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Dentology Podcast with Gemma Barker


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Transcript – Dentology Podcast with Gemma Barker

Episode release date: Monday 4 December 2023

Andy & Chris (00:01.984)
Hello. How are you doing? Fancy meeting you in a place like this. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. We’re here for another podcast interview. If I could do a drum roll. Don’t know if it’s picked up. I’ve just done one, but not quite a drum. Very excited today. Very, very excited today. Today, we are joined by Gemma Barker. And Gemma is the founder of Barker PR and an absolute bundle of positive energy, which we’re going to find out about. And we’ve known her for a long time. A long, long time. Obviously, when she was very young.

Yes, of course, of course, incredibly young. Welcome Gemma, how are you doing?

Gemma Barker (00:31.815)
Thank you for that. I’m really well, thank you. It’s lovely to see your happy smiley faces this morning. It’s a pleasure on a rainy or tumultuous day.

Andy & Chris (00:38.496)
Ha ha ha. Yeah. Now you can see what she’s in PR, can’t you? Look at that. Exactly. Look at that. Positivity straight in. Straight into PR. Straight into PR mode. We often ask people, how are you? And very often you kind of get a stuck answer. People just respond with, I’m great. Yeah, I’m great. How are you? I guess it sort of resonates more for you. You very publicly kind of chronicled and recorded your breast cancer treatment.

Gemma Barker (00:46.444)
Stop, stop.

Andy & Chris (01:07.348)
So when we say, how are you genuinely, how are you?

Gemma Barker (01:11.899)
Today I’m very well thank you, thank you for asking. Yeah it’s been a hell of a year. We’ve just finished breast cancer awareness month so it’s a heavy month because you’re kind of very split between, I mean I’m a naturally positive person as you said and I guess that’s probably the way that I’ve always kind of lent my perspectives with anything that kind of life sort of thrown at me.

Andy & Chris (01:14.112)
Good. Mmm.

Andy & Chris (01:21.513)

Gemma Barker (01:39.762)
it’s not a facade, I sort of naturally kind of am quite upbeat, try to look at the positive out of things, my parents are the same, my husband when he first met my parents nicknamed them the positives, he was like Christ I’ve never met anyone like that, so I am that way.

Andy & Chris (01:43.72)

Andy & Chris (01:52.464)
It’s better than the grumpies. I was going to say that sounds like a cartoon character. Here they come, the positives. The Incredibles.

Gemma Barker (01:57.426)
I know, I hope it’s not like a toxic way, I like to think it’s not. But yeah, it’s been Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so you’re very split between finding a lot of the content out there very heavy. And there’s lots of stats thrown at you, there’s lots of messages about recurrence and what to look out for. That weighs very heavy when you’ve had cancer. And obviously wanting to do something because I am in a positive place where I’ve come through.

Andy & Chris (02:08.748)

Andy & Chris (02:17.149)
Yeah, I imagine. Mm, I’m sure.

Andy & Chris (02:24.681)

Gemma Barker (02:27.342)
I’m not quite finished with my treatment, but I’ve come through the sort of main thrust of breast cancer treatment. I am cancer-free, which is great. And you feel that you want to do something to make others breast aware, because there’s many people that don’t come through the other side. So I feel it’s a duty to do something. I’m in PR, so I can talk, I can write.

Andy & Chris (02:35.988)
We’re in.

Andy & Chris (02:42.985)

Andy & Chris (02:48.874)

Andy & Chris (02:52.512)
Ha ha ha.

Gemma Barker (02:54.099)
So yeah, I’m well, it’s been a bit of a rough month, if I’m honest, kind of a bit emotionally. Physically, yeah, treatment’s sort of ongoing, so you sort of battle a bit with kind of fatigue and a bit of brain fog.

Andy & Chris (02:57.772)


Andy & Chris (03:07.936)
Hmm. But, but Gemma, you, you’re talking about this kind of in the present tense that, you know, it’s hard, you’ve had some treatment, it’s awareness month, but you did also decide right at the beginning to chart and chronicle your treatment pretty much from the early days of your diagnosis through a specific Instagram channel. Why? I mean, to help others, it’s incredible because like you say, I think lots of people see, um, I guess what fairly highly curated PR messages.

Gemma Barker (03:27.99)

Andy & Chris (03:37.792)
that are still great from Cancer Research UK and others, but to have your firsthand account of what you were going through. I imagine for other people was an incredible story to follow to give them kind of strength. But how was that for you to actually chart and record that? Because at that time, you didn’t know what the next hours, days, weeks held for you. So that must have been quite hard to have been charting that in real time.

Gemma Barker (04:03.678)
Yeah, I mean, I’d like to say that it was a purely kind of selfless move. And actually, it wasn’t. It was quite selfish, actually, of me. I mean, I… So I was diagnosed 1st of September last year, and I found a lump, was told I had breast cancer, and as with most breast cancer… .with most cancer diagnosis, you are served that news, and then you’re kind of left.

because you’ve then got to have biopsies and MRIs and various different scans. So there is quite a long period of time before you really get the full picture of what you’re dealing with. And at that point, you don’t know if it’s spread, you don’t know if it’s curable, treatable, anything. And I think most people, particularly my generation, will reach to social media to try and find, you know, cut through the noise.

Andy & Chris (04:34.272)

Andy & Chris (04:44.961)

Andy & Chris (04:54.71)

Gemma Barker (04:55.498)
you’re instantly told not to Google. So that’s quite a scary place. So you want to meet other people that have been through the same thing that you’ve been through, to be able to talk to them and find your tribe, if you like. So for me, it was people that were positive. It was people that could say, this is shit and it’s tough, but actually this is what I’ve done to get through it. So I very quickly found on social media, people that I could chat to that had the surgery I was about to have, that had the chemotherapy that I knew I was gonna be having in sort of

Andy & Chris (05:00.693)

Andy & Chris (05:07.912)

Andy & Chris (05:12.408)

Andy & Chris (05:25.057)

Gemma Barker (05:25.258)
a few months time. And it was an absolute, to say it saved me is such an understatement. Those people, you know, your friends and your husbands and other people are wonderful. There’s only so much they can do and say. But people that have been in it are remarkable. So.

