Nicola Gleave: From Cancer to Catwalk

Wirral Life’s Lynne Hague talks to Nicola Gleave, a successful local businesswoman, on her fight against cancer, inspirational attitude to life and her new fundraising initiative, Worn by Us.

Wirral Life’s Lynne Hague talks to Nicola Gleave, a successful local businesswoman, on her fight against cancer, inspirational attitude to life and her new fundraising initiative, Worn by Us.

Tell us about yourself…

I’m 44, married to Andy and we have two children – Jack aged 13 and Sophie aged 8. I was born in Liverpool and moved to the Wirral almost 19 years ago when I got married. I’m a very determined person and a bit of a workaholic. I become very passionate about anything I get involved in and throw myself in 200%.

Over the past few months you have been busy promoting awareness of Worn By – your fund raising initiative for cancer charities. As this is such a personal issue for you, has this been received in the way you had hoped?

Oh my gosh it has been unbelievable. It started as an idea to raise awareness and give back after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, and it has really evolved – and we can now support any charity of your choice. I’m overwhelmed by the interest and support I’ve received by so many people. Everyone who hears about it, thinks it’s a brilliant idea. I am now being contacted by people who have heard about me, and also introduced to so many amazing people and organisations who want to support, ranging from people who have read my story and want to donate clothes and items from their wardrobes, fashion designers and boutiques donating items, to celebrity stylists introducing me to their clients. There are just too many people to mention them all, but there is a Wirral woman Claire Whittle who owns a beauty salon in Liverpool ‘CJ in the City’. Claire has donated many fabulous and expensive items of clothing most of which have never been worn, as she wants to support Clatterbridge Cancer Charity. We’ve received items from many celebrities too including Coleen Rooney, Jacqueline Gold, Lorraine Kelly, Mel C, Katie Piper, Peter Andre and many others. That is the most amazing thing about what I have created – people are able to provide constant support and funds for their favourite charity without having to part with any cash at all. All they are doing is handing over clothes and other items which are taking up space in their wardrobes which they no longer want, and we do the rest to raise money for their charity – it’s really simple and effective. I also have to mention Nick Ede who has been an amazing support. Nick is a well known philanthropist, PR personality, and brand and style expert on TV. He and his company East of Eden work with many celebrities and charities. Nick is extremely busy jetting off around the world working with some of the biggest celebrity names, but he always makes time to support me, to make connections, to promote us on social media and to invite me to events to gain exposure for Worn By Us. We’re planning a pop up shop together next year – so watch this space! We have successfully secured many opportunities which will now take us on our next phase of growth. To reach our potential we are looking for a partner to invest in us and to join our journey – so if that person is you, please get in touch!

Being diagnosed so young with breast cancer must have been an enormous shock, what helped you with the challenge of facing each new day while you were ill?

Cancer is something that I never thought would happen to me, and came as a complete shock as I’ve always been very healthy and it has always been a bit of a family joke that I’m invincible and never get ill. My diagnosis gave me a resilience I’ve never had before. I realised what was really important in life, and was determined that I would be here for my children. That gave me a driving force to overcome this. I adopted a positive mindset, and I started to identify and appreciate the positive things in my life, and I kind of ‘tuned’ myself into treating it all like a project or a task that I had to work on and complete. I made sure that life went on as normal, I didn’t tell my children about my diagnosis, and so it was not a topic of conversation in the house. I continued with my life as normally as possible, and each time I went for treatment, the children thought I was going to a meeting. To me, it was an appointment in the diary I needed to attend, then I came home and carried on life as usual. Coming up with the idea for Worn By Us was a huge turning point in helping me to overcome this too. It gave me something positive to focus on, and I really want to share my story with others to help them to turn negative experiences in their lives into positives. I truly believe that it’s not about what happens to you in your life, it’s how you react to it and deal with it.

When you were diagnosed, you found it very difficult to talk about it to family and friends, how did you overcome this and do you now believe it’s important to talk about cancer?

