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Self employed stories- Bob Pembroke and RSP Therapies

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by Startacus Admin

If you have visited us in the last few months you will know that we’ve embarked upon a new inspiring series called “Self Employed Stories” which tells the stories of enterprising folks who have had to overcome very challenging times to fulfill their dreams of self employment.Self Employed Story, Bob Pembroke

So far in the series we have featured such lovely folks as Alison with her tale of starting her own fitness business after coming out of prison and Carol with her charming cupcake delivery service that was inspired by her battle with cancer. Just as we were beginning to have a ponder about who we could feature this week, we were contacted by the wonderful people at The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise (Prime).

PRIME, we were delighted to discover, is a national organisation dedicated to providing everyone over 50, who is unemployed or under threat of redundancy, with the support they need to become self employed. Having heard about our “Self Employed Stories” series, they were kind enough to put us in touch with a few people who they thought have very inspiring stories.

The first of these is a gentleman named Bob Pembroke, who aside from starting a business at an unusually late point in life, has done so whilst coping with the challenges of total blindness. Bob very generously agreed to share his inspiring story with the Startacus community....

Bob, lets set the scene, could you tell us a little bit about your background?

I am 59, totally blind due to a hereditary eye condition called Retinitis pigmentosa (RP for short). I had fairly good sight until I was 27 and it was downhill from then on, I last saw anything when I was around 35 years old.

I left my job as a telephonist in Nat West bank in 1992 to train at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford, studying Massage, Reflexology, Anatomy and Physiology. After leaving the college in the June of 1993 I tried unsuccessfully to start up my business, just picking up a little work here and there. I then found a place at a leisure centre in Sudbury Hill and another centre in Barking not far from where I live. The work was rather slow and I still had to rely on some benefits. The leisure centre closed down after a while and the centre in Barking stopped working out and I found myself on full benefit. I tried starting up again but found it very difficult until 2012.

Can you describe your business RSP Therapies?

I started RSP therapies in early 2012. This was after joining Prime and using their mentoring service. I have a therapy room at my home, it’s the spare bedroom, but it’s been done up to look like a therapy room and I do get clients coming along. I also work on a self-employed basis at the Barking Bath House spa, where I pay a commission for each client I treat. I also undertake home visits on occasions.

Self Employed Story, Bob PembrokeCan you tell us about the events which led you to start the business?

I have always wanted to get a proper business off the ground. Two major things made me push even harder to make it happen. I proposed to my long-term partner, Janet - we had been together for ten years. Once Janet became my wife and we set up home together I was no longer entitled to any benefits. Also the other event was the setting up of a pop-up spa in Barking town centre, which was to run during the 2012 games. I won’t go into great detail here about the spa and the idea behind it, only to say they were looking for local therapists to work there and I landed one of the four places. The spa was so successful that when it closed the council gave us rooms in one of their public buildings next to the town library.

We are still there and the council are going to help build a brand new spa in the town, which we hope will open in the late summer of this year.

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Published on: 5th March 2014

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