Andy & Chris (05:33.216)

Andy & Chris (05:36.468)

Andy & Chris (05:39.936)

Andy & Chris (05:45.389)
Yeah, I think sympathy and empathy are two very different things, aren’t they? I’d say my friend’s wife had breast cancer and she said, it’s all, you’re lonely because ultimately as you said, you know, your friends and family, but they don’t really get it and you need to find a group of people that do really get it and that is, you know, you have to have a blend of them all really, don’t you? Because otherwise it’s a very lonely trail, I’d imagine.

Gemma Barker (05:54.637)

Gemma Barker (06:01.179)
We don’t care.

Gemma Barker (06:10.762)
It is a lonely child and I think you, you know, I’m a mother of two, I’m a wife, I’m an only daughter and only child to my parents who really struggled to have children. My husband lost his mum to breast cancer when he was 27. I’m built in this kind of circle of people where, you know, my survival is absolutely integral to everyone’s joy and happiness, right? I’ve got a team of people that work for me.

Andy & Chris (06:25.64)

Andy & Chris (06:32.549)
There’s a lot of pressure on you.

Andy & Chris (06:37.09)
Mm. Ah!

Gemma Barker (06:40.074)
who, you know, were like, oh, what does this mean for us? So I’m…

Andy & Chris (06:43.22)
Did that drive you on? I was going to say, can I just ask a question? If you might want to answer this. How did your husband cope with your diagnosis?

Gemma Barker (06:53.643)
I always say my husband’s fairly unemotional and I think because he’s been through quite a lot kind of in his life. I mean he’s very kind and compassionate but he’s quite, you know, right up until the moment that I was diagnosed he said you’re gonna be fine, it’s gonna be fine and he sat with me when we were told the news and yeah, I’ve never, yeah, he was absolutely broken.

Andy & Chris (06:59.616)

Andy & Chris (07:11.436)

Andy & Chris (07:16.788)
I say it must bomb him out big time.

Gemma Barker (07:18.346)
But yeah, I mean, and I felt awful. I felt a guilt. But you know, really, I was like, Christ, you know, he’s lost his mum to breast cancer and now his fucking wife’s got it. Like, you know, what? I was like, you know, we always have this joke, like, this wasn’t part of the contract. And I was like, you know, the contract being marriage, like, I didn’t know this about you before we got together. And I was like, Christ, this really wasn’t part of the contract. I was like, this is, I’m so sorry.

Andy & Chris (07:22.642)
Well, if you’d got cancer. Oh no.

Andy & Chris (07:43.42)
Wow. What an emotion to have though, isn’t it? You’ve been faced with the old cancer diagnosis and one of your probably by the sounds things, one of your first reactions apart from a bit of shock is you feeling a bit guilty that you’re upsetting your husband. I mean, wow. Talk about, let’s have a look at the whole gambit of emotions going on here.

Gemma Barker (08:04.246)
Well, I think most people, you do, you worry less about yourself, don’t you? You are faced with your own mortality, but I was terrified for the kids. How would that impact them? Yeah, we didn’t for a while. Until I knew I was going to have to have chemo, we thought there’s no point telling them. They’re seven and eight. They were six and seven at the time.

Andy & Chris (08:08.427)


Andy & Chris (08:16.364)
Did you tell them? I’m assuming you told them, did you?

Andy & Chris (08:27.423)
I was going to ask how old they were, yeah.


Gemma Barker (08:32.382)
When I knew I had to have chemo, then obviously I knew I was going to lose my hair and it was, you know, they would be aware of what was going on. We had to sit them down and tell them. And it was fairly uneventful. I said, you know, we had to explain what cancer was. I was terrified. I had to explain what cancer was, that you can die from it. You know, you have to be really upfront. The lump that I had, which they knew that I’d had some surgery, turns out it was cancer, but it’s gone. But I’m going to have to have some medicine. It’s going to make me…

Andy & Chris (08:41.284)


Andy & Chris (08:50.281)

Andy & Chris (08:58.259)

Gemma Barker (09:01.078)
feel pretty rough, I’m going to lose my hair, but it’s going to mean that cancer doesn’t come back, which I think you have to be quite definite and reassure them about. And my seven-year-old Bertie, my eldest son, went to my little one, Archer, she’s lying, she’s not going to lose her hair. And I was like, no, I’m really going to lose my hair. I said, but I’m going to have wigs and you won’t know, and when I come and pick you up from school, no one will know. And they were amazing. They sort of went, oh, okay, cool.

Andy & Chris (09:08.493)

Andy & Chris (09:19.019)
I won.

Andy & Chris (09:26.697)
Mm-hmm. Have you all g-

Gemma Barker (09:30.658)
Can we go now? Yeah, but then over the next week, they made a couple of quite interesting comments. So they, my little one went to me on the way to school one morning, he went, mommy, can you believe that you’ve got cancer? And I was like, no. He was like, it’s mad, isn’t it? I was like, really mad. And yeah, and said, you know, sort of a couple of things, you know, you think it hasn’t sunk in and then you get like these kind of little snippets of.

Andy & Chris (09:32.34)
Can we go and play football?

Andy & Chris (09:49.781)

Andy & Chris (09:58.56)
Hmm. How do you… Have you got a good shaped head for hair loss? Because some… Yeah, I’ll say… Because you’ve got quite a good shaped face. I mean, looking at it, you’d probably look alright. I think it’s an interesting one, isn’t it? How do you…

Gemma Barker (10:03.798)
But who would have known, Chris? This is the problem I had to…

Gemma Barker (10:13.386)
I don’t think anyone really suits the proper bald cancer look. I mean that is, that is, you do look, you do look very, but you, sorry, carry on.

Andy & Chris (10:18.413)
It’s a very special, yeah. Apart from that woman, skunk and Nancy or whatever it was. How did you prioritise yourself and your business and your family and your kids and your husband? What was kind of the… Because when you’re well, I think most people take their health for granted.

they don’t kind of sit and reflect on what it’s like to feel well. So when you’re in a period where you need to really focus on your own recovery, what was your kind of system for what comes first?

