Debra De Ste Croix, Director of The Holsworthy Foot Health Clinic

Specialising in helping people with foot health problems which can’t be solved with over-the-counter solutions

What I’m about to share is only a small part of my life story – and I’m often told I should write a book! Perhaps one day I will…

During the 1990s, I co-owned and ran a successful animal sanctuary on the island of Jersey. The first blow came in 2004 when the owner of the land we rented passed away and the lady she’d left the plot to wanted us off. As a family we decided to sell up and move to Devon.

In 2005 – having bought a farm which would house nearly 150 animals and five adults – the bank had lost our paperwork so we squatted on the property for nearly two weeks. Issues arose over the next two years – namely the recession – and despite our best efforts we could no longer pay the mortgage. In 2011, we lost everything – the animals moving to a sanctuary and the family living in a tent with nothing but the clothes on our backs.

Times were so hard I contemplated taking my life, but I found strength over the next six months to pick myself up. Taking a job as a carer, I endured abuse by a senior member of staff and eventually had to leave. All I wanted was to be happy.

Working in the care industry on and off for 25 years, I’d developed an interest in feet so I researched relevant qualifications. By 2016, after undertaking an affordable diploma I could study from home, I qualified as a foot health practitioner with distinction! Early the following year I’d started my own part-time mobile foot clinic and quickly gained patients; however, I hit another wall after losing a full-time manager’s job I’d gained through no fault of my own – leading to an emotionally draining battle with anxiety.

One day, talking to a friend, she asked me what I wanted out of life and I said: “To work for myself.” I had no money, but she offered me the start-up funds there and then; that amazing act of generosity changed everything…

In the last two years I’ve grown from a small clinic to a major practice treating nearly 800 patients – gaining many friends and newfound confidence.

Holsworthy Foot Health Clinic