My early years were first spent living in an outer borough of Greater London before my parents decided to replicate Tom and Barbara in BBC’s The Good Life and move out of the City to rural Cornwall when I was 8 years old. Looking back now, my parents were early pioneers of the ‘race for space’ that we are now seeing.
We went from living in a suburban street with a new housing development being built in our back yard to a smallholding in Mid Cornwall with polytunnels and our own animals. I remember vividly arriving at our new home and my two brothers and I exploring our new patch of land with thistles taller than our young heads. Within a year the land was cleared and producing food for our family.
I have always had a strong work ethic (no doubt learnt from seeing my parents work their smallholding so hard). From a very early age I wanted to be a business owner and my route into business was as a solicitor and I took partnership in a Cornish firm as I turned 30. I moved house twice that year and also saw the arrival of my daughter. It was a busy year! The country was still struggling to recover from the financial crisis and a few years after taking partnership, I and another partner in the firm saw an opportunity to start up a funding business to support local businesses whilst also providing investors with a good return on their investment – not something they were able to do with their high street bank anymore.
In all honesty, FOLK2FOLK has changed beyond recognition since then. I say this as a positive. When it comes to money, it is imperative to have strict processes, good governance and compliance. As we grew from our early days, we had to make sure that we embraced all these things whilst trying our best to hold onto our DNA and bring as many of our original supporters along in the process. Anyone that has scaled a business will know that this is very challenging to achieve and there are often casualties along the way, but I do think we have been good at listening and trying to retain our early values as we progress along our growth journey. FOLK2FOLK’s growth from a small high street business to a national marketplace lender has been extremely hard work, but ultimately it’s a huge achievement for everyone who has played a part, past and present.
I am one of the Executive Directors and support our Managing Director with the growth of the business. I still retain my legal skills by acting as Legal Counsel for FOLK2FOLK and Company Secretary. I am also a key shareholder in the business and I enjoy working with Roy Warren and the rest of the Board to grow the business. My passion for the business helps to shape its direction.
I love that FOLK2FOLK is able to attract such great talent. We have an amazing team of people and I take a tremendous amount of joy seeing personnel development, alongside the growth of the company.
I also take great pleasure in the indirect or ‘unseen’ benefit that FOLK2FOLK creates to the UK and its communities. It is impossible to quantify the full economic and social benefit created by our business. In Frank Capra’s 1946 film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, the main character’s guardian angel shows him what life would have been like if he had never existed and I often ponder on the unseen benefit the business has created thanks to our customers, staff, shareholders and other stakeholders. Not only do our investors receive an income they might not otherwise receive on their capital; our borrowers are getting the finance they need to grow their businesses and employ others in the process. When you put it all together and apply scale it is powerful stuff.
I have enjoyed working from home and the opportunity it has given me to spend more time with my young family. In business it can be hard to juggle work and family and if it was not for the pandemic I suspect I would have woken up one day and looked back with sadness over time lost with my family. Instead of a commute, I now take/pick my kids up from school and I have learnt that these are precious moments that must not be lost.
I love the countryside and going for a run rain or shine. As the summer approaches I hope to spend more time camping and enjoying our own little patch of land.
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