OVERCOMING fear is something Jane Hickford knows far too much about.
Forced to give up a high-power job with Carlton Television when a tumour was discovered on her brain, Jane has since experienced major surgery, the break-up of her marriage and a move back to the town she grew up in, to Magellan Way in Spalding.
Jane, who was commercial director of the London-based television company, now ITV London, was 38 in 2003 when the benign tumour was finally discovered following an episode of headaches and disorientation soon after she returned from her honeymoon. Experts initially put her problems down to stress and even suggested her illness was down to mental health issues until her brother, Stuart Brown, insisted on an MRI scan and the brain tumour was diagnosed.
Surgeons removed 99 per cent of the tumour – a slow growing one that had been there from birth and which was very close to the pituitary gland, responsible for balancing the body’s hormones.
Jane has had more surgery and health problems since that mean she can’t work at the level she once did, and she has to take a cocktail of drugs which affect her short-term memory and which meant her once fit, size 12 body ballooned very quickly to a size 24.
However, she says: “When I was brought home from hospital down in Kent where I was living with my husband I decided I wasn’t going to be a victim and I was going to get on with my life and do what I could to be as normal as I possibly could. I am not losing my intelligence, but my memory is affected, my short-term memory in particular. People will come up to me and I don’t know who they are, which is so embarrassing, although I tend to be alright with people I have known a long time.”
Stuart, who lives in Weston Hills, again came to his sister’s rescue, this time with work, initially commissioning research from her and ultimately suggesting she take over part of his IT business.
Three years later, when the recession bit and the business was no longer viable, Jane decided to turn what had been a hobby buying and selling vintage handbags and shoes online into a new business, selling stuff people no longer wanted on the internet in return for a commission.
The illness had taken its toll on her relationship with her husband and they had separated, Jane moving to a home of her own in Kent which very quickly filled with men’s dress shirts and school uniforms that she was selling.
When her health deteriorated further, Jane took the decision to move back to Spalding, where she had grown up, to be close to Stuart and her mother, but didn’t rest on her laurels, and started networking quickly to make contacts.
She came across Spalding Networking and arranged to go to the next meeting, taking Stuart along for support, where founders Christine Grocock and Sandy Newell were impressed by Jane’s online selling skills and asked if she would be interested in setting up some workshops for businesses.
Now Jane is all set to help other people overcome their fear, not of traumatic change in their lives, but of something far easier to tackle – fear of using online auction sites to make money. She is also doing it to help raise funds for the UK Pituitary Foundation, because a portion of her fee will go to that as well as two other charities, in the same way that a percentage of what she sells online through her site www.goodstuffauctions.co.uk is donated to charity.
Stuart – who also benefited from the networking meeting because his IT skills impressed Christine so much she asked him to join her business – says: “With online selling there is a lot of fear factor. There are a lot of businesses in South Holland that have got end-of-line stock and returns and it’s all money sitting there, and there are a lot of things that can be sold online if you know how to sell them.”
Workshops are being held at Broad Street Business Centre in Spalding with the next Online Selling for Anyone session presented by Jane on September 20. Spalding Networking has organised a number of workshops, including an Introduction to Social Media for Business on Wednesday and Online Marketing for the Small Business Owner on September 26.
For full details or to book a place visit the Spalding Networking website www.spaldingnetworking.com or call 01775 761512.