As Festival Too launches in King’s Lynn chairman Bridget Nurse talks about her life as a successful businesswoman
Bridget Nurse is both a true bastion of King's Lynn life and a successful west Norfolk businesswoman. A steadfast member of the community, she not only spearheads the committee of the popular Festival Too but strives to improve the actions of the council at a grassroots level.
Her go-getter attitude has driven the mother-of-three, who started her own florist's at the age of 18, to triumph in so many aspects of her life. The 51-year-old, who has lived in and around the Lynn town centre all her life, spent half her school years at the Sacred Heart Convent School in Swaffham and finished her second half at St Clement's High School.
Not wanting to go into further education, she could not wait to start earning money and started training as a secretary.
'I couldn't wait to get to work. I am like my daughter Megan, quite a home bird and I love King's Lynn and everything about it.'
Mrs Nurse was on track to work in an office environment, but opportunity elsewhere beckoned when her former boss at the florist's shop she worked at as a Saturday girl during her early teenage years came knocking.
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He needed her help to run the London Road business.
When the family enterprise eventually collapsed, the then 18-year-old started running her own florist's from her home on Holkham Avenue in Lynn – initially as a 'stepping stone' to generate income until she started a new position the following year.
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But with a growing clientele and a determination to get her face known in the community, the florist recognised a chance to be master of her own destiny.
'I had to sell myself and get as much money as I could to get my overheads paid for. If something pushes you down, you feel sorry for yourself for a little while and dust yourself down and get on with it.'
After a year, Mrs Nurse and her partner Mark found the ideal place to house the shop – a derelict building on St James Street in King's Lynn once home to Goodchild's Photographers, and the rest, the business-owner said, 'is history'.
But she said as a young woman wanting to begin her own venture in the 1980s she faced difficulty in securing a mortgage.
'I think it's quite equal now, you walk in now and you respect women for having a go. Years ago it was expected a woman should be at home looking after the house, children and cooking her husband's tea.
'I was lucky to find a partner who supported me and said, 'Good for you'. We spent every hour we had spare renovating this property because we couldn't afford a company to come and refurbish it.'
Mr Nurse, whom she married in 1988, is a builder and together they run commercial building and maintenance company, Nurse Builders.
It would seem Mrs Nurse's strong sense of ambition and drive has been passed on to her three children, Megan, 21, Jessica, 19, and Kieran, 18.
'If your family has got that work ethic then you are just going to follow in their footsteps. It wasn't handed to me on a plate, so I don't let my children see it's handed to them.'
The mother, who now lives in North Wootton, said her sister Debbie ran Bridget's Flowers with Megan, who had to manage a business as part of her degree course.
Megan runs flower-arranging workshops and has an aptitude for helping couples planning their weddings achieve a personal touch, according to Mrs Nurse.
'Someone young comes in with young ideas. Probably for the first time in 28 years we did a huge overhaul of the shop and made it totally different. This was all Megan's creation, she took it from an everyday flower shop to a modern, young and fresh enterprise.
'It's nice for me, really, because after the first year and a half of showing her the ropes, now I can totally leave it in her capable hands and she takes it on and works so many hours and so hard to take it to the next level.'
Now the busy businesswoman can channel much of her energy into being a North Wootton parish councillor, where she aims to use the contacts she has built over the years to help spend public money wisely.
'I have always tried to be part of King's Lynn and do as much as I can. All my family are here and you build up so many friendships during so many parts of your life.'
With Festival Too just round the corner, Mrs Nurse, who is chairman of the festival's committee and has been involved with the organisation of it for 12 years, has come to the climax of her busy year.
'We really have to work hard to raise the money to have the revenue to back the acts to bring them to the town.
'It brings a different amount of trade to King's Lynn, not just the hotel trade, pub trade and food retailers but it also brings people into the town into our shopping centres. It's just brilliant and it brings such a lovely atmosphere.'
Festival Too started on Saturday and includes six evenings of free live music with internationally renowned artists planned over the next two weeks.