Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

It Was a Special Moment When Chey Picked Up a Top Award.But Behind the Scenes She Was So Ill She Thought She Was Dying; TEESSIDE Firm Garlands Call Centres Has Announced Plans to Expand with a New Operation in South Africa. Chief Writer BARBARA ARGUMENT Met with the Company's Chief Executive, Middlesbrough Entrepreneur Chey Garland, to Learn More about the Woman Behind the Business

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

It Was a Special Moment When Chey Picked Up a Top Award.But Behind the Scenes She Was So Ill She Thought She Was Dying; TEESSIDE Firm Garlands Call Centres Has Announced Plans to Expand with a New Operation in South Africa. Chief Writer BARBARA ARGUMENT Met with the Company's Chief Executive, Middlesbrough Entrepreneur Chey Garland, to Learn More about the Woman Behind the Business

Article excerpt

Byline: BARBARA ARGUMENT

CHEY Garland sweeps through the swish executive suite of her multi-million pound corporate headquarters.

She's one of Britain's top businesswomen with a clutch of awesome business awards.

But not too high-powered to pour the coffee and get down to spilling the beans about the meteoric rise and rise of the girl from South Street, North Ormesby.

Chey's business success is legendary.

Her company employs more than 4,000, boasts a pounds 50m turnover and is about to go international 27 years after she set it up with pounds 600 savings.

"I was good at getting money out of people," she says simply.

Persuading them to pay up was the secret of her first credit business in Middlesbrough's Albert Road.

She was just 23 and the town's movers and shakers had seen nothing like it.

That was the basis for Garlands Call Centres which has made 50-year-old Chey - Cheyenne - a glittering star in the business world and one of Teesside's richest.

But today what really surprises is the way she looks.

It's impossible not to notice how tiny this top Teesside tycoon really is.

Has a gruelling diet transformed her into a slim shadow of her former chubby self?

Or have the flurry of photographs snapped at her many business triumphs pumped out a cruelly distorted image?

Neither is true confesses the mum of 14-year-old twins, Callum and Arran.

She reveals publicly for the first time that she has been desperately ill.

Only a close circle of family, friends, colleagues and clients knew she was suffering from rare Cushing's Syndrome.

It was triggered by steroids given for agonising spinal damage, caused her face and body to balloon horrifically while wasting the muscles in her arms and legs.

"I truly thought I was dying," she said. "I got that I could barely move.

"I was so ill I didn't have the energy to talk to my GP, so my sister Tanya did. He correctly diagnosed Cushing's Syndrome and though he was about to retire admitted he had never seen a case."

With typical grit, she struggled on, working and winning nationwide praise including the Veuve Cliquot Businesswoman of the Year award.

It was that glizy, starring moment which arrived when she looked and felt her worst.

She togged herself up in made-to-measure couture gear, but says vehemently: "I hate seeing those photographs of myself.

"It was a wonderful moment, but I cannot bear to see myself looking like that.

"I'm not particularly vain, but my face was like a big moon and there were rolls of fat on my neck and shoulders.

"Seeing myself in the mirror was like looking at someone else because I'd changed so much."

These days her corporate headquarters look out over Hartlepool Marina where a howling wind is whipping up a storm among the bobbing boats. …

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