“Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.”
– Misty Copeland
We hope you’re enjoying this series of chats with inspiring women. By catching a glimpse into some of these lives we hope a little bit of joy, wonder or amazement will settle into your soul. We want to celebrate the sisterhood in this series, so if any of these stories resonate with you, please do connect with us – we’d love to hear from you.
Today let’s meet Franchine’s wingwoman…
Made of tough stuff
Everyone who undertakes the Camino del Santiago has a memorable story, or several. For Nuala, it involved her tumbling into a ravine and falling into a thorn bush. Friends Franchine and Angie had to hoist her out. Despite her arm blowing up in size, she refused hospital and asked the two not to fuss. She was back on the track – literally – the following day.
It’s the kind of strength and stoicism that quietly defines a lot of Nuala’s life story. Now 59, she was diagnosed almost thirty years ago with rheumatoid arthritis. She copes in part by staying positive and – no surprises – not making a fuss. One gets the feeling it’s Nuala who makes the fuss – caring and prioritising all those around her.
The best kind of friend calls a spade a spade
Nuala was one of the first go-to people Franchine approached with the idea of her wonder balm. Friends since they started working together 15 years ago, Franchine knew she could rely on Nuala for considered, but very honest, feedback.
As Nuala aged, her skin had become increasingly tighter and drier than it once was. All her life she had cleansed, toned and moisturised. Aside from tinted moisturiser during the day and perhaps a little something more robust when going out in the evening, her skincare regime had always been low-maintenance.
The wonder balm proved a welcome relief and is the only moisturiser that doesn’t leave her skin feeling tight. It’s precious, and she prefers not to use it as a cleanser; she doesn’t want to wash it off. She likes to let all the goodness sink in and stay.
Hand-pouring goodness straight into the pot
It’s clear talking to Nuala that she champions the sisterhood.
She couldn’t be more proud of her friend’s courageous journey to veer off the well-worn path and follow her heart. She wants everyone to know that when Franchine hand pours her balm, she’s putting her love and authenticity into every pot. She’s not labelling it with nonsense, destructive, false promises to rid your face of wrinkles; she wants every woman to feel good, see good and therefore look fabulous. Her balm is less about growing her bank balance and more about growing self-love.
Behind every accomplished woman is another woman bouying her on, telling her she can do it and to keep on going. So, let’s find out some more about this ultimate wingwoman…
When further education isn’t the way forward
Nuala’s father would have been delighted if she’d gone to university after school. She did her A Levels, but continuing down the path of extended education just didn’t feel right for her. Born and bred in Northern Ireland, Nuala instead decided to take on an administration role at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. Despite the role, there was plenty of interaction with people, something she really relished, and which helped her to enjoy this early time in her career.
The school run – for daughter and mother
Nuala fell pregnant at 24. When her daughter began primary school and Nuala no longer needed to be so hands-on, she became a little bored with life. She began night classes and found that a return to learning was actually really interesting. Night classes soon evolved into a university application and before she knew it, Nuala was a full-time mother and a full-time student.
Now, today this might seem pretty normal, but in the 1990s in Northern Ireland it really wasn’t commonplace at all. If anything, however, it gave her daughter a unique point of difference and pride to be able to say her mum was studying. And that she did – a Bachelor of Sociology followed by a postgraduate degree in Health Management. By the time Nuala had her dual qualifications, however, the local health system had undergone an overhaul and positions were slim pickings.
The care factor
Nuala came across a brochure for volunteer work at Cedar Foundation, and she applied. She took to the work like a duck to water and relished it. So much so, in fact, that the moment a permanent paid position became available, she applied. The rest is history. Since 1998 Nuala has undertaken a number of different roles within the organisation, all ultimately centred around helping clients find their feet and achieving what they set out to realise.
For some, it might be enrolling in a photography course and leaving the house. It’s not the photography that’s the challenge – it’s moving beyond the front door and out into the open that can be positively terrifying. For others, it could be coaching them through a job-hunting journey and helping them gain employment. Nuala is there by their side, helping them as they transition from one seemingly overwhelming challenge to the next.
The work requires a huge amount of connection and trust. You need to meet in safe places that are going to bring out the best of the client. You need to see them at a frequency that is best for them. You have to share a bit of yourself in order for them to reciprocate so you can genuinely help. When all these factors fall into place and tiny wins start to happen, there is nothing better.
Making a positive difference in someone’s life is as rewarding as it gets. It’s no wonder Franchine and Nuala are such good mates.