A Blackpool man who struggled to find a job after being outside of the world of work for 20 years has just been voted the best at what he does in the whole of the North West.
Chris Harper had not been able to have a full time job as he was the full time carer for his former wife Odette, who had a range of debilitating conditions, and had to bring up their family.
After her death, he struggled to get anyone to take him on having no continuous career history.
Eventually he got a job at the insurance claims handling call centre run by Slater Gordon at Sir Frank Whittle Way, Squires Gate. And now just two years later, he has won the top Customer Service Agent of the Year in the North West Contact Centre Awards.
Chris, 52, of Devonshire Road, said: “For 15 years I looked after my ex-wife as her carer and helped raise our three daughters who have now grown up and have children of their own.
“Then for four years I was trying to get a job, I did training courses and everything without any luck.
“Then I got a job with Slater Gordon but it did not start very well.
“My wife died, then the day I was supposed to start I had to rush to hospital with my daughter who was pregnant. It was a very difficult time for the whole family.
“I had one role here but I was not ideally suited for it and then I got this job as a claims advisor and never looked back.
“I help people over the phone when they have had a road accident and their vehicle recovering, repairing or need a hire car.
“ To be honest I am part of a great team here, my bosses have been very encouraging and believed in me when nobody else did.
“When I started I had zero self belief. I could not have done this without them.
“Both myself and my colleague Angela Jankers made it to the final.
“Just to be a finalist was more than I could have ever dreamed about as I had been out of work for 20 years.
“This is a steady job and incredibly rewarding because I am helping people.
“Every time I answer that telephone I am not talking to a client I am talking to a person.
“To anyone who has been out of work and may be giving up I would say just keep going. I never thought this would happen to me, so it can happen to anyone.”
The awards, hosted by impressionist Debra Stephenson, were attended by more than 370 guests from across the contact centre industry.
A spokesman for Slater Gordon said: “This is the second year in a row we have come away from this event with awards and are exceptionally proud of each candidate and team shortlisted, especially the recognition the exceptional customer service delivered by Chris Harper.
“Slater Gordon Solutions also received a Highly Commended Award for Support Team of the Year (Finance Team).