Childhood stroke, telling stories and drug dealing in Essex

This week I had the good fortune to meet a real life drug dealer!  Eat your heart out Walter White… this guy is the real deal.  I met him when I ventured into the heart of Essex to run a social media training session for a group of business owners as part of a low carbon business initiative organised by an Essex Councils’ consortium.

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While it looks like Walter and Jesse attended my training course, this is actually a stock photo that I edited myself. You’d never know it from the professional way I’ve superimposed the two photos, but I like to be honest about these things…

The training topic was content writing – brilliant for me because I love talking about blogging.  One of the key points I make during the workshop is that everybody has a story to tell.  Anyone who has set up in business did so for a reason – whether personal, financial or – the ones I love best – simply following their dream.  Before the formal introductions, as people arrive I chat to them and ask what they do. And Bow said, “I’m a drug dealer!” I think this was the first time I’d met one – certainly the first time someone’s admitted to it.

And before the police come a-knocking, I’d better clarify that this man actually sells legal drugs: prescription meds and that sort of thing. His wife is a qualified pharmacist so it’s all above board. But the initial image I had of a Breaking Bad caravan plonked in the heart of Essex gave me a very wide smile.  Now, there’s a man with a story to tell.

Work aside, I spent Saturday volunteering at the annual Child Stroke Family Support day – this year in Birmingham. (Which, incidentally, turned out to be a beautiful city!)  It was brilliant to meet so many of the parents who’ve joined my Facebook group.  One of the key points of the day is that people have a chance to meet other parents who’ve been through the same traumas, the same heartbreaks, the same worries – as well as gaining hope from people who’ve come out the other side with stories of inspiration and good outcomes.

You can’t explain to anyone how it feels to spend the night watching your child sleep, holding your own breath each time they exhale and wondering whether they’ll still be alive in the morning.  Only someone else who’s done that can really understand.  The expert speakers were fantastic, as always. They all donated their time freely: doctors, psychologists, physiotherapists, senior NHS staff and a large number of the Stroke Association team.

Special thanks to Anna Panton who manages the Child Stroke project in London, she does an amazing job, which I’m sure goes way beyond her formal job spec.  Her role involves listening to families’ stories and advising them on ways to move forward and make those stories happy, positive ones.  The day is organised by a group of us and, although we met through harrowing circumstances, I feel lucky to have made such lovely friends – Liz, Nancy and new friends Sharon and Madeleine.

So, what’s your story?  Some business owners tell me initially that they don’t have one, and I say that’s rubbish. Part of my job is to find that elusive story and bring it out front and centre, so that the business can blog about it, tweet it and write articles based on that passion.  Call me if you’d like help to find your story: 020 8551 7077.

I hadn’t planned which lyrics to end with today, but as I was writing, these lines flew naturally into my mind.  ‘I could stay awake just to hear you breathing.  Watch you smile while you are sleeping, while you’re far away and dreaming.  I could spend my life in this sweet surrender; I could stay lost in this moment forever… Every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure.’  I don’t think I need to elaborate.

For the first time in three years I’m not signing off with my twitter handle… If you fancy clicking through to another website, please see what the Stroke Association does for children and young people.  One child a day has a stroke in the UK, and donations into research are always welcome. Thank you, and have a lovely week. xx


Diane Eve Warren wrote those lyrics.  Hands up if you thought it was Steve Tyler!

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