life after the MOD

10 September 2001 – started work at HQ 3Gp as Personal Assistant to DACOS A4-3 and Capt JFH, as an E2.

I absolutely loved my job and was lucky to get to do lots of amazing things. I got to fly on a training flight on a Nimrod at Kinloss, which helped me overcome my fear of flying. I worked with amazing people in a place that had an amazing work ethic.

2004 – I got my E1 and changed posts to look after AO ISTAR, then in 3Gp. In that post I often got to fly in a Sea King with the SAR teams, as my boss was in charge of them and inspected them all on an annual basis. I stayed in that post, although it then became 2Gp, until I left on VERS on 30 March 2012.

Although I loved my job, things changed all the time. Along with regular changes of boss – I worked for 4 AO ISTAR’s, there were always changes within the MoD as a whole. When the first set of VERS was offered to civilians in 2011, I took a long hard look at my, then, 9.5 years in my job as a PA and as a whole, and my future prospects. My post was going to be disestablished along with the move of ISTAR to Waddington. I know I could have stayed at the MoD and got another job but I felt the time was right for a change. If I didn’t change now, then I felt I would be too old to do it later!

With many a sleepless night, I searched for a career I thought I would be good at and enjoy and be my own boss. I came up with being a Mobile Dog Groomer, as I have always groomed my own and family’s dogs over the last 20 odd years. I indeed bought my own Oster clippers/blades and scissors over 20 years ago (still in use today). Having discussed my thoughts with my husband, he was taken with my enthusiasm and said he would back me all the way if that was what I wanted to do. There are no Mobile Dog Groomers in my local area and the more I thought about it, the more excited I became. I decided after a lot of research that Dog Grooming would be the right career move for me.

I duly applied for VERS with a departure date for the following March 2012. That would give me time to study for a Diploma in Dog Grooming (yes, there is such a thing!) and get some hands on experience in a salon. It took me just over a year to get a ‘Distinction’ in my NCFE Level 3 Diploma. I also took advantage of ‘training days’ and managed to secure hands on training in a Dog Grooming Salon called Wagtails. I worked alongside the owner, Caroline, whenever I could, to learn the grooming skills for the different dog breeds. It was an invaluable time, with Caroline honing my skills to a high level. I gained the confidence to groom any dog and she is confident to recommend me, knowing I will do a great job, with care and understanding for those dogs.

Early in March 2012 we bought a Ford Transit van to convert into my Mobile Salon. My husband did most of the work, guided by my needs. I helped out doing all the preparation and painting and helped along the way. We now have a brilliantly converted Mobile Dog Grooming Salon which works really well. There is an electric grooming table, a specialised hydrobath and a drying area using a dryer/blaster.

This allows me to go to people’s homes, saving them time and the cost of travelling. It also benefits the dog(s) as they get ‘one to one’ attention, which helps if they are nervous. It is a real ‘Personal Dog Grooming Service’. After booking the appointment, I arrive at the owner’s house with the van, plug into a power source and groom their dog(s). If a dog needs holding, then the owner can help and reassure the dog if it needs it.

I’ve been up and running since Mid May 2012 and know that business will take off slowly – I am getting customers from Caroline at Wagtails that she is unable to take on or unable to do, as she is booked up so far ahead. I thought I would try to concentrate on MoD customers as I know a lot of their families have dogs and it is not too far from where I live in Princes Risborough. I have also trained on a few MoD dogs along the way.

I am on a journey to retirement that on the way has been eventful. I’ve got a lovely family and home. I’ve done several jobs, all to the best of my ability – If I can’t do something really well then I don’t do it. VERS has made me take stock of my life and ultimately given me the chance to be a Mobile Dog Groomer. I’ve loved my job at the MoD but am lucky to be doing something else now that I know I will love doing, with a passion. If I can change career direction in my early 50’s then anyone can, this shows that there is life after the MoD. If I can do this and make a success of it, then anyone can.

If you would like to contact me to discuss or arrange for your dog to be groomed then please call on 07550 013059 www.million-dollar-dogs.com