Inspirational women: From foster care to debilitating illnesses, Southam businesswoman shows that determination can take you a long way
As part of a regular feature, we will be speaking to women from our area who all feature in a new book that celebrates female achievers
I Am A Woman Who is just one of a series of projects for business coach and mentor Sandra Garlick MBE whose success has been inspired by her own journey of overcoming huge personal and professional challenges. Over the next few weeks, we will feature some of the women from our area who are in Sandra's new book, celebrating female achievers. This week, we talk to Kerry Field from Southam.
The personal story of a Southam entrepreneur is among those of more than 30 women featured in a new book which celebrates inspirational female achievers in the UK.
Kerry Field has been determined to overcome the constraints of chronic illness to launch a new online business in lockdown.
One of eight children from divorced parents, Kerry spent her teenage years in foster care.
And her studies as a Law student and work at a legal firm came to a crashing halt when she suffered paralysis-inducing chronic migraines which left her having to learn to walk all over again.
Struggling to find employment due to her long-term health problems, Kerry’s physical and mental wellbeing continued to deteriorate and, four years ago, she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a condition which leaves her largely housebound.
She said: “When my partner and I decided to extend our family in 2007 my body again failed me, and I developed Symphysis pubis dysfunction. My employers felt that with the layout of the office I would be better at home - they were amazing, but I really struggled to be sat at home unable to work when I was only in the first trimester of pregnancy. So, I founded my own company The Warwickshire Outsourcing Centre Ltd, a virtual PA service for small business owners.
"I met some amazing business owners and was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the 100 businesses to represent the very first Small Business Saturday in the UK and even attended Downing Street!"
Worsening health conditions however once again impeded Kerry’s ambitions and after winding down her PA services and a brief return to employment she set out on a new e-commerce business venture, establishing The Little Gift Hive with her 16-year-old daughter Katie in October last year.
She said: “I get rather frustrated at times that the person I was is gone. My body and mind do not allow me to do what I could previously. I am unable to be around people, to talk and to listen how I once did. As a person who loves to be around people, I have found being housebound with this illness extremely difficult, especially during the pandemic when the world joined me and my fellow chronic illness warriors at home.
"I have spent the last four years coming to terms with this illness, accepting that it is what it is and learning to manage my energy levels to slowly regain my ability to function. As a formerly independent woman I find this degrading.”
Kerry, 38, added: "There is currently no cure for this debilitating condition which comes with the uncertainty of not being able to predict my level of health or fitness day to day, sometimes changing in a few minutes. This is very hard for me to deal with let alone an employer, which renders me unemployable at this time.
“This journey for me is all about not staying down when life deals you a crappy hand over and over again, keep going whether that’s mentally or physically I’m lucky enough that I have a wonderful husband and with his support and that of my children I’ve regained a little energy to do this but patience is needed.
"The Little Gift Hive is giving me back some self-worth, a chance to share my love of helping others by finding the perfect gift and enabling me to contribute to my lovely family once again.”
Other Warwickshire entrepreneurs celebrated in the book are: Transformational Coach Becky Cooper, from Warwick; Kate Findlay, who owns Peach Perfect, and Fine & Country Homes Partner Agent Rose Lord, both from Barford; jewellery designer Abbi Head and owner of Hybrid Therapy UK Tracy Richardson, both from Rugby and, from Nuneaton - photographer Andrea de Gabriel; Sparkle in Style jewellery business owner Jenni Harris and HydroVeg kits inventor Sue Tonks.
Visit The Little Gift Hive Ltd at: https://thelittlegifthive.co.uk/