Gemma Barker (10:51.726)
So I actually suffered with quite a bit of anxiety last year which I think on reflection and was probably I wasn’t very well and this was this underlying I was getting sick a lot and I’d shingles and I’d be in meetings and I’d get kind of panic attacks things like this and then I was diagnosed and then obviously you have the anxiety and everything through your illness. When I found out that I had to have chemo so I knew that

Andy & Chris (11:01.082)

Gemma Barker (11:19.226)
ultimately I would have to step back from work, which for me was devastating because I thought, you know, I love my business, I love the work that I do, I’m so passionate about it. If anything, I’ve probably always worked too many hours, haven’t been as boundary-led as I could be, and I didn’t really know how to step back. But what happened was, is I, this anxiety started building, so I’d be in meetings or I’d, you know, be on

or I’d be pitching something. And it was getting more and more. And I had, through the hospital, they recommended, because I reached out to them and said, look, I’m having this awful panic and anxiety. I don’t know what, you know, is there anything you could advise? And they said, well, have you ever tried tapping? So they have kind of these, so they said, I will put you with some, this wonderful lady, she works with lots of kind of women who’ve

Andy & Chris (12:07.561)
Uh-uh. Hmm.

Gemma Barker (12:14.686)
sort of recently being diagnosed and you know, there’s a lot going on and you might find it really helped. So I had this tapping session and she was amazing. So she talked through, you know, guess what my worries were, what my anxieties were. And everything for me came down to work. And she said, you know, we sort of talked through it. She said, Gemma, we need to just stop this session. She said, all you focused on is what’s going to happen about your business? How are you going to cope not working? How are the team going to cope without you?

Andy & Chris (12:25.632)
Hmm. HMM!

Gemma Barker (12:44.318)
What are your clients gonna think? She said enough. She said, you are in a place in your life where the only thing that matters is your health. She said, until you start thinking health first, nothing will change. This anxiety will keep building. You’re not gonna get better. And she really taught me to kind of shift this mindset. I had few sessions with her, it’s not an overnight job, but she kept saying to me, it’s health first, everything comes second.

Andy & Chris (12:53.287)

Andy & Chris (13:08.551)

Gemma Barker (13:14.406)
And she said to me, the second you switch that mindset, you will start living your life differently. She said, it doesn’t matter that you can’t work for a couple of months. You know, your team will cope, they will be fine. Your clients will understand. She said, what’s the worst thing that can happen? You lose clients or, you know, team members struggles. It will all be manageable. What won’t be manageable is if you don’t come through this the other side. So I think.

Andy & Chris (13:22.869)

Andy & Chris (13:30.38)

Andy & Chris (13:36.48)
Hmm. That’s interesting, isn’t it?

Gemma Barker (13:39.962)
I think that for me was so powerful and I just had to go, well, you’re absolutely right.

Andy & Chris (13:43.514)

Andy & Chris (13:47.456)
Yeah, you are the priority. And has that stuck with you?

Gemma Barker (13:51.27)
Yeah, I have to really remind myself now. So I finished kind of active treatment as they call it. So like chemo and radio in June. And I came back, my plan was that I would do kind of three days a week. And I’ve had like a coach, she’s like a nutritionist who’s sort of been helping me. And she was very kind of firm with me that you need to.

Andy & Chris (13:57.192)

Gemma Barker (14:18.254)
carve out this space for yourself so that you don’t go from, you know, no work to all work again and make sure that you’re really getting that balance right. So what I try to do is I don’t let myself work unless I’ve done exercise. So I do like an exercise class in the morning or I take the dogs for a long walk and I try to have two clear days off a week at the moment.

Andy & Chris (14:25.66)
Yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (14:34.759)

Andy & Chris (14:42.764)

Gemma Barker (14:43.042)
And I find that if I don’t, I get very tired, things get on top of me quickly. It’s hard because you know what it’s like, you’re business owners, I genuinely really love what I do. I could do it morning, noon and night.

Andy & Chris (14:48.073)

Andy & Chris (14:51.508)
Hmm. Yeah.


And there’s always something to do, isn’t it? It’s not like you’re sitting there with your feet up thinking, oh, I’ll tell you what, I’ll have a little coffee and read a book. There’s always something that you can do because you’re that type of person who wants to get up and go and do something. You’re not one that sits down and goes, yeah, that’s fine. Jim, I’m intrigued. If we took the cancer diagnosis out of the equation, the things you learned about yourself and prioritizing your business and anxiety, were they always there?

and it was just heightened as a result of your cancer diagnosis and you needed to change your pattern of work. So actually it’s given you a better work-life balance going forward. It must have been a reset. Yeah, as a result of your cancer diagnosis, you found out things about yourself that were always there, but perhaps just became a bit more present because of your diagnosis.

Gemma Barker (15:49.206)
100%. I mean, I think all I said at the beginning of this was that as long as no one dies, and I was very confident I wasn’t going to die, which maybe is a bit optimistic, that’s a positive in me, but I have a good prognosis. So I was like, as long as no one dies through this, there’s so many positives to come through this. I mean, there’s nothing like looking down the barrel of a gun and going, right, am I living my life in the right way? And I think absolutely.

Andy & Chris (16:01.672)
Yeah, the positives, they’re back.

Andy & Chris (16:14.837)

Gemma Barker (16:17.386)
I don’t think I was doing things horrendously wrong. But yeah, I definitely didn’t have the balance right. I probably never delegated enough within the business and didn’t give enough of the rest of my team the chance to kind of really step up in my absence because I was always there. And I think it’s quite hard when, you know, I started the business in 2008 and it was just me. Yeah, it was just me.

Andy & Chris (16:24.384)

Andy & Chris (16:35.679)

Andy & Chris (16:42.152)
I was going to ask when you started, 2008. So is that just before or after the financial crash? Excellent.

Gemma Barker (16:48.626)
It was during. It was kind of in reaction to if you like. So, yeah, we started up the business and it, you know, so we’ve been sort of every 15 years next year. And it was just me. So I guess any business that grows organically and starts off in a consultancy basis, you start doing everything because you have to do everything so you and then it grows a little bit.

Andy & Chris (17:12.787)
Yeah, yeah.

