Do What You Love
Like many, I would say that I made the most of the choices that I was given, and for the most part, I worked doing a job which I enjoyed, working with young people developing their potential to succeed. As time progressed so did I, working for Stoke On Trent College I had the perfect opportunity to develop myself and my staff team.
Delivery of the Prince’s Trust Team programme & Millennium Volunteers was a journey which shaped me, it exposed me to new situations, from delivery of activity based residential programmes, running college induction programmes for thousands of students new to college life, through to helping to organise a Celebration Event for Millennium Volunteers at the Botanical Gardens, and significantly in 2002 experiencing one of our youth led projects hosting the Queens Golden Jubilee In Stafford.
My experience was enhanced by having a great staff team, and the significant support of a visionary programme manager, who was a risk taker. This was not in the context of endangering life, but in doing something new and different, safe in the knowledge that it would grow the participants, the leaders and the organisation as a whole.
Give your staff the best tools you can, then let them get on with the job.
Working for a college, there never was an infinite pot of money. We learned to be creative in our project bid writing to cover all costs of a project, this would include laptop, mobile phone, clothing, salary+25% on cost, recruitment and the list would go on.
We rarely got all that we asked for, but our founders did take us seriously often awarding us the contract over our less expensive competitors. I remember us once being asked if we could spend a competitors underspend by engaging a further set/number of young people. You can’t help but smile and say yes we can do that.
Knowing when to step off
Every train has a start point and a destination, knowing when to get off is about choosing your station, getting up and stepping off. You do this through carefully planned choices, better this than reaching the end and being asked to leave the train whilst protesting that you were enjoying the ride.
After meeting Sue the true love of my life, we embarked upon building a business which would provide additional income and go some way to making a dent in our mortgage commitments. We saw the potential of what we loved about our farm being opened up to others to enjoy and so began Oaks Barn Farm and its Luxury Farm Stay Experience.
We would spend a good few years on building both the business and the supportive infrastructure but we were now shaping our future for us in line with what we wanted to do.
Whilst working for someone else, you are always compromised by someone else’s needs. However the journey exposes you to irreplaceable experiences in preparation for the time when you are ready to step off the train.
The Farm now has sheep, pigs, a new field, generates one third of its electricity consumption, has a converted Coach House which sleeps 6, Granary which Sleeps a further 6 with a linked Shepherd Hut sleeping a further 2. All of our heating is produced from a sustainable wood pellet biomass boiler which also generates an income for the farm. Our guest numbers are growing with repeat bookings rising each year, and our guest reviews reflect a little of the Magic we have created in this little piece of Rural England.
For further information on our farm stay options please take a look at our website for a virtual tour by clicking on the following link: Oaksbarnfarm.co.uk