- 28th February 2011
- Posted by: Rosalind Howard
- Category: NL Week
Time to Read – 120 Seconds
I wanted to make NL Week’s 399 and 400 very special, about The Princes Trust – www.princes-trust.org.uk and share two young people’s personal stories. Today, thank you for your story, your permission and your inspiration, Vikky Howells.
In Vicky’s own words, unedited and unchanged…
In December 2001 I was studying Business and Legal Studies at University at the time and was just 12 weeks from completing my Degree.
I wanted to be a solicitor and I hoped that I would convert my degree to a law degree afterwards. This would be no mean feat as I was 5 and a half months pregnant but I was focused and thought it was achievable with a lot of hard work.
Then I gave birth to my baby boy, Luca. He was 17 weeks early and weighed just 1lb 07oz, it wasn’t looking good, 89% of babies born at 23 weeks gestation back then were unfortunately not going to survive.
University and everything else went out the window, Luca was my priority, he was hanging in there and needed my entire focus and attention.
6 months later and Luca was ready to leave hospital, the last 6 months had been an emotional rollercoaster but Luca was stubborn and fought for his place on this earth with every little breath in his body. He was a miracle.
Unfortunately my relationship with Luca’s father had not withstood the stress and pressure of the situation and Luca and I would be going to live with my parents for a while. He would require 24 hour oxygen due to Chronic Lung Disease, amongst other things and I would be his carer/nurse and his mum.
4 years later and Luca was off the oxygen and was living the life of a normal child although he was very hard of hearing, had global developmental delay and required a special needs statement to help with his education. All this was very minor in the grand scheme of things and so I decided that I could try and find work. Money was tight and I was struggling with the lack of direction that my life was taking, I loved bringing up my son but felt that I needed to do something for me.
I found work with the family business and I loved it but Luca started school and would catch colds and illnesses like all children do, the problem being that Luca couldn’t just get a cold, it would turn into pneumonia, he suffered a hernia and basically everyone was sick of the amount of time I needed to have off to look after him.
I found alternative employment but after a year it was obvious that the same thing was happening. I found another job but we were now in recession and were expected to seriously increase our working hours in order to safeguard our employment, I was regularly doing 80 hour weeks. Luca was just about to go into Junior school which was a worry at the time as he was finding school very challenging and was displaying this in bad behaviour.
I had no alternative but to leave. This is when I realised that nothing was going to change unless I made the change.
I decided to set up my own business, this way I could decide my own working hours and keep Luca as the priority that he should be.
I googled help for young person setting up business and up came The Prince’s Trust. I gave them a ring and they invited me down to an open day in Cardiff.
I went down to the open day and they told me what I could expect from them etc. I couldn’t believe it, so much support on offer!!
I took part in a week’s training on marketing, research into your industry, clients, competitors etc it was things I had done many many years previous but it was great to have a refresher. They explained that they could help me with investment for my business if I could show them my business plan. Margaret Adams of The Princes Trust (a wonderful, patient, supportive and caring lady) helped me by meeting up with me and helping me work through my business plan which I was finding particularly difficult.
The Princes Trust invested £4000.00 in my business, Premier Logistical Solutions Ltd (PLS) – A recruitment and training provider primarily for The Logistics Industry. Without it I would have been unable to start my business, recruitment is an industry where you pay your staff weekly but clients can take 30+ days to pay you for that week so cash flow was my biggest concern. They also gave me a mentor; I’ve got a chap called Mark who has run his own business for years. It is great to be able to have an unbiased opinion from someone who has been there and done it all before.
14 months on and life is great! I am running my own successful business, it turned over just under £250,000 in its first year and early forecasts suggest £300 – £350,000 in year 2. Every day I take Luca to school (I hadn’t been able to do that for 4 years!) I am able to make all his appointments, give him the extra help he needs and deserves for school.
I am now a Young Ambassador for The Princes Trust which I am really excited about. It is great to be given the chance to help the people that helped me so much. The Princes Trust is such a wonderful charity helping so many different people; it will be great to help someone who needed it like I did!
Thank you Vikky
With my love and best wishes