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Down the Rabbit Hole by Chris Ramsbottom Pampling

Sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland. I sit in the Amethyst Centre, just as I have visualised doing every day in the last six months, and wonder if I have fallen down a rabbit hole into an alternate reality! 

Let me take you back to 29th December 2014. I was sitting in a therapy centre waiting for my course to start, when the course tutor said “So Chris, what are you going to do next year?” “Dunno really, fancy something a bit different” I muttered. “What goals have you set yourself then?” asked Dave. “Oh I don’t do goals. Every time I do my body (I have rheumatoid arthritis) gives up and I never achieve them. So I’ve learned not to set any goals. I do a good line in ‘what if’ though.” 

Then Dave said “So let me ask you this. What would you say, if you knew that whatever you said, it would happen?” And without batting an eyelid I replied “I’d have my own therapy centre”. Quickly followed by “Where on earth did that come from?” You see, my own therapy centre was so far off my radar it may as well not have existed. And yet I’d just said I wanted my own! 

After the New Year holiday, I’d just come out of the bank and was crossing the road when I happened to look up. I noticed a “To let” sign above one of the shops over the road. “That’s new” I thought. When I got home I Googled it, and the estate agents details were online. “That’s interesting, it’s about twice as big as I need but hey, I can let the rooms out” so I put an enquiry in. The landlord came back to me a day later and asked what I wanted to do with the place. “I want to turn it into a therapy centre” I said. “So do I!” he replied.  

THUD 

That was the sound of my jaw hitting the floor. 

Then he said “But I don’t want to deal with all these therapists myself, I’m a builder, I just want to deal with one person.” And I thought “That’ll be me then”. 

In the next few months I put my therapy business on hold while I pursued this Holy Grail. Firstly I applied to the Start-up Loans company for a loan, and it took them 2 months to tell me that a therapy centre was really an extension of my existing self-employment as a holistic therapist, so they wouldn’t fund me. (That was apparent from day 1.) Then I applied to a local funder, who were impressed with the building, my business plan and my cash flow forecasts, but were “nervous of the market” and wouldn’t fund me. This was my lowest point. I stared into some very dark places at this point. 

Then one morning I heard an article on breakfast telly about all these 56 year olds taking their pensions out. Now I had a couple of small pension pots, the sort that would possibly buy a pint when they mature, and so I thought maybe I could combine the two, raise the money I needed to make the dream a reality, and still have a pension at the end of it. And this is what I have done, although I don’t have a pension as such now: my pension is The Amethyst Centre. 

The building is finished to an extremely high standard, very secure, with beautiful natural light and ambiance. There are 4 rooms, 3 of which are suitable for hire by therapists and 2 of which are suitable for meetings or training courses. 

And we were officially opened on Saturday 26th September by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Coventry!  
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