Chamber Members Collaborate to Share Inspiring Paths of Resilience and Reinvention

First encounter

Sarah-Jane and Sherry met through the Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce Wellbeing Forum. It was clear from the start that we both really loved what we do, this being the motivating factor for starting up our own businesses. Our initial first meeting proved to be a great success when we realised just how much we had in common, not just our love of the job, but the warmth we felt when we passed our knowledge on. After an amazing one to one chat over coffee at Meadowhall we discovered that 2018 had been a major turning point for us both in the path we decided to take. We wanted to share our resilience and drive with others in order to help those procrastinating and who require some encouragement to move forward.


The early hours of the first of January 2018 were to be the awakening of a new dawn for me. The first light brought me freedom to concentrate on my long-standing passion for Millinery. No longer turning just a page or chapter, I had a completely new book to start.

By February the Beast from the East arrived in my Yorkshire Garden producing icy, lacy white forms which provided me with the inspiration to design a hat called “Winter”. This design was selected for the World Garden exhibition at London Hat week and displayed in 2019 at the Menier Gallery in London.

I was also approached by celebrity Gok Wan who wanted to feature my headwear in his fashion shows “One size fits all “which were shown in Sheffield November 2018 and Knutsford 2019.

Sadly, the Pandemic put a stop to all public events and future bookings of such nature were cancelled or postponed.

When lockdown was lifted, I decided it was important to engage with people as much as possible, so I began to launch a range of different workshops. It was good to help both individuals and groups explore a more creative side of their personalities. This proved very good for both my wellbeing and the people I was working with. I am passionate about passing on traditional skills, so they are not forgotten. However, I am also a firm believer in aspiring to new innovative ideas along the journey. With this vision in mind, I have made the decision to continue to design and produce hats and headpieces, but I now specialise in bespoke orders only. I am also involved in workshops and special events, this allows more flexibility into my world.

At the beginning of the last quarter of 2022, I was approached by Bankfield Museum in Halifax who wanted to work with a Yorkshire Milliner. It was a great pleasure to work closely with the museum, the exhibition “A Hat for all Seasons” which ran from March 2023 until the end of September. On the opening day I delivered both children and adult workshops, returning later for my own talk. This exhibition was a great eye opener to look at hats in many ways. It examined the style, function and symbolism of headwear in British Society.

People often ask me where my inspiration comes from. The answer is quite simple – it is all the things around me. Having lived in the rural part of South Yorkshire countryside most of my adult life, the countryside landscape has been by far the largest influence upon my designs.

For me at this moment in time, Autumn walks provide such an enlightening experience, like a plump purse with plenty of riches to offer. The robust reds in glorious shades of ruby and rust with random ruffles spiralling down in a “cherry like” fashion, reminding me of the ingredients of a Christmas cake mixture ready to be turned. With the Fall in mind, the most significant thing of all to me is the shedding of the leaves, a chance to make way for new beginnings, a time for change. It’s good to keep our roots well grounded, but making the right space helps us adapt to changing conditions which can often arise when we least expect.

With nothing for certain as we will soon approach the bleak bareness of Winter, the mechanisms we seek to choose for our own wellbeing I feel deserve a warm welcome.

If the road gets tough, then it’s always important to realise we all have choices, it may be on some occasions it’s a limited choice – but we usually have a choice. Looking at different options often brings back a sense of calm.

Planning the good stuff always helps, I am already planning for the next quarter, both on a personal and professional level. Time to get a new date in the diary Sarah-Jane!


How I helped myself and my husband achieve our health, fitness, and wellness goals, before I even knew I would launch a business to do the same for my clients.

2018 was an eventful year, after 23 years I was falling out of love with the events industry and left a role as a global events agency business unit director where I was in airports weekly, to work for a business in Leeds with mostly UK destinations for their client’s events, I thought I would be able to spend more time at home, how wrong was I, I was still in events!

My husband, of 29 years, was still slowly dying of Cystic Fibrosis and I was gifted to still have him in my life, “you’ll be a widow by the time you’re 23” said his consultant Sarah to me when I was 20. In August his lung function was dropping, we were talking about getting him a standing frame to use to cook dinner, and I broke down in tears walking through Leeds train station on my way to the office. We had to make some changes.

I attended a 1:1 with my CEO on 27th October and was asked to leave “we couldn’t afford you after doing all the work as Operations Director when we can have a lower paid Operations Manager to maintain what you have put in place. The team love you, go now before they come in and by Christmas we can move on and they will have forgotten about you”. Wow I was now on Garden Leave.

Peter was not breathing well at all. I set about finding a new job and was approached to do some consulting work and accepted this “we have always wanted you to work for us but could never afford you”, it was a great feeling, I was raising invoices and being paid for my work and not working hard for others. It felt fantastic.

27th December Peter finally asked for help “I need to go to hospital now!”.  His lung function was 13 percent and he was immediately admitted to the Cystic Fibrosis ward at the Northern General.

January 2019 came, and I was on my last month of Garden Leave.  I had a light bulb moment… I have always wanted my own business, I wrote two business plans when I was 19, fell in love and was told I would be a widow so I lived life saying, “when I’m on my own I will”.  If you have read my health and wellbeing forum bio you will know I was told aged 19 the root cause to all my pain was Wheat. As well as having two business plans I was considering training in nutrition, same thought “when I’m on my own”.

11th January 2019, I signed up to study and train to become a Pilates instructor, a form of exercise I found in my early 30’s post sports injury and on 1st September 2019 I traded my first £1 as a Pilates instructor.  Pilates is so powerful that fast forward to 2023 I have saved a lady from having a prolapse uterus operation, she listened, and we worked together, her consultant was amazed that while waiting for her to see him Pilates had saved her having an invasive operation.

During 2019 I embarked on completing my nutrition qualifications and in September 2019 helped my first client reverse Type-2 Diabetes. Fast forward to 2023 I received a testimonial that included “Thanks to Sarah-Jane’s help I was known amongst the perinatal diabetic nurses for the best controlled lady under their care”, it was awesome helping a client with Gestational Diabetes achieve control so as not to give diabetes to baby Benjamin.

I have a successful business that allows me to spend time with Peter, attend hospital appointments without having to tell “a boss”, take the afternoon off when I like to walk out Pug, Lady Penelope and Peter can join us.

Thanks to working together with Peter’s CF team he is healthier, fitter, and happier, and I stress over nothing. I am in control of my business and if something annoys me, I get rid of it.  I wake up excited and saying, “hello beautiful!”, set my intentions and achieve my goals.

So, if you feel stuck as a carer for someone you love, or in a job role you would like to escape from it’s never too late to make a leap (in 2018 I was 45) or start by make the small changes to achieve the life YOU want to live not what is expected, the norm etc.  You get one life stop procrastinating, if you feel stuck have a conversation with me, it’s complimentary and I’ll help you move forward.

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