Reaching for the Stars
Meet Mel a 42 year old, married mother of two gorgeous girls aged 5 and 7. Her and her husband have built a successful business running Church Farm Guest House, Wrockwardine, Shropshire - a 4 star highly commended guest house with a rosette restaurant.
Who or what inspired you to run a guest house?
When my youngest child was born we lived and worked in a gastro-pub located only 1 mile from here. I despised living both above a pub and in the pub environment. I heard that this house lease was coming available and put my name to it. It was 2 years before the lease finally went into our name! It was the best decision I ever made. The children went from being ‘babysat’ every night and living in a flat above a pub, to having mum at home in the evenings and living in a privileged environment, with a huge garden, in a lovely little village.
What are the advantages of being based in a rural area?
Guests who come to stay with us are looking for peace, tranquillity and relaxation. Our guests are looking to get away from their everyday lives, stresses and just chill out for a while. From our family point of view... the children are growing up hatching chickens and ducklings, they have sheep in the fields attached to our garden. They play outside with their friends from the village with a certain amount of freedom...
What are the main challenges of working in the countryside?
For us there are not really a lot of challenges, as we are in fact so close to two main towns but have the advantage of being very rural.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Up at 7am, prepare breakfast for guests, get girls ready for school and take them to the village bus stop. Finish breakfast cooking and clean down the breakfast room and kitchen.
10am Service bedrooms, make ups and new turnarounds.
1pm office work – online bookings/availability adjustments, website updates, emails etc:3.30pm Collect girls from the school bus and taxi to after school clubs whilst trying to be available at home for afternoon check ins from 4pm.
Some evenings we offer dinner to our guests, so the evening will be spent serving dinner and ensuring the girls get off to bed... this dinner offering has got a lot busier over recent months, so I now have to employ a babysitter on very busy nights to help me with the children.
How do you manage to juggle the demands of a career whilst raising a family?
It’s extremely hard work! Often, one only can take priority (and unfortunately it cannot always be the children!)...
What is the secret of your success?
Determination, focus and networking! When I decided to take on this business, I did it against my nearest and dearest’s wishes! My closest family did not believe I could make a success of running a guest house! I enjoy the fact that I have proved them all wrong!
Who or what can’t you work without?
I cannot work without my website, laterooms.com and booking.com!
Would you consider moving to a more urban area in the future?
One word... NO!
In career terms where would you like to be in five years time?
Owning a slightly larger property which incorporates restaurant, guest rooms and great living accommodation for our little family. We have already found our ‘place’ and are in the process of financing it.
What advice would you give to other rural mums thinking of moving into your line of work?
Go for it! Guest house life, whilst somewhat limiting in time, enables you to be there for your children and family whenever they need you. (most of the time). I have friends who work full time jobs, whose children go to preschool and afterschool clubs and they go to bed when they get home.
We have a very full and privileged life with our girlies... they don’t realise how lucky they are!
Do you juggle work, family and home?
Are you a working mum in full or part time employment?
Do you work from home or run your own business?
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