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Marie’s floristry future is blooming after help from Derventio

Marie says she is living her dream life as a florist creating stunning silk displays after being helped back on her feet and into business by Derventio Housing Trust.

Marie Brown, 33, of Long Eaton, says she has everything she could want: two beautiful children, a loving partner, and a dream business using her natural artistic flair to create spectacular silk flower displays for weddings, parties and any other occasion.

But it was all very different in 2019, when Marie suffered a mental breakdown, phoned the doctors, and said she thought she was going to end her life. She said:

I was hearing voices all the time, telling me ‘you’re going to end your life’. The way I saw it, I didn’t want to inflict me on anybody else any longer.

In the years leading up to her breakdown, Marie had been trying for a baby with her then partner, but when she finally got pregnant, found out she was suffering with two brain aneurysms. No stranger to pain, having suffered her whole life with debilitating Fibromyalgia, it was devastating news.

She said:

We’d been trying for a baby for five years. Finally I was pregnant with this miracle child but when it was found I had two brain aneurysms, I thought: ‘Am I going to see him, or see him grow up?’ I asked for them to operate after my son had had his first birthday.

Marie’s operation to fix the aneurysms was successful, but it was then – having been through so much – her mental state began to unravel and having made that key phone call to the doctor, she spent time in the Radbourne Unit at Royal Derby Hospital.

Through the devoted care of the NHS, Marie began to recover. It was then that another light shone into her life in the form of Julie Howells from Derventio Housing Trust, who as head of its employability service began helping Marie see a future again. Marie said:

Julie got me into counselling. She was amazing. She just stayed in touch with me. One time I had no money and no food. Thanks to her, within a few hours there were bags of food at my door. She helped me get out of the house. I wanted to go back to work at some point but it’s really hard when you have a disability. With Fibromyalgia, I could be fine for weeks. You’re managing and then all of a sudden it can knock you off your feet and you’re sofa bound. So I needed a job that was going to work around that. With Fibro, you’re living with pain every single day. Sometimes it’s too much just coming downstairs and you can get brain fog with it as well. People try to understand but it’s so hard to explain.

For Marie, the lightbulb moment came when she attended a funeral, and realised that stunning floral displays were all too fleeting, and that through going for silk blooms she could make beauty that would last forever. She started creating displays for herself, then when friends were enthusiastic about her creations, set up her own business: Forever Flowers, in February 2023. She said:

I’ve absolutely loved it. I have found I’m quite good at doing it. I do wedding flowers, table arrangements, I can pretty much do anything anyone challenged me with. I can cater to any budget really. The business has really taken off and I’m really chuffed.

Marie said without the support of the NHS and Julie from Derventio’s Employability Service, she would never have got to where she is today:

I just feel that Julie knows me, and she cares. I think that’s the difference, how much she cares and puts into you. the belief she had in me was a lot more than I had in myself.

I just feel like that Derventio has helped me start my life again and gave me the confidence and the belief in myself to move forward.

To think of the person that I was, to what I am now, they are like two completely different people. I would say to anybody that is in that dark hole: ‘There is light. There is help. There is a lot more out there than you realise.’

Now I’ve got everything I ever dreamed of. I’ve got a partner who supports me and sees me. It’s like a dream, it really is. I’m so glad I asked for help because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have got this amazing life that I have got. I always loved art and a lot of my family said I was really good at it. I just never had the confidence to go through with anything – thanks to NHS and to Derventio, now I have.

Julie Howells, who won Frontline Manager of the Year category of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) awards for her work with Derventio, said:

Through our Employability service we provide a wide range of help to get people into work again – but I think the main thing we do for people is to care, and listen, and be patient. I’m so proud of Marie for how far she has come. Her transformation has been incredible and I wish her all the best with Forever Flowers. She deserves every success.