My schoolboy hero was Eric Liddell, the Scottish athlete who pulled out of the 1924 Olympics’ 100 metres on discovering that the final was scheduled for a Sunday. Instead, he entered the 400 metres and won the gold medal, an achievement immortalised in the film Chariots of Fire. Just before the race started, a piece of paper was pressed into Liddell’s hand. On it was written a verse from 1 Samuel: ‘He who honours me I will honour.’
This moving account made a huge impact on me as a child and has continued to do so, never more than when I decided to leave the solicitors’ practice in Yorkshire where I had spent 19 years.
I had been very unhappy for a long time. I did not like the direction in which the other partners were steering the business or the way in which they did it. I felt powerless, without influence and trapped. Under increasing pressure and after finding myself on the receiving end of a senseless verbal tirade one day, I could endure no more. Taking God at His word, I stepped out in faith and decided to set up my own firm of solicitors, one with a strong Christian ethos of putting people first and treating everyone with respect.
Some members of my local church knew just how bad things had been and were generous with their loving support and prayer while I ended this tired partnership and began looking for premises.
God revealed his support in a clear and tangible way, confirming his blessing on my decision with a series of God-incidences that left me amazed and humbled. So much happened, such as bumping into two people whom I hadn’t seen for years yet needed to consult before I went ahead with my plans. I came across each of them quite by chance while crossing the road – first one, then the other a quarter of an hour later.
A former client who had dedicated the past 15 years of her life to working for the Lord died, leaving me as executor of her £900,000 estate and setting my fledgling business off to a flying start.
I then inherited £10,000 from the sale of a property owned by my family. With only 19 years left on the lease, it seemed highly unlikely that the building would ever be sold, yet it was – and provided me with a welcome financial boost towards refurbishment costs when we found suitable office premises.
We discovered a derelict shop in Ripon and quickly set about transforming it into bright, contemporary offices with the help of a builder and architect whom I knew from church. As work progressed, it turned out that I had bought one of the oldest properties in the town and we were thrilled to win the Civic Society’s 2006 Best Refurbishment Award.
I chose the Ikthus symbol as our company logo because the fish really honours the Lord and I am overwhelmed at how He has honoured the business. In the beginning, my bankers gave me a £500,000 six-month target for my client account. I didn’t need that long – we did it in two days and, just two weeks after that, we had well over £1 million.
With God’s help, my clients remained faithful and decided to follow me, and the business was profitable from day one. For the first time, I felt free. Instead of going home and dreading work the next day, I go to bed at night, my brain buzzing, and can’t wait to get back to the office. Business is brisk. There is so much work that I am now looking for a Christian assistant solicitor to come and share all the exciting things God has in store for us.
People often ask me if I wish I had started my own business years ago, to which I always reply, no, it was all down to God’s timing and He knows best!