This is Elaine Godley From Chesterfield, Derbyshire, UK & Her Story of How She Keeps Going…
I started my first business in 1978 at the age of 21 and built it to £2M turnover. We were the first specialist kitchen installation company in the UK. I used to advise carpenters (no such thing a kitchen fitters in those days) how to fit the furniture, go on building sites and liaise with architects on technical stuff too. We fitted kitchens for Harrods, and many construction companies in London and The Home Counties. I can walk along the river Thames and point out the buildings we fitted out. I am still friends with some people we worked with in those days. We progressed to having 4 retail sites including a concession in Debenhams in Oxford Street as well as our own manufacturing unit with our own range – Church Kitchens. Through our retail business, we won nationwide dealership awards for several of the brands we sold including Neff appliances. One award was an all-expenses paid trip on the Orient Express to Venice. I never went because my husband of the day was too self-conscious and was uncomfortable in the presence of wealthy people. I once had a customer come into our showroom to give me a deposit for his kitchen…he took his gun out of his pocket and then counted out ‘a monkey’ on the desk. The next day I was dealing with a Lady in her fancy London apartment…a time of great learning on how to deal with people of all types.
My father died at the tender age of 46 from cancer when I was 19. He was a police inspector and successful sportsman and coach. I became a police special constable and quickly rose to the rank of sergeant. I loved going out after work and overnight as a special in the cars and on foot with my police partner, then turn up for work the next day without giving a thought to the fact that I’d had no sleep. When I met my second husband and started the kitchen business I had to resign as I could no longer manage to fit everything in to a 24 hour day.
My school days weren’t that happy. I never quite fitted in and left when I was 16 with 5 ‘O’ levels. Although I was popular because of my sporting achievements, blonde hair and nice figure, I never had a best friend (never have had since either). I used to bunk off school to the local cemetery on my own, enjoy the trees and read the poems on the gravestones – turns out my Mum did the same many years before – same school, same graveyard! My nickname, from the boys, at school was ‘two backs’. I was flat chested – put down to the fact that I was a competitive swimmer, diver, gymnast, track and field athlete and was always training. I ran for Essex Ladies and was the junior cross country member on a team with the famous Rita Ridley as senior.
I have been married 3 times and was once married to an alcoholic and suffered what is known today as domestic abuse in various forms (all of which today have names and charities to support victims). The abusive husband strangled and left me for dead. I then became a single Mum for the first time and was homeless. I remember walking the streets trying not to let my daughter see that I was crying as no house agent in those days wanted a single parent tenant and I was in despair as to what to do.
In 1986 when we lost the kitchen business (long story linked to poor business management and alcohol, despite 8 very fruitful years), I started work in The City of London as an administrator. Within 12 years I gained an MBA in Legal Practice from Nottingham Law School, became CEO of a law firm and COO of a consultancy division of a global accounting practice with 6 directors and 220 staff reporting into me. I introduced some radical changes to how professional firms were managed and created new working practices that increased morale and productivity in one team from 11% to nearly 76%. In 1992 with the new money laundering legislation coming in 1993, I learned about and then lectured to lawyers all over the UK about the 1993 Money Laundering Regulations when I was Vice Chair of The Institute of Legal Cashiers and Administrators.
In 2009 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and have undergone 9 operations and travelled over 11,000 miles for treatment. I’ve become proficient in matters of health and wellbeing and am often called upon to guide others through their cancer journey and for others on how to take control of their own health and wellbeing, and speak at events.
I have 2 beautiful children and 2 lovely grandsons. My granddaughter Lucie-Mai died in 2010 suddenly at the age of 17 months following her MMR jab. My son has Asperger’s Syndrome and many years ago I supported Alison Maguire to set up the West Wiltshire branch of the National Autistic Society. Am very proud that both of my children have followed in my footsteps, as I have followed in my parents in supporting charities.
In 2015 I was given 1 year to live with stage IV cancer which I beat in 14 weeks. I’ve since trained as a biohacker and have developed an online health business to support busy people who want to take control of their own health and well being.
I now live in Portugal. Alongside my online business, I am supporting a friend to develop wellness centres and building an eco village.