Answer: It just sort of happened.
I know that I love detective stories and puzzles. Sherlock, Midsomer Murders, Agatha Christie Films, Jonathan Creek, Death in Paradise and many more… I’ve watched them all for years.
I know that I love acting , and directing even more, and have been lucky enough to perform and create productions in some lovely theatres. Many many years ago I acted with another murder mystery company spending time in some of the most idyllic country hotel settings and loved the improvisation with the audience and more often than not, the chance to behave badly and have blazing rows.
Running alongside all this was a career in Human Resources. Quite a good career really ending up being the Head of Organisational Development and then Head of Engagement for a Russell Group University. It was just before my 50th birthday when the fifth restructure was announced. I was offered what I considered a backwards move, working for someone with a very different value set that my own, in what was unfortunately, at the time, a somewhat toxic environment. Before I knew it, I heard myself saying ‘NO’ and my new life had begun.
(I’m not known for saying No, as confidence and self esteem has always been an issue, so this was somewhat of a shock!)
Sitting at home having a mid life crisis and wondering what to do with my time, I decided to do something useful to keep me busy. I turned to what I know and set up a Murder Mystery (MM) Fundraising Event for Naomi House Hospice. I had used my productions at the Nuffield Theatre Southampton to fundraise for the Hospice for many years. It was really to give myself something to do, something that was fun, would make sure I spent time with friends and would take my mind off my situation. I was setting up my HR consultancy as well, but as my HR business partner will tell you, all my attention and time was on the charity event.
The event went well and I got to work with some really wonderful people so I did it again for another charity and then another. Quite quickly the activity that was ‘keeping me busy’ was bringing my actors, audiences and me a great deal of fun and most importantly making money for some really worthwhile causes.
Deciding to stop looking for a 9-5 job and do what I loved on a full time basis was (and remains) really scary. Losing the salary that went with the 9-5 job has been tough and we have had to cut back and think differently about money, however I am happy, relaxed and having fun and business is doing well. We have broadened our offering to include dinner theatre and team building mystery days (Combining my theatre and staff development skills).
We are definitely like a swan swimming gracefully on the surface while the feet are madly paddling underneath. The audiences and clients see only the beautiful swan, while I paddle underneath (supporting by a marvellous team of actors) making costumes, sourcing props, casting, rehearsing, designing posters, marketing, selling, networking, invoicing and more…. Great fun. I wouldn’t swap it for the world