Makeover revisited: Taverham woman’s makeover gave her the confidence to change her life

When Nicola Pummell had a Life Matters makeover in 2008 it was just the start of a life-changing experience. Emma Harrowing catches up with Nicola to find out how she discovered the real her.

Posing in front of the camera wearing an outfit specifically chosen to flatter her petite figure, Nicola Pummell, from Taverham, looked every bit the stylish 35-year-old she wished to be.

It was 2008 and Nicola had written to Life Matters to ask for a makeover with a difference.

Her hair had been cut and teased into a pixie crop style which accentuated her cheekbones and her make-up was expertly done to create a flawless natural look.

She had also thrown away her jeans and baggy T-shirts which she believed hid her 'pot belly'. Instead she embraced the style rules that helped her accentuate her slim arms and legs, full bust and tiny waist.

But it was her request to learn how to cook that made Nicola's makeover stand out from the rest.

Always one to try to make wishes come true, Life Matters sent Nicola on a cookery course with local chef Richard Hughes at The Lavender House in Brundall. The result was a three-course meal that would impress her family, but could be created in an hour.

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Nicola finished her makeover looking and feeling stylish and confident. However, her new-found confidence was short-lived.

'I felt so lucky to be chosen to have a Life Matters makeover. I enjoyed the cookery lesson at The Lavender House and finding out what colour and style clothes suit my five-foot frame and having a hair and beauty revamp was amazing. I felt confident after my makeover and I went through my wardrobe to get rid of the items that didn't suit me. I even tried to make more of an effort with my hair and make-up – although I still struggle with this at times!' says Nicola, now 38.

'After my makeover I began to assess other areas of my life. I lacked self-confidence and I longed to be a confident person and a good mum to my two children, but I didn't feel that way.

'I came to the conclusion that after 17 years of being with my partner I wanted to stride out on my own. It was a tough decision to make, but I knew that I had to change my life dramatically if I was ever to gain the confidence that I longed for.'

To help her get through the tough times after her relationship broke down, Nicola started going to SweetArts, a women's art therapy group. The group gave Nicola an outlet for her creativity, gave her a place to make new friends and, importantly, provided her with the support she needed.

'I also changed my diet to a healthy and well-balanced one, and took up kick-boxing in a bid to improve my fitness,' says Nicola. 'I joined SESMA kick-boxing classes in Drayton and have just passed my first grading. The class has improved my health and fitness and has also helped me tackle confidence issues. My life was changing for the better.'

When Nicola's art therapy group moved into the 4Women Resource Centre in Colegate, the self-confidence she craved suddenly looked achievable.

The 4Women Resource Centre opened in April last year and offers women a whole range of opportunities from wellbeing classes, such as yoga, to financial help and advice. The centre provides a social space for women to take up a hobby and make new friends, as well as working to help women who have faced social-exclusion for a range of reasons such as abuse, mental health, debt, alcohol or drug abuse, unemployment and offending. The centre was set up by the 4Women Partnership, a group of agencies including Stonham, the Probation Service, Leeway, SeVa, Move on East and WEETU.

'It was while I was at my art class that I noticed that the centre offered other courses for women,' she says. 'There is a course to improve confidence and so, with the encouragement of one of the centre's volunteers, I decided to sign up. It was a bit nerve-wracking going to the first class, but it was easier to take that first step as I was already familiar with the centre.'

The confidence course aims to improve self-confidence by offering hands-on help and advice. It was here that Nicola met Rowena Hagger-Utting, development co-ordinator of the 4Women Resource Centre, who runs the confidence course.

Rowena says: 'The class helps give women the independence to form their own opinion, talk and act confidently by improving their self-confidence. We do this through a series of games, counselling sessions and giving advice in a friendly and relaxed environment. All aim to improve emotional wellbeing.

'In Nicola's case she required help in channelling her anger to make it less destructive, as well as improving her self-confidence. All of the services and classes we offer here can help improve the wellbeing of women. What's great about the centre is that all this help and advice is available under one roof.'

Nicola has been going to the centre since last summer and has noticed positive changes to her personality that have helped her in her job as a receptionist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and in her home life.

Nicola explains: 'Just by learning to control my anger so that I don't let things build up until they boil over has helped improve my life at home and at work. Since doing the confidence course and taking up art and kick boxing I feel a lot more confident in myself. I used to get angry with myself and others because I felt frustrated that I didn't feel confident about myself. I still have some way to go, but I feel a lot more confident when it comes to meeting new people and in handling my emotions.

'My makeover led me to change my life for the better. I now take pride in my appearance but I have learnt that it's not just my outer self that I needed to change but how I felt inside as well. The 4Women Centre has helped me through the rough times and helped me change my life. I feel like I am a much more confident person than I once was. The centre has given me the lift I needed and has helped me find the real me.'

For more information about the workshops and support available at the 4Women Resource Centre call 01603 252130.

See Nicola's Life Matters makeover in 2008 by clicking on the photo gallery at the top right of this page.