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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Angela Proctor

Glasgow-born Angela Proctor – who writes as AH Proctor – is a successful author, businesswoman, mentor and mother who has been captivated by fairy stories and the world of the Brothers Grimm since her childhood. Her fertile imagination was held in check until she took her own young children to the Isle of Arran off Scotland’s west coast. When they asked her to tell them a story of witches and dragons, the floodgates opened, and she is now the author behind Scotland’s favourite witch, Thumble Tumble, which doubles up as her venture and is driven by her imagination and her passion for telling stories.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I was born in Glasgow, and I spent a very happy childhood on a council estate in the city’s East End.

I have always been captivated by fairy stories – in particular the fantasy world of the Brothers Grimm – and my dad, Daniel, is also an avid reader, who took me to the library every Saturday and, on the way home, would conjure up our own stories. This was my first experience of ‘other worlds’.

I also hold a successful career in financial services and, as a businesswoman, mentor and mother, my life was always a busy one…One day, we took our young children to the beautiful Isle of Arran, a mystical land rich in history and folklore. When they asked me to tell them a story, I realised I had the opportunity to not only share my passion for creating stories, but to begin writing down those stories, so that this would eventually become my business. That’s how Thumble Tumble, my extraordinary little witch from mysterious Arran, was born.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

I only started turning my stories into books, prompted in large part by the untold sadness of losing my mum Jessie to lung cancer. We were very close and when Mum died, just eight months after diagnosis, I found writing was an unexpected way out of the darkness and also a way to gain some release from the pressures of everyday life.

How did you achieve awareness?

Since the first Thumble Tumble book was published in 2015 I have loved meeting the young people who read my stories and I regularly visit schools and share my experience with young readers of various ages. I also presented my work in over 40 libraries and have been a guest speaker at dozens of festivals.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

I have never received funding for the books; growth has been organic with sales increasing through school visits, book festivals, book launches and library events.

What are the key successes?

I am really proudof Thumble Tumble’s popularity, and I was immensely honoured when my heroine made it onto Scotland’s Storybook Trail – which aims to inspire young readers to follow their favourite characters across the country – alongside world-famous characters like Harry Potter and the Gruffalo.

I also – after a lot of effort and time dedicated to the project – created ‘Arthur’s Christmas Tale’, a heart-warming animated film based on my poem of the same title, a project which allowed me to help raise funds for Shelter Scotland. The animation was shown during trailers in cinemas across Scotland throughout December 2023 and we achieved extensive press coverage, as well as achieving vital funds for the charity. Giving back to the community is incredibly important.

 What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

The initial challenges were trying to raise awareness of the book series and have it stocked in a wide range of outlets. I reached out to book shops offering author signings, readings and book launches in return for them stocking the book(s).

I also contacted schools and local authorities promoting author visits and commissioned two FREE teaching packs for teachers to use as novel study material in conjunction with the books.

What are your plans now/for the future?

The fifth novel in the Thumble Tumble series is due to be published in late summer 2024, which is really exciting. I can’t wait to see how it’s received and I am looking forward to lots of feedback from readers.

I am also currently working with Glasgow City Council to promote my novel study packs, a set of activities all related to my books. The Teaching Packs are available for teachers to download for FREE from the Thumble Tumble website www.thumbletumble.co.uk/schoolvisists. I hope to see this initiative being taken up by schools across the country.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Tenacity is a must. Decide on your goals then don’t let go until you reach them.

Make a plan. Throughout my life the saying ‘fail to plan, you plan to fail’ has always rung true.

Make sure the plan is flexible so that it can evolve with the world around you which really is ever-changing.

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

My mum was (and probably still is) the most inspirational person in my life. Even though she passed away almost 10 years ago, she still manages to inspire me nearly every day! My mum was the strongest person I have ever known and so it was a complete shock to learn she had cancer. Despite her terminal diagnosis my mum remained positive throughout her treatment taking on everything the disease threw at her. My mum was brought up poverty stricken in the east end of Glasgow and wanted a different life for me. She encouraged me in everything I did which ultimately led to me starting my own successful Financial Services business and publishing my children’s book series, Thumble Tumble.

My husband, Scott Proctor has encouraged me to take many leaps of faith, by believing in me, he made me believe in myself.

My friend Lesley Cameron has supported me in every decision I have ever made (even the one’s she didn’t fully agree with).

My two children, Skye and Kyle inspire me through their wonderful imaginations. Seeing the world through their eyes reminded me on my own childhood and rekindled my vivid imagination allowing me to create the Thumble Tumble Book Series.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

Women are like teabags; we don’t know our true strength until we are in hot water.

The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you will go.

If at first, you don’t exceed…

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?  

Website: https://www.thumbletumble.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thumbletumble/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Thumbletumble

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/angela-proctor-4b61842b4/