Former TTA Worldchoice commercial director Helen Dooley has given up corporate life to return to her roots selling travel after battling a potentially fatal illness last year.

Dooley, formerly known by her maiden name Talbot, opened the More Than Travel agency in Stamford, Lincolnshire, this month.

Dooley started her career aged 18 in Thomas Cook’s call centre. She joined Worldchoice 12 years ago as a commercial buyer and rose through the ranks to become commercial director.

Her decision to leave the consortium came after suffering a blood clot last year following the birth of her fourth child.

She said: “This was a pipe dream that has been rattling around for a while. I came back to work from maternity leave and was only back for three days
when I had a pulmonary embolism and was off ill for six months.

“There were a few weeks when no one knew what would happen to me. It made me rethink my life.”

The new business is designed as a travel lounge. Traditional window cards and brochure racks have been abandoned in favour of sofas, a few offers in big frames and just 24 brochures. The agency runs an appointment set-up.

Dooley, who runs the agency with her husband and one part-time member of staff, said: “I am doing a lot of the selling because I wanted to make sure we had positioned the shop properly before I took on more staff.

“We seem to have hit a gap in the market and all the sales so far are the type of holidays we want to sell, which is luxury.”

Dooley also has plans to set up a small call centre for local businesses, offering specialist tailor-made readers’ offers trips for a publishing company.