It was the most frightening moment in Angela Proud’s life.
A sudden paralysis left the Shepley mother-of-two unable to move – sending husband Nigel rushing to the phone to get medical help and an ambulance arriving at the door with blue lights flashing.
A lengthy series of tests and visits to numerous hospitals followed – with doctors unable to diagnose her condition.
“The first time I had a really big attack I could only communicate with Nigel by blinking,” says Angela.
The internet came up with the answer. “I typed ‘periodic paralysis’ into the search engine and up came ‘hypokalemic periodic paralysis’. And that’s what I had.”
HKPP is a rare genetic condition that causes occasional episodes of muscle weakness. In Angela’s case, it could leave her paralysed from the neck down and unable to speak at times.
“There are only about 130 families affected by it in the UK and just 2,000 to 3,000 worldwide,” says Angela.
“I take medication for it every day and I can live a fairly regular life – although running and sport is out.
“Going through the diagnosis, I was visiting the doctor every two weeks. Now I go twice a year. It’s just part of normal life now.”
Angela hasn’t let her condition prevent her from succeeding in the world of work – while she also devotes a good deal of energy to the Huddersfield-based Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust as a volunteer behind the scenes and in front of an audience!
Angela was moved to get involved with the charity by the story of Pam Thornes – who has worked for Kirkwood Hospice, Yorkshire Air Ambulance and now as manager of the Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust and who has been battling against breast cancer.
Angela’s husband Nigel was also diagnosed with cancer, but has made a full recovery.
“Nigel was diagnosed when he was 27 and it was really scary time,” says Angela.
“He was staying in hospital wards with much older men and we understood what it would be like for a young person to be in that situation.
“We would support the trust by attending events such as wine-tasting and dragon boat races.”
Angela found herself promoting the cause at a business event in Leeds. “It was the first birthday event for the PA Hub networking group at the Radisson Hotel,” she recalls.
“I had the opportunity to talk about the Laura Crane Trust and the event raised £1,500 to be shared between the trust and the West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice. It was a massive event with an auction and a raffle. It was all about raising awareness.”
Now Angela combines her work for the trust with running her own business – providing administration support, book-keeping and consultancy to sole traders and micro-businesses.
Self-employment has proved the ideal route for Angela, who draws on the expertise she has gained during a career working for a variety of firms.
Angela was born and grew up in Sheffield but moved to Huddersfield 30 years ago when she married Nigel. She says: “I started doing my A-levels and found it wasn’t getting me where I wanted to go. I decided to leave school and get a job. But in 1981 there weren’t many jobs around.”
Angela took a secretarial course at Sheffield’s Stanningley College before getting an office-based job as engineering clerk at liquorice allsorts manufacturer Bassetts. “You were only allowed to eat the sweets if you were on the factory floor,” she says. “If you were in the office, you didn’t get any. But people used to sneak some in to us!”
Following her move to Huddersfield, Angela took a break to bring up her children, Joanna and Chris, but took a word processing course at Holmfirth adult education centre.
She went on to work for a number of firms, including electronic document handling specialist Mitral Systems at Shepley, consumer goods firm Sara Lee at Honley and chemicals giant Zeneca in Huddersfield. She was also employed as divisional secretary for Huddersfield police.
Angela says: “I have never really stayed in one job for a long time. I love challenges and once I’ve conquered what I set out to do I like to move onto something else.”
After being made redundant from her last job in 2013, Angela decided it was time to work for herself.
She was helped in reaching her decision by another scary incident. Driving home on the M62 from an interview with a recruitment firm – on a Friday the 13th – her car was side-swiped by a crane, sending her vehicle across the carriageway. “I came away without a single scratch,” she says. “But there and then I decided life was too short to waste and it was time to do something I wanted to do.”
Angela says: “I help people to make their systems work more effectively. Time is the biggest issue for sole traders and smaller businesses.
“Whatever sector they are in, the paperwork has to be done. By helping with their book-keeping or administration, I’m saving them time to concentrate on their business – and helping them make time for their families, too.”
Along with helping small firms keep on top of their paperwork, Angela provides admin support for the Laura Crane Trust in a voluntary capacity – and no longer has any qualms about speaking to an audience to promote the cause.
“Talking to people when I’m representing the charity is a lot easier than talking about myself,” she says. “I do a lot of preparation to make sure I make all the points I want to make, but I try to speak without notes. It also helps if you are enthusiastic about your subject.
“I went to a public-speaking course in Sheffield. I was absolutely scared stiff, but by the end of delivering a two or three-minute talk I was fine. I’m happy to do quite a bit of public speaking now!”
After helping save time for her clients, Angela values her own “downtime”. “Spending time with the family is important,” she says. “I also like to go out for some fine food and wine when I get the chance. We also enjoy going on picnics with our Jack Russell terrier, Seth. And I still enjoy learning. I’m still doing courses and taking exams!”
Family: Married to Nigel with daughter Joanna, 28, and son Chris, 26
Holidays: We love North Yorkshie.
We went to Disneyland in Florida when the children were young and went to Paris for Nigel’s 50th birthday
First job: Working as an assistant at a greengrocer’s when I was 14
Best thing about the job? Enabling people to spend more time with their families by taking some of the pressure off – and showing people new ways to make business life easier
Worst thing about the job? There’s nothing I don’t like about what I do
Business tip: Keep it simple!
Work: Admin support, bookkeeping and consultancy
Phone: 01484 817916
Web: www. angelaproud.co.uk
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