The last few years have seen me both raise children and look after a dying parent and dying grandparents. It’s been a testing time, but recently I found some joy.

I was emptying out my late grandma’s house as she passed away in January and going through my late grandfather’s things. He passed away back in 2015. My grandpa was my inspiration.

He was a successful builder who retired early and built a house for himself in the Isle of Man in the mid seventies. One of my earliest memories was at the age of five, visiting him on site, making mud pies to hold up reinforcement bars for the concrete, and my grandpa showing me a model that he’d made of the bungalow that he was building.

I think he was amazed at the age of five that I could understand it, And between him and my dad, who was a builder’s merchant, encouraged me and inspired me to become an architect. I was the first girl in our family to go to university, the eldest of three, and with a younger brother with learning difficulties. I had to be both the girl and the boy in the family. So fast track to clearing out my grandparents house, and I stumbled across the original model that he showed me nearly 50 years ago. It brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of that bond I had with him, the inspiration and actually how far I’ve come.

My grandfather got dementia in his nineties and in his later life I used to take him to my building sites and show him projects I was working on. I think he was incredibly proud of me. Hopefully he’ll also be proud that I’ve set up a successful architectural franchise business, with offices in Bournemouth, Surrey and Warwick.

However the goal of my franchise is a matriarchal model, to help women architects and primary carers, as the reality is we tend to take primary carer role with kids, and caring for parents and grandparents as they reach their end of life.

Finding the architectural model I saw as a child, after being responsible for emptying my grandparents’ house, brings everything back full circle. It takes me back to my roots and helps me think how things are interconnected, and what we can learn from our past.