Salome Ahenkora talks about business, life and sustaining happiness with Angela Brivett
Angela Brivett (AB): Chigwell Tours is your baby. Why Chigwell and why tours?
Salome Ahenkora (SA): First of all, I thank God for the different things I have done and for the privilege to enjoy everyday life. Chigwell Tours was an opportunity to share this privilege with others, by devising tranquil country walks and family-oriented tours, ie. summer tours to the seaside. We know first hand that a well packaged family tour strengthens family bonds.
AB: What has been the highlight of your business this year?
SA: At Chigwell Tours we aim to provide unique memories for people. Our tailor-made tours are inspired by our customers; for example, we are planning a new City and Countryside tour to Bicester Village, giving families the chance to shop for designer labels and bargains. We recently created a ‘Mystery Tour of Chigwell’, concluding with mouth-watering afternoon tea at the grand Country Park Hotel. We were thrilled when, at the end of this tour, seasoned tourists hugged our team to say, “Thanks for making my day.”
AB: You created Chigwell tours in 2012 on the back the Olympics. Is the tourist industry still riding on the crest of its wave?
SA: While we cater for people coming to the UK, for us, our passion is also for Londoners to enjoy their lives: experiencing the city and the countryside; iconic people and places; the buzz of the city and the serenity of the countryside. We are still growing, offering opportunities for new tour guides, particularly young people who are passionate about their environment and for businesses, networks and associations. Last Christmas, we were busy promoting our Christmas Celebration Boating packages.
AB: You have managed other companies. Can you tell us a little about this?
SA: I manage Concept Consulting RMT Ltd – a research, management and training consultancy. We worked with several Sure Start programmes as consultants, writing strategic plans and evaluating programmes. We delivered the research project, National Franchise Survey, among people with visual impairment. I co-managed Timeless Touch, a publishing company that produced my book, ‘Smiling at the Glass Ceiling’. The book contains inspirational quotes by women for women, covering different aspects of their lives. Our special edition ‘prayer diaries’ were sold at most leading bookshops in the country.
I received the Robert McNamara World Bank Fellowship in 1995, and explored a decade of Ghanaian women’s participation in development. A year later, I also obtained the Canadian International Development Agency funding for the study, ‘Gender and the meso-linkages of Structural Adjustment in Ghana’.
AB: You received an award in 2015. Tell us about it.
SA: My response to the Inspirational Women’s Awards tells it all: “I am excited to be an Inspirational Woman Awards 2015 Winner. Not only does it symbolise my Christian faith and indomitable spirit, it also inspires me to do my best for my family, business, church and community.” I won the award in March this year. It brought back memories when, in 2000, the Woman Alive magazine featured me in an article entitled, ‘I will survive’. It was three years after I had lost my sight but, within that period, I became a mother, retrained using assistive technologies, started my business, and was hosting our local church’s prayer ministry’s weekly prayer meeting in our house. I now inspire others to live their dreams through speaking engagements.
AB: What plans do you have for the next three to five years?
SA: In the medium term, we are working on Chigwell Tours to make it the specialty city and countryside tour company of choice, especially within the UK inbound market. I am putting affiliate and partnership programmes in place, so that I am less needed at Chigwell Tours. Then I will spend more time writing ’Inspire action’ and on speaking engagement programmes.
Meanwhile, my plans for this year are very exciting. You won’t want to miss our Mothering Sunday tours. Our regular London City and Chigwell Countryside Tour is scheduled twice a week throughout the summer and autumn. Our Bicester Village Shopping Tour will take place regularly, plus the summer family tours twice a week. Our Mystery Tours will feature Central London with afternoon tea at Kettners, China Town. In the autumn, we will visit the Dickensian Festival with the Chigwell-Rochester Tour. There is much to look forward to and to live for in Christ.
Visit www.chigwelltours.co.uk for more information, or call and speak to Salome Ahenkora on 020 8500 9912 or email firstname.lastname@example.org