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My journey here has been a long and hard one, but I wouldn't change anything I've done or has happened over the years.

Even the bad moments.


Because they are want have made me, and without them I would not be here now.

So where and when did it began?

I'll try to keep this as short and as unboring (is that a word?) as possible.

I was born in Singapore on the 30th April 1964 in a British Military Hospital as my father was a navy man.

About 6 months later we were moved back to the UK and spent the next three years between Inverness (my mum's home) in Scotland, Wales and finally settled in a town called Poole on the English south coast.

We lived here for 8 years, 8 of my happiest years.

From Poole we moved to Crawley in West Sussex where we stayed for 6 years, but Poole will always be the place I consider home.

Anyway, and at age of 17 I got a job at a hotel in Bournemouth and started a Hotel Management Diploma course.

I thus became a caterer for about 16 years, and loved every minute of it.

Or most of it at least.

Then a strange thing happened.

A friend and colleague of mine set up business in a "Card Shop".

But not your traditional sort of cards.

No, these were trading cards, and Futera football cards in particular.

As his shop was in the same Mall as the restaurant I was managing at the time I was often to be found loitering round his shop.

I have always been a collector and have everything from speedway programmes to comics, beer kegs to postcards in my mums attic at home.

Not to mention all my old school books, reports, srcapbooks, birthday cards (I have one from when I was 2!)and other memorabilia.

So this was right up my street.

Well, it wasn't long before I had my own internet mail order business selling trading cards, collectible trading cards and McFarlane action figures.

Business took about a year to build up, remember this was in 1995 when the internet was still relatively new so there was little competition.

Eventually I was able to give up my job and open my own shop just as the Pokemon craze took off!

Within two years I had two shops and a successful internet site.

Then the bubble burst, big time.

In 2003 many businesses, including mine, were scammed by a network of fraudsters using "stolen" credit cards (I believe the cards weren't physically stolen but the numbers) in order to place orders via the internet.

These orders ranged in value from less than GBP100-500, so no big deal, and as all credit card numbers were processed eletronically and cleared with no problem the goods were sent (by courier) in good faith.

However some 6-9 months later and some as long as a year later, the credit cards started to claim back the money.

And the worst part?

I could not do anything about it because they were internet purchases so there was no hand written signatures (one of the main reasons the 3 digit security codes are now used on the back of your credit card for online orders)!

And despite having reciepts from the couriers of delivery I was told these were irrelevant.

As a result, over the period of a year, I lost about GBP10,000 and eventually my business.

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