Gemma Barker (17:17.15)
and I was never particularly business minded. So it wasn’t, I don’t know if you know, the kind of background for me is I set up the business with Ken Finlayson when he sold the business back in 2008, when he sold FMC. I was working in insurance actually, so I worked for Halvin Insurance Brokers. So I was their marketing manager there. Prior to that, I worked at FMC for three years, which is how I knew Ken.

Andy & Chris (17:33.851)
Ah, okay.

Andy & Chris (17:39.025)

Gemma Barker (17:41.134)
And Ken sold the business, came to me, we had a conversation and thought actually there’s a real opportunity in light of the financial crisis. Lots of people are getting rid of their marketing departments and outsourcing. So I set it out, it was called GG Communications at the time, which was my maiden name initials. And we were a marketing consultancy and we worked across insurance, finance and dentistry and a little bit of the GP market as well. We’re doing more and more in dentistry because that’s where my background is.

Andy & Chris (17:51.209)

Andy & Chris (18:07.347)

Gemma Barker (18:10.03)
connections were. I bought Ken out after six months so he then launched a publication called, I don’t know if you remember, PPD, Premium Practice Dentistry. So he started that up and obviously there would have been a conflict there so I then went off on my own.

Andy & Chris (18:19.614)

Andy & Chris (18:29.748)
You survived longer than that, dude. Ha ha ha.

Gemma Barker (18:31.698)
Yeah, but yeah, it was hard because it started, I didn’t have that business acumen, so I had to learn it made lots of mistakes along the way. But I think what…

Andy & Chris (18:38.567)

Andy & Chris (18:42.772)
Would you have done it on your own Gemma? If it was just you, would you have had that special ingredient needed to be a solo printer and do it on your own? Or was it the comfort of a partner in the early days that gave you the strength?

Gemma Barker (18:55.342)
I mean, I was only 27, Andy, so I think, I don’t think I would have done it at 27. I don’t know, it’s like what came first, the chicken or the egg, I couldn’t work for anyone now. And would I have been this way anyway? I don’t know, I mean, I have a lot to thank Ken for those, you know, kind of getting me started in those early days. And I’m very grateful and I, you know, and I…

Andy & Chris (18:59.84)

Andy & Chris (19:05.573)

Andy & Chris (19:14.152)

Andy & Chris (19:19.132)

Gemma Barker (19:24.29)
absolutely love it, absolutely love it now. But I don’t know, I don’t, truly I don’t know, I guess it would have depended what path it would have taken the rest of my career, but I’ve always been very driven, very ambitious, and I’m a real people pleaser, which works really well in PR. So with my clients, I guess what’s, I think what we’ve built the business on, certainly in those early days was,

Andy & Chris (19:35.042)

Gemma Barker (19:53.246)
wanting to do a really, really good job for clients and wanting to exceed expectations and take their budgets and their brief and turn it into something exceptional, which I’m proud we’ve done a lot of. And I guess, as you say, Andy, as it’s grown, it’s very hard to hand that over or step back from that because

Andy & Chris (19:56.596)

Andy & Chris (20:19.274)

Gemma Barker (20:19.834)
One, selfishly I got a lot of gratification from a client going, well done Gemma.

Andy & Chris (20:24.669)
Delegation is the hardest art, I think, as you grow. To be able to understand, to delegate effectively. And that applies to all businesses, whether it be your business, our business, dental businesses, in the fact of understanding that…

Gemma Barker (20:27.798)

Gemma Barker (20:36.896)

Andy & Chris (20:39.46)
you might be better off delegating it to someone else. And even if they might not do it as well as you, it gives you more capacity for then you to do the thing that you’re really, really good at. But it’s a real art. Otherwise the dangers, it falls into that abdication responsibility. Nothing happens. And I think it’s even harder when you’re a founder, you know, we’ve, we’ve founded business over the years. We’ve bought business, we’ve sold businesses. But I think if you found a business, because as you just said, from day one, you’re doing everything.

Gemma Barker (20:55.159)

Andy & Chris (21:09.032)
So as more as people come in, they’re still doing jobs that you’ve done and you know how to do. And I think that’s hard. And when you found a business, it’s like your baby. Yeah. It’s in your DNA, isn’t it? You know, it’s, it’s so important to you. So you want everything to be done perfectly. So that, that art of delegation and you know, you, you were also delegating way before you became unwell, but that really

change it up a notch in that because you were forced out of the business for a period of time, it meant it had to work in a different way. And people stepped up, which I think is great. And then there’s also that risk, isn’t it, when they step up, that when you then re-engage, that you don’t then push them back down again.

Gemma Barker (21:46.03)
Oh, God. Yeah, Chris, absolutely. And you know what? Having said everything that I’ve just said, the team have been amazing. And how foolish of me to think that they would have been anything other, you know, I’m not. And I’d never I never it wasn’t really ever a question of whether they could deliver it was my you know, it was my Yeah.

Andy & Chris (21:57.789)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (22:07.12)
your own thoughts isn’t it? Well we all want to think Gemma aren’t we that we’re indispensable to what we do but the vast majority of people in reality I could get knocked over by a bus and okay some people would miss me but life would go on. The bus driver didn’t. That’s true yeah.

Gemma Barker (22:12.678)

Gemma Barker (22:20.014)
Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, but they’ve been amazing and actually like you say flipping back to the question that you asked at the start, Andy, is that yeah, absolutely. It’s all worked out really well and I’m able to now, you know, Seb Evans joined us just before Christmas and that’s been fantastic for us and I’ve, you know, worked with Seb obviously for many years when he was on and you know, that’s been

Andy & Chris (22:32.545)

Andy & Chris (22:36.433)

Andy & Chris (22:42.886)

Gemma Barker (22:47.678)
another kind of string that we’ve had to our bows and another kind of dimension of skill set that we’ve got for the team. And there’s no way that I would come back in now and take things off people. But I can be more strategic and I think…

Andy & Chris (22:52.341)

Andy & Chris (23:00.221)
Yeah. I say your business challenge is to keep your work-life balance that you’ve sort of managed to create, haven’t you? Throw it out of exceptional trying circumstances is to not think, hey, I’m going to immerse so as when my kids are 12, they don’t remember who I am. People talk a lot about work-life balance. You’re at the very front pointy end of what that looks like. What does it actually look like for you now?

