Taking a risk and jumping
“Follow your passions.” Three simple words, but in reality often far easier said, than done.
But from tomorrow, I will be doing just that. Today was my last day at the BBC for six months. I’m taking a career break (sabbatical) to follow my heart and my passions.
Journalism has been that passion for twenty years. I remember saying to a careers advisor at the age of 15 that I either wanted to go into law or journalism. She quickly tried to put me off journalism saying it was very difficult to get into.
If I had told her I’d like to work for the BBC I think she would have laughed in my face. It wasn’t really the done thing for many kids from a Wrexham comprehensive.
But I remained convinced that was what I wanted to do and did everything I could do to make it happen.
I started to write for the college newspaper at Sixth Form. Then I applied to get on a charitable scheme which offered work placements in London for welsh students. One of them was a week with BBC News.
Somehow I was accepted and in the summer of 2000, at the age of 17, I spent a week pinching myself and watching on in awe. We met correspondents and editors across various areas of the BBC in London. It made such a huge impression on me and I left feeling even more determined to get into journalism.
By 18 I had spent time at the BBC offices in Wrexham and I was writing village news for the local paper. Payment? 2p a line!
At 19 I got my first taste of working at a major sporting event when I was selected to be a volunteer press assistant at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. That helped me to decide it was sports journalism that I REALLY wanted to focus on.
Even though I did languages at University (“follow your passions”) I still spent as much time as I could racking up the all important work experience, even during my year abroad in Mexico.
A post-grad in journalism followed. As did a lot more hard work! I applied for a job at an English language radio station in Geneva when I graduated. I didn’t get it, but I made a good enough impression to be asked to do some freelance work for them.
After graduating, the majority of my time was spent driving up and down the welsh borders, freelancing at Local Radio stations, with the very odd fortnight in Switzerland here and there. I was so keen to work in sport that every Saturday I travelled on the train from Wrexham to BBC Wales in Cardiff just to work in the magical environment of a live radio studio in the thick of the sporting action.
By 2008 I had covered Euro 2008 for Swiss radio and that summer, I finally got my first BBC contract- two days a week as a sports Broadcast Journalist at BBC local radio station.
Two years on Switzerland came knocking on the door again, this time offering me a maternity cover contract for six months. I was in such a dilemma. Did I quit the BBC knowing how hard I had worked to get my two days a week? Or did I go and live and work abroad again and use my languages?
I took the risk. I jumped. It was THE best decision! I ended up going to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as a reporter, to follow Switzerland. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that was on the cards.
When the contract finished I knew I still wanted to work for the BBC, but at a national level. So I headed back to the UK and moved to London in September 2010 in the hope I’d get my foot in the door in time for the big move North. Another risk. I literally had two weeks work as a researcher with BBC Sport. After a fortnight, that was it. No more work.
But I didn’t give up. And Pete Stevens at BBC London was an absolute saviour. He gave me regular shifts for the following 14months and it was such a great team and an amazing place to learn and develop. I loved it.
Roll on to November 2011 after a ridiculous amount of setbacks, tears and more failed interviews (or dreaded “boards” as they are known in BBC land) than I can count on two hands, I FINALLY landed a permanent job with BBC Sport and moved to Manchester.
What a crazy seven years it's been since! I feel very lucky to have had so many amazing opportunities and to have achieved some of those dreams and goals I had as a teenager.
I’ve met inspirational sports stars, I've worked on not one, but two Olympics, two Commonwealth Games and a Paralympics. I’ve flown to France on 24hours notice to interview a former Tour de France cyclist in French. I’ve worked on Outside Broadcasts with people I have admired, watched or listened to for years. And I've helped to tell some incredible stories.
For all of the glamour, I’ve spent months getting up at 0350, I’ve missed so many family occasions, friend’s hen dos and weddings as I’ve worked so many weekends. I’ve also listened through hours and hours AND HOURS of mind-numbingly boring post-match football interviews at midnight on a Saturday.
Now I feel there's more to life than cutting up football interviews on a bank holiday Monday.
We change a lot physically in 20 years, we also change mentally. What was a priority at the age of 25 really might not be at 35. And I've come to learn that's really ok.
We spend so much of our lives working that it’s really important to do something that you enjoy. My passions have changed, my goals too. So it's time to jump into the big wide world for a bit and focus on those passions.
I want to do things that make me smile. I want to help others and develop my passions in triathlon, coaching, health and fitness and cancer and exercise rehabilitation.
Yes it is so, so scary taking a leap into the unknown. But it’s also unbelievably exciting. Of course there are many questions whizzing around my little head. But I keep asking myself “What is the worst that can happen?” And really there is no worst. I have a job to go back to in six months time.
But for now, let the adventures begin!