As if the last couple of years haven’t been challenging enough business owners, there are people who embarked on an unexpected extra personal journey, too. People like Debbie Simpkins, owner of InXpress Liverpool. Just days after celebrating her 60th birthday, in July 2020, Debbie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Within a month, Debbie had had a mastectomy, to try and remove the cancer. Three months later, she started chemotherapy, over Christmas and into 2021.
Debbie and her business partner, Bill Carter, had opened InXpress Liverpool, 14 years ago. This had been an opportunity offered to Debbie, which had brought her out of her comfort zone, and into a new role – as the co-owner of a business. “I’d previously been used to working in the shadows, as a bookkeeper and PA,” Debbie says. “So, this was a big change, and I learned a lot! InXpress is a very people-to-people business; when people know they can trust you, they feel confident buying from you. This is something I knew I could do – and actually, I learned to love it and thrive.”
So, when it came to her cancer diagnosis, Debbie puts part of her strength of coping with it, down to being a business owner. And part of her ability to cope with it down to having something else to focus on, through work, “I definitely felt fully supported by my team,” she says. “They actually benefited when I couldn’t sleep, as I’d follow-up on customer enquiries, so they wouldn’t have to! InXpress has been absolutely fantastic throughout this journey – not just my team, but the girls at Head Office, as well as the whole network, have been incredibly supportive.”
Debbie also benefitted from the support of her husband, and children. “Because of the covid restrictions on entering the hospital for treatment, my husband, Alan, would sit and wait in the car, for three hours. No one could sit with me during the actual treatments, scans, or consultations, which was really hard, at times. My family have been an absolute rock. And now, I have this extra cherished addition, with the birth of my new granddaughter, in February – she’s already a huge part of our lives.”
It's her approach to how she’s handled the journey, and outlook on life, which inspired Head Office to put Debbie forward for the NatWest EWiF Inspirational Woman award, this year. “We’ve seen how Debbie has responded to her situation with humour and grace,” explains Melanie Spencer, Global Head of Marketing. “Most people who encountered her had no idea what she was going through. And, despite all the treatment and surgery she faced, InXpress Liverpool has gone from strength to strength. This is down to the team Debbie and Bill have brought in to help their business grow. We had to put her forward for this award!”
And the EWiF judging panel agreed! Because Debbie has been shortlisted for the Inspirational Woman 2022, award! She’s due to discover whether she’s won, at the NatWest EWiF awards event, which will be held in London, at the end of June. Here’s hoping others found Debbie’s story as inspirational as we do, here at InXpress, and she takes home the win. Whilst every finalist is worthy of the win, in our eyes, Debbie deserves it, with everything she’s had to deal with.