Gemma Barker (23:27.638)
Really, really good question. I honestly don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I think in the kind of literal sense for me, it’s still keeping that facade of health and wellbeing front and centre before anything else. And I always said, I’ve certainly said over the last couple of months, it’s that, then it’s family, then it’s work. And I’m not sure I’ve ever had that balance in the right way, which I’m ashamed to admit.

Andy & Chris (23:44.192)
before anything else.

Gemma Barker (23:56.686)
And also ensuring that I’m promoting the right balance for my team as well. And I think we’re ensuring, we’re having lots of conversations as a collective company now about how I’m ensuring that they’re going out and getting their fitness and getting fresh air.

doing charity work and they’ve got the right balance. You know, we all want to work hard and I’m, you know, the team are really hardworking, but we could work 24 hours a day, but it’s not practical and we shouldn’t and we need to get that balance right. You know, when times are tough, I always say to them, you know, our statement is we don’t work in A&E.

Andy & Chris (24:32.116)

Andy & Chris (24:37.746)

Gemma Barker (24:41.826)
You know, there are deadlines, but we don’t work in A&E. You know, let’s just get some perspective on this. I want everyone to be healthy, enjoy work and get the right balance. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (24:44.82)

Andy & Chris (24:52.184)
But genuinely, I think you get better results, your clients like that as well. I think if you come in with energy and passion for what you’re doing and good health, you will create better outcomes for your clients. If you’re knackered because you’re at your desk for 13, 14 hours a day, that’s not good for anybody, including clients. I think also if your clients don’t get it, then they’re probably not the right clients for you.

Gemma Barker (25:13.13)
Oh absolutely, I think that is a really key part of it. We’ve often said that, is that we’ve retained quite a lot of our clients for many years and every year we have some clients that we work with on kind of a campaign basis, short term basis and they’re never necessarily going to be long term clients but we have had to say to clients sometimes you know the dynamic doesn’t always work.

Andy & Chris (25:35.196)
Yeah, I think you’re dead right.

Gemma Barker (25:37.29)
and they expect it and that’s okay. Whereas a few years ago, I never would have said that, I would have been like, no, love us, need us, we’re thrilled with us. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (25:42.444)
No, no, because you want the business, don’t you? Yeah, need the business, need the business. Yeah, yeah. Going back to the very beginning, you know, you’ve been in business for 15 years, which is an incredible achievement. Most businesses, most startups don’t make a year.

and the stats that make five years, it’s less than 20% get through to five years. So to still be here 15 years on is something that’s worth applauding. But going back to the very beginning, how tough was it starting a business from stepping out from an employed position to suddenly having a computing front of you, no clients and no business and saying, well, let’s get this going? How easy or hard was it?

Gemma Barker (26:17.81)
It was hard, it was hard. I mean, I had that first six months, I guess I had that support of Ken, so we did it together. The period that was tough was when I bought him out. So I owned a flat, I was very lucky, I bought my first flat in London when I was 24. My dad was like, get on that, you know, do it. He lent me a deposit, which I paid him back a few years later. But

Andy & Chris (26:26.667)

Gemma Barker (26:46.898)
I what I had to do is I rented out my flat in London, moved back in with my parents for a year to pay Ken the money. And my parents looked after me. I mean, I just met my husband, thankfully, so I was up in London kind of weekends. But yeah, I mean, there is there is real grit, blood, sweat and tears that goes into that. I mean, I remember I booked a holiday sailing in Croatia with friends and it hadn’t cost me an awful lot. It was

Andy & Chris (26:52.672)
So yeah.

Andy & Chris (27:15.372)

Gemma Barker (27:15.854)
remember going to cancel it and my dad saying I’ll lend you the money so you can have this week’s holiday and my parents were cooking me meals you know and I was they paid for my gym membership so I could go to the gym with them in the evening and then I was we got 3m on in those early days so I was whisking up to Loughborough and back from Loughborough and then back down to Kent kind of three days a week and we had we only we had about four clients

Andy & Chris (27:21.632)
It’s downtime, yeah.

Andy & Chris (27:42.515)
That’s quite a long journey, actually.

Gemma Barker (27:44.622)
It was a bit of a journey and I was also, when I worked for Howden, I then took them on as a client. So I became their marketing manager, but as an outsource function. So I used to go into the city on a Wednesday, Howden with the broker, and then I looked after dual corporate risks, who were the underwriting part of that. So then I used to go in and sit in with them on a Thursday. So yeah, I mean, it was hard. And you know, we weren’t making any money. And I remember thinking.

Andy & Chris (28:10.715)

Gemma Barker (28:12.226)
this is, there’s got to be a better way to this, this is ludicrous. Yeah, and I remember having conversations with accountants going, I’m sorry, how much tax have I got to pay? Why have I just made this money? Why haven’t I got any money to buy my nice face creams and go on holiday and go out for dinner? I think my husband was like, who is this girl that I’ve just met that’s like an absolute freeloader that’s got her own business but has no money?

Andy & Chris (28:15.367)
This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

Andy & Chris (28:22.902)

Gemma Barker (28:38.27)
So yeah, it was hard, it was really hard. And then, but we just, I remember going into pitches and pitching against other agencies for big accounts and it was just me and sitting in my car and giving myself a real talking to, being like, right, I’m pitching for this. Yeah, I was like, come on, you can do this. And I remember seeing agencies coming out with like six people and there’s me. And I’d worked like, you know, six weeks on a job.

Andy & Chris (28:39.596)

Andy & Chris (28:54.412)
really like a motivational speech.

Andy & Chris (29:05.448)
If I knew you’d have videoed those, they would be invaluable nowadays, wouldn’t they? You could probably sell those as a motivational talk, couldn’t you?

Gemma Barker (29:07.442)
on a deck. I know! Go Red Bull!

