I thought it was about time that I share my story with you.
Many of you who know me know that I still suffer from anxiety, but not to the extreme I did when I found out I was pregnant.
I was told I would not have children easily so when I got pregnant in 2014, I was not only shocked but was also terrified from the word go.
I had a rough pregnancy , extreme nausea followed by gestational diabetes, obstetric cholestasis, spd, dagger crotch (yes this is a thing don’t even ask!)
And then a traumatic labour where I couldn’t get the epidural I asked for for 7 hours which in induction is hell on earth.
I had a poorly bubba when he arrived with low blood sugars and jaundice which meant a week long stay in hospital.
When I got home I was a jibbering wreck, I really couldn’t leave the house with my newborn without fearing I would drop him and he would break, I had to check pictures were secure on walls so they didn’t fall on him, checking everything a million times before he went to sleep, every time I got in the car I would have to pull over half way to somewhere to check he was breathing, all consuming and pretty horrendous.
I went to see a lovely counsellor who really helped me and I made the decision to take the advice given and I bit the bullet and joined a baby group, it took a few weeks of anxiety of talking to people when I was tired to actually enjoy it, and I cried in public a fair few times but I loved it. So much that when the opportunity came to volunteer I jumped at the chance.
When Ben was nearly 1 i started to look for other people to help volunteer at the baby group, it was so difficult and there wasn’t anywhere I could find so I thought screw it, I am starting my own group! And that is when the Southampton Baby & Toddler Forum was born in January 2015 , a safe space for parents to ask questions of each other and a place for baby groups and small businesses to advertise.
Now 2.5 years on we are at 5.3k members and growing daily! I couldn’t be more proud! and I love how much this place helps new parents!
I started to organise discounted things like soft play and meet ups for the parents in the Southampton baby and toddler forum, and after about 5 months of setting up different events I realised that actually I could do something a bit different and there was a market for it.
So that is when I had the idea for My VIP Card , I started planning last July and by September I had over 50 business that I wanted to promote! I have a really strong desire to help small business succeed and this seemed like the perfect idea!
I launched the card on the 1st of December 2017.
Since launching the card over 400 local businesses have signed up and we have over 800 card holders which is insane!
The lovely Nikki Tapley from the group Parents in Business (visit facebook page) nominated me for the Mpower awards, a national mums in business award for community, I genuinely didn’t expect to even get anywhere with it so when they said I was a finalist I was so shocked! And so grateful!
SO on Saturday last week I went to London on the train, got all glammed up and with my heart in my mouth and feeling incredibly sick I walked in to an event where I knew literally no one! #anxietyalert! But I was greeted by two awesome ladies Hanna from Eclectica and Claire from Tayor made with Love, these ladies literally welcomed me with open arms and they had the most amazing stories! I couldn’t have met a nicer couple of ladies!
We sat down to dinner and I could barely eat, I really didn’t think I had a chance of winning anything, until they said that competition had been so fierce they were going to award two highly commended places per award category, and I thought oooh! this gives me more chance! When they announced those highly commended and I wasn’t one of them I felt sad because I knew I didn’t have a cats chance of winning the big award……
And then they said it ………
And the winner of the community Mpower Awards 2018 is ………. Maddy Alexander-Grout from My VIP Card
Ok I am not going to lie some expletives came out of my mouth Oh *%£&* that is me!
I was shaking when I went up to receive my award, My national women in business award! I was shaking so much that I dropped my award on the table on top of a plate when I got back to the table!
I honestly am still shocked now, the best feeling to be rewarded for something that I have worked so hard to make work whilst looking after everyone I work with.
So there you have it, how I went from severe anxiety sufferer to award winner!
I want to thank everyone who has helped me to get here, My business partners , My card holders, My amazing husband James , My family and friends for all believing in me and supporting me in my journey.
There are some exciting things to come for My VIP Card so please watch this space!
My next project is helping to raise money for schools, contact me if you would like more info firstname.lastname@example.org