I started studying to become a counsellor in 2014 with the Open University - at that time I was a police detective. I didn't actually leave the police until 2019 - the same year, I started studying towards my professional counselling qualifications at York St John University.
Born and brought up in York, I have lived in and around the city all my life; apart from a brief period when I lived in Essex in the late 1980s.
I didn't go to university at the age a lot of folks do, I didn't think I was up to it. I was worried I would fail, so I didn't try. I was 50 when I started at York St John University.
In 25 years of policing, I dealt with all sorts of things people don't want to think about, including serious physical and sexual offences against adults and children, domestic abuse, murder, and people trafficking... I think you get the idea. I have personal experience with sexual grooming and assault, domestic abuse, and living with an alcoholic partner (not Malcolm!)
I was a single parent for most of my police service. I now know that I had undiagnosed Fibromyalgia and ADHD - no wonder it was blinking hard at times! ... oh yes, and then peri-menopause and menopause decided to join the party.
My Dad got a terminal illness and I took on some serious caring responsibilities up until he entered hospice care. Through my own therapy, I realised I could help others. I specialised in working with vulnerable people, and although I saw and heard some horrible things, I feel proud that I've been able to support people at some of the most difficult times in their lives.
...bored of me yet?
I also played Rugby Union for York for a few seasons.
I play several musical instruments and am in a band.
I have piercings and tattoos (although not loads).
I have sung on stage at York Theatre Royal in front of 800 people.
I knew Dame Kelly Holmes (briefly) and sold her my Astro Hockey Boots when I gave up Hockey.
Anyway - this shouldn't be about me, should it? I just thought you might want to know a little about who I am. I am a real person with real-life experiences - some brilliant and exciting, some quite dark and difficult.
I won't be for everyone, and that is fine. I sincerely hope that if I am not the counsellor for you, you find the perfect person or people to help support you.
What do I believe in?
Although I was not referring to my religious or spiritual beliefs when I posed that question, my Christian faith is an important part of my life.
None of us is perfect. Our mistakes do not make us bad people - we can learn from them. We have all done, thought or said things that we are not too proud of.
Shame can weigh us down, but it does not need to.
I hate prejudice. I believe in acceptance. Everyone deserves respect. It is not for us to judge one another (unless you are a juror, a magistrate or a judge - then it is sort of in your job description).
I do not believe we should ever 'other' people - whether by race, gender, sexuality, skin colour, disability... anything! Even as a white, heterosexual woman, I have been 'othered', and it is horrible.
We can, and do bear scars from our past - we often try to avoid looking at them. Unless we are prepared to really examine what the marks and scars are all about, we cannot hope to ever understand them and move forward.