Yes, I did, I didn’t really want to tell anyone. My mum called my sister to tell her, I didn’t want to have the conversation. I passed the message on to those who did know to not talk about it unless I spoke about it first. I didn’t want sympathy or concern, I wanted to get on with normal life and deal with it in a way that I knew was best for me. So we had a normal family environment, we carried on as usual, we talked about good things and happy things and planned for the future. It was when I overcame it, I wanted to talk, I wanted to tell the world via Worn By Us about my journey, my experience, and how I had come through it. I had an overwhelming feeling to help others, to save lives by raising as much awareness as possible by getting the message across in a unique way, in a way in which I believed would attract attention and make people listen, and that way was Worn By Us. I’m so keen to talk to and share my story with as many people as possible to help them in any way I can, whether that’s through one to one sessions, workshops or talking on stage to large groups of people. This experience has dragged me kicking and screaming out of my comfort zone, I’ll do anything if I can make a difference to one persons life.

What has surprised you the most about yourself over the past few years?

My resolve and resilience to overcome this. I’ve become a much stronger person, I’ve built confidence in myself that I can do things that I once never thought possible. I have come out of my comfort zone completely! I’m not frightened of anything any more, it has helped me to deal with problems and issues in life with a different approach, and not to let anything drag me down.

Your life before your illness has been very much rooted in business development and entrepreneurial support for businesses – do you now see this changing or do you think that Worn By and your charity work will sit comfortably alongside your other business interests?

Yes, actually I loved my previous work, I have a Consultancy Business which I have been running for the last 4 years. I love working on diverse projects, meeting new people and making a difference, helping other business owners to grow and achieve success. I’m very much a people person, and have built credibility through my work and the strong relationships and networks I have established over my 20 years in the business support sector. I think there’s definitely opportunity for Worn By Us to sit alongside other business interests, I’ve found that they compliment each other. I’m very much a connector of opportunities, and the new connections and experience I have gained and continue to gain from Worn By Us will massively benefit work I do for other clients.

Through your Eurocities work, you’ve had contact with many places, have you ever thought of moving abroad and if so, where to?

I love travelling, and I love the opportunities which my work has brought me to travel. I’m torn, my 2 favourite places are the Greek Islands, and Italy. My husband took me to Malcesine in Lake Garda for my 40th Birthday, and we’ve been a number of times since, so I think I would opt for there, or Lake Como, which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that George Clooney lives there!

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to relax?

Hot yoga – I love it! I’m to be found most nights at Liverpool Yoga Studios. It actually helped me after my treatment. It de-stresses me like nothing else, and is the best fitness regime I’ve ever done! I also love spending time with my family and really enjoy family holidays together – anywhere where there’s warmth and sun, I’m there!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Hmm – Prosecco!

What is your favourite kind of food, places to eat out?

I like traditional food, I’m very much a fish person – seabass and swordfish being my favourites. However I’m mainly found in coffee shops having meetings – I’m often found in Home in Oxton Village.

When you go on holiday, do you switch off your phone/laptop?

No – never! I do like to relax, but I also need to keep in touch with work on a daily basis. I keep in touch with emails daily and take my laptop, and I’m occasionally guilty of working on my laptop in the evenings – only after I’ve finished my sunbathing duties of course!

You went to university in Liverpool and you live on the Wirral, what do you love most about the Wirral?

The Wirral has a fantastic balance for a healthy lifestyle and to bring up a family. I love where I live, and the fact that it’s not overdeveloped and we are in easy reach of so many fantastic attractions and beauty spots.

Readers can support Worn by Us by donating women’s, men’s & children’s clothing and accessories or any celebrity memorabilia.

You can also view and purchase from the extensive range at To show your support for Worn by Us, follow on social media and help spread the message:

  • www.instagram/worn_by_us

To contact Nicola directly, please email: or call 07446 177 642.