Creative artist, character actress, children’s entertainer and carer are just four of the strings in the bow of Gedney businesswoman Zoemarie Sheldon (38).
But the journey to get there included a childhood the mother-of-two herself described as going “from a life that was a fairy tale to one that suddenly became a nightmare”. Dyslexia at school, the closure of a family-run cafe in West Norfolk, a fire destroying her home, the death of her father Len Sheldon (71) through cancer at her age of 16 and even a spell of homelessness.
Dad always said to me ‘You’re destined for great things’ because he saw the talent within meGedney artist and businesswoman Zoemarie Sheldon
But Zoemarie said: “Dad always said to me ‘You’re destined for great things’.
“For years, I didn’t know who I was as I used to do a bit of this and a bit of that.
“My parents had moved from Dorset to Norfolk where they ran a transport cafe in Terrington St Clement called Pam’s Cafe, named after my mum Pamela Sheldon.
“They had run a hotel in Dorset so Mum and Dad were able to build an amazing business where, as a youngster, I used to work as a waitress while wearing roller skates.
“Dad knew that I liked to sing so when anyone asked ‘can we have a birthday party at the cafe for my children?’ I used to entertain them.
“Then in 1992, after 26 years, Dad closed the cafe due to business rates going up and lack of business after the A17 bypass was built.
“Dad started a mobile ice cream business when he was in his 60s but, in 1994, the empty cafe caught fire and we decided as a family to knock it down so that four houses could be built on the land.
“In all this time, Dad told me to believe in myself because he saw the talent within me.
“We’d lost everything in that fire and then, in 1995, Dad died and I went from a life that was a fairy tale to one that suddenly became a nightmare.”
Zoemarie found life no easier at school, put in low-grade classes and excluded from plays “because I couldn’t remember my lines”, she said.
“When I first started school, my teacher thought I was thick because I had dyslexia.
“But I wasn’t going to give up and by the time I got to college, people couldn’t believe that I left school with nine GCSEs and good marks in them as well.”
Zoemarie Sheldon runs children’s parties, entertainment and face painting business PartyAngelz, with help from her partner Martin Morris.
The idea for the business came while they were working in Portugal during spring 2000 where Zoemarie was made children’s entertainment manager at a bar popular with tourists.
She said: “The artistic talent I had, which was buried deep within me when Dad died, came back and I’d never planned to come back to England after our adventure in Portugal.
“But we did come back and it was like being in a different world, especially when we were made homeless.
“That’s why I so grateful to South Holland District Council for giving us our home in Gedney and now I know where I’m going with my life.”