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Businesswoman shares story of building coaching business


A successful County Durham business coach who has survived traumatic losses during her life shared tips on how to be resilient with North East England Chamber of Commerce members.

Suzanne Barbour has a specialist coaching service which aims to support people who have suffered life-changing illness or injury. In her presentation she explained how she was inspired to start her business after her own traumatic losses including the death of her mother from cancer when she was only six years old.

She said: “I believe what I have drawn from, in terms of my own internal strength, and how I have built this, provides me with a really valuable approach to coaching other people. It is straight forward to get medical help but very often the same level of emotional help is not easily found.

Suzanne’s career began in the RAF and she then moved to the US where she worked in the charity sector. The first role she had was with the Red Cross, working with homeless pregnant women on parenting which was the only support organisation for them in the whole state of Nevada. She then worked for a homeless veterans charity where she honed her coaching skills to help people get their lives back on track.

On her return to the UK she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and at the time was going through a painful divorce. Coping with a further two traumatic life events led Suzanne to research how to build resilience and coping strategies. As part of this personal and career development she realised how little advice there was for people who were trying to recover from major emotional trauma.

She found her past experiences enabled her to launch her successful coaching business using what she had overcome, to support people and their families to move forward.

Now four years on from her initial diagnosis she is clear of cancer and coaches clients around the country.

Her top tips to build resilience are:

1. Surround yourself with the right people to help you when and if you need them, 

2. Take time out for yourself to do something that makes you happy or helps you relax and not feel guilty about it

3. Communication - talking to someone has a massive positive impact on our mental well-being , whether that is a trusted friend, family member or a coach/counsellor. Talking can help us work our problems through, help us connect with others that may have had similar experiences and help you see the challenge from another perspective.

Also as part of the Chamber webinar there were roundtable discussions with the attendees about the impact Covid has had on women and what business support is needed. These views, which covered everything from home-working to caring for elderly relatives, as well as home-schooling, will feed into a Chamber Women’s Leadership Forum work over the coming months.