Frances Davies – Achieving the Impossible

Yorkshire is all I’ve ever known, I had a very quiet and normal (whatever that is) childhood. I went to state school, and never really thought about what I would do when I got older. My mother was a teacher, father an engineer, who both worked locally but didn’t necessarily talk in detail about what they did. We were all very happy, lived comfortably and I enjoyed school, so ultimately managed to do well. This led me to study Chemistry at University, which was fine but it was then that I realised I didn’t want to do this forever. Instead, I found Law. I sought more professional qualifications and went back to night school. At this time I simply loved learning, exams and putting myself in a pressure zone where I was able to apply myself to a goal and achieve it. I was also lucky enough to take a gap year which I spent travelling Australia, and I think this was the ignition to my love for travel.

I started work upon my return to the UK when I secured a training contract with, what is now, Addleshaw Goddard. I stayed for 9 years before moving to a local Yorkshire firm for 13 years. Next, I set up Progeny Private Law back in 2015 and have been there ever since. This has meant I have always worked, whilst also raising 2 children who are now in their mid-teens.

The highlight of my career so far was being able to build Progeny Private Law from scratch. A very exciting but daunting and intimidating task that I can only describe as brilliant. I am proud of the work we do, as I know first-hand that we make a difference to the lives of our clients, usually at a very difficult and painful point in time for them.

Outside of work, I took on the small task of rowing the Atlantic with 3 of my best friends. We broke a world record which I have to note down as my highlight as it just couldn’t be anything else!

I’ve always enjoyed sports and being outside, from hiking to running cross country at University to rowing. The appeal of being part of a team but also relying heavily on yourself is something I thrive on, both inside and outside of my job. The balance between individual and team recognition has always been a motivator for me.

The hardest thing I’ve overcome was a personal barrier. It was having the inner belief and drive to leave something that was comfortable and stable, but didn’t necessarily resonate with my ethical standpoint, and trading it for the unknown of building something of my own. I think that as people, we often settle for what we have come to know especially if it has proven success, rather than challenging the status quo. Ultimately, there is no free lunch in life and being in toxic environments will eventually take its toll in one way or the other. However, it is very difficult to stand up to oppose something that seems to be successful and myself, and I’m sure many others, have made ourselves very unpopular by doing so! In the end, I was able to accept that some things are not going to change and my time is better spent elsewhere.

However, this unhappy time was probably the thing that drove me to sign up to the big row. Something that has taken my life in a direction I could never have seen coming, therefore I have ended up very grateful for this difficult time.

When I think about what has shaped me to be the person I am, I think there are two people I have always been inspired by, who happen to be complete opposites. My mother was a huge role model for me, she was a very quiet, calm and serene person who had no ego and made everyone she encountered feel looked after. She never compared herself to other people, or paid mind to the negativity of others. She had a beautiful nature that was lovely to have around every day as I was growing up. Even in later life when she battled cancer with such bravery, she still managed to keep her calm aura. The second person, came from reading an adventure book. Anne Mustoe retired from being a teacher, bought a bike and cycled around the world for years exploring old trade routes and remote destinations. Reading stories about other people who have done what is not expected of them, refusing to settle for a ‘normal’ and quiet life, is one of the most inspiring things for me.

In my experience throughout all areas of my life, I have found one thing to be true and that is; you can learn something from every day and from every experience no matter how good or bad, to make you better. So take the lesson and work the hardest you possibly can.