I know. I remember, yeah, I remember being before, just before we got one client, I remember sitting in the car park and seeing them, the other agencies coming out, there were like three or four of them and there was just me. And I was like looking in the mirror going come on, you’ve got this, you can smash this, you’ll work harder than anyone else for this pitch. And I remember like, I remember getting kind of a really big one and them saying, you know, the passion and your

your absolute confidence that you would deliver and exceed all our expectations is what we’ve brought into. And I absolutely was like, yeah, we’ll smash it. And we did. And it was great. And suddenly you just get that big client and then I could get a PA, you know, or someone doing kind of the administrative and then

Andy & Chris (29:49.597)

Andy & Chris (29:54.376)

Andy & Chris (30:00.748)
Everything starts to flow from that. You’re talking about kind of little gemma going up against these big teams and larger agencies. Was it also obvious that you were a woman and were you generally going up against

Gemma Barker (30:03.478)

Andy & Chris (30:16.248)
men or is it a mixture in your world? Because quite often, you know, we have this thing where, you know, particularly towards the top end of business, it’s changing, but it’s still very heavily male dominated. Especially in 2008, 2009, it was probably much more male dominated.

Gemma Barker (30:30.89)
Yeah, I think actually PR has always been, it’s traditionally seen as quite a female career, female orientated career. And I’m not talking in dentistry, I’m talking across the board. People used to say, well, because it’s a very social job, it’s very sociable, it’s lots of communication skills, it’s relationship building, and historically that was always seen to be

Andy & Chris (30:40.52)

Andy & Chris (30:46.68)
Yeah. I wonder why that is. Why do you reckon that is?

Gemma Barker (30:59.906)
that kind of softer skills was very female driven rather than being kind of a, you know, men go and do the numbers and the number crunching, the economics. Women can make the tea and make everything pretty. I’m not saying, but that’s, I think historically that’s where it was. I mean, I know when I started.

Andy & Chris (31:14.44)
would have, out of interest, it, out of interest, would the, without wishing to sound a bit misogynistic, but would a lot of the marketing sort of directors who made the decisions in the earlier days been men as well?

Gemma Barker (31:30.966)
Yes, at the higher level, definitely. I think dentistry has always been much more male dominated, a far more male dominated industry. I mean I know associations certainly that I’ve been sort of part of when I started up as a female business owner, it was mainly men. And I definitely felt intimidated in a lot of those circles that I was…

Andy & Chris (31:38.579)

Andy & Chris (31:41.736)
I really.

Andy & Chris (31:53.067)

Gemma Barker (31:59.154)
only 27 that I was female and I felt, I found some of these dynamics quite encouraging.

Andy & Chris (32:04.644)
interest did you did you feel it because you were or feel it because you felt it does that make sense so were people’s responses and actions what made you feel like it or is it a mixture of you actually felt intimidated and a bit inferior but they also tried to make you feel a bit inferior does that make sense

Gemma Barker (32:30.745)
I don’t know if it was intentional. I think certainly over the last 15 years there’s been an absolutely monumental shift with how women are perceived in business anyway. We’ve still got a long, long way to go. But we’re certainly, you know, we were members of Albright in London, which is kind of a female private members club and they do a lot of work kind of empowering women and supporting us. And there are lots of…

Andy & Chris (32:36.985)

Andy & Chris (32:41.505)

Gemma Barker (32:56.318)
there’s lots of work, lots of people doing wonderful things to support women in business now. But I think dentistry, I think anyone could see, you know, I think it’s like we say, I think it’s shifting now. But I think certainly the industry side, you know, you talk about those kind of dental dinosaurs. If you went to a BDIA, with the utmost respect, you know, we pay our membership, if you went to a BDIA members meeting 10 years ago, you know, it was all men.

Andy & Chris (33:00.766)

Andy & Chris (33:12.961)

Andy & Chris (33:25.201)

Gemma Barker (33:25.335)
predominantly all men and everyone was kind of 55 and up and being 28 it would be like oh Gemma you here

Andy & Chris (33:29.571)

Andy & Chris (33:33.577)
It’s fascinating because from our point of view, we don’t actually deal with the industry that much. So lots of the dental supply companies, over the years people brand names around and if they’re in large supply companies, we just don’t tend to know those people. But looking at how dentists and dentistry has evolved over those years, in dental schools now, it’s probably tipped over the balance and there’s more females in dental schools than males.

Gemma Barker (33:39.166)

Andy & Chris (33:59.036)
75% yeah and in practice ownership is changing and in my experience women make outstanding principles just because I think you’re right I think they you know they tend to be the soft skills kind of that kind of motherly care tends to come through more strongly with the team but also that then feeds the culture which then filters through to the patient so I think there’s a there’s a huge role to play but also I think dentistry is a great profession for men and women.

that perhaps don’t want to work full time. And obviously, just because of biology, women have kids. So, yeah, working a couple of days and coming back to work, it’s a great profession to come and work for. Well, it can flip the other way, doesn’t it? It seems to be sometimes we come across either women principals who embrace their femininity and the skills that they’ve got, or they decide that they wanna be like men, which is sort of almost a traditional, I’m gonna beat the crap out of you, sort of style. And it’s really what I’m gonna do. You’re almost foregoing your…

your better skill set by trying to be something that really isn’t probably going to get the best results. It’s quite strange how they sort of split down into two camps. In your 15 years, Gemma, how has the world of PR changed? Because I’m guessing that when you got into this game, digital marketing, social media, wasn’t really a thing. Did you have cameras on your phone? 2008. When did Facebook start? Yeah, it was…

Gemma Barker (35:06.099)

Gemma Barker (35:22.002)

Andy & Chris (35:25.556)
That was before then. My name is Instagram.

Gemma Barker (35:27.126)
Yeah, that’s 2006, wasn’t it? Facebook. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (35:29.872)
Yeah, so it was… Instagram’s after that, wasn’t it? Yeah, so there wouldn’t have been any Instagram, there would have been a very basic version of Facebook. So for you, you’ve gone from broadly being analyst PR to now so digital. What’s that transition been like?

Gemma Barker (35:44.574)
Yeah, I mean, it’s a massive, there’s been a massive shift. And obviously with AI, you know, kind of coming in, you know, we’ve got a new dimension again, but I…

Andy & Chris (35:53.608)
But we’re not even here. You’re talking to avatars. I was about to say that, yeah.

