Olaya Gonzalez reports:
Lesley Samms, from Battle, East Sussex, is a mature student on the University of Brighton’s MSc in International Event Management. However, there is yet to be seen anyone with her same levels of energy, enthusiasm, participation and thirst of knowledge. She is a source of inspiration for many of her fellow students and there are not doubts as to why!
We took a sneaky look into her life development until now:
After taking her A-levels at 18, Lesley worked for ten years before returning to art college in Windsor to study under a world renowned ceramicist while her partner worked as a photographer at the British Museum. She specialised in 3D sculptural photography – “quite a niche” she told us between giggles.
Lesley was a natural in this field. She completed her undergraduate degree in one year and achieved the highest UK grade possible. Her desire of heading towards a masters, however, had to be left on standby when she became pregnant with her first child. Becoming a mother made her take the decision of working for herself so she could manage her family life and work balance.
Lesley has always been one of those people that need to work, too fidgety to sit and stare at a wall. She then began taking photographs for her old business contacts – MD’s and Marketing Directors of big businesses like McDonalds and Audi, among others. Quite impressive! This rapidly snowballed, and Lesley ended up opening a gallery and selling art and antique Georgian furniture alongside her photography and motherhood. She highlights that “it was all very organic”; connecting with new people opened up new opportunities, and she was young, excited and thirsty of expansion. Her second child came along in the mist of all this, but she already had quite good practice, and balance did not require extra focus – it was already there.
When her father’s health deteriorated, Lesley was forced to move from Buckinghamshire to East Sussex, where she eventually had to say goodbye to her dad, but hello to her third child, her little angel, as she calls him. It was time to start rebalancing her life and deciding what next: go back to Buckinghamshire or take root in East Sussex? In the process of pondering life-changing decisions, Lesley met an artist by chance in Rye. They did not know each other, but she asked Lesley for some career advice. This coincidence triggered the opportunity to meet other artists, all of whom asked for the same guidance. Lesley saw it then.
She saw the chance and, like with everything else in her life, she grabbed it fiercely. PURE was born as a means to give this organically evolving business of artist career advice business focus. Then the first event: Lesley was asked to run an art fair. And so she did. And again she found herself with a business evolving out of community need and connections. Moreover, she decided to take greater control of its evolution, the time seemed right, so she took the next step: extending her formal education – finally!
When asked why a masters, why Events and why the University of Brighton, Lesley said: “I like facts and I am quite critical – I like to know stuff, I enjoy intellectual debate, and I seem to be really very good at running events.
“So I looked around at my options, and happened upon the course we are doing. I emailed Jayne Luscombe, the International Event Management MSc course leader, and she agreed to meet me. I immediately liked her and that nailed it really.
“I knew it would be tough, juggling everything is very difficult, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. It has been the ride of my life – I love it.”
Lesley wants the university experience to be accessible for everyone in her generation – quite a statement! What Lesley has taken out of it has been so life affirming and enhancing that she does not want anyone to miss it.