So long, Suzanne.
On Monday 24th September we said goodbye to one of the pillars of the World First customer service team, who is leaving to begin her retirement. During her years with us, Suzanne went from doing the office filing to passing the first policy in the UK that allowed people with HIV to get travel insurance. Incredible.
Suzanne Rothwell is the wife of our Founder (Stewart Rothwell) and the mother of our Managing Partner (Martin Rothwell). She’s been involved in the company in one way or another since day one. (You may well have spoken to her if you’ve ever called us.) In the spirit of celebrating her dedicated graft, unwavering spirit and savvy business ideas, we’ve put together a short Q&A post about her time with World First.
Here’s to Suzanne Rothwell.
You’ve been involved with World First since day one. What was it like back in those early days?
I started going in to the office to help with the filing when Martin [Suzanne’s son, now our Managing Partner] was small and at nursery. I found it quite difficult as I was the new girl and knew nothing about insurance. It was a steep learning curve, but I soon progressed onto assisting clients, which I loved.
How has the business changed over the years?
The business was quite small when I started, having been started by my husband some years earlier. We dealt with motor, household and commercial insurance. Some years later my husband managed to get a policy to cover our hotelier clients against cancellation of their bookings; this was then extended to cover self- catering accommodation. This was the first policy of its kind and was the basis of what the company has progressed to today. We then went on to offer mortgage and life insurance products and the business grew rapidly. We sold the general business in 1992 to Hill House Hammond but kept the travel insurance part of the business, which we relocated to Exeter in Devon. This part of the business has since grown into what it is today.
Has anything stayed the same as when the business launched?
We have always prided ourselves on customer service and this remains the same today. It’s still a family business, now run by my son Martin Rothwell. The introduction of computers, credit card payments, emails and the internet have all made a great difference to the office workings, but the ethos stays the same: great service.
In your opinion, has the business been successful in achieving the goals it was launched to achieve?
It has surpassed my expectations. I am so proud of how the business has grown.
What will you miss about working in the office?
The companionship of my colleagues and my direct involvement with customers.
Are there any career moments that stick out in your memory?
Getting an insurer to listen to my pleas to cover people living with HIV. It took me years of pleading to get anyone to listen. This section of the business was very much my baby and I am pleased that we have been able to assist many thousands of people with their holiday insurance over the years.
Last but not least, do you have any plans for your retirement?
Keeping myself fit with my exercise regime, gardening, looking after my three beautiful grandchildren, driving my husband mad by not being able to sit still for more than five minutes, travelling, reading and cooking. Hopefully there’ll be some time to sit in the garden too, weather permitting.
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