My haven: Deborah Meaden the dragon’s real-life den is the office at her working textile mill in Wellington, Somerset
23:28 GMT, 5 October 2012
Deborah Meaden's haven is the room at the back of the building where one of her businesses operates
CUT FROM OUR CLOTH
In 2009 I acquired Tonedale, the last remaining wool mill in the south-west of England, which opened in 1772. It’s been a huge delight to be involved in a manufacturing business, I get immense pleasure from seeing a pile of yarn turned into bespoke cloth. I found this jacket in a charity shop when I was looking for clothes that had been made from our cloth. It’s amazing to think it’s about 100 years old but started life here.
I’m a patron of the Tusk Trust elephant conservation charity and this magazine contains a heartfelt article I wrote about my experiences in Africa three years ago seeing the work being done to protect these magical creatures. I thought I’d witness some horrible sights but I returned full of hope – the people there are doing an amazing job. I’m an ambassador for the WWF too; I find being involved with animal projects very rewarding.
Last Christmas my husband Paul gave me this beautiful bronze of my cat, Friday. It was quite some feat to get it made without me finding out as I make it my business to know everything. The sculptor, Tanya Brett, even came to meet the cat secretly before she started work. I’ve had cats since I was 19 years old and Friday, a chocolate Asian, is a real character. But he lives at home so I keep this bronze here to remind me of him.
In March this year I went on holiday to Rwanda to see the famous mountain gorillas as a reward to myself for doing some work with the WWF. It was a great experience – at one point I was charged by a silverback! The porters who carried our water up the mountain gave me these small wooden gorillas as a memento. They remind me of an amazing trip and of the good work being done to help the gorillas to survive.
I used this very pen seven years ago to sign the deal when I sold my holiday business to a private equity firm for 33m. I decided to keep it on the spur of the moment to remind me of the exhilaration. Of course, that was the big deal that catapulted me into the Dragons’ Den. It’s only a purple Biro, there’s nothing posh about it, and it only comes out when I have a deal to sign. Seven years on, it’s still going strong.
This Victorian table was the very first purchase my parents made when setting up home 40 or so years ago. It’s seen a lot of family stuff around it. If I look closely I can see an indent of my sister Emma’s handwriting on it from when she was four. I could never have it refurbished as it would lose all the marks that make it so special. It’s an office table, a reading table – a very sentimental part of my life.