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Relatively speaking: Brenda Shankey and her dad Brendan

By Karen Ireland

Brenda Shankey is well-known as co-owner of the popular Jason Shankey Male Grooming salons. Her dad Brendan is a recently retired youth worker.

Name: Brenda Shankey

Age: 44

Occupation: Joint owner of Jason Shankey Male Grooming

Relationship to Brendan: Daughter

My husband Jason and I have worked in the male grooming business for years, running a number of successful salons. But three years ago, I had a nervous breakdown - it was just my body's way of telling me to slow down and that the stresses and strains of life were becoming too much for me.

I took some time out and re-evaluated my life, and discovered what was important to me was the people in it. I started to learn about meditation and mindfulness, studying for a diploma in meditation. Since then, I have been teaching classes called Be Fabulous which help people learn how to cope with stress.

I still manage the Jason Shankey salons on the Lisburn Road and House of Fraser, but I've learned to stop work at 5pm and make time for the things which are important to me.

I spend the evening with my two children, Lauren (14) and Will (12), and my husband. I love to walk and see friends and read books. All the things I never took time for before as I was going at a hundred miles an hour.

I make much more time for me now - I think I am trying to take a leaf out of my dad Brendan's book.

I try to keep calm, and when you are calm, you find solutions and life is easier. My dad is the calmest person I know and he is unwavering. No matter what is going on in life, he just deals with it and stays positive, never judging anyone. It is a quality I really admire. He is a solid, reliable man with great strength of character. He applies his positive attitude to everything he does. When I was younger, he dealt with any stress at home by taking me out for a walk. He loves walking and I think that's where I got it from.

There were five girls in our house, and dad very much let us do our own thing. He was very free-spirited and let us find our own way in the world.

We meet up every couple of months and go out for a meal or a walk.

I was especially proud when he received an MBE for services to youth and the community."

Name: Brendan Wilkinson

Age: 68

Occupation: Retired youth worker

Relationship to Brenda: Father

I retired two years ago from my job as a youth worker and community centre manager. I recently received an MBE for my services to youth in the community of Derry over the past 40 years, which was a real honour and a privilege.

I loved going to work every day and meeting new challenges and different people. There are young people in the city who I have watched grow up and been part of their lives.

And there have been difficult situations to deal with, involving drugs, the Troubles and relationships.

Some of the young people I have worked with have ended up in prison, but I have seen them come out and get their lives back on course.

It meant so much to me being part of this and being able to help.

To me, it's all about being there, offering support and a friendly ear. Now that I'm retired, I try to get out and about every day. I don't sit in the house as that would drive me mad. I love to dance, go walking and meet people.

I have five daughters and I am very proud of them all.

Brenda and I have always been close - she has always been able to talk to me.

She is intelligent, independent and has always worked hard to achieve her goals in life.

When she left school, she started a scheme washing hair and brushing up, and ended up managing the shop. Then, she went to Belfast where she completed an HND and studied for teaching qualifications.

She married Jason and they started their own businesses. She can be a bit of a workaholic, but at the same time, family comes first and she always makes time for them.

If something doesn't work out for her, she will just try a different route until she succeeds.

She is a real blessing and is always full of joy, with lots of energy. When I see her, we enjoy going for walks or out for tea in Derry to have a good chat."

A cut above

  • Brenda is a director at Jason Shankey Grooming which opened 1997
  • She was named as Belfast Telegraph Business Woman of the Year 2012
  • Was a Save the Children Champion from 2009 to 2012
  • Currently chair of the Ballyhackamore Business Association from 2000 to present
  • Teaches weekly 'Mindfulness' classes to help people deal with stress

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