Stella is known as a winner of BBC tv’s The Apprentice
Her childhood was a painful one. “It was quite a lonely hard time for me.” Her father had abandoned her at a young age, leaving her mother Drusilla unable to care for her due to psychological ill-health. It wasn’t deliberate neglect. Her mother couldn’t look after herself let alone a daughter.
Stella was able to do more or less what she wanted and she didn’t know right from wrong. She says she didn’t go to school much because of being bullied there due to her appearance.
She also spent time in children’s care homes and was taken in by her great aunt, Mrs Brockman, (also called Stella) who raised her in loco parentis. However she missed her real mother and moved back with her when aged 14 – only to find her lifestyle was more chaotic. At 15 she was living alone in a run-down bedsit.
Thamesmead a place Stella once called home. It is a social housing development built in the 1960s on former marshland with a population of some 50,000 people. It has graffiti-lined avenues known for their high crime levels and grey concrete buildings.
It has had the worst record for credit card fraud of any postal address in the country. In the 1990’s teenage gangs intimitated people on the streets. The area was then known to be associated with poverty, gang violence and race wars. There were racially motivated murders although these days there is better racial co-existence in sharp contrast with the not so distant past.
Stella mixed with some hard people, is street-wise and knows how to look after herself. She drank in one of London’s roughest pubs, The Wildflower, in the heart of Thamesmead where gangs with knives and clubs would fight after hours.
Stella however has made something of her life. She studied a one-year business course before adding City firms such as Merrill Lynch, Nomura and Daiwa Securities to her CV.
She won the prestigious BBC business Apprentice contest. She lives in St Albans with her partner and 2 sons.
Stella has bettered herself. If she can do it, anyone can. As she says ‘You are in charge of your own destiny’. She has shown a lot of determination.
Stella was cared for by great-aunt then aged 72. Stella says ‘Her fostering me was life-changing. “She was very strict. I went from having no rules – or if there were any, ignoring them – to having lots of rules”. “She made me do 3 hours of homework a night.”
Stella now wants to help find foster homes for the thousands of youngsters in the care
system. A report to mark the start of Barnardo’s Fostering and Adoption week now reveals at least 8,750 new foster families are urgently needed.