Bonnie is a passionate and hard working saddler from Barnstaple. Having always dreamt of becoming a saddler but facing challenges along the way, Bonnie tells her story of how she got there and how she hopes to help others one day too.
“I received a lot of help from Andy. I’m not very technical so he explained it all to me. I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t know how to get there. There is such limited funding as an adult. Once you hit 25 there is no help available if you want to change your career.
“I always wanted to train to be a saddler, but I left school at 15 and couldn’t get an apprenticeship. So I then decided I was going to train horses instead but I tragically broke my back at the age of 19. Although I did recover from the break, I knew I could never go back to it.
“I went to university to study Applied Animal Behaviour and Training, before then going on to work for the Medical Research Council for about five years, but I never felt fulfilled.
“An opportunity arose to become a saddler with a New Entrance Scheme, but it was really expensive, so I had to work two different jobs to try and fund it.
“I qualified in 2016 with the Society of Master Saddlers and had been working ever since. However, I then became a single parent of three small children which made everything seem impossible.
“I knew where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing – I wanted to become self-employed but just thought there was no way I’d be able to afford it.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Positive People.
“The biggest challenge I faced was making everything work around the children. Childcare, finding the time to study and work, and earning enough to pay for everything.
“When it all just seemed too much, it was simply having someone to talk to that helped me find my way.
“They also paid for a year of insurance for me to become a self-employed saddler. This has changed my life; my son is disabled and I could receive a call from nursery at any time of the day. No employer could allow me to leave when I need to be there for my kids.
“I don’t know where I’d be now without Positive People. It has a strong mental effect on you – it can feel soul destroying when you can’t get to where you want to be. I felt so stuck and disheartened with the world. I was working so hard to better myself and there didn’t seem to be a way to achieve it.
“I received ongoing support from people who believed in me. They always had answers to my questions and the communication was good. Everything happened so quickly and efficiently.
“My future goals are to become a fully qualified saddler with Master Saddlers. I would also like to employ an apprentice to give someone the opportunities that I didn’t have. I love training and teaching people, so it would be great to help others with their goals.
“I feel like I’ve been given the opportunity to achieve my dream”.