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What’s in a name? 

Everyone thinks that ‘ollie and fred’ are my kids but in fact they are my parents. My parents have an extraordinary zest for life.  They have so much energy and are a huge inspiration to me. 

My mum and dad both came from very poor families in Denton and Newton (East Manchester) and they left school with very little education and no qualifications.  By the time they were 16 they were married and had a baby, my older sister. 

In 1966, when they were just 22 and my sister was 6, they drove all the way to Italy in a Hillman Minx.  They had no language skills and barely any education but they somehow managed to drive all the way through Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy – on a 2 week holiday!

They didn’t understand the road signs, had never seen pasta before, and had to carry five different currencies with them.  They have pretty much carried on through life the same ever since. They went backpacking in their 60’s, and already this year they have toured Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the Falkland Islands!

My mum and dad would never call themselves entrepreneurial but they are, and they’ve given me the confidence to approach life in the same way.  My dad ran his own business and my mum had loads of jobs to help make ends meet. 

She started out as a machinist making shirts in a factory in Dukinfield but since then my mum’s run two shops, led a keep fit class above a pub, been a swimming instructor, had an indoor market stall, been a squash coach, sold vitamins and protein shakes from our porch (in the 80’s, long before they were popular), and been a carer. 

She also used to ‘do peoples colours’ which was some kind of colour analysis.  I’d walk in from school to find somebody sat on a chair in our living room covered in random bits of material, and I think at the end my mum would announce they were either Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer!

My mum also had a massive industrial overlocker sewing machine in the garage.  She used to make knickers on it which she would then sell to wholesalers in the Northern Quarter.

I’ve had loads of jobs too, and seeing my parents trying new things and not being afraid of change has given me the confidence to change my life and move in different directions. 

My parents aren’t rich but they feel rich.  They live in a little bungalow in Denton, but they are so grateful for everything they’ve got.  Whenever they are anywhere special or doing anything exciting my mum always says to my dad ‘pinch yourself Fred’.  I love that.


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