Sarah Newman“I’m full of love now, even if I don’t like someone I’ll give them a hug.”

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Former Dragon’s Den star Sarah Newman had no taste for the academic side of school. It was her cookery teacher, Mrs Pendel, who most inspired and encouraged her, as she told Ryan Tubridy today. Sarah Newman’s school reports did not predict success:

“They all said Sarah will never come to anything, Sarah talks too much – that’s true – Sarah doesn’t pay attention. I was banned from many classes for many different reasons. ”

Leaving school at 16 with just two O-levels, Sarah found her dreams to become an air steward grounded because she couldn’t pass an aptitude test. Undaunted, she found a back door into the travel industry. In the days before online booking, Sarah found her niche matching the new crop of budget passengers with hotel rooms. Sarah formed a lucrative partnership with Ryanair, opening the potential for a lifestyle inspired by 80’s TV show Dallas:

Dallas was a really big hit and I loved all that oil and airplanes and big houses and swimming pools, big hair, big shoulder pads and they all seemed to have so much fun.”

Sarah began to invest in properties across the world, including a custom-built chalet in Switzerland. The venue included a cinema, a Pilates room, a wellness suite and more:

“Obviously it had a huge bar for après-ski drinking, it had a snooker room and most importantly it had a butler. He was called Zoltan and he was fantastic and he just knew what you wanted.”

Things began to unravel around the time of the financial crash in 2007. Sarah says she is an optimist and always thought she would find a way out of her troubles, but a mental and physical crash followed:

“I couldn’t function. I’d open my eyes and I’d wish that I… ‘Oh my god, I’m awake again’. I’d actually just wish that I wouldn’t be there […] My kids, they saw how devastated I was and I couldn’t get out of it, a black hole, just black.”

With the help of family and friends, Sarah Newman has survived bankruptcy, relationship breakdown and a stroke. She’s back in business again in every sense of the word, this time as a consultant:

“I work with a lot of ex-military people […]  I help particularly wounded, injured, sick, medically discharged people from the defence forces or the British military. So people who are suffering terribly with PTSD, which I can totally relate to.”

It’s all about the positive for Sarah these days:

“I’m full of love now, even if I don’t like someone I’ll give them a hug.”

Sarah Newman talks more about her journey back to health after suffering both depression and a stroke, the power of kindness and how she can still make a really good quiche in the full interview here.

If you’ve been affected by anything in Sarah’s story, you can access the Samaritans helpline 24/7 on 116123.

Ruth Kennedy

© The Listener 2019

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