My Dad & Me

Hi, I’m Miya and I live in a close- knit family with my dad Phil, my mum Lynne, my older brother Drake and my two dogs, Rohan a German Shepherd and Kai, a Border Collie.

The reason why I’m writing this for you is because I want to tell you about one of our family businesses called Skills Shop… Actually, it’s my dad’s business and the reason I want to tell you the story about ‘My Dad & Me’ is because I love my dad and I really wanted to let you know about how passionate he is about his work in the health and safety industry.

So, I thought I would interview dad just for you to put you in the picture about what dad does for a living and to hear about his compelling story and about how he started up in business and the powerful rewards he brings to other people and their organisations.

Here is a of my family all together at a wedding and I hope you enjoy reading about my dad as much as I enjoyed writing up this interview 🙂

To start off my interview dad, tell us all about why you started your health and safety business called Skills Shop, what your business is all about and what’s your story.

Well Miya, for over 8 ½ years my company specialised in extended provision. And what that means is we taught secondary school children at our own premises who were disenchanted with school.  During this time, I became qualified in conflict management and trained as a breakaway and restraint instructor because some of the students we helped could be very volatile.

I was also a qualified first aider in my work role and one day I received an email literally 24 hours before my certificate expired, from the company who had been training me on an ongoing basis. They told me that I would have to book on a refresher course the following week which I immediately advised them I couldn’t do because of my work commitments.

Believe it or not, I then received another email saying: “Phil, it’s not our job to check your certificate expiration date, it’s yours. If you’re not happy go somewhere else.”

So, I did some research to find out the specific training and thequalifications I needed to become a first aid instructor and booked myself onto a course. And this is where Skills Shop in its current form was born because during this period two things happened…

Firstly, my beloved sister-in-law, Joyce, who worked for me sadly passed away. And secondly, I was sick and tired of being rudely sworn at every single day at work …and decided there and then that I would rather be stood in front of people who wanted to engage, listen and learn.

In a nutshell, after realising that most companies offering training are just about going through the motions without any real after-care service, I took the bull by the horns so to say and set up my own health and safety training courses using my own qualifications and experiences.

That’s one reason why we continually strive really hard in Skills Shop to ensure all our clients are completely 100% satisfied and receive a 3-month reminder prior to their certificate expiry date.

Because I don’t want anyone to be left in the lurch as I was by a training provider.

The fact is, Miya, my passion, commitment and focus is really all about ensuring everyone getshome safe from work each day to their loved ones.

So, it’s not just about the training side of the business, it’s about caring for individuals and their organisations. That’s why we have worked for several years with organisations like Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, James Cropper PLC, ROC Northwest and Ireleth St Peter’s School.

So, what’s your big passion dad, about your Skills Shop business?

My big passion Miya has always been about running a business to inspire others to achieve their goals. Our motto is “Training Tomorrow’s Heroes” as we believe a true hero is a person who helps someone else in their time of need. 

You’ll remember I did this recently when we were site-seeing at Edinburgh Castle and I helped Yuan from Spain who had fallen over and bashed his face and injured his knee. Even though there was a first aider on site, he admitted that he couldn’t remember his training… I bet he’d learnt his health and safety in a classroom in the usual “death-by-PowerPoint” training that is sadly still too commonly used in today’s health and safety training programmes.

The fact is, if Skills Shop had delivered the training for the first-aider, we would have trained him at the actual castle in the environment he works in which means he could have offered Yuan the immediate assistance he required.

Over the past couple of years, we helped businesses out by getting rid of silly charges. For instance, with Skills Shop you pay for a number of places on a course not a named person!

And what this means is, we have saved some companies over a £1000 when they had to send a replacement at the last minute because another member of staff couldn’t attend.  With most other training companies, they would be charged a cancellation fee for the person who couldn’t attend and some even charge again for the cost of the course for the replacement person which in effect is only a name change on a database.

A good example of a success story in this situation was when this happened to James Cropper PLC who were using another provider and not only was feedback poor, but they would also ring up at the last minute to cancel a course due to the low number of attendees. And on one occasion when James Cropper had to send a different delegate, they were charged a cancellation fee plus an additional 50% of the cost on top to re-book the other person.

