Ours Lives In Training – Mandy Kinnell & Gareth Nicholson

November 8, 2019

Born five years apart, we have lived in the same house at various points during our lives, we have spent time on opposite sides of the world, we have been the best of friends and we have had our rows, we have worked in different industries and we are now colleagues.  And we are siblings.  My brother, Gareth and I, have been working together for the past two years delivering mental health training.  Nothing in our past lives would have predicted this turn of events, however, I love it!   Coming at the training from different perspectives and with our different styles and skills seems to work, and what’s more we have great fun while doing something really rewarding.

Back in August 2016 we first started to discuss the possibility of providing training to the local business community to both raise awareness of the importance of mental health and to raise funds for MCH Psychological Services (formerly Manx Cancer Help).

Fast forward two years or so and we have been lucky enough to be invited into many different organisations across the Isle of Man to deliver training on mental health topics, to around 1300 people.

Gareth’s background is in hospitality, working both here on the Island, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.  During his varied career, among others, he worked in a winery in New Zealand, managed catering at a zoo in Perth, owned and run a local bar bistro, and worked as House Manager in the Lieutenant Governor’s residence; Gareth has ample management experience in a variety of settings.  While my route has involved working in the corporate arena, predominantly in financial services both on the Isle of Man and in the UK.  My career has taken me from customer service roles to learning and development, talent management and human resources, and I have been fortunate enough to deliver training in Europe, Asia and the Middle East during my career.  Although when training in Hong Kong on the topic of performance management, I soon discovered that the word ‘feedback’ does not translate into Cantonese!

Our career paths may have differed in the beginning, but they have converged at this point in our lives and we have been very lucky to have been supported in our venture by our fantastic CEO, Andrea Chambers.

And what a rewarding job it is – we get to work in so many different businesses and venues, meeting new people every day and we spend our time talking about a subject that we are both passionate about.   Someone wise once said, ‘Find something you love, convince someone to pay you for it and it won’t feel like work’.  One of our colleagues recently remarked that she loves what she does so much that she would do it for free, and I know what she means.

Gareth is one of those people who takes pleasure in interacting with others, whether that is listening to their stories or making them laugh he is genuine, and our audiences respond to that.  He makes wherever he works a fun place and given the topic of mental health could be heavy going, he makes sure that anyone attending our courses have a laugh along the way.  The image of Gareth hunched over in ‘early man’ pose will stay with many of our delegates I’m sure!

We are very lucky to have been brought up in a loving household and with caring parents, and that was always an important part of our childhood.  Caring for others is part of our DNA.  I love learning and this too was something that we shared growing up.  Learning, as new mental health research and studies are released is a fascinating part of my job.  We both need to keep on top of the latest thinking to make sure that our training remains fresh and relevant.  It is also a pleasure to learn from the people who attend our courses, we get so much back from the discussions on our training in terms of ‘real world’ experiences. It’s great to hear about the issues that people are facing and to be able to help where we can.

At this point in my life, I get to work with my brother for a brilliant charity and I have the opportunity to talk every day about a subject I deeply care about, who could ask for more?

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