground you’ve got. We’ve got a 120-acre site so there’s instant limitations there, but you can diversify.”

Liz – “It’s given us a lot of purpose really, because now we’ll do the school run and then we come back, and we get stuck into all the jobs that need doing on the farm. And even at weekends, Marnie and Milo are coming to that age where they really understand it and they want to get involved too, especially Marnie. And Milo isn’t as dangerous now, as when we first moved here, he was only two, so we had to run round trying to stop him licking everything!” [she laughs] “It’s been amazing really; they’ve seen lambing season recently and I get a lot of joy seeing them get involved in it. Also no day is the same which is great.”

Kelvin – “It is full on, and it can be stressful but it’s good fun too. And whether it ends up just being a chapter of our lives or something long term, who knows, but while we’re in it we’re putting everything we can into it, and we’re excited to see where it goes. But I feel it’s the happiest and most settled we’ve ever been.”

What tips would you give to other parents who are looking to change course and take the leap into something new?

Kelvin – “If you think you can do it and if you know you are capable of it, then go for it! For me that’s what I do and if I come up short, then I come up short and I can live with that, but you’ve got to give things a go. I’m used to no one else believing in me. We can come up with a plan, and there might only be me and Liz that believe in it and that’s it – maybe our parents or our agent too, whoever it might be, but you’ve got to have that mentality where you have to think ‘Well if I think it can work, then that’s all the validation I need and if that’s different to other people and what they’re doing then so be it!’ However, you do have to put the work in, some people might have the dream, but they’re not prepared to put the work in, so you’ve got to have a good understanding of yourself and having a frank chat with yourself. You need to ask yourself, ‘What are my skills? What am I really prepared to do? That’s what I do, and I know my limitations so I don’t take on tasks where I don’t think I can do it”

Do you have a structured process to achieve your goals? 

Kelvin – “Yes, I always have a clear list of goals which I want to achieve. For example there are three/four things that I want to achieve by the end of this year and I’d say 50% are completely on our terms, and the other 50% need things to happen elsewhere to, so there’s a little bit of jeopardy there. For those goals I will do everything I can to get it as far as I can and that last part has got to come from somewhere else in order for it to succeed. Whereas the things that are 100% on us we will get them done. We have some longer-term goals too, so we have 3–6-month plans and then we have a 2–3-year plan too and we just work towards it.”

Liz – “Me and Kelvin work well together because if you’ve got a plan and it doesn’t go right that can really throw Kelvin, whereas I can help us to adapt. It’s great to have the goals and you need them, but there are always hiccups along the way and you have to find a way to adjust.”

Kelvin – “Yes, and sometimes those things can be out of your control, like market change in a business etc and you’ve failed. You take a knock, but I’ve not got a fear of failure, I’ve got a fear of regret.”  

If you want to read more about Kelvin and Liz’s incredible journey, then you can buy their new book ‘Fletchers on the Farm’ at all high street bookstores or click here to purchase  

Kelvin and Liz Fletcher
KELVIN AND LIZ FLETCHER © BROOD MAGAZINE
Simon Wood
Written by
Tom Pitfield and his daughter Iris

PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

Rob Stubbs

WEBSITE & DESIGN BY ROB STUBBS

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THE POWER OF MANIFESTATION BY OLI DUNN

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Oli Dunn for BROOD MAGAZINE © TOM Pitfield Photography 

“You can do whatever you want to!”

The Power Of Manifestation…. ✏️

This is a topic I get VERY excited when talking about, I LOVE talking about manifestation, especially when I’m feeling aligned and in full attraction mode. If this all sounds a bit strange to you, stick with it, it should make sense by the end.

So many things have happened “for” me in my life that I now have a section in the notes on my phone lovingly called “coincidences” with a hint of friendly sarcasm or irony that is.
I believe there’s no such thing as a coincidence, by the way maybe there is but I believe there’s another type which we might sometimes mistake as a coincidence when in actual fact we talked such a circumstance, thing or event into our reality, willed it into our existence, made it happen, tuned into its frequency and sucked it right in, like a tractor beam (if your a Dumb and Dumber fan you’ll know the sound!).😜

Before I go any further I just want to be clear about something, what I write about in my Brood magazine column is purely my perspective, the way I see it, my take and I appreciate that these things are all subjective. I would never claim that my version is the correct or exact way, it’s just my way, based on my learnings and experiences and it’s a pleasure to share my thoughts with you. I hope it provides an interesting read and perhaps even conjures up some new and exciting thoughts and ideas for you which may be interesting for you too, if it does I would love to hear from you!

Oliver Dunn
Oliver Dunn for BROOD MAGAZINE © TOM Pitfield Photography 

On we go…

It might seem unusual to have a note section in my phone called “Coincidences” which cheekily means Manifestations. The reason I have this is mainly to remind myself that through my life I’m proving this theory to be not just working but worthy of sharing with others as part of my narrative. As I’ve said before, what actually matters to me in life more than anything else, (the bigger picture) is that I want to show others that anything is possible in life, one little or big, or plain crazy manifestation at a time.

You can do whatever you want to. 💭

Fun little task, finish this sentence, “if I could do or be whoever I wanted to be, it would be this (blank) and my life would look like this (blank).