Gemma Barker (35:57.262)
I mean, you look great, so whatever. I mean, I think, yeah, I think there’s a misconception across the board about actually the role that, what PR actually is, and a lot of people will think that it’s articles or blog posts, when actually, it’s not content necessarily. And if that was the case, then AI would certainly kind of replace the role that we do, and then we’d be seeing a massive shift.

Andy & Chris (36:00.707)
Very effective computer power.

Andy & Chris (36:24.385)
Mmm. Yeah.

Gemma Barker (36:27.178)
But actually, PR is really there to manage the way that an audience, target audience feels about that company or brand. What has changed, and that’s the case across the board. So what we’re doing is building credibility and trust in the clients, the companies and the brands that we work to. And we do that in a quite sort of strategic, clever way that’s bespoke for each company, each product and service that we look after.

Andy & Chris (36:45.813)

Gemma Barker (36:53.89)
The mediums that you would use, that you would apply through that strategy have changed certainly. So I think certainly in dentistry, you know, 15 years ago you’d be looking at a lot of kind of print publications, you know, predominantly, because if you’re looking at your target audience, how can you communicate directly with vast masses of a target audience when you do it through those publications? Yes, digital has changed, definitely.

Andy & Chris (37:00.725)

Gemma Barker (37:23.602)
but obviously you’ve got communities on social media now and associations. So it’s about focusing specifically on that target market, how that target market are consuming messages or where they’re getting their information from and disrupting those messages in the right way. And I think we’re in such a high period of change as well.

Andy & Chris (37:38.86)

Gemma Barker (37:50.238)
and we are constantly looking and measuring and challenging what those audiences are doing. So again, it will change dependent on campaigns that we’re doing, but you’ve obviously got the older generation of dentists might still be very loyal to a particular publication. You’ve got those that will be looking online to get their information. You’ve got those that just won’t read dental media at all. Sorry, MC, the pro-BDJ.

Andy & Chris (38:03.436)

Andy & Chris (38:14.156)

Andy & Chris (38:18.032)
Yeah. Mmm.

Gemma Barker (38:20.15)
that you’ve got those people that just will shun it. They might just go to a dental event once a year. Or there is a lot of kind of work being done at our side with our clients on ensuring that our clients become the media. So rather than relying on outside sources, which ultimately is what you guys are doing here, which is phenomenal. The podcast that you’ve got is ensuring that you can reach your…

Andy & Chris (38:40.425)

Gemma Barker (38:48.222)
your potential customers build relationships with existing customers directly without having to rely on outside forces and ultimately that’s the shift that you want to take all your clients to so that you don’t have to have these kind of big external budgets but I think you are you’re very fortunate if you don’t have to rely on those external mediums through which to communicate with your audience because

Andy & Chris (38:56.811)

Andy & Chris (39:04.227)

Andy & Chris (39:12.958)


Gemma Barker (39:16.738)
there will always be new people that you can’t touch. So I think it’s, yes. Yeah, but you’re right, Andy, it’s absolutely shifted in social media, but I think it’s going to shift again. And this is the joy of communication is that, I think certainly with COVID, what we saw from a PR perspective, it really emphasised the importance of PR across the board in all businesses.

Andy & Chris (39:20.044)
Hmm. You have to do a bit of everything almost.

Andy & Chris (39:27.347)

Andy & Chris (39:30.773)

Andy & Chris (39:44.564)

Gemma Barker (39:46.73)
because in lieu of not being able to advertise or directly sell or directly market your target market because everyone was shut down, no one wanted to buy anything, particularly in dentistry, it’s how could you maintain connections and with your target audience, with your customers, and maintain that rapport when actually all we wanted to do was feel connected to people personally and through business.

Andy & Chris (40:13.018)

Gemma Barker (40:16.114)
And that’s really, I think from a PR perspective, that’s what we’re constantly looking to do is create meaningful connections between our brands and between the dental profession. But also on a personal level, I think we look at all of these external mediums like social media. Actually, we all just wanna be with people. We wanna be at events. We wanna be together. We wanna talk on podcasts. We wanna connect. We wanna have meaningful conversations.

Andy & Chris (40:23.012)

Andy & Chris (40:39.721)

Gemma Barker (40:44.274)
So I think it’ll be really interesting over the next five to ten years is that we’ve gone away from being together And I I’d like to I’d like to hope that that’s going to do a full circle and we’ll start having more

Andy & Chris (40:47.584)

Andy & Chris (40:56.74)
Hmm. But did you see the article today? It was like on the BBC, and him and his wife set up a business, I think 2018 about.

renewables and recyclables and basically just gone out of business. And he said what they didn’t do, which is an interesting one, cause it’s sort of is what you’re telling people to what they should be looking at for their PR, which he focused on one avenue. He said, we got everything from Facebook. He said, and we never really did anything else. He said, and then when they introduced their privacy settings, he said, the business fell off a cliff, but we didn’t recognize it quick enough. And we didn’t do anything else to replace it. He said, and what we should have done is we should.

have done more face-to-face things, we should have done more trade shows, we should have done this. And it’s that whole thing, isn’t it? At one time, people thought Facebook, that’s the way to go. Instagram, that’s the way to go. But you have to have a blend of the whole thing. I think as you said, Jim, I think anything where you interact with your client through somebody else’s platform is dangerous because you don’t actually have a direct relationship. And they change the rules and you’re screwed.

Gemma Barker (41:48.29)
Thank you.

Gemma Barker (42:00.286)
I think if you strip everything back, what people really want is authentic connections. And how can you be your most authentic as a brand, as a business? And that’s when you’re directly face to face with people. So people can make assumptions about a product, about you, Andy, about you, Chris, but actually until they’re stood right in front of you and you go, right, this is what we’re about, this is our business, this is what we care about.

Andy & Chris (42:07.7)

Andy & Chris (42:16.443)

Andy & Chris (42:25.993)

Gemma Barker (42:28.098)
they’re not going to get it. And how can you really effectively translate that to an advert, an e-shop, a social media, you can try, but that’s all steps to take you to that face to face connection. And that’s really what we look to do with, you know, the campaigns that we put together. It’s the first port of call. It’s the campaigns that we do is to make people feel good about the people that we’re looking after, the brands or the services.

