Shopping With…Dame Kelly Holmes.
Today I’m honoured to interview Dame Kelly Holmes. You will have seen a lot of her over the years, a real over-achiever, an athletics hero, olympic champion, a mentor, and business woman. There is so much to this lady, she is an abundant source of energy, inspiration, positivity and achievement.
Dame Kelly Holmes was born in Kent in 1970. She served as a sergeant in the army before devoting herself to athletics full-time in 1997. In 2004, she won gold medals for the 800m and 1500m races at the Olympic Games in Athens, and was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year. She retired from athletics in 2005 and was made a Dame. She is Commonwealth Games England president and an adviser for the 2012 Olympics. Her book, Just Go For It! Six Simple Steps to Achieve Success is published by Hay House.
British Army, first in the Women’s Royal Army Corps as an HGV truck driver, then in the Adjutants General’s Corps as PT (Physical Training) instructor (PT Corps) 1988 – 99; international track athlete 1992 – 2005.’
Army Track Athlete of the Year, 1989-97; European Championships, Helsinki, silver medal, for 1500m, 1994; Commonwealth Games, Victoria, gold medal, for 1500m, 1994; World Championships, Gothenburg, silver medal, for 1500m, and bronze medal, for 800m, 1995; Commonwealth Games, Kuala Lumpur, silver medal, for 1500m, 1998; Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), 1998;Olympic Games, Sydney, bronze medal, for 800m, 2000; Commonwealth Games, Manchester, gold medal, for 1500m, 2002; European Championships, Munich, bronze medal, for 800m, 2002; World Indoor Championships, silver medal, for 1500m, 2003; World Championships, silver medal, for 800m, 2003; Olympic Games, Athens, gold medals, for 800m and 1500m, 2004.
By winning Olympic gold medals in 800m and 1500m races Holmes became only the third woman in history to achieve the middle-distance double, the others being Tatyana Kazankina of the Soviet Union in 1976, and Svetlana Masterkova of Russia in 1996. She is the only British athlete to have won two gold medals at a single Olympics since Albert Hill in 1920. Kelly has gone on to win numerous awards and achievements for her work in sport, with the community, with young people her philanthropy, there is no end to the capability of this woman. You will always find her engaged in numerous projects and participating in many things of benefit to the general population.
Her work with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust typifies what she stands for, and the following excerpt from their website summarises it perfectly:
“Kelly wanted to create a legacy from her athletics career that would benefit young people, believing every child needs a hero – someone to look up to and be inspired by. Sometimes, through no fault of their own, young people don’t have a role model, or the help they really need to be the best they can be. Kelly can recall her PE teacher at school, who told her she was good at running. She believes it can take just one person to change the course of a young person’s life.
That’s why, on the eve of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, she founded Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, with a vision to get young lives on track using the unique skills of world class athletes to engage, enable and empower.
After eight successful years as Chair of the Board of Trustees, Kelly moved to the position of President in May 2016.” – Dame Kelly Holmes Trust
Right now, I just want to get a little light hearted insight into the other side of Dame Kelly Holmes. I see her amazing achievements on TV and in the press and watch her low key cool vibe she exudes in her Café, but is there a shopper in there, a lover of shoes and fashion, what’s her passion? Let’s see:
Hi Kelly, thanks for your time today. Jumping straight in, could you tell me your top three High Street stores?
Ted Baker, Reiss, Kiehls, Jaeger, Pandora
Clothes, Shoes who’s work do you most admire?
Maria Grachvogel and Amanda Wakeley are two of my favourite designers.
(As a lover of Amanda Wakeley, I’m smiling, feeling like we bonded here, common ground)
Positive Affirmations, do you have one mantra that sticks in your head most?
This is a saying I believe strongly in, so much so that I have it tattooed on my bicep. “What we think, we become”
Do you ever shop online, if so tell me a few of the retailers you love, if not, any reason why ? (doesn’t have to just be fashion)
Ebay – it has everything – (a girl after my own heart)!
Michael Kors for Perfume I have worn it since 2005 and everyone comments
Do Sportive -Leisure wear. I now stock it in my @cafe1809 because it is amazing quality, stylish and great prices
All Saints – Love love.
Sweaty Betty – Always got new ranges and amazing colours
Reebok perfect gym and running trainers for me
Make-up bag, what can you not be without in yours ?
Mascara and concealer
What’s your guilty pleasure in terms of retail? Something you probably shouldn’t buy but can’t stop yourself?
Sports kit. I could open a shops with what I have but you can never have enough workout gear and trainers
When you hit the stores, who is your favourite shopping pal and why?