Back to my point;

I know what you’re thinking, come on then give us an example of a manifestation. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Well okay here’s a couple from most recent memory.

Manifestations for me are anything from life long ambitions to the most random small ‘wants’.

I will give you an example of each.

I think the random small ones are more fun, playful and manifest quicker because there’s absolutely no resistance to them and for me it’s the universe confirming to me that I’m aligned and everything is working out, not happening to me but for me.

About a year ago I said to Kim, “I really wish McDonalds did clothing, it would just be so cool”, I don’t know how this came to mind but I was fixated on it and getting excited about it, imagining it and how it would look, but no matter how hard I Googled I couldn’t find it, because it didn’t exist. FFWD a year and it was my birthday (13th August if you want to add to your calendar 😜) a great friend of ours gave me a birthday present, it was a bright blue McDonalds shirt, designed with their signature red packet French Fries all over it.
The point of this is that our friend was able to get this shirt after doing some work with McDonalds and this exclusive merch wasn’t available for sale to the public, coincidence?

This leads me on to a very different but equally exciting manifestation in my life which has come around in the last 18 months.

Some manifestations do require action or more specifically inspired action (I’ll save that for another time) but I believe the importance of the action is as key to showing the world you are worthy of what you want to attract (and are ready to receive) as the actual work itself.

If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up when I was 10 years old I would have probably told you I wanted to be a radio or TV presenter, a more confident version of myself who could entertain and have fun, be myself and meet interesting people out in the big wide world. There was a notion or a feeling that this wasn’t “realistic” that I should probably focus on a trade, a career, something more achievable or within reach, I got into the family business, I have no regrets doing that, I loved it and still do now. Curiously though I firmly believe I planted a seed deep within myself that I was on a journey to become a presenter. FFWD to 38 year old me (this one took a little longer to manifest) and I’m hosting live shows for Disney on TikTok with Zavvi at THG Studios, a place which I’ve regularly driven past and thought to myself “I would love to look around in there, or better still do some presenting in there one day.”
There’s a longer story as to how I got this opportunity but I’ll share that with you another time, perhaps through a video on my YT channel.
I’ve been on a journey in the last 18 months into presenting live shopping shows, that journey has been complex, satisfying and interesting to me in how its played out. More importantly doing these shows really fulfils my childhood ambition to be a presenter.
It’s powerful for me that I’m able to present live shows outside of my chocolate world (which I love and will always be a part of me).
I’m excited to grow as both Oli The Choc and as Oli The Presenter too with more live shows in the pipeline, I’m feeling very grateful for these opportunities.

A little gratitude in the last paragraph there, never goes a miss and goes a long way.
I believe gratitude to be a powerful element of manifesting what you want in life.

If I could give you some advise on manifestation, here it is, set your intentions when you are aligned, when your heart is beating faster, you are buzzing, excited, feeling like the best version of yourself.
Have fun with it, be unrealistic, your manifestations don’t have to make sense to you or others but follow whatever the inspiration is from within and don’t be afraid to dream big or dream silly. Often for me it’s the funny, silly things that manifest, because there’s no resistance to it, almost no expectation either.

I’m very intentional about my thoughts, words and actions. This year I’ve become more aligned and more in tune with who I am and who I want to be, more worthy and ready to receive the life I want. I’m very responsible for my own energy and for the energy I attract, for what I listen to and am influenced by. Becoming a Dad has been the making of me in respect of knowing myself and loving myself more.

Some advise to myself on this which you can take from if you wish, when you are feeling aligned make your intentions clear to yourself, write them down, visualise and get excited about what you are going to manifest. Be excited about the future because you can create the life you want, your own reality, your version of life. For me time writing in solitude early morning, when on a train or a plane, by the ocean or simply talking to myself in the car are all powerful spaces for me to practice the above.

Now walk tall, remind yourself of your strengths, step into your power and go manifest yourself the life you want! 💥

One Truth 818 Anti Ageing Skincare
Written by
Tom Pitfield and his daughter Iris
Photography by Tom Pitfield
Rob Stubbs
Digital Editor: Rob Stubbs

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© BROOD MAGAZINE. ANNA KENNEDY OBE 

“We re-mortgaged our home and set up a school!

Inspirational Mum of two, Anna Kennedy OBE has been a trailblazer for Autism Awareness since the 1990’s; when her two boys, Patrick and Angelo, and were diagnosed with Autism. When Anna couldn’t find a school that could meet her boy’s needs, Anna and her husband Sean remortgaged their home with the support of local parents and built one! This was just start of an incredible journey that has consequently helped shape and changed the lives of thousands of people diagnosed with Autism, along with the parents and carers of children on the autism spectrum. Through her unwavering determination and an unbelievable amount of passion, Anna has founded a number of innovative facilities, created life changing campaigns and been the force behind a number of petitions for change. Powered by the love of her boys a desire to support and serve the Autism community, Anna is a Mum on a mission, and it is no wonder that her remarkable charity work and achievements led her to be recognized and awarded an OBE by the late Queen Elizabeth II. 

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© BROOD MAGAZINE. ANNA KENNEDY OBE