‘I’ve gone from sleeping in an airing cupboard to running my own theatre schools’
Denise Hutton-gosney, 50, lives in Penrith, Cumbria, with her husband, Jason, and their sons, Callum, 15, and Lewis, eight.
‘Growing up, there were six of us living in a two-bedroom council flat in Glasgow. Until I was 10, I slept in the airing cupboard with my sister after Dad took the door off and squeezed in bunk beds. Money was so tight that Mum used to make a pint of milk last by topping it up with water.
But it was a loving family. I was sports mad and when I was 11, Mum managed to scrape together enough money for dance lessons. Though people were sceptical, I was determined to become a professional dancer.
At 18, I won a scholarship to a top stage school in Essex, but I couldn’t afford the living expenses and had to drop out. Instead, I spent the next six years working as a dancer at Butlin’s, The London Palladium and on cruises. But dancing isn’t a job you can do for ever and I wanted to run my own theatre school.
I had no idea how to go about it until I came across a flyer for The Prince’s Trust. I got on the Enterprise scheme and was assigned a businessman as a mentor. He came with me to set up my first business account and we had regular meetings over coffee. He taught me something that really resonated: cash is king. It means not relying on credit to keep the business going. My dad had once run a butcher’s, but he gave credit to lots of customers and went bankrupt. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes. Using all the knowledge I’d learned from The Trust, I set up my theatre school, Razzamataz, and worked every day of the week, teaching in village halls. There are now 60 Razzamataz franchises. I’m also now an ambassador for The Trust and plan to become a mentor, helping other young people follow their dreams. I’m living proof that your background doesn’t matter – with a bit of help, you can succeed.’