AFTER more than 20 years in financial services, Mandy Reynolds found herself stuck in a rut.
She wanted a change but was held back by worries over how to pay the bills.
It was a diagnosis of breast cancer that was to provide the spur.
After coming through intensive treatment, she decided to take her career in a totally different direction, training to become a fully qualified electrician.
And the switch has paid off so successfully that Mandy’s business, Mand Made, has been declared Local Business of the Year by consumer organisation Which?, based on consistent five-star reviews from satisfied customers.
The award – handed over by news presenter Natasha Kaplinsky at a ceremony in London – left Mandy “flabbergasted” after she launched her venture only five years ago.
It’s recognition of how she has worked hard to establish her reputation in the Sheffield area, but there is also a moral, she says.
“My message is: ‘If you are not happy with what you are doing, for goodness sake stop doing it. Life is too short’.”
Mandy, who lives in Heeley, runs her electrical business with a 17-year-old apprentice, Paige Shearwood. Husband Paul provides occasional manual labour “and I have a couple of friends who are electricians I can call on if more hands are required.”
It’s all so much more satisfying than her previous career.
“I spent over 20 years in financial services, and it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable industry in which to work. I wasn’t terribly happy but you get stuck with these things.
“With a mortgage and bills to pay, it’s difficult to change horses mid-stream, so I stayed where I was.”
Things started to change in 2003. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which pulled me up short.”
Mandy, now 53, had two rounds of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Weston Park and Royal Hallamshire Hospitals.
“Once I got through the courses of treatment and came out the other side, I realised how lucky I was and I didn’t want to waste any more of my life.
“I said to my husband: ‘We are going to be poor for a while and I am going to so something else’. I decided I wanted to retrain as an electrician.”
It wasn’t easy at the beginning. “There were several false starts when I thought ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ When there was no work coming in. But my husband is very supportive and I just carried on. Once I start something it is difficult to deter me and I put up with all the angst to come out the other side.”
Her achievements resulted in Mand Made being named as the best local trader in the North East and Yorkshire, followed by the national accolade from Which?, with Mandy praised for her efficiency, reliable service and approachability.
Mandy said she was “amazed. Yesterday I was putting in a couple of sockets and today I’m winning a Which? Award. This is fantastic.”
She added: “When I set up my business in 2006 my aim was to provide a friendly and efficient service, with a focus on customer service.
“Sadly, we hear all too often of innocent householders being ripped off by cowboy operators and I commend Which? Local’s service, which praises those of us who work very hard for our customers.”
A member of Women In Construction Trades and Technology, based in Burngreave, Mandy can now look forward with satisfaction.
“I have now got quite a nice little business and I am getting some loyal customers. People are staying with me and ringing me up. I’m creating something. It’s my business and I can run it how I like.”
lMandy can be contacted by calling 07788 544 25 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.