The Privilege and the Pain

Meet motivational speaker Grace Quantock, who struggled with health problems at Reading but, with our support, refused to let that stop her from becoming the successful woman she is today.

Grace Quantock HeadshotI loved Reading so much, I stayed an extra year.

Well, that’s not quite true, but I did study for four years rather than three and would have stayed longer if I could.

I had dreamed of going to university since I was very small. I even have a drawing I did when I was five years old planning out my university dorm room. Where I would have my desk, my books, my beloved time to dive into subjects I loved among world-class professors. I had a plan, and I worked to achieve it. Arriving at Reading was the culmination of all those dreams and determination.

My experience of Reading was of a privileged yet painful time. I was studying a subject I loved (I read History, with an emphasis on medieval women’s history and the working lives of women in Reading in the medieval period). I had the best tutors, an amazing library and access to a sensational records office for research. But it was also a time of becoming increasingly ill, lessening independence and rising pain.
However the staff were wonderful; things were adapted; I felt accepted and together we navigated to make it possible to achieve my degree, a BA Hons. In this way, I was able to keep my identity, to achieve something so long dreamed of it had, in its own way, become a part of me.

Students recorded lectures for me when I was too ill to come to campus.

Staff got books from the library for me when I couldn’t stand to reach the shelves.

A tutor brought a camp bed into the exam room for me so I could take my finals, even when very ill.

I couldn’t have asked for a better support team.

My favourite thing about Reading was the classes, (and the cereal cafe!). I loved working on my dissertation on the life cycle of women in business in medieval Reading. I also enjoyed Reading town itself, the social centre, the food coop, Cafe Iguana and Angan.

By the end of my degree I was nearly housebound. I lived for letters that connected me with the outside I could only just remember, that gave me something to focus on and hope for. I made up Healing Boxes – gifts of information, support and healing goodies for friends and family. I tried to buy healing gift boxes for friends and found none in the UK, so I just continued to make my own and more and more people requested them. After a cancer scare at 22, I decided to stop being scared and start living my dreams and so my entrepreneurial journey began.

It comes full circle as I studied women running businesses hundreds of years ago and how the women worked around challenging circumstances to grow those businesses. Now, I am a woman in business myself and teaching other women about living well and working even in challenging circumstances like dealing with diagnosis or grief.

I am grateful for my amazing experiences at Reading and for the opportunity to share my story here.


Grace is an award-winning international wellness expert, coach, author, and motivational speaker. She is the founder of Healing Boxes CIC and The Phoenix Fire Academy and a recipient of the Future Young Leader of Wales Award, Entrepreneur Wales Awards, Great British Entrepreneur Awards as well as Britain’s Top Real Role Model finalist and featured in The Hay Festival, Positive News, Gala Darling, TEDx, Huffington Post and The Times of London.

Grace Quantock – Wellness Expert, Motivational Speaker, Author, Coach |
Twitter: @Grace_Quantock | @Healing_Boxes

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