You Live And You Learn: Dianne Thompson of Camelot

Camelot's CEO on being an only child, losing the second lottery licence and being a single mother.

by Hannah Prevett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

My work ethic comes from my parents. They had very poor backgrounds but worked tirelessly, my mother in a shoe shop and my father as a butcher. We didn't have much money, but I had a very happy childhood.

As an only child, I think you work harder at getting and keeping friends. I had a lot of very close friends when I was growing up in Yorkshire, some of whom I'm still close to all these years later.

It wasn't the plan to spend seven years as a lecturer at Manchester Poly. In all honesty, I thought I'd only be there for a year, while I figured out what I wanted to do next.

I was the first woman MD of a UK DIY firm. At Sandvik Saws & Tools, I would get in to meetings because they were intrigued about this woman. I think they expected a Margaret Thatcher lookalike.

My job as director of marketing at Woolworths brought me south. As a single mother I wanted a job with no international travel. And going back to being a functional director was just what I needed. I was slightly damaged goods - a divorce really shakes your confidence.

My time at jeweller Signet was the hardest of my professional life. It was sheer hard slog. I don't remember anyone laughing in three years.

Having to tell the staff we'd lost the bid for the second lottery licence was dreadful. We were so shocked. I look back at it sometimes and wonder if we were a bit arrogant, thinking we would get it.

My retirement is on ice until 2015, after the new owners asked me to stay. I had been planning to leave after the Olympics and had a romantic vision of the flame being extinguished at the closing ceremony as I said my goodbyes.

I don't seem to meet any single men my age. I don't know where they go - for younger models, probably. But I'm very happy. If this is as good as my life gets, then that's just fine.

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