Get to Know Me: Sterling Virtual Assistant Services

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My name is Clair Abrey and welcome to my first ever blog!

Well…! This is truly something I thought I would NEVER be doing! Writing a blog? That’s for the
young and trendy right? How wrong could I be! So, at 44 years young, with an 16 year old
daughter and an 11 year old son (who I am sure I will be turning to for some tips!) and a
husband who has even less of a clue than I do…here I am saying hi and telling the world a bit about
myself. So here goes…

 

I launched my business as a Virtual Assistant 10 months ago. It’s very scary, but very exciting. Ever
since I can remember I love having things organised. I love stationary and making my notebooks look
all neat and tidy. I love lists for lists and boxes for boxes. And helping people. Sooo cliché, but I do
love to help!! I originally wanted to go into the Navy as an officer (that seems crazy now!) but a very
dodgy left hip put an end to that. So, at 18, I went to America instead to be an Au-Pair while I tried
to work out what I wanted to do with my life. While I was there, I found out my mum of only 44
years of age who had been in remission for breast cancer for the last 2 years, was diagnosed as
terminal. I jumped on the first plane home to be with her. She passed away 2 weeks later. Long story
short at this point – I had no idea what life had in store anymore but losing my mum had a profound
effect on the person I am today.

So, with mum nudging my ribs, I pulled my big girl pants up and I started applying for jobs. Writing to
companies (not sure email was so big back in 1998) and Ford Bussey’s gave me my chance; I started
to sell cars. Motability cars to be precise. I quickly found out I didn’t like selling…but I did love those
who I came into contact with. Being the person who loved to help, it was so rewarding and became
the theme for future jobs. The next couple of decades were mainly spent working as the admin
assistant for the Physical Disability and Occupational Therapy Dept of Social Services, and for 11
years, I worked at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital as a PA to the Medical Director and
Finance Director, Lead Administrator for Agenda for Change and Directorate PA for the Head and
Neck Directorate. All of which gave me a love for PA work. However, circumstances changed, and I
had to roll with the punches. I now had 2 children, a husband who worked away and no family to
help with childcare. I needed to find something else that worked for my family. I very much wanted
to be the mum who was there for all their events.

So, I became self-employed as a Childminder. It suited all our needs, but it was THE hardest job I
have ever done! Learning how to run my own business, learning how to work with little people all
while juggling my own 2 children, look after a house and still have some sanity left at the end of the
day! (I know you hear me!!) I understand outsourcing…I outsourced my 2 year old son to a
childminding friend. He was as good as gold for her!! The job involved creating my own policies
and procedures, record keeping, progress reports and to comply with all the Ofsted and EYFS
requirements. That is no mean feat! For 8 years I made my business a great success. Word of mouth
and a bit of help from Facebook posts meant I was always full and had a well-respected name locally.
What more could you ask for?

Again, changes in circumstances mean sometimes you must make difficult decisions. That dodgy hip
had been rearing its ugly head again over the years and brought with it an even dodger back. Being a
childminder is the worst possible job under those circumstances. I’d been thinking for a while I
needed a change, but lockdown #1 brought that to a head. Along with half the population, I was
forced to stop work and that was a big wake-up call to how my body could feel. I took the breathing
space to think about the future. I wanted to stay self-employed and thought about how much I had
missed that love for admin and PA work. So being a VA seemed like the most natural step ever.

A chat with Gwen Backhouse, an old school friend who was running her very successful VA business
in Cumbria sealed the deal. I took it upon myself to put all my savings towards the VACT VA Mastery
course run by Amanda Johnson. It wasn’t easy but over the course of 9 months I worked my job and
studied at the same time. I then said goodbye to my childminding families to start on my new career
path.

So here we are! Sterling Virtual Assistant Services was born and has evolved massively in the last 10
months. I am learning constantly and love what I am doing. I am being me and there are actually people out there who like that like that 🙂 I am attracting the clients who have the same values as me and that means working together is such a
pleasure.

Weirdly, my new business has one key theme to my old business – I am still looking after peoples’
babies! Your business is your baby, right?! Your passion! I absolutely love the fact that once again, I
can take all my past experiences and combine it with new technology to help make your baby the
very best it can be. I am helping.

Time is precious. Sometimes you have to make those changes that allow you to stop, breathe and
enjoy life again.

If you feel I could help you with your beautiful business, why not check out my website
www.sterling-virtualassistant.co.uk for more info or email me to arrange a no obligation chat.

Until next time, Clair x

 

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