Helen’s Story

It’s fair to assume that not many people go into their A Levels wanting to end up throwing custard pies on live television for a living. I’m not even sure what subjects you would choose if that was your career aspiration! Helen Piddock-Jones was the much-loved ‘Phantom Flan Finger’ on the children’s TV programme ‘Tiswas’. However, when she was at school, she had always planned for a career in law.

So, how do you start out as a barrister but end up chucking buckets of water at famous pop singers on television? Here’s Helen’s story:

Helen studied law at university and soon progressed on the path to becoming a barrister. However, it wasn’t long into her career before she realised it was too restricted for her and decided to look for something else.

She had always been interested in drama but didn’t want to be an actress. She managed to talk her way into a job at the BBC. The job wasn’t one that she enjoyed. It was a starter job which involved researching news stories, but her bosses told her that this was her chance to get noticed and so she was determined to make the most of it.

When she started, she had barely any experience in the media so it was a sharp learning curve that she had to understand everything very quickly. By chance, she was given an interview to cover and after this it led to her covering several more. Soon she got a job as a DJ which helped her then produce shows on BBC Radio 4. Gradually, she built up a breadth of experience which helped her to see what she enjoyed and where she wanted to end up. Helen lived by the motto: the more experience you can get the better.

After her time on radio, she negotiated a move to television which resulted in her presenting the 6 o’clock news on Midlands Today. During this time, her friend was starting a children’s programme and asked her to write some scripts for it. She also appeared a few times to do some sketches. Her friend was Chris Tarrant and the children’s programme was ‘Tiswas’.

A new character was introduced on the show and Helen became the Phantom Flan Flinger. She would throw pies and chuck buckets of water at all the guests on the show. Helen then went on to write books about ‘Tiswas’ for children. Little did she know that she was portraying a character that would become an iconic part of growing up for a whole generation of children.  

After a while, she realised that there was only a certain number of custard pies that you could put on the faces of famous people and decided it was time for someone else to take over the role of the Phantom Flan Flinger.

Looking for something out of the limelight, Helen started up a craft company with a few of her friends. She was writing poems and little messages for greeting cards and tea towels. As the business grew, she realised she wasn’t having the interaction with the customers or other people as much as before and this was something she missed. In order to meet this gap, Helen trained for and took up a volunteer role with the Samaritans.

Helen’s career and life has taken so many twists and turns which she definitely had not planned whilst she was a teenager.  Each one of these changes were influential to the type of person Helen has become. She doesn’t look back on any of these experiences with even a hint of regret, rather she sees each one as a vital step in her growth and development.

Helen’s story can help us not only understand the importance of trying different and new things, but also asking advice from people for guidance throughout our careers.

And lastly, it can teach us to have a go even if we lack experience or qualifications.

So, for those of us currently studying for our GCSEs and A Levels, whilst we may not end up throwing custard pies in people’s faces on television, we still could end up doing something equally exhilarating and completely different to what we are currently expecting.

So that doesn’t mean we don’t work hard for the exams we are about to take, but it does mean we should throw a custard pie in the face of anyone who tries to convince us that our entire career will be dependent on the results of those exams!

Trevor’s Story

Your exam results weren’t what you expected. You don’t know what you want to do next. Your hopes are stolen. Your dreams are crushed. What do you do now?

This story was reality for many people over the summer. It was told right across the country as the Coronavirus had a negative impact on aspirations for almost every teenager.

However, this story is not unique to the summer of 2020.

In the 1970s, an 18-year-old Trevor Waldock opened up an envelope to reveal he had flunked his A levels. Everything he had planned was ripped apart when he ripped open the seal of that brown envelope.

What happened next was going to change the destiny of not just this one lad from Essex, but the lives of thousands living in third world countries.

Shortly after getting his A Level results, Trevor had been invited to a weekend away for young people. It was to encourage them to lead in the future and how if you see the power of leadership, you can make anything happen. Leadership lead Trevor to his future and has then helped him lead others as well.

Trevor created a business called the Executive Coach and it was whilst he was having coffee with a friend that the next chapter evolved. His friend’s company needed money to set up a school in Zambia. It was going to cost £2000 to run for one year. Trevor was shocked that it wasn’t as expensive as he thought, so through his company, provided the money to set up the school.

