Meet Monica Dowling….our admin goddess here at Celebrate HQ.
I’m a friendly, outgoing South African (sounds like an intro for a dating website!). I ive in Wiltshire with my two children – Tristan aged 19 who is currently away travelling for a couple of months, and Megan aged 16 who is currently doing her GCSE’s. I have an amazing, supportive, (British – never thought that would happen!) boyfriend. I’ve had my Giraffe Crafts business, making jewellery and other crafts, for three years. My products are now stocked in South African shops in Trowbridge, Wells and Gloucester and gift shops in Devizes, Yate and Corsham.
I have recently opened a little gift shop and craft hub in Corsham – Corsham Crafty Hub. The gift shop has products from local artists and crafters, and on the craft hub side we have drop-in sessions for people to come try some crafts, as well as craft workshops doing a specific craft. All the craft sessions are free or by voluntary donation to make it accessible to everyone. It is primarily aimed at adults who are lonely, stressed, depressed, struggling with mental health concerns, the elderly and disabled, as well as those on a low income who might not have opportunities to attend craft workshops. We do offer some children’s workshops too.
Where are you from?
I was born in Germiston, grew up in a little town called Kriel in Transvaal, moved to Howick in Natal after getting married in 1996.
Where do you currently live?
I’m currently living in Corsham, Wiltshire. Have been in Wiltshire since 2011
How did you end up here?
I moved to Wiltshire because I have two cousins living in Chippenham and wanted to live closer to family. I came over to the UK as I wanted to travel after marrying my now ex-husband.
How long have you been in the UK?
I originally came over to the UK in 1998 when I was pregnant with my son. We went back to South Africa for a year in 2001/2002, and came back to the UK in 2002 for another 2.5 years. We returned to SA for 3.5 years before coming back to the UK in 2008. (For good this time we hope, Monica!)
Where else have you lived in the UK?
Originally when we came over in 1998 we lived and worked in Eastbourne for a few month. We then moved to Surrey. I have lived in a few areas in Surrey – Sutton, Carshalton, Hackbridge and Kingston.
What work do you do?
Well… I am a qualified bookkeeper. I have worked in that field for quite a long time, both in South Africa and London. I was also an IT manager for an accounting firm in SA. Since moving to Wiltshire, I changed to working in Health & Social care. Firslty, as a care worker, then managing a domiciliary care company. I left to study midwifery but had to put that on hold after 6 months due to family commitments. I went back to health care and worked as a phlebotomist at a local surgery. I did some admin in between and then started working at the RUH as a phlebotonist.
What do you love about being a South African?
Appreciation of the outdoor lifestyle, a good SA braai, the ‘amazingness’ of South African people – able to meet anyone and just fall into an easy conversation like you’ve known them forever!
What’s your favourite inspirational quote?
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney