Globetrotting Billingham au pair lands new vocation working with her mother

Sara Short travelled the world before discovering her dream vocation was right on her doorstep back home in Billingham

Globetrotting au pair Sarah Short (right) is now working as an occupational health technician for her mum, Liz
Globetrotting au pair Sarah Short (right) is now working as an occupational health technician for her mum, Liz

A globetrotting au pair has found her vocation in life working for her mother’s fledgling business.

Sarah Short, 24, has travelled the world in her relatively tender years, spending three months working as a volunteer in Ghana before working as an au pair in London, France, Switzerland and Italy over the following three years.

On her return to Billingham, Teesside, Sarah said the experience opened her eyes to the world, before she stumbled on an unexpected new career path.

Sarah started helping her mother Liz and her business partner Jane Wright, initially on a part-time basis, working as an assistant for Business Health Partners, which they formed two years ago.

But after taking a liking to her new role, Sarah has since completed a number of courses and is now working as a full-time technician for them.

“I absolutely love it,” said Sarah, who went to Northfield School in Billingham and then gained a fine art diploma from Cleveland College of Art and Design.

“Mum is ultra professional and serious when it comes to her work, and rightly so, which made me a little apprehensive at first, in terms of how our relationship at home would work.

“But it’s been great - it hasn’t affected our home life in any way and we both enjoy living and working together.”

Sarah thinks her previous roles around the world have given her good experiences and invaluable life skills for the future.

“Volunteering in Ghana was probably the bravest thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

“I worked in an orphanage and lived with a Ghanaian family for three months. Living conditions were difficult although you get used to it, but seeing how they live and work hard every day for everything they have really does open your eyes.

“After that I became an au pair. I started off in London and lived there for a while, which was another great experience, before I got a winter job working for a family in the French Alps during the skiing season

“I then joined another family and spent time between Switzerland and Milan in Italy, while we also spent the summer in Sardinia which was just beautiful.

“Again, working as an au pair was a fantastic learning curve. You’re effectively the baby-sitter who lives with the family. They don’t technically pay you, they give you an allowance.

“It’s great experience and a great way to travel, but not something you can do forever – but it changed my life in terms of confidence. It opened my eyes and helped me see the world.

“I came home and the opportunity came up to work for mum and Jane. It probably wasn’t something I would have chosen a few years ago, but now I absolutely love it.”

Sarah’s role with Business Health Partners, which was initially aided by some funding from Stockton Borough Council, has developed rapidly.

Liz Short said: “We employed Sarah initially for 10 hours a week, but the hours increased pretty quickly and it wasn’t long before she was working pretty much full-time for us.

“We’ve also sent her on courses in various parts of the country. Now she has the necessary qualifications to undertake her own clinics for clients.

“An added bonus is that Sarah is also much more IT literate than Jane and I and has made our IT and admin systems a lot more streamlined and improved.

“So, when she’s not doing technician work she’s manning the office and keeping us organised!”

The nurses formed Business Health Partners two years ago, offering a wide range of health services to companies and their employees.

They undertake all aspects of employment well-being ranging from lung function testing to meet statutory, regulatory obligations through to advising on employee absence, policy development, risk assessment and audit.

The pair have extensive experience working within the NHS, the police service, manufacturing and food industries as well as local government.

Now they’re working with a number of firms across the region including engineering and construction firm Cordell Group, Eaglescliffe-based manufacturing firm Nifco, Yarm-based packaging company RPS and Hartlepool biotech experts Hartbio as well as Newton Aycliffe-based industrial firms Formica Group and Compound Photonics.

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