Monday, June 8, 2009

Focus on Blyth Spirit

Michelle and Simon Blyth moved to the FAB PO over 11 years ago when they became the owners of a decrepid, no bathroomed village house in Eus. They were half way through renovating the house when Michelle became pregnant – they figured – what the heck! Simon had been working as a self employed Graphic Designer for the past 6 years, Michelle was a Sales Manager for Yellow Pages. With 12 months maternity leave to look forward to, they had nothing to lose – sell up, move out and if things didn’t work out at least they’d have had fun for 12 months and Michelle could simply go back to her old job. That was 10 years ago - I think they may have filled her position by now!

They managed to keep hold of most of their UK based clients – the combination of cheap Ryan Air flights and the internet meant that it really didn’t matter where they were based. Clients also rather liked discussing their new brochures and web sites with a glass of wine over looking Canigou rather than in a converted pig sty in Bedfordshire!

Then along came daughter number two and a move to a bigger house - renovating a gorgeous 4 storey Mas in Joch. Half way though the renovations Simon, suffered a serious Kite Surfing accident and was to spend the following 18 months in and out of various Hospitals and re-education. Despite regaining the use of his leg, an unfinished Mas with spiral stair case (with office on the 4th floor) was somewhat impractical. Move number three : buy a plot of land and build a single storey house - Everything was going swimmingly as they stayed in a little chalet while their house was being built. It was then the unimaginable happened. 4 weeks after celebrating her 7th Birthday, Victoria (their eldest daughter) was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

When Victoria was not in hospital she was unable to live in the chalet – a friend lent them her house for the rest of the time it took to build their house. The builders worked weekends and holidays to try and get the house finished, friends came to help with the tiling, painting and decorating. For the first couple of months Victoria stayed in an isolated room in the “hyperproteg√©” department at Montpellier hospital, Michelle lived in a room in a house opposite the hospital for parents of children with cancer. Simon juggled taking care of Olivia, project managing the house build, visiting them and running their Graphic Design business. Throughout this period clients remained loyal, even when their service wasn’t always up to scratch. This was crucial to them. The downside of being self employed means that you don’t have the luxury of paid compassionate leave, the last thing they needed was the additional stress of losing clients/income.

Victoria has endured 2 ½ years of chemotherapy, throughout which she has shown unimaginable courage. Thanks to the excellent care, treatment and dedication provided by teams of Doctors and Nurses at both Montpellier and Perpignan Hospitals, Victoria is in remission and has just celebrated her 10th birthday. They say they will never be able to repay the kindness they have been shown or sufficiently express their gratitude to all of the people who have given unwaivering help and support over the past 3 years.

It’s not been your average episode from “A Place in the Sun” Things haven’t exactly turned out as they imagined they would when they loaded up their Volvo with cat, dog and baby 10 years ago, but as this chapter comes to a close (phew!), they are happily settled in their new (if not totally finished) home, Victoria is back in school and taking part in Judo competitions, and they have the time once again to enjoy all the things they moved here for in the first place.

Michelle and Simon run Blyth Spirit, a graphic design company , designing websites, flyers, brochures, logos and much more.
See their website here :

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