How disability changed my life
Down Your Way (the nostalgic Yorkshire magazine) was born out of adversity. As a result of an accident I had become disabled and as I was a single 'girl' fast approaching 50, a mid-life crisis of monumental proportions loomed large.
Being a 'strong' Yorkshire lass (and an Arian to boot) action had to be taken. At that time my experience was in the fields of publishing, printing, marketing and advertising and as money was very limited working from home was the only option. It had to be something that would generate its own income so the obvious choice was a magazine funded by advertising.
As I was, at the outset, unsure of its exact distribution area (apart from 'part of Hambleton and Ryedale') I needed a title that was relevant to any area but one that made readers feel it was especially for them - Down Your Way was born.
It was, at that stage, an A5 landscape format and distributed throughout the local area. Such was the interest in the magazine that by 1997 the magazine had been nominated for an award by a national trade magazine. I was amazed when the magazine was highly commended by the judges. As a direct result of all the publicity the magazine very soon 'outgrew' my spare bedroom in Easingwold and moved to ground floor office premises at nearby Sutton on the Forest.
A period of expansion followed but by 1999 the magazine had become static and as a new millennium was approaching it seemed the ideal time to rebrand the magazine. Months of research followed before a final decision was made; one that would raise eyebrows and be met with derision from those 'who knew better'. My research confirmed that there was a gap in the market for a reader-led nostalgic Yorkshire magazine.
The problem was persuading major retailers to stock it. A chicken and egg situation arose; they wouldn't stock it as it didn't have a proven sales record! Not to be outdone I set up our own distribution network supplying direct to local newsagents, caravan parks, garages etc. The turning point came when we were approached by a major supermarket chain who wanted to stock the publication.
Sales started to take off, the magazine distribution area expanded to retailers throughout Yorkshire and worldwide subscription list grew. I was in uncharted territory with as many thrills and unpredictable highs and lows as any roller coaster. During this period there were a number of articles written about Down Your Way including the following written by journalist Rusty Burridge.
'Down Your Way is Yorkshire's Nostalgic Magazine. It is, however, more than a nostalgia magazine. It is a collection of real images and stories from Yorkshire's past drawn directly from the living memory of real people, rather than dug up by historians and reinterpreted through current thought and current values. The stories contained in Down Your Way are as unique as the people who write them and they are lost treasures undiscovered or overlooked by academics.
There is no in-house editing style, editing is kept to a minimum so as not to interfere with the integrity and language of the storyteller as they write about a time in Yorkshire as they have experienced it. This brave editorial style demonstrates powerfully that human recollection is the most reliable and enjoyable connection to bygone times we have.
Primarily aimed at the more mature Yorkshire person who obviously has decades of history within them, people who probably experienced either or both of the two great wars or even the turn of the 20th century. A brief flick through the pages, however, will show you that this community is, in fact, all of Yorkshire, and all who love Yorkshire!
Old, young, immigrant, professional, artistic, literary, academic, anyone who loves to feel history in and around themselves. When you read Down Your Way you discover that the past is not discarded time, but the living historical foundation upon which today's and tomorrow's world is built. Down Your Way really brings it home that the past has no more disappeared than have the foundations of the house in which you currently live'.
By 2005 I had reached another major crossroad in my life and my disability. This meant that yet again I would have to return to working from home. The problem was that by now the magazine had grown to such an extent that it was impossible for me to continue working on my own, so a brand new management team was formed. The editorial contributions, letters etc. would be sent to my new home (a bungalow) in Halton, Leeds, but the actual publishing, distributions and subscription would be handled by Country Publications (Dalesman) at Skipton.
This would enable the new team, each with specialist areas of expertise, to develop what is Yorkshire's only nostalgic magazine. Now with the approach of 2009 the magazine is going from strength to strength and I count myself very lucky that at 62 (and still single!) I can do a job I love and work around a disability which has sees my mobility severely restricted and requires daily fitting of medical aids to my legs.