Isabel Bomford, Lawnside 1993 Leaver
I left Lawnside and went to university to study Design Technology and Home Economics with a view to teaching. I had no idea what I wanted to do and one of the teachers at Lawnside said I would be good at it, so that was the start of my journey. School was tough for me as I am dyslexic and it was not recognised so much then, like it is now. I had to work twice as hard to get half as far, but I think this installed a good work ethic.
On completing my degree, I wanted to learn to ski as I had never had the opportunity while growing up (something to do with school fees!). I did a cookery course so that I could do a ski season and live in the Alps for five months, cooking in a chalet. This opened up a whole new world to me. What an incredible lifestyle: I loved skiing every day, being in the mountains, blue skies in the winter, partying hard every night.
After several seasons, I decided to move to Paris for a year to improve my French so that I could get a proper job in the mountains. This was easy to do as my sister Lucy (also a Lawnsidian), was already living out there having trained as a chef and was working in restaurants. While we were both enjoying the Parisian life, my sister came up with the idea of training chalet cooks from our family home, as no one ran proper bespoke chalet courses then. So we both went out for another ski season to promote our new business idea (everyone thought we were mad and it would never work, in fact the only support we had was from our parents).
We built the cookery school over the summer with one of our father’s friends and opened in September 2003 (aged 25 and 27). Since then, the school has grown from training six students a week or fortnight to 48, and won lots of awards. The ones I am most proud of are “Cookery School of the Year” and the “Best British Cookery School”.
What does success look like?
To have achieved (or being on the way to achieving) your goals and dreams; and being happy, healthy and content with your lifestyle, not just your career.
What is your best piece of advice?
Make the most out of every opportunity however big or small, it will help you get to your dream (even if you don’t know what that is yet!). Those of you who are dyslexic - school can be tough but there are things where you can shine above the rest. Put everything you can into school: you have to work so hard compared to others, but this helps you succeed in later life.