The following year, Trevor went out to visit the school. The sights he saw were devastating. It was during the AIDs crisis in Africa which lead to the death of so many people in their 20s-40s, so there were children and old people and almost no middle generation.

Trevor realised on that trip that you couldn’t just throw money at the situation. He wanted to help the people lead themselves out of poverty. So, in 2005, he set up Emerging Leaders, which has had an impact on over 85,000 people directly and over 2.5 million people indirectly.

Trevor talks passionately about the work of Emerging Leaders. He describes how many people arrive without hope, heads down and not making eye contact.  However, the leadership for life programme inspires and encourages them to take control of their lives. It changes their mindset to look beyond the abject poverty of their current situation and encourages them to take control of writing their life story. Their story maybe lived out in a tough setting, but they hold the pen and they can write a different ending.

For some people, the impact of the programme can often be seen overnight. When they realise that they have the potential to write their own story and live the life they have dreamed of, their heads come up and so does their confidence!

In one village, the main road caused many deaths due to the huge potholes. After an Emerging Leaders course, just one woman was inspired to get the whole road tarmacked, something that even the local government hadn’t been able to do. She realised that by working with the locals and taking responsibility, she could make things happen and countless lives were saved as a result.

Trevor now has his own podcast inspiring young people to understand the importance of leadership and how there is always something more you can do. If everyone gets involved, a massive difference can be made.

So what do we learn from Trevor Waldock’s story?

Even though your circumstances might be different to Trevor’s, and you failed your exams for different reasons; reasons that were totally outside of your control, you can still live a life of success. Just like all those people on the Emerging Leaders courses, you still hold the pen and you can still write a great life story.

The coronavirus pandemic might actually make you stronger. Use this situation to be more determined. Use this situation to be more resilient.

Trevor Waldock

If you’re looking for a story to prove that A level results don’t determine your future success, then Trevor Waldock’s story could be the one. After getting Fs at A level, he has gone on to be a best selling author and a leadership coach for some of the world’s leading blue-chip companies. 

Trevor has also devoted much of his time to working with commuinities in third world countries to lead themselves out of poverty. 

Trevor’s story is inspiring and provides a fitting climax for this series.

https://anchor.fm/rose-courteen/episodes/Trevor-Waldock-ekj6e2

Sue Anstiss

From competing as a triathlete for Team GB through to running her own PR agency, Sue Anstiss has a passion for sport. Actually, she has a passion for women in sport.

In this podcast we discuss what needs to happen to make sport more gender equal and the progress made so far. Sue talks about her podcast, her book, and how she is on a mission to raise the awareness of women in sport.

Her dedication and determination make this podcast an inspiring and fascinating listen.

https://anchor.fm/rose-courteen/episodes/Sue-Anstiss-eihvgc

Colin Tapscott Podcast Live

Colin TapscottColin Tapscott is someone I have known almost all my life and is a close friend of my family. I wanted to interview him for this podcast because he is a natural leader.

Having left college, Colin pursued a career in teaching and became a headteacher before he was 30. He has followed a successful career as a headteacher with establishing his own training business called Everyday Leader and he has his own book on leadership being published this year. In this podcast, we not only explore Colin’s professional career, but we find out about his teenage years and how his faith has influenced the choices and decisions he has made.

It was great to talk to Colin as he is easy to listen to and a really inspirational guy. I hope you enjoy our conversation too!

https://anchor.fm/rose-courteen/episodes/Colin-Tapscott-eg0lad

Bridget McIntyre Podcast Live!

Bridget McIntrye

In this podcast, the last of our first series, we interview Bridget McIntyre. From struggling at school to leading a large blue chip organisation to now having forming a social enterprise business, Bridget has a wealth of leadership experience.

We’re inspired by her “can do” attitude and Bridget provides some valuable advice on how to believe in yourself and to build self confidence.

*Our second series will be back in September when we will have more great conversations with another 10 inspiring guests.*

https://anchor.fm/rose-courteen/episodes/Bridget-McIntyre-e4i5dk