Tuesday, 14 February 2012

More reasons to be cheerful

Margaret Thatcher once said, “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”  Hoping there is rationale to this argument, I put aside the financial ombudsman’s adjudicator’s judgemental and derogatory comments in an effort to relax with my children over half term. Distancing myself from the onslaught in this way has enabled me to reflect on my campaign to rebuild my family’s life and there is a lot for which I am most grateful.

In October 2008 my world fell apart when I discovered my husband had borrowed well beyond our means in a desperate bid to complete a building project before the property market went into recession. Our troubles were compounded by the news our business bank, Heritable, was in administration leaving us in an untenable position on every front.


In December 2011 Heritable Bank formally released my husband and I from a shortfall obligation of £210,000 and in so doing presented me with a beautifully packaged Christmas gift of unbridled relief. I remain eternally grateful to those within Heritable Bank who chose to use empathy and compassion when considering the solution to our predicament.

In October 2008 when I realised there was also £446,000 of credit card debt and no means with which to repay it, I was distraught to be party to this insurmountable sum and imagined it would be with us forever.


Today, £40,000 is all that remains as the balance has either been written off or deemed not persuable by our creditors. Those who elected debt forgiveness as a way forward for us offered it with words of good will for both our family and our future. I remain truly grateful for their pragmatic approach to our financial problems.

In October 2008 I was horrified to find our family home was the subject of a possession order and further panicked to discover without financial references it was impossible to secure a tenancy on a rented house through the normal channels. Fearing for my children’s future and desperate to remain in a familiar location amongst friends and family I tried everything I could think of but without success.


In December 2008, I received a phone call from a gentleman who, having originally declined my request for accommodation, wished to reconsider our application on the basis of a character reference instead of a financial one. In January 2009 we moved into a homely farmhouse where we have remained ever since.  By finding an innovative solution to our housing needs our landlords provided us with sanctuary when others wouldn’t. For this ongoing act of kindness I am truly appreciative.

In October 2008, finding ourselves bereft of both income and assets we were not only unable to pay the school fees but were already a term behind. Believing my children would never again enjoy a private education I contacted the school to advise them of our position with the heaviest of hearts.


Instead of being shown the door, not only was my eldest son awarded a full bursary but I was also given advice on how to secure two further awards for my younger children. In Feb 2012 thanks to the guidance of the Headmaster’s and their respective bursars I am proud to say my daughter has now received an academic award for an independent secondary school and my youngest son has been earmarked for a sports scholarship. I am indebted to the people who guided me through this emotive process with my children’s best interests in their hearts and a genuine understanding for our difficulties.


On lodging my HBOS complaint with the Financial Ombudsman’s Services in April 2010 I mistakenly believed help would be on hand to communicate effectively with my persecutors and sheild me from further episodes of personal attack. Although FOS intervention quickly resulted in the removal of HBOS’s Merrils Ede henchmen from my case, more recent letters from my adjudicator have revealed an impatient disinterest combined with a sizeable ration of personal distaste. Attitude of this nature, from a financial regulator appointed to my case, left me feeling both despondent and completely disarmed.


Following my complaint to the FOS’s Chief Executive, I was contacted by their complaints department who not only expressed remorse at the way in which I had been dealt with by their adjudicator but also revealed HBOS had been unresponsive to the FOS’s requests concerning my case and in so doing may well forgoe the opportunity to have their say. Futhermore my complaint is to be fast-tracked to avoid current case lead times of fourteen months and in addition I am also permitted to include my recent findings on the subject of HBOS’s over-valuation of my home. Being treated with respect and understanding over the pain-staking and painful process of bringing HBOS to account has not only lifted my spirits but given me the invaluable gift of a hope and for this I am immeasurably grateful.

William Arthur Ward, author, pastor and teacher believed we should all, “do more than belong, participate; do more than care, help; do more than believe, practice; do more than forgive, forget; do more than dream, work” and it is clear, from my half term reflections, with the exception of HBOS and my ombudsman's ajudicator, most people who have touched my life during these difficult years have chosen to live and work by a similar code to that endorsed by William Ward. It is to these  people I wish to extend my whole hearted thanks.

1 comment:

  1. Caroline this heart-moving. What a gutsy and patient person you must be ! Please write a book on this, esp if you kept a diary. Perhaps some one may make a film on your struggle. They did on Erin Brockovich.
    We hope that your trials end soon.

    See you on Facebook :)