• From an early age my Dad & Mum told me that I had to learn to stand on my own two feet. I was told to respect others and my elders and if I did not respect those who were older than me I was in serious trouble.

    I can remember that my first business at the age of 7 was selling fire wood, I had to do this as I wanted a new bike, but the bike I wanted was not what my parents were prepared to buy me. They said if you want that bike, earn money and save for it, so I did, I went around all the streets in our very quiet little village scouring the hedge rows for twigs and pieces of wood that I could bundle up and sell to people who had open fires and to local shops.

    But the only problem was I was getting all these twigs and pieces of wood, but I had no string to tie up the bundles or tools to cut it up, so before I could do that I had to work out how I could get some money in first to get the tools and string, so I thought the best way was to go and ask some elderly people if I could do shopping for them as this way I had no outlay at all and could earn some money from this to buy what I needed to get my business going. I managed to raise £10 after about 4 weeks of hard work doing shopping for lots of old people who could not get out to do it themselves.

    I was then set up to get the business going properly, I got my Dad to buy me an axe and a saw and some string, my business was going at long last. All the wood I had collected I set to with cutting it up as my parents were getting fed up with all this wood lying around in the back yard. I started making bundles of fire wood, cutting them in to small long pieces and then tying them up with string. Once I had got 100 bundles together I went to my local paper shop and asked to see the owners, who came down to see me with some surprise and a look of horror on there faces, in our village we all new each other and he said what do you want Richard with a puzzled look on his face, I said I have just started a business and I want to sell you some of my products!!

    The shop keeper looked at me with amazement and laughed at me, so being young and very naive I said so rudely don’t laugh at me I will take my business else where, as I left the shop he shouted out to me I will tell your Dad how rude you have been to me, my heart sank as I knew I was in trouble, as I had forgotten the golden rule respect your elders! I knew when I got home my Dad would go mad at me. So I quickly went to the shop across the road and they took all 100 bundles of fire wood for 25p per bundle, not bad at all for a 7 year old, I thought I was rich I just got paid £25 for my fire wood that cost me nothing to buy, I was already part way to getting my bike, but I had to go home and face my Dad.

    When I got home my Dad said to me come in to the front room please I want a word with you. My Dad was furious with me for being so rude to the shopkeeper and demanded I go at once and apologise to him, well I thought this would be fun as I had just sold all my fire wood to his competition across the road, perhaps I could get another sale out of this after making an apology. So off I went on the 1 mile walk to the shop to give my apology to the shopkeeper, once I had done that I said to him did you see the shop over the road selling all that fire wood I sold him, he is selling it for 50p a bundle, I could do you a deal if you like and sell you some at the same low price I sold some to that shop, he reluctantly agreed and said when can I take delivery, I said in 5 days time, the only problem I had my Dad had grounded me for a week, so I could not get out and get any more fire wood, but being the crafty devil I was, I told my Dad that I could not let all these old people down who I was doing this shopping for, so he let me go out and do the shopping and what I did was, on the way home I searched for wood and I would break it up on the road side before I got home so it would fit in my bag, I kept doing this until I had enough wood to make another 100 bundles, I had to make sure this business did not fail, I could fail if I did not think outside the box and find a solution to my problem which I had done. The next problem was getting this order to the man at the shop. I had a plan, I would ask my Mum if I could borrow her shopping trolley as I had a lot of shopping to do today for the old people, she looked puzzled and said OK, I then went out side and loaded up the trolley with bundles of wood and went to the shop to deliver the first load of 25 bundles, I kept coming back home until I had the full order of 100 bundles to the shop, my Mum wondered what I was doing I said I had to keep coming back to go to the loo as the people kept giving me a drink of pop. I was so crafty it was amazing how I ever got away with it. I then collected my £25 from the shopkeeper, by now I had got £50 from wood and £6 from doing the shopping for the old people.

    I still wanted that bike so much and it was going to cost me £125 and that was a lot of money back then, I had been stashing the money in a box under the hedge in the back garden, if my Dad knew I had that amount of money he would think I had been stealing or something, so I had to hide it out of the way, the big problem was telling him one day I had enough money to get my bike.
    I kept doing this fire wood business for a few months and in the end I got all the money I needed to buy my Chopper bike, then I had to tell my Dad I wanted to get this bike. All I can remember is he was ballistic at me for having £125 in a tin under the hedge outside and sent me directly to my room.

    I did get my bike in the end but it took some doing, as I had to get out some how to speak to the shop owners to get them to tell my Dad how I had got the money.

    I can remember the day very well going with my Dad all the way to a place called Thatcham just outside Newbury in Berkshire to the bike shop. It was a very strange place, as the shop was in the middle of the road on a strange junction, god was I so excited, it was one of the best days in my life. I can remember I had done all this myself, I was now the very proud owner of a Chopper. No one else in our village had one of these or anything else like it, I was the envy of all my friends, suddenly everyone wanted to know me as I had this amazing bike.

    I was on top of the world, this was my first business, which led to many more. (today in 2009 we are still in the wood business manufacturing products and restoring furniture)