Today would have been my mum’s 63rd birthday, so I thought I’d share some of the ways I have been inspired by her throughout my life.

We had nothing as kids; Mum had several low paying part time jobs, everything we owned was second hand, our house was freezing and we lived in sleeping bags to keep warm. But there was always something fun to do: the paints were always out, along with a stack of library books to read, and mess was encouraged. All of my childhood memories are happy ones – except for being chased round our table as she tried to brush my hair each morning! It really showed me that time and fun are far more valuable than money.

When she was in her thirties, Mum went to university and trained to be a teacher, before starting her 20 year career at Shaldon School – where she had previously been a dinner lady. I don’t think she ever really believed in herself, but she taught me to believe in myself and that anything is possible. Towards the end of her career, we matched her pupils with my lonely elderly clients to write letters to each other – a project which contributed to the school being shortlisted for Tes Primary School of the Year, the perfect finale to her career.

Diagnosed with bowel cancer in her fifties, she remained positive and grateful about her life, even on the hardest days. When her chemo was unexpectedly brought forward before she’d managed to finish the South West Coast Path, she got up at 4.30am to do the last section of it so that she could start chemo the following day feeling like she’d achieved something positive, a reminder to herself of her resilience. Having a personal goal to work towards is a great way to motivate yourself and feel like you’re progressing with something even if other things aren’t going your way.

Midway through Mum’s career as a teacher, she received some coaching to help her as she took on more leadership responsibilities. I remember her talking about how much it had helped her. It was only during my course that I reflected on this and remembered it as my first introduction to coaching, because I’d had many others throughout my own career. I wonder now if I’d have grabbed those opportunities as enthusiastically if I hadn’t heard Mum talking about it before.

Happy birthday Mum, and thank you x