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Face to face with Maire Smith

PUBLISHED: 13:08 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 12:43 20 May 2010

Life coach and hypnotherapist Maire Smith's childhood happiness was brought to an abrupt halt when her father was killed in an accident at the family home at Brandiston.

Life coach and hypnotherapist Maire Smith's childhood happiness was brought to an abrupt halt when her father was killed in an accident at the family home at Brandiston.

Despite being left to bring

up the eight-year-old Maire and her three siblings single-handedly, her mother decided to become a foster carer and went on to look after around 80 youngsters.

After leaving Thorpe Grammar School, Maire - pronounced “Moya” - abandoned her plan of going to university when her grandmother was taken ill and instead went to work at Norwich Union as a clerk.

Over the following 24 years, she gradually scaled the career ladder, meeting her future husband Graham - a Norwich Union personnel manager - along the way. The couple were married

at Blickling Hall in 1986 and lived at Cawston before moving to Worstead 15 years ago.

Maire threw herself into community life when, in 1999, Worstead's Rainbow Children's Nursery was threatened with closure. She decided to take action and, after becoming a volunteer director, applied for registered charity status. The nursery, with which she is still involved, is now a thriving business with 100 youngsters on its books.

In 2002, mum-of-two Maire decided to take stock when she found her family life taking a back seat to her job as a high-flying senior IT manager, which saw her spending up to three days a week away from home.

She took the decision to take a year out to spend time with her family and, with her own life experiences enabling her to empathise with others going through difficult times, hit on the idea of setting up a business helping other people to achieve the perfect work-life balance.

Maire retrained as a life coach and hypnotherapist.

She now works from home and from health centres at Holt, North Walsham and Coltishall, where she helps people with problems ranging from irritable bowel syndrome and migraines to panic attacks and agoraphobia.

Maire also contributes to Aylsham High School's business mentors programme, has given life-coaching sessions to cancer charities and occasionally teams up with Mundesley image consultant Sarah Morgan and Holt-based complementary therapist Sarah Woodrow to

offer inspiration breaks at Felbrigg.

Maire lives at Worstead with Graham, daughter Gabrielle, 12, son Geoffrey, nine, and English setters Bluebell and Charm.

THE LOWDOWN

What is the best thing about your job?

I think seeing people go away happy. it is so rewarding to see people overcome things that have had a severe impact on their lives.

And the worst?

I am quite busy and I feel terrible when I get a call from someone who has a problem and I just can't fit them in.

What one possession would you save if your house was on fire?

My mum's family photograph album which dates back to the 1800s. It is one of those irreplaceable things that I would save for the sake of my children.

Where do you go to unwind?

The Scilly Isles is the best unwind place ever. More locally, I would choose Witton Woods. All the people and dogs you meet there are friendly and the scenery is incredibly relaxing.

Your favourite Norfolk building?

Norwich Castle. I went there as a child, and now I'm going there with my own children. It is a place that almost grows with you, whatever age you are.

Have you ever done anything outrageous?

I worked as a clown for a while when I was 16 - does that count? It was during the Queen's silver jubilee in 1977, and I went to lots of street parties as part of a Norwich mime group.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would love to have loads of money so I could help people with financial difficulties as I think that is one thing that really eats away at you.

What is your proudest moment?

Seeing my children perform in school productions. It really brings tears to my eyes.

And your greatest achievement?

Taking the decision to stop working so that I could be there for my family. Money isn't everything, and we are all much happier now.

Whom do you most admire?

Kofi Annan, because he resolves the irresolvable. Just by talking to people he seems to have the ability to get them to see things in a new way.

Do you have any fears or phobias?

After I had my children, I developed a serious fear of heights which was so bad that I couldn t even go up a ladder. I cured it by doing an abseil at the University of East Anglia, followed by two sponsored tandem parachute jumps to raise money for Rainbow Nursery at Worstead.

What makes you angry?

I cannot abide bullying, yet I feel terribly sorry for the people who are doing it as they must have such issues in life.

Favourite book, film and TV programme?

I love Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K Jerome. My favourite film would be Chitty Chitty Bang Bang just for the sheer fun of it, and, on TV, the panel show Have I Got News for You is great as, although it mocks people, it doesn't take things too seriously.

How would you like to be remembered?

I'd like to people to feel the world was a better place because I was there.

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