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Lifeline

1950

Born on 18 June, 1950, the youngest of three children growing up in Peterborough and remaining in the area to the present day. I suppose up to the age of five I would have been classed as just another, shall we say “normal” child, but that all changed in 1955

1955

like everyone else I was sent to school at the age of five, but now I prefer to say I was Incarcerated every day, I knew from that first day I was in the wrong place, it didn’t feel right, I felt there was something missing because I couldn’t see what everyone else around me saw, so in my mother’s words I became, a little sod, I think it was because nobody questioned why.

Unbeknown to me and, I suppose with everyone around me not knowing that I was dyslexic, and on top of that I had ADHD, well it was 1955, why would anyone know.

Having those things, bullying came along as part of being different, and so with hating school and the people there, I pursued an interest in working and reward from the age of 7 years old.

So for the 10 years of being made to attend school I felt like I was in two worlds, the world of school which I hated because I was punished and called stupid, although I didn’t know why, the second world I loved, because of being free, and freedom from being beaten, so working made me happy, I wanted to learn more when I was happy and of course I was earning money and so, by the time that I was 12 years old I was working in the Peterborough cattle market every Saturday, I felt this is where I belonged, I was in my element.

1965

Freedom at last, I Left Lincoln Road school for boys with none of the qualifications related to the school curriculum. In fact I left a few weeks before the term was up because I knew that they couldn’t do anything about it, and besides I already had a job working on a chicken farm, but it was going to take me a long time to understand that this way of working wasn’t freedom for me.

1966

1966 was the year my life changed, I had already left the chicken farm, worked as an apprentice plumber and now I was once again back in my element as I had now got a job on a pig farm, this was when I met Marilyn, she was 15 in April and I was 16 on the 18th June, we met 7 days later on Saturday 25th June, and then 6 weeks later we decided to spend our lives together, our goals were to get married, have a family and buy a house.

1968

We bought our first house which was derelict, well what would you expect for £650 pounds? that’s what it cost, I had also moved several times by then, on from the pig farm to become a car mechanic, then working in a store and then onto a bakery making cakes, on to the butcher’s department then onto 13-hour night-time shifts in charge of the bread slicing machine and all the orders going out to every Co-op in Cambridgeshire.

1970

We got married on the 4th July, the second goal, now just one more to go, our daughter was born on the 26th April 1971, by that time as ever, my world was changing, continually afraid of showing just what I could do because once I was promoted I would get found out that I couldn’t read or write, running was the only answer. Anyway back to 1971, leaving the Co-op I went to a lorry engine manufacturing plant, moving on after getting into trouble trying to reorganise the system for 8000 workers, now on to erecting electricity poles, then onto land reclamation, all the while learning new skills.

1973

By 1973 having moved 4 times we were living in a 10-foot caravan and by now I was working 12 hours a day on an aircraft fuel base, waiting for the next war in the world to start, I hated every single minute of being away from Marilyn and Elaine, and I learned that whatever you put into your brain it will come true, as I said, I hated the job and I got fired, and I wondered why, thinking it’s not fair.

1974

Deep into a recession I prayed to my god to get me another job, but he clearly thought it was time for me to stand on my own feet, so, I became a self-employed window cleaner, desperate for money I also got a job in the evenings erecting for sale boards for a company called buy and sell direct, well that taught me so much as after not getting paid for 3 months they disappeared into thin air.

1975

After still being in business for 6 months I thought it had better have a name and as I was doing more maintenance than window cleaning, Wrightway Decorating and Property Maintenance was born, as by then customers were asking us to do painting and decorating, luckily I had learned this trade over 2 years while working on shift work doing 2 jobs which took up to 16 hours a day.

1977

First nursery shop opened – Rainbow Warehouse at 1229 Bourges Boulevard, New England, Peterborough. After establishing the property maintenance business over the 3 years it was time to expand into multiple streams of income, unbeknown to us when starting this shop selling second-hand prams we would eventually become the largest independent nursery retailer in the UK.

1979

We renamed Wrightway Decorating to, Marville Properties as we had started to work on our own properties and the name had to reflect the business that we had decided to go into in the future. Although we had our own business I still didn’t feel altogether completely free, so the aim was to only work on our own properties. This is where it’s so important to have goals in every aspect of your life.

1980

3 years on, the Rainbow Warehouse business was now established so much so that we had grown out of the building that we were in, and we needed to move, but instead of shutting one shop and opening another bigger one, we decided to sell the business as a going concern. The second nursery shop was newly named Kiddicare this was the nearest name to the business that we most admired in the trade which was Mothercare.

1984

By 1984 we were running 3 shops, employing 25 staff, and we also still had the property business which employed sub-contractors as we were now renovating our own properties as we had stopped working for other people.

This new world of employing people running not one but two completely different businesses was just alien to how we lived just a few years earlier, that few years as I have only just realised as I am writing this, was actually 10 that had gone in a blink of an eye.

1986

We had always had our goals and one of them was to pay a million pounds in tax, this goal came out of working for companies in environments where everyone hated paying taxes, I think mainly because they never thought that they earned enough to live on in the first place.

But before you can pay that sort of tax you have to be earning an enormous amount, well in 1986 we achieved the first step to that goal by becoming millionaires, well on paper anyway and what a great mental boost that was.

1990

The 90’s came along far to quickly for our lives, but at the same time far too slowly for our goals. We had proved ourselves to be disrupters in the Nursery industry, we had sold 2 other shops as going concerns and had our eyes on becoming the best independent in the business with just one shop. We were also disrupting the local property scene as well, Marville Properties became the largest residential landlord in Peterborough

1997

Dyslexia had always been my enemy from the first day that I went to school, although that word never existed in those days but the word stupid did and when you have been told for 10 years at school that you are stupid you have in fact been brainwashed, now in 1997 I was just realising that it had really and truly been my friend as it was always pushing me away, pushing me to the edge of normal, and that along with ADHD was a perfect recipe for disruption and success.

With a hyper brain and a body to go with it, along with consistency, focus and determination, the compounding effect would always be working. If I could persuade people from 4 hours away to get in their cars to come to a baby shop in a village that they had never heard of, and with the intention of only just looking, and then leaving with a car full of goods which became normal for us, then I wanted to serve the whole country and that’s when the internet was in its infancy

1999

kiddicare.com launched

2000

Marville Properties diversify into large Industrial Warehousing and the Retail Sector, buying and building in excess of 600,000 sq. ft. of buildings

2002

Opened fifth nursery shop on Lincoln Road | Werrington (adjacent to Mancetter Square)

2008

Leased Lincoln Road premises

2008

Kiddicare, sixth nursery shop relocate to Cygnet Park | Hampton

2011

Kiddicare sold to Morrisons Supermarket for £70M, a world record for an independent baby nursery shop

2012

Rapid expansion in to joint ventures and new companies, focussing on the construction of bespoke offices plus high end residential developments throughout the Midlands. An example of companies include Yocuda (your customer data) and Vinoteca (wine bars)

2013

Purchase 180-boat Marina

2014

Retain a portfolio of property in the region of £50M, increase Joint Venture Partnerships

2015

Diversify in to converting offices into apartments

2016

Autobiography released – The Answer is Yes Now What is the Question. Written to motivate, inspire and help other entrepreneurs exceed in business

2017

Sold Lincoln Road premises to Lidl