Monday, 18 January 2021

Dog groomer quit tourism job after virus killed custom

Dog groomer quit tourism job after virus killed custom

A WOMAN who ran her own business for 30 years has decided to pursue her passion for animals by starting a dog grooming service, writes Luke Adams.

Debbie Walker, of Kentons Lane, Upper Culham, founded Get Smart Promotions, which specialises in marketing tourist attractions.

When the travel industry was hit by the coronavirus outbreak, she decided to take the opportunity to get her qualification in dog grooming and open a salon at her home.

Her business, called Henley Barkbers, was created by converting an old tack room, which is used to store saddles and other horse equipment.

Mrs Walker, who has two horses, Patjo and Lucy, and a miniature Shetland pony called Harriet, has been grooming friends’ dogs for the last six months and only started trading officially at the start of December.

She said: “I had been doing marketing for tourist attractions and then covid put a bit of a halt to all that. When all the flights stopped in March it meant I could pursue my passion for dogs — I am a huge animal lover.

“I have always been interested in dog grooming and I have done it on the side for a while but I got my qualification in it this year. Thankfully, the academy that does all of that was still able to continue through lockdown and I could finish what was required.

“I’ve already had lots of bookings and I think it is something I will really enjoy rather than coming home from work and feeling stressed. Hopefully, it will make a big difference to my own wellbeing.

“It is amazing to see how much support I have had through Facebook and from friends. I think it is going to be a big success.”

Mrs Walker, 52, who is married to Nick, 47, who works in human resources, and has four children, moved to the area from Bedfordshire four years ago.

She said: “I loved the area and I had always come down every year for the regatta and the festival and my sister lives in Beaconsfield.”

She has handed over responsibility for Get Smart to two employees and hopes it will be able to make a comeback next year.

She said “I still feel really passionate about that as well. It has supported me and my family for so long and while the children were growing up. I am happy that it is carrying on but I am looking forward to this new challenge. I am really excited.

“I want to let everybody out there know that I am here for them, whatever they need. I offer a full service and I want to reach as many customers as I can.”

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