'Bravest Woman in UK' announces retirement
Posted on 29th November 2021 at 16:15
Well-known local estate agent, Debbie Fortune, who created her award winning company, Debbie Fortune Estate Agents in 2009, has announced her retirement following over 43 years in the business.
Debbie has been a familiar face in the property world since 1978 and so can rightly claim to be one of the most experienced estate agents in the area.
There will not be a house locally that she doesn’t know, and as an avid local historian, she knows the history of many of them as well.
Some of them she may have sold, once, twice, or even more in her lengthy and successful career.
But...what you may not know about Debbie is that she was also named the ‘bravest woman in the UK’ by the BBC when she opened the doors to Debbie Fortune Estate Agents, in the depths of the property recession in January 2009.
She made local, regional, and national news, her story was featured on BBC NEWS 24 and with over 3 million views in 24 hours, she became a local hero overnight.
During the last 12 years she has grown her business from those humble beginnings to a successful linked network of three regional community offices, covering the sale and rental of all types of property in North Somerset, the Chew Valley, and the Mendips.
Keen to support her community she has always made it policy to employ local people and in partnership with Weston College, support National Apprenticeships, giving young people an opportunity to learn ‘on the job’.
Most importantly all these staff, as part of their employment, are involved with the community work which is so close to Debbie’s heart, ‘giving back’ to the community in the form of a programme of community support, including support of local causes, events, and with sponsorships of local teams, clubs, and societies.
She has to date, raised way over £100,000, and counting, for the local community.
Debbie has always been adamant that she would never sell the business to a corporate estate agent and safeguarding the jobs of her staff was paramount, so when she began to think about retirement, a ‘board of management’ was established, comprising the most senior and experienced members of the business.
As she said...’ I can’t work for ever ... as much as I enjoy it, and I recognised that if the company was to continue to grow and remain as successful, I would need to hand over the reins to my younger team members, those with lots more energy than me!’
Lisa Baines, Managing Director and Neil Drejer, Director in charge of Sales have acquired shares in the company over the last three years, now taking over the reins and carrying on the traditions and values developed by Debbie since 2009.
‘I couldn’t be happier’, said Debbie, ‘with my name above the door it was so important for me to see the right people in charge, and with over 50 years combined property experience, Lisa and Neil are definitely those people!’
‘It was always going to be difficult to retire completely, after working at such a pace over the years so I will continue to maintain a steady and serious interest in the company and look forward to many more years of success under new ownership.
I would like to thank everybody who has supported me over the years. Without your help I could never have done it!’
‘Having worked in estate agency since the early 1990’s, I had worked for a few fast-paced corporate agencies who I felt never really had the traditional values that an independent agency brings.
When I heard that Debbie Fortune Estate Agents had been founded, I quickly penned a ‘good old fashioned’ personal letter asking Debbie to employ me and thankfully, she said ‘yes’. I haven’t looked back since!
Debbie has successfully grown a company that prides itself on community support, customer service and approachability whilst offering integrity, discretion, and professionalism and I couldn’t have been prouder when I was asked to join the Board of Management as a director with a plan to acquire shares in the company, over a term, a few years ago.
I strongly believe that our clients and their homes deserve nothing less than beautiful marketing and exceptional service, whilst combining the undeniable impact of the internet and first-class customer care from our knowledgeable, friendly, and motivated staff.
I am excited at how buoyant the housing market has been since the pandemic and the bonus of being allowed to get back out in the community has been a real treat for Neil, myself, and our wonderful staff.
We absolutely pledge to continue nurturing the long-established relationship Debbie Fortune Estate Agents has forged with our communities and clients, old and new, with a name above the door that we are very proud of.’
‘Having joined Debbie Fortune Estate agents in 2016, it very quickly became apparent to me that this was a business I wanted to be involved with for the rest of my career. The company clearly shared my ethos, spirit, and principles, with its mantra of working hard and giving back to the community.
When the opportunity came available to progress from being an employee to an owner, there was no hesitation on my part. Both Lisa and I couldn’t be in a stronger position to continue Debbie’s unwavering commitment to the business over the past 12 years and continue to grow it from its solid foundations’.
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