W H Smith, Great, Great Grandpa and Me

When I got the gig with W H Smith to create a course about Values, Beliefs and Purpose for their top managers, it was a synergy moment. It wasn’t until I was plowing ahead creating the course, that I found out the connection about Great, Great, Grandpa, W H Smith and me. More of that later.

The story of how I got the gig was one of those weird timing moments

In 2001, I was working in a crystal healing shop in Glastonbury. Yes, I did. Living in Glastonbury, I was in the middle of investigating all things spiritual. It was smack in the middle of the countryside, which I loved. It was an unusual and amazing time. 

On this particular day, I had gone on my lunch break. The people I worked with knew my ideas about Story and how it could be applied to business. These were seed thoughts mind you. I had garbled it out on a few occasions to anyone who would listen.

When I came back, very excitedly, my colleague said…

“Quick, go upstairs, there are two people from W H Smith who are looking at rooms to hire for their training courses, tell them about your ideas.” Naturally I gulped, I hadn’t prepared. It was a rough idea, but up I went. Chatting with them about what they were looking for, with the sweat dripping down my back and me behaving as if everything was cool, I found myself asking them if they had heard of using storytelling in business.

They asked me to say more, which I did, they seemed really interested and suggested that I put a proposal in. Yikes!

I called my friend, a successful Freelance Business Consultant. She took me through the steps to put something together and said, if they decided to meet, it meant it was serious. She offered to coach me through the steps I would need to take. 

Long story short, we did meet.

I followed the steps outlined by my friend.

I got the gig.

Now I had to put it together.

This is a long story with various chapters to it, the short version is:

A strange twist came into play that sent shivers down my spine. Soon after, I went home to my mum’s (dad was no longer alive) and told her what had happened. She looked astonished and said,

“Did you know that Great, Great Grandpa Bradford used to run the stables for W H Smith?” It was my turn to look astonished. No, I did not know.

Mum went on to explain that he was in charge of the stables for William Henry Smith. He looked after the horses and carriages that were used to deliver the papers back in the day. Excuse the pun, but this was news to me.

She continued to say that W H Smith and his counterpart in Dublin – lost in the mists’ of family history, did a deal with W H Smith and secured my great, great grandpa’s services in Dublin. That is how my mum’s side of the family ended up there!

I pondered on this information and felt I was flying the flag for great, great gramps.

Somehow, Somewhere, karma had a hand in this I thought, and the payback came to me over a century later. My contact with W H Smith as a freelancer lasted for 3 years. 

After that time, it was clear on both sides that the contract was ending. I felt in a strange way, a knowing that the debt to my ancestor had now been paid back, in full. 

See the source image

When I think about this story, I am aware of how our actions of today can create a potentially beneficial effect for future generations. I still get amazed at the synchronicity of this story and I still thank my ancestor when the story rises up into the light of day.

Do you have any stories that have affected you from ancestors? It could be one or more generations back. Do feel free to comment below.

Such stories are amazing. If you do comment with a good summary of a story, I will contact you with a view to sharing your story on my blog.

Source Pictures:

The man is William Henry Smith

The shop is the oigian style of a W H Wmith Shop

225 years of Celebrating W H Smith – from W H Smith Blog


Dale thank you, what a fabulous story you have. It’s a fascinating subject and can shed so much light on the family story, our connection to it and also why we might have certain interests too!

Dale Darley

I love this tale.

When I did our family tree I discovered that through an illicit affair that I was related to Sir Richard Arkwright – a big name in manufacturing from the 1700’s.

And through some weird marriage connection Ian Rankin, the author.

I love delving into family history.

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