Our series of photographic portraits by Neill Menneer shows Bath people at work.
I started off life as an actor, doing my training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London and then spent a colourful decade working in fringe theatre throughout the 80s. I appeared in shows like YOU – The City by Fiona Templeton, an intimate play with an audience of one where the audience member is taken through a series of encounters around London, including answering the phone in a curry house, and being taken for a ride by a cheeky cockney taxi driver. I was so convincing in my role of vagrant that police were called and the director had to explain that I was Act 3 in a piece of compelling internationally acclaimed theatre.
The 90s heralded the birth of my son and the need for a regular income, so I retrained and worked as a counsellor in The Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School in south London. I became an addiction specialist, which was immensely interesting and rewarding, if sometimes challenging. I worked in prisons, rehabilitation clinics and residential treatment centres, helping people to make major changes to their lives. A rewarding memory was witnessing an ex-client – who had made his way through recovery in prison – go on to work for ‘RAPt’ (Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust), where he started his journey of change, even bravely addressing MPs in the House of Commons in support of this organisation, which helps transform many addicted prisoners’ lives.
I have always loved trips to Bath and our frequent visits to see my Bathonian partner’s family. Like many London dwellers I dreamt of leaving the grimy city for a more fulfilling, healthy life. Now this was about to happen with my wife and new baby. Having completed my PGDip in addictions counselling at King’s College London, I was offered the position of senior counsellor in Bristol. Near Bath, it felt brilliantly human-sized with so much happening and reams of festivals spanning arts, music, literature, film and comedy – it was an easy choice!
In recent years, I have established a successful counselling and hypnotherapy practice in Larkhall. Here I can make best use of my many years of experience, skills and learning in the service of others. The days I am not in the office, I lead, guide and drive for Mad Max Tours. Taking people to Stonehenge, Avebury (my personal favourite) and other local beauty spots. This is a great way to connect with people from all over the world, quench my thirst for local history and flex my old thespian sensibilities. It’s a joy to receive a hand-written note from Canada or America from someone saying the tour was one of the highlights of their trip. The tours are also a lovely contrast to my career as a therapist.
I guess that essentially I’m a people person. I like to help people have a great holiday experience or support the changes people want to achieve – like quitting cigarettes, losing weight, curing fears, or just feeling great – so that life can be enjoyed to the full.
Visit: capturethespirit.co.uk, tel: 01225 483151