I'd thought about it loads of times and I'd spoken about it loads of times but the reality was, I had still not done anything about it.

Abandon my career in the City with a (more than) comfortable salary, superb benefits, European travel in 5 star hotels and go with my heart and do something for others.
Surely not.
Words are a currency but they are often cheap.
Besides, I was a City boy and working in the "smoke" was something I had aspired to since a small child.
A Costa coffee (flat white extra shot) each morning, corporate lingo down to a patter and a true master of global conference calls. WFH on Fridays, fancy restaurants and far too many corporate events.
Many an afternoon sat in Canary Wharf drinking coffee with my counterparts devising strategies in line with "fiscal double digit growth and aligned strategies.
My cup runneth over with that flat white (extra shot) and I had it all but the reality was, there was a gap, a hole, a void and it was unfulfilled.
Did you see what I did there? 
I nearly missed it myself.

As I said, I'd thought about it before but then I thought I could play for Liverpool FC once. 

Working for a charity was revisited like someone who revisits the gym each January.
Full of ambition but less determination.
By February, I'd abandoned my plan to be the next Bob Geldof and it was back to the Wharf for afternoons in coffee shops and discussing key verticals.
This endless cycle was set to continue had it not been for a catalogue of personal bad luck.
I'm still unsure how I managed to put such a positive spin on such negative circumstances but then again, I try not to give it too much thought.
In 2014, after corrective eye surgery (don’t do it, stay with glasses, they are trendy) I suffered a detached Retina and nearly went blind.
I won't bore you but some further 6 eye operations later (I was awake for 4 of them) little did I know that my issues were only just starting. 
In the November of 2014, my Mum was then taken ill and over a 6 month period, was moved from home, to hospital, to a care home and then back to hospital for end of life care where she died one Saturday morning in the May of 2015.
One year later, in a polar opposite to my Mums passing, my Dad died suddenly of a heart attack one sunny Monday afternoon in August.
My parents lived in the North West whereas I reside in Essex so it was endless trips of the M25, M1 and M6.
Juggling work, a family and trying to work out how I dealt with the estate, bereavement and selling of the family home; I’m an only child.
Having made it through the funeral of my Dad, I was subjected to a skin cancer scare one month later.
A quick routine trip to the doctors resulted in me being fast tracked into Hospital and an ominous looking mole was removed.
Cue a two week waiting game and whilst the results came back negative, they had to go for further tests given it was "highly unusual ".
Cue another week of waiting.
I received the all clear and thought that a degree of normality could and would prevail.
I was wrong.
Just before Christmas, a very good friend felt unwell and went to the Doctors for a routine check.
He too was fast tracked to hospital but sadly the result was not as fortunate as mine.
Stage 4 stomach cancer.
I went to his funeral 3 months later.
 
I'd always queried why a single extra piece of straw could break the Camels back.
I now understood it. I lay awake at night and realised that my job was not making me happy and I had a decision to make.
I went on holiday the day after my friends funeral and whilst being 100% risk adverse, within 24 hours of arriving in Spain, bought an apartment.
Somewhere we can go as a family, enjoy, relax, learn Spanish.....do the simple stuff.
The stuff that matters.
My wife was surprised, my children delighted. 
Upon return to the UK, I quit my job in the City.
My friends thought I was having a delayed reaction to the grieving process and they had a point. Given everything just kept going wrong in my life, I did not grieve but only because there was so much other bad stuff happening, I thought if I stop, I would never start again.
Classic Whackamole.

I left my job on July 18th, spent the summer with my wife and children, drank too many flat whites (extra shot) caught up with a few films that I had always wanted to see (French Connection II), gave a motivational talk in a prison and to broaden my horizons, went to a Japanese art exhibition.
I then set about finding an organisation that I could not only relate to but also assist and hopefully benefit.

Getting into the NFP/Charity sector has been harder than I anticipated but I'm a determined chap and would not be put off.

Prior to the City, I had spent almost 10 years in the West End working in the Recruitment sector and therefore I played upon my “Transferable Skills”.

As such, a very helpful agency saw potential in me and we began initial discussions, albeit, they were initially dubious that I would leave my job. 
 
However, I had kept my part in the bargain by doing what I said I would, they sourced a role for me that would assist a charity and in the bargain, I would “get my foot in the door”.
I'm working part time for a small charity called Open Age based in North Kensington who source employment opportunities for the 50+ market.
I have just finished week 2 and whilst I am still in my infancy (aka Honeymoon) I know I have made the right decision.
I won't bore you why but instinct over reason and whilst my clients who I am working with are 50 Years plus, it has also taken me 50 years plus to work this out.
Life is too short and given I walk every day past the tragedy that was Grenfell, never more has this resonated with me.
I'll have bad days.
I've had bad days.
But at least my bad days will be spent trying to help someone who needs something from me and not with someone who wants something from me.
 
As I said at the beginning of this article, words are a currency and cheap, so I will keep you posted on my progress.
The only way I can evidence that is to keep this up.
I have indeed gone via the scenic route but maybe now, this is my time.
 
Darren Grady
Open Age, W10