Inspirational women: Meet the remarkable businesswoman from Barford who has battled against adversity

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

Kate Findlay.

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 Kate Findlay from Barford.

The personal story of a Barford entrepreneur is among those of more than 30 women featured in a new book which celebrates inspirational female achievers in the UK.

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Kate Findlay has seen her online boutique gift shop Peach Perfect go on to enjoy great success after launching the business in her early sixties – even more remarkable when you learn she did so whilst also nursing her late husband through the latter years of a degenerative illness.

I Am A Woman Who by Sandra Garlick MBE.

Gloucester-born Kate moved to Warwickshire aged 28, with her first husband following a transfer by her employers at the time, technology firm IBM.

After 18 years in the company, voluntary redundancy presented the still-ambitious Kate with an irresistible opportunity to go it alone for the first time and it wasn’t long before her new marquee hire franchise business was born, some years later to be followed by The Real Britain Company, a bespoke independent travel service she ran with her second husband Ian.

But it was also whilst travelling on one of their many research trips for their company that Kate recalls noticing the first signs of Ian’s dementia.

She said: “It first became clear something was wrong about 10 years ago. We were on holiday in Kent doing one of our Real Britain forays and Ian had become very fearful of things. He wouldn’t walk along the white cliffs of Dover.

Kate and Ian in Barbados in 2016.

He also started to forget conversations that we’d had just minutes before.

“Also he didn’t feel right. That summer, we’d been married for 23 years, he bought me a ring and said he had planned to give me this for our 25th wedding anniversary but said he didn’t want to wait that long. He knew something was wrong. He’d say ‘what’s the matter with me?’"

It took several years of appointments with consultants, before her second husband Ian was diagnosed with Dementia with Lewy Bodies (Parkinsons Dementia).

And it was to bring an abrupt end to their travels, as Kate explains: “It was becoming increasingly obvious that Ian was struggling to cope with the demands of the business and I was having to do all the work as well as care for him. We had made many changes to our life, one of which was closing down our beloved company.”

Kate with her dog.

But it’s hard to keep a good woman down and wasn’t long before Kate embarked on her next solo project.

“For a few years, I’d been fascinated with the idea of running an online gift shop with a difference - a store that stocked beautiful and practical presents for people like me who wanted good quality gifts without any gimmicks.

“I knew deep down I still hadn’t achieved everything I want to achieve in life. I knew I needed something else. I realised what was coming and that I’d end up being a carer but needed something to focus on that would go beyond his death. I thought I can’t be just a carer. It’s not who I am. You don’t choose to be a carer, it’s forced upon you. So the business has been an absolute Godsend.”

Ian sadly lost his battle with DLB in March 2019, aged 66.

Since then Kate has worked hard, in his honour, redoubling her efforts – and her success has been acknowledged in a variety of national business awards.

So what’s her advice to others?

“You’re never too old to do anything. It’s your frame of mind that’s important. In fact, it keeps you young.”

Other Warwickshire entrepreneurs celebrated are: Transformational Coach Becky Cooper, Fine & Country Homes Partner Agent Rose Lord, from Barford; The Little Gift Hive owner Kerry Field, from Southam; 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 Peach Perfect at: https://peachperfect.co.uk/MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sandra Garlick MBE

After struggling for several years as a single mother of two young sons following the collapse of her marriage, she worked in a variety of roles, including typist, cashier, PA, and sales rep before going on to qualify as a solicitor and establish her own law practice in Coventry. This was later to merge resulting in Sandra leaving the company and, finding herself once again, in a position of financial uncertainty.

However, while recovering from a broken ankle following a serious fall in 2016, she was forced to re-evaluate her life and her business. It proved to a turning point for Sandra who soon realised her true ambitions – and the now hugely successful Woman Who brand was born.

Since then it has gone from strength to strength including the launch of the Woman Who Achieves Academy as well as hosting awards celebrating female achievers across the UK.

The academy, which marks its first anniversary on May 1, has adapted and grown despite a series of Covid-19 lockdowns, and is now supporting business owners ‘virtually’ across the world.

I Am A Woman Who is available for £15 from https://www.womanwho.co.uk/