Local lady Sherry Bevan is a woman who knows how to multi-task. Her self-styled “portfolio career” combines working as a maternity coach, an IT consultant and a breastfeeding counsellor for the NHS.
With her long hair and dark-rimmed glasses, Sherry is an interesting mixture of creativity and practical business sense. A self-proclaimed introvert, she exudes calm despite her busy lifestyle, and for a household containing two children (11 and 8), the atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon is peaceful.
Sherry’s business experience is formidable and varied: she has more than 25 years’ experience of working in senior service management, customer service, change management and coaching. She has also volunteered for many years for the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) in various roles including Chair of the Bromley & Chislehurst branch. Relentless in everything she does, she has successfully promoted the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme in restaurants and other venues all over Bromley.
Sherry’s latest venture is a mixture of personality profiling and life coaching. A Girls Night In with Inspiration Party is an organised house party in which guests get to work with a coach “in a fun and inexpensive way.” The format is similar to an Ann Summers party: the host books a time for the coach to come along to her home, and invites some friends along. The coach guides the guests through analysing individual personality styles, identifying their strengths and focusing on what aspects of their lives would benefit from change. As in regular life coaching, people are encouraged to set personal goals and create a plan to make them happen.
This group coaching method is less tailored to the individual than one-to-one coaching. However, it creates the opportunity for a wider range of ideas to emerge. It also keeps the price tag down, and the only cost to the host is the price of some drinks and nibbles. However if someone wants to discuss personal issues, such as relationship problems, then this is probably not the right forum.
Sherry anticipates her service being of most interest to mums in Bromley who are currently on maternity leave, or considering a return to work following a career break. She says: “When women are at home with children, it can be difficult for them to get out and socialise. With a Girls Night In they can have a fun evening with friends, and come away feeling inspired to make whatever changes they feel are needed in their lives.”
For many women, career decisions may be the focus of their Girls Night In. But Sherry is keen to stress that any life changes can be brought to the table; for example, someone might want to take on a challenge like running a marathon, or create practical solutions for becoming more organised at home.
Sherry is clearly a very determined person and likes to challenge herself; a keen runner, she ran her first marathon in Brighter earlier this year, despite a training injury. She also has a very positive outlook; it was after a cycling accident left her with a dislocated shoulder, she says, that she was able to create Inspiration Party: “I was completely incapacitated for three weeks. I couldn’t use the computer, or read, or do anything. It gave me time to think through the concept; thinking was literally the only thing I could do.”
Sherry is passionate in her desire to help women enhance their lives and make career and life balance decisions that enhance the quality of their lives. “I have always enjoyed working with women. I believe that women need more support after having children; they can end up at a crossroads, not knowing what to do next.” Life coaching, she says, gives them the opportunity to feel listened to without being judged. She also feels that women often undervalue themselves, and that coaching can give them the positive feedback and encouragement that they don’t get from being at home with young children. If they feel that they are losing valuable skills by taking a break from work coaching can also help them to identify the skills that are transferable from other aspects of their lives.
Given Sherry’s illustrious corporate career before having her children, she seems to have faced a crossroads of her own since becoming a parent. She suffered from postnatal depression, and feels that her recovery was due to the greater self-awareness she developed through training to be a breastfeeding counsellor. This work appears to be linked with her coaching work by a strong desire to help women make the most of their lives – whether by breastfeeding successfully, or by making the right life balance choices.
Sherry says she has always been a “strong-headed feminist” and believes that “having the time and space to reflect on your life, where it’s going, and whether it’s going where you want it, can give us the right inspiration and motivation to take actions.”
To host a Girls Night In, or for more information about Inspiration Party, contact Sherry Bevan on 07905 826267 or visit www.inspirationparty.co.uk.