My friend James because he likes coming shopping and sometimes carries my bags
Who most inspires you? (in general life)
When I was at school, my PE teacher, Debbie page was the lady who inspired me to get into running. She believed in me and gave me the confidence to believe in myself.
What’s the most indulgent thing you’ve ever bought for yourself?
House, car, ring, watch, boots!! I am sweating thinking about it
What was your most regrettable thing you ever purchased?
A few pairs of shoes that I have brought in a rush and have paid the price by buying them too high or too small or both. They have been painful experiences
We know from your work you have a passion for community, young people, as we can see from you work with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and your Café 1809 in Hildenborough. I know it was your dream to open it one day. How much of the shopping and design for the fit-out were you involved with?
All of it. I had a vision for the look and feel of it then worked with a guy called John Barnett who helped bring my vision alive!
You always look flawless, do you have a brand or particular item that’s your failsafe, you know you’ll look good in regardless?
Mac make up is a miracle!
Tell us, the song you find yourself spontaneously singing to yourself without thinking at the moment, (we all have one.)
Ain’t nobody by Chaka Khan I made all my nieces and nephews learn it off by heart as I played it so much to them!
(Chuckling to myself and nodding having recently purchased tickets for her tour)
Kelly, you are so well travelled. Pick one location, one town or city on the globe you would say, Yes, that’s where I love to shop.
I work in the UAE four to six times a year and Dubai has a couple of great shopping malls that I like to “visit” when I can.
What’s your favourite holiday destination and why?
I have a property in South Africa and it’s an ideal place to get away from everything. The scenery is beautiful and the weather is great.
Kelly, everything in Cafe 1809 is so healthy, I pat myself on the back every time I order lunch. But is there any food that can tempt you occasionally, a guilty pleasure?
Chocolate is my guilty pleasure. I love it.
(YES YES YES, there is a God, she’s perfect, flawless & eats chocolate, I feel a little better about that bar in my handbag.)
You’ve been a real positive role model for women and for young people, well everyone in the sporting arena, especially with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust what motivated you to launch this?
I wanted to create a legacy from my athletics career that would benefit young people. I believe every child needs a hero to look up to and be inspired by. It can take just one person to change the course of a young person’s life. I had a vision to get young lives on track using the unique skills of world class athletes to engage, enable and empower.
Kelly, your life is full of achievements as we all know. What was your last positive ‘pinch yourself’ moment? (as in, is this really happening).
My two most recent ‘pinch myself’ moments were winning A Life Time Achievement Award at the Pride of Sport Awards and a few weeks ago I scored 95% in my Future Fit Personal Training theory exam. I don’t like exams so was amazed and thrilled with my result.
What should we expect to see from you the near, long future, any hints of future projects we should look out for?
I am about to open another Café 1809 at the Cyclopark near Gravesend. It is important to me to create lifestyle cafes which bring communities or people with similar interests together.
Dame Kelly is truly an inspiration. Having seen from it’s inception the wonderful work she has done with her first Café 1809 , and the story behind it. ‘Café 1809 in Hildenborough, Kent. (pronounced one eight oh nine) after the number she wore when she won both her Olympic golds at Athens. The reasons for choosing the location to build the café were rooted in her fond memories of the place from childhood. She was a paper round girl from age 12 to about 16, before working in the shop for which used to be on that site in the past. Having told the owner then that she was going to buy the shop one day. Well, it should come as no surprise that goal setter, dream chaser, and outstanding achiever Holmes fulfilled that promise.
Dame Kelly Holmes is very much in the driving seat with a ‘hands on’ approach to her empire and can often be seen in Cafe 1809 doing some of the more routine and mundane daily tasks, such as cleaning up, serving the coffee or preparing food. It’s great to see her interact with the staff, the public, approachable, enigmatic, and inspirational.
For locals, it’s more than a Café, and she’s more than Dame Kelly Holmes the athlete, she’s ‘Our Dame Kelly Holmes‘ as she’s often referred to in conversation, the love, support and admiration is real. Her new venture is Gravesend is sure to be a success.
Now, I better get off the laptop and head for that run I’ve been promising myself. Inspired to chase a few goals of my own (and justify shopping for new kit upon my return …now armed with a few new suggestions)
Dame Kelly Holmes’s mantra: “What we think, we become” Well then I think I’m super successful, super fit & a stone lighter, so, trainers on and off I go!
Thank you Dame Kelly Holmes for your time, it has been an honour , a pleasure and an inspirational interview.