Jan Williams has been working as a counsellor for 18 years, dealing with the affects of alcohol abuse on families and working with children who are affected by a family member’s drinking.
It was her experience as a counsellor that helped when her son, Robbie Williams, began his own North Staffordshire based charity Give It Sum in June 2000. Jan was happy to pitch in and open up her skills to the local community.
Born and raised in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, Jan attended convent school before going to work as a telephone operator for the GPO. After the birth of daughter Sally, Jan worked as a telephonist receptionist at the switchboard of a local company, eventually leaving before the birth of future pop legend Robbie.
She had her first introduction to the world of business when she moved into the Red Lion pub in Burslem. Jan was forced to develop her business skills when she took the licence over from her husband and found herself running the pub alone when Robbie was still only 12 months old.
It was this experience of working behind a bar and being a listening ear to customers with problems that influenced Jan’s later work with the Staffordshire Alcohol Advisory Service.
After living in the pub for three years, Jan decided she wanted to put a deposit down on a house.
Soon afterwards she had started up her own dress shop in Little Chell, running her own business for a further three years.
Once her children had grown up, Jan decided to put her experience to good use and signed up to a Counselling Skills course at Cauldon College (now Stoke-on-Trent College).
She became fascinated with the psychology behind counselling and drew on her experiences to become specialised in dealing with people suffering from alcohol related problems.
Once qualified, Jan began her service with the Staffordshire Alcohol Advisory Service, working with individual clients as well as in group work for over six years.
Give It Sum aims to help all sorts of causes across North Staffordshire, improving local conditions and strengthening community life by giving money to those who are disadvantaged.
Using her skills to help people is something that Jan is passionate about. She has achieved a lot in her work with the local community and still finds it rewarding to see that she has made a real difference to different people’s lives. (Staffordshire University)
Rob and his dad Peter:
Rob and his sister Sally and her son Freddie:
Rob and his grandma Betty and grandpa Jack:
Rob and his best friend Jonathan Wilkes,his wife Nikki and their son Mikey:
Robbie's Mother's Family were originally from County Roscommon in Ireland, and came across to England looking for work some time after the end of the Potato famine in the 1860s, so had probably managed to survive the worst of the famine, but could not find adequate paid work in the devastation left in its wake, and it seems likely that Thomas Farrell (Robbie's Great Great Great Grandfather) followed other Farrell relatives over to Staffordshire. These first "pioneers" had left Roscommon about the time of the famine and established a small colony of Roscommon Irishmen working around the potteries, forges, and pits of Tunstall, Wolstanton, and Stoke-on-Trent, sending money back to the families in Ireland, establishing themselves, then bringing other members of the families over when they were old enough to take on the harsh manual labour required of them in the Victorian Industrila revolution. Ironically English capitalism rescued the Irish poor where English central Government and Irish land owners and local government had failed. But life was still hard for a labourer and his family, and Thomas dies aged 63.
The son of Thomas Farrell, Michael Farrall (the spelling of the surname varied through the generations as the early Farrells were illiterate, and so the spelling of the name did not become fixed until compulsory education came in from the 1870s onwards) was also born in Roscommon and came over with his parents, he was Robbie's Great Great Grandfather. He had a slightly more skilled job than his father becoming a bricklayer and bricklayer's labourer, building the forges for the Iron and Pottery works, and the houses for the men who worked there. Conditions improved for the family which is reflected in the fact that he lived till 1934, well into his 70s.
Robbie's Great Grandfather John Farrell (the name has become fixed in its spelling by the time he is born in 1885, all the children now being able to read and write) moves up a step on the work ladder, working as a Holloware Presser at a Pottery Factory. The family had managed to move away from the hard outdoor labourring and the heat of the debilitating heat of the forge furnaces for healthier employment, allowing John to live till 1976, into his early 90s.(Time Detectives)
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