When James Cropper asked us to plan their training courses, my solution was to look at their training matrix over the next 3 years and plan refresher training on their site so that we could select specific dates to suit them which would allow at least 6 staff to attend.  

And by quickly undertaking the training and certification to meet their needs, we reduced the risk of any serious incidents at the paper mill because immediate assistance could be ensured through qualified first aiders on-site.

The only stipulation was that the attendees certificate expiry date had to be in a 3-month window either side of the training date to ensure that all staff certificates remained valid. This allowed managers to look at rotas and release of appropriate staff well in advance of our training programme.

We also agreed not to charge a cancellation fee should they swap a member of staff and this has not only reduced their payment costs but has helped managers work out their shift patterns.

So Dad, what happened as a result of your training?

 The big result they got from working with Skills Shop is professional training, delivered on-site at a time that was convenient to them. Plus, they knew in advance that they could make staff changes prior to the training commencing which meant we helped James Cropper to minimise any disruption the training may cause to the day-to-day running of their business.

What’s your biggest joy and satisfaction when working in your Skills Shop business?

Honestly, my biggest joy and satisfaction is being able to help someone knowing my support will have a lasting impact on them. Takeyou and Drake for example. 

As you are both growing up, I really want to give you a valuable work ethic from an early age and the timeless ability to exceed your dreams. Plus, if I didn’t run my own businesses then I couldn’t set time aside for those special occasions together and we wouldn’t have the strong relationship that we all have now.

 If you could glimpse into the future what would you see happening in your Skills Shop business?

In the future I want Skills Shop to be synonymous with a premium experience. I want it to become a global brand where we leave a lasting and positive impression on the lives of the people we touch. I really do want people to realise their full potential and to become the very best version of themselves. This isn’t only for ‘Our Heroes’, our clients, but also for my staff.

I want to reward them and their families and give everyone the life they deserve.

Stepping back a bit in time, dad, I’m interested to know what was your first part-time job?

My first part-time job was volunteering at the Royal Oldham Hospital to distribute newspapers to the patients on the wards. I remember it well because most days I had to walk the 3 miles to get there and back!

What did you spend your first ever pay on?

My first ever pay packet was spent on a Sony Walkman music device with auto-reverse. Now I’m showing my age!

What was your first full-time job?

My first full-time job was being a pensions and life administrator for Scottish Provident in Kendal. I was only there for 19 months but during that time I did really well and was promoted to senior administrator and then head-hunted to work on a special healthcare product.

What was the best piece of advice you have been given?

 If you’re not moving, you’re dead!

What has been your greatest business achievement to date?

Taking the scary decision to stop working with secondary school children and move over to B2B training just over two years ago in 2016 after the death of my sister-in-law. You may be wondering why this was scary?… Well at the time Miya, teaching these students brought in 80% of our turnover.  When you suddenly contact the schools saying you’re no longer providing this service and there’s no money coming in, you either panic or do what I did… have the confidence to use my other qualifications to start making new connections and relationships. And as they say the rest is history.

What do you think has been your worst business mistake, dad?

Not moving over to B2B training sooner when I qualified as a first aid instructor back in 2015.

What car do your drive today and what does it say about you?

I drive an Audi A4 Avant.  It shows I’m going places.

If you could have invented any product, what would it have been and why?

Besides Skills Shop I also run The Independent Jiu-Jitsu Association and have studied this martial art for over 30 years.

I always remember carrying my weapons bag to class which would involve bringing curious named items such as tonfas, nunchaku, sai’s, jo staff and a katana I always thought it would be really cool to invent and create a graphite handle which would make it easy to attach the different parts onto, so that the handle could be made into an all in one tonfa, nunchaku, sai and jo/bo staff and katana.

What do you most like about the Health & Safety industry?

I like having the freedom to improve on the standards and relevance of the training to make it practical and more real to life because even though some people think health and safety can be boring, it can actually be made interesting and this fits in with why I do what I do and that’s to ensure everyone returns home safely each day from work.

