If I’m going to share my views on all things property, I think it’s only fair to explain where it all started!
After a short stint on a local newspaper reporting on anything from parish council meetings to meeting a dog behaviour specialist (Princess Anne’s corgi had just been reported as biting someone), I was asked to take over as the property correspondent of The Surrey Advertiser. My first column appeared on my youngest son’s first birthday on 13th June 1991 and it was a role which lasted nearly 16 years. (Just to blow my own trumpet I was awarded Regional Property Journalist of the Year in 1995.)
After a year or so, I was asked to do some PR for a local estate agent (Matthew Burns of Burns & Webber) and an architect/developer, Michael Wilson Restorations, who from his name you will guess undertook major restoration projects of large country houses, convents and mills. These contracts launched my Public Relations Agency – Property House Marketing – which I still run today, although with a fab team behind me and an impressive client list of the some of the UK’s leading housebuilders and property companies, it’s no longer a solo operation.
So, during the last thirty years I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the best houses in Surrey through the newspaper and through our public relations work I’ve visited new homes developments all over the country including Scotland and Wales (I’ve never been to Ireland, even on holiday, so that’s one for the bucket list now). The schemes I’ve seen range from major regenerations of sink estates in what were some of the poorest parts of London to multi-million-pound luxury mansions and penthouses. I’ve seen a lot of showhomes!
I live in Guildford and thanks to my time on The Surrey Ad, I was asked to write ‘The Editor’s Page’ for The Guildford Magazine once a month, a role which lasted from 2011 to 2016. This gave me the great opportunity to meet a wide spectrum of people in the Surrey area that were making their own mark in one way or another – a welcome diversion from property although that has remained my first love. In 2015, I was included in the list of Surrey’s top 50 businesswomen by Surrey Chamber of Commerce.
What about my own homes? I moved from the Wirral in 1978 to a flat share in London’s East End at the age of 19; in total I’ve lived in nine homes – four rented, and five the subject of major renovations and refurbishment. I currently live in a Grade II listed Georgian townhouse in the centre of Guildford. Inspired by the development efforts of my clients, I bought a collection of three buildings in 2010 and converted one into our office and the other two into four apartments. (The inspired reconfiguration of three of the houses and the development were thanks to Mike Wilson).
Before property? I originally trained as a medical secretary in Liverpool and first worked in a cancer department in Clatterbridge Hospital in the Wirral and then in Guy’s Hospital in London before joining the publicity and promotion department of IPC Magazines near Blackfriars where my intro into public relations began. For a while and before starting a family, I was also ‘a Tupperware Lady’ and am still very proud of my Tupperware collection!
If you become a regular reader of The Nikki Gritti, you’ll soon see that I believe passionately in the importance of attention to detail, and I always like to have a back up and tend to buy at least two of everything – just in case.
I have three sons in their thirties and three grandchildren as well as three step-children and six step-grandchildren; one of my son’s best friends lived with us for a couple of years and is also considered an honorary member of the family. I also have two dogs. It’s a very full house at times.