However, Anne prefers the title ‘the story lady’, as she has become affectionately known by the families whose little pieces of history have been recorded by SpeakingLives®.
Anne has a genuine, sympathetic interview style, which is ideal for her work recording life stories, to be produced on an audio CD (or mp3 format) for families to treasure for generations.
The success of the service has helped her grown the business throughout Scotland and beyond, working from her base in Edinburgh
For a woman whose work finds the rich stories in life, she’s certainly entering a happier chapter herself, following some challenging years.
Before SpeakingLives®, Anne, who had built up a successful career as an Office Manager, was made redundant for the third time.
In her 50’s, she found job hunting tough, and encountered the injustice of ageism among HR departments which failed to recognise the value of her wealth of hands on experience, for lack of the ‘latest piece of paper.’
Determined to be open minded about opportunities, Anne googled ‘part time work’ and briefly considered a job dressing up as a bunny outside a new sandwich shop.
Then, quite by chance, she stumbled across an advert for licensees to train as Life Interview Consultants for SpeakingLives®.
Anne said: “my first thought was ‘I wish I had known about that before my mother died, because she was an only child and all her early years are lost now. I had never heard of such an idea, but immediately thought it was brilliant.
“In fact I realised if I felt that way, there must be hundreds, thousands, of people who would feel the same way
“Recording life stories for people’s loved ones, to be treasured for generations? This was a job I could be passionate about.”
Anne launched her new career with Speaking Lives® in 2009 and, with this passion for the product and natural empathy for interviewees – and a lot of hard work, she began to build a fascinating and thriving business.
Now Anne is the new Managing Director, having made the leap from licensee to owner on 1 June 2012. Or, as she puts it, “I like my job so much, I bought the company.”
But first, Anne faced one of the most difficult years of her life, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011.
She said: “Naturally I was devastated. And the following months of chemotherapy and Radio Therapy were extremely hard.
“The business was just starting to really take off. It was frustrating. I had to take a back seat from networking and marketing, and new business appointments had to make way for hospital appointments.
“I felt like saying ‘I don’t have time to be ill! I have a business to run!”
Anne was determined to continue working when she could, and even in her absence, client referrals continued to come.
Anne said: “I had built up a great group of friends and contacts through networking, and they have been amazing. Even during my absence, they would stay in touch, show they cared and pass me business opportunities.
“Also, it sounds strange, but being forced to take time out from the day to day activities of business allowed me time to reflect and forward plan. I appreciate there’s a certain black humour in a person with cancer forward planning their business – but I believe in the importance of positive thinking!
“Working at something I felt passionate about helped me to keep my mind off the illness, and motivated me to stay strong and keep fighting.
“I managed to complete two recording projects for terminally ill clients and, as I was going through similar treatment, this made the experience extremely poignant for both of us – we even shared a few laughs.”
Now Anne is entering a happier chapter in her life. She was given the all clear in March 2012, and she is looking and feeling remarkable.
When the opportunity arose to buy out SpeakingLives® this year, Anne decided to take the plunge and buy the company.
She said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be the proud new owner of SpeakingLives®.
“I have continually said this is ‘the best job in the world’.
“Meeting so many people and hearing their life stories is absolutely fascinating, and the value the experience offers interviewees and their families is huge. It is incredibly rewarding to be part of that and a real privilage.
“I think in this day and age, such a unique and meaningul gift has struck a chord across the generations and that has helped the business to be successful. I am looking forward to taking ownership and continuing to grow the business in the future.”
Now the company is looking for new Licensees across the UK who are interested in training as Life Interview Consultants and helping expand the business nationally. Anne said “you don’t have to be anyone special to record your Life Story – BUT, you do have to be someone very special to be a Life Interview Consultant with SpeakingLives.”
She said: “I have started this new chapter with a new tagline for the company. At SpeakingLives® we ‘record the past as a present for the future.’
“One thing I have learned from my illness is that we never know what the future holds, and this has real resonance with the work I do. So many people I meet say “I wish I had met you before…. I always meant to write some stories down or record them!” There is immense value in recording memories of childhood, teens, working or married life, special trips and events; even the story of organisations so that the oral history of families and communities is not lost.
“Fortunately this latest chapter in my life has had a happy ending and, while I still don’t know where the next story line is going to lead, I am very much looking forward to finding out.”
For further information about SpeakingLives® visit : www.tellyourstoryoncd.co.uk