It's been a while...

Hello again! 

It has been quite a while since I last wrote about my last blog I spoke of how life was quite tough at present, and this is still continuing, although there have been lots of lovely things interspersed along the way.  So sit tight as it's a long one today!

We had to postpone the garden party due to Gary's mum being very ill (diagnosed with cancer in May) and, as she turned 89 yr old in July, very frail and struggling - it just didn't seem appropriate to hold the garden party while she was so ill (she lives with us), as initially she had a steep decline in her health and we were thinking that she wouldn't be with us for long (she is still with us). 

Gary's sister, Terri, came to stay with us for a good while (she lives in Miami), and she helped with their mum; Terri was a fantastic help as it was a really busy time for us with the GCSEs on and Gary still teaching/me still tutoring in the evenings.  Some of our customers will have spoken to Terri at some point, as she manned the phone for a while, whilst we were out and about. She has now returned to America,  but hoping to return in October to see how their mum is.   (By the way, the GCSE results were great!)

June had exciting news from school...earlier in the year, our English dept were shortlisted for the TES Award for 'English Department of the Year 2017' based on the previous year's results/progress. We were invited to attend the award ceremony on June 23rd, at the Grovenor Hotel, Park Lane.  Guess what? We won!  The compere was Julian Clary and when it was announced that Dagenham Park CE School had won we could not contain ourselves - there was a lot of screaming and giggling!  Gary and I had the honour of going up to shake hands with Mr Clary himself and give an interview that appeared on the TES website.  What an honour it was and an excellent end to Gary's teaching career as in July, Gary retired as Head of English, after almost 40 years of teaching.  He joins me at the helm of our business, which is lovely as previous to this,  his teaching responsibilities came first, which meant me shouldering the business through the week.  It is great to be able to share the role now - I already feel more relaxed (dont know if Gary does, as I am working him hard!) 

We did host the garden party in September, when Gwen had picked up a little bit more, the weather was drizzly and a bit cold, but we booked a super musical trio - Natalia, a jazz/contemporary singer, and two gentlemen  - one played a double bass, the other a guitar.  They were marvellous! A real find!  If you want a superb live music group for a party then drop me a line and I can pass on Natalia's details.  We also had a bouncy castle (adults were allowed on there) and a marquee (weve had a garden party in the rain before, so wasn't risking that one again!)  The food was delicious (again, fantastic caterer if you would like contact details) and the bubbly ran freely.  Everyone had a great time and we are looking forward to our Christmas do now! 

The business is expanding nicely; before the summer we had an extension to our secondary school contract as we took on the Leisure Centre (started in September) in addition to the Maths block and dining halls at Dagenham Park CE School.  The team from the Maths block has been moved to the Leisure Centre, they are Jennifer,  Jacqueline (our new member of staff) and Georgia who is the Cleaner Supervisor (and she does a fantastic job).  Even though we are only a few weeks into the new school year, they have shown what amazing cleaners they are!  Also, we say a big welcome to our three new cleaners in the Maths block Ieva, Kadir and Paul, who are settling in nicely and are also doing a phenomenal job at cleaning; they are all upping the standards of cleaning the school, something that Always Spring Clean prides themselves in. 

We have recently hit the VAT threshold. This is scary, as it is going into unknown territory, but also good as it further establishes our business.  Also, we have started on our book, which will be an anecdotal, humorous and at times serious account of how we moved from teaching to cleaning - the 'ups and downs' reality of starting a business and having lots of cleaners to care for. The working title is 'From Classroom to Cleaner the First Year'.  Watch this space! you are up to date with all our news, sorry it's taken me a while to get back to you.  

Hopefully see you all again soon,

Alison :)