What do you least like about the Health & Safety industry?

I dislike the pre-conceptions that people have about training where they think it will be death by PowerPoint with the same old boring input… Clearly, they haven’t witnessed my Skills Shop training experience!

Name one change you would make to the Health & Safety industry

I would remove the mandatory guided learning hours as it’s more important for someone to learn a skill, so it doesn’t matter if it takes them a shorter or longer period of time. What’s more important is that someone can respond immediately in any given health and safety situation.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies (besides Jiu-Jitsu) are spending quality time with my family as I don’t want to miss you and Drake growing up. I also like listening to audio-books when I’m travelling as I see this as my personal ‘University Time’. I also love gadgets, hence why I have an iPad Pro, a MacBook Pro and an Apple Watch.

How do you relax?

By spending time with my family or by vegging out watching movies on TV. My favourite films are Star Wars and the Shawshank Redemption.

What’s your favourite food?

Definitely chilli or kebabs.

How many times a year do you take a holiday and what is your favourite destination?

At the moment once every 2 years, though I’m planning on this to be an annual event. And as you know, we go to Florida as the heat does your mum the world of good with her MS. Walt Disney World also has special memories for your mum and I because we got married there in 2007 and then we went back in 2017 to scatter your aunt’s ashes there.

What is your idea of a dream holiday?

My dream holiday would definitely be an adrenaline filled fun action activity holiday in the United States with my family, whether it’s riding rollercoasters, driving experiences, hot air ballooning or all three!

Which one record, book and possession would you take to a desert island

My favourite record album would be Queen’s Greatest Hits. For the book, I would take an encyclopedia as I always love learning more and more. The only possession I need is a photo of my family as you’re the reason why I do what I do.

Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?

The famous personal skills trainer, Tony Robbins. He’s a truly motivational and an awesome human being who has helped thousands, if not millions of people. 

What was your most embarrassing moment, dad?

Calling my German teacher “mum” instead of “miss” and having the mick taken out of me for the entire year I was at school in year 8.

If you could be anyone for one day (living or dead, fictional or real) who would it be and why?

 Doctor Who, so I could go back in time and give myself the knowledge I have now.

Choose five words that describe you.

Determined, relentless, caring, trusting, honest.

Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?

 I want to buy a family home in Florida for the warmth which would suit mum and that we could use for family visits or rent out.

 Have you any regrets?

 Wishing my sister-in-law, Joyce, was here to experience the journey we’re currently on.

 If you had to choose another career what would it be and why?

 Motivational speaking as I believe the universe deserves to see the very best of everyone and I would love to be that person who inspires others to achieve this.

Thanks for letting me interview you dad, you’re awesome!



7 Core Values

1. Listening

Listening to the needs of our clients is what makes our service feel like it’s the perfect solution to each and everyone. 

2. Flexibility

By listening to these needs we can offer flexible training at a time and place that’s convenient for our clients.

3. Fairness

By booking seats not names we can make your training budget go further by not charging to replace a team member as we understand things happen in business.

4. Convenience

Whether you use the online diary, drop us an email or give us a call we value your time and that’s why we organise, deliver, support and re-organise your re-qualifications so you don’t have to.

5. Practicality

Providing you with immersive, real-life practical training your team will have the confidence to deal with any situation with up to 90% skill retention.

6. Building Confidence

Think of us as confidence builders: Your staff build confidence throughout their training to be able to apply their new skills and; you feel more confidence knowing that we’re here to support you throughout the length of your certification.

7. Commitment

Our commitment will always be to you.  We will always strive to provide you with the bespoke service you need in order to support the growth of your business.

Rachael MacFarlane
Rachael MacFarlane
Headteacher, Ireleth St Peter's School
Read More
Professional and informative right through from the booking process to the actual training. The training exceeded my expectations with the practical aspects and time for questions ensuring I came away more confident and knowledgeable. I will most definitely use Skills Shop when ISP has further training needs and have absolutely no hesitation in recommending your company to my colleagues. Thanks Phil!
Close Menu