From redundancy to Ideal Home stylist for the week – and more inspiring tales

After losing her job at age 42, Pauline Ferguson is following her dream of becoming an interior designer

No one wants to hear the ‘r’ word. But when Pauline Ferguson was told she was being made redundant after almost 20 years working at a well-known supermarket chain, she decided to look on the bright side. ‘I was 42 years old, with two kids and one brilliant career,’ she says. ‘I thought to myself, “Why not make it two?”.

Three possible career paths tempted Pauline – interior designer, life coach or leadership trainer – but her passion for interiors won the day. ‘So I started my journey and applied for my interior design diploma,’ she explains.


Talking at the first ever ‘Don’t Tell Me I Can’t’ event, the mum-of-two told the audience how ‘Taking the chance and doing something completely different is exactly what we should all be thinking about.’ The event, from the makers of Ideal Home, GoodToKnow, Woman&Home, Woman magazine, and in association with JD Williams, took place in Manchester in February 2018.

Pauline first got involved with the ‘Don’t Tell Me I Can’t’ campaign by winning a competition to spend a week with the team here at Ideal Home. Based in our offices at Canary Wharf, she learned how to style an interiors shoot and picked up tips to help her achieve her goal of being an interior designer. We have no doubt she will get there!

Read more about Pauline’s experience here: What it’s really like to work at Ideal Home – our competition winner reveals all

Pauline was part of a panel of inspirational women who also spoke and shared their experiences at the event in Manchester in February. Another was wife and mum Pam Lane. For six-and-a-half years, Pam was on dialysis. Then, one month after her fiftieth birthday, everything changed. Thanks to a life-changing kidney transplant, her world was ‘wonderfully transformed’.

Pam is now working towards an accomplishment she had never dreamed of before – competing for Team GB in the World Transplant Games. Last year, Pam achieved her goal of compositing for Team GB at the World Transplant Games in Malaga – something she had trained tirelessly for. Her hard work paid off, and watched by her husband and children she won three medals – two silver and one bronze.

The mum admitted that her success in Malaga, getting fit during training and losing an incredible two stone in the process all gave her a new confidence, and the determination to keep going. So now, six years after her life transforming kidney transplant, Pam has her sights set on a new goal, competing at the World Transplant Games in Newcastle in 2018. ‘Just don’t tell me I can’t!’ a determined Pam quipped.

‘Pam, especially, inspired me’ said our Executive Editor, Jane Akers, who was at the event. ‘To have set backs like that in life and still take life by horns – it shows you just have to go for it.’

Also joining Pauline and Pam for a discussion in front of a live audience was Faith Archer, a former finance journalist who, after moving away from the city to raise her family in the country with her husband, turned her talents for money saving into an informative and engaging blog called ‘Much More With Less’.

All the latest from Ideal Home