Andy & Chris (42:33.118)

Andy & Chris (42:39.82)

Andy & Chris (42:46.921)

Gemma Barker (42:53.718)
which ultimately we want to lead to that face-to-face communication, which ultimately we would hope would lead to a sale. But it’s just making sure all those kind of steps between that kind of PR and that face-to-face is authentic and is a direct representation of what they would expect when they come face-to-face with you. And that’s really critical. And I think until you have that face-to-face piece, everything else is…

Andy & Chris (42:57.589)

Andy & Chris (43:01.781)

Andy & Chris (43:10.284)

Andy & Chris (43:14.225)

Andy & Chris (43:19.4)
Mm-hmm. Mm. See, that’s why I think that AI is ultimately gonna end up in a box to the side, because I think we’ve already started to work out, I don’t get why, I think AI is incredible. We’ve been using bots on websites with banks and utilities for years, but I think this kind of explosion of people just generating.

frankly, you know, it is. It’s the chat. It all looks the same. Well, the chat GPT and the bar stuff. But when you, if you read content, I’m, I wouldn’t say I can spot it every time, but you’re already starting to spot things because it goes back to what you were saying, Gemma. It’s not authentic. It’s no personality to it. And, you know, I would hope that if somebody met me, I’m kind of a very narrow bandwidth of an article that I might have read that was written by me or a podcast or

a post on social media, I hope that I’m that same person, but if you start generating content through another channel that isn’t you, I think it’s going to really confuse your audience in terms of who you really are. So that what you’re saying makes perfect sense that strategically everything lines up. So when they get to the point where they meet an individual, they go, well, I already knew what you were like anyway, because everything I’ve seen, it’s like, you know, the dots have just joined and those lines between the dots have got thicker and thicker.

to the point where I met you and it goes, yeah, of course that’s who you are because I know so much about you already, but that has to happen with a human involved.

Gemma Barker (44:42.722)

Gemma Barker (44:46.186)
Yeah, you’re absolutely right, Andy. And I think if you were to read an article by you, written by you, that someone else had crafted, or was crafted by Chuck, and people that really knew you, they go, Andy hasn’t written that. I’ve had a conversation with him on this topic. That’s not how he would speak. And I think that’s really important. We had quite a few conversations with people about six months ago going, do you think Chuck GPT is gonna put you out of business? And I was like, absolutely no way. Because if you think,

Andy & Chris (44:55.295)


Andy & Chris (45:02.229)

Gemma Barker (45:15.894)
that that’s the way that we work, then you really misunderstood PR. You know, and I mean, I find it fascinating. And we, you know, we spend loads of time, you know, populating, you know, trying to see what we can pop out of that, that system. And I find that I do still find it absolutely fascinating. But if you just want a generic article.

Andy & Chris (45:18.112)
Hmm. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (45:35.745)

Gemma Barker (45:40.502)
and a blog post, you know, crack on guys, you know, go and stick something in there, it’s great. It’s not going to do anything. And it’s not going to, you know, it’s not going to make massive waves. It’s not going to be shared across social media as a, you know, wow, this is such an interesting piece. But yeah, I think it’s, I think it’s a very, very interesting tool.

Andy & Chris (45:44.159)

Andy & Chris (46:05.185)
Given all you’ve done Gemma with your working for businesses, starting a business, your recent health issue, do you sweat the small stuff?

Gemma Barker (46:15.962)
Definitely not as much. Definitely not as much. Big time. My biggest thing was really cared about what people thought about me, which worked, which serves really well when you’re in PR because you work day and night and I remember a good friend of mine saying, it’s none of your business what people think about you Gemma and I was like and it really it really stuck with me. I definitely care less.

Andy & Chris (46:18.621)
You used to.

Andy & Chris (46:38.976)
Good advice.

Gemma Barker (46:45.994)
about that but it’s a it’s a working progress um but yeah I mean god there’s nothing there’s nothing like a cancer diagnosis where the only thing I care about is living the next 40 years and being there to see my children grow up that’s all I care about and everything now that I do is to be able to you know ensure that that’s the case so ensure that I’m healthy you know I’m having a business that gives us nice holidays so we can have special time together.

Andy & Chris (46:49.376)

Andy & Chris (47:13.837)
with those memories.

Gemma Barker (47:15.018)
But yeah, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ll still shout at my husband when he’s, you know, not taking a pin out or something or, you know, get pissed off when he ate the twix out of the kids’ Halloween, you know, bag last night. I’ve been saying that.

Andy & Chris (47:19.484)
Of course. Yeah, that’s part of the wedding vows. Don’t be sinned on that.

Andy & Chris (47:28.808)
Does my bum look big enough? You know, that sort of thing. I guess you’ve got a fairly unique perspective that many don’t have, but what would you say is the most important skill an entrepreneur needs?

Gemma Barker (47:42.038)

I think it goes back to… I mean, for me, I think it’s very different. I mean, it’s… Everything for me is relationship led, right? And that for me is the absolute crux of everything. And it’s, you know, the strength of the relationships within my team and the strength of the relationships that we have with our clients is absolutely critical.

Andy & Chris (47:56.096)

Gemma Barker (48:13.53)
What do I think is the kind of single, how can I kind of force that into kind of a single most important element? I think it’s that authentically giving a shit. And I really, really give a shit that the clients that we work after do really, really well. And caring about…

Andy & Chris (48:30.613)

Andy & Chris (48:34.612)
Perhaps that’s a new PR angle,

Gemma Barker (48:37.91)
Yeah, we authentically give. Hang on, Chris said I could swear at the beginning, so I wonder if I’ve taken that a little bit too far. I think it’s really, really caring and it’s being authentic. And that being authentic, you know, I don’t think you can dress anything up like that. If I sit with a client, a potential client, and I believe we can help them, we are going to work absolutely tooth and nail because we really, genuinely, genuinely care.

Andy & Chris (48:43.32)
No, it’s okay. It’s fine. I wonder if that website’s available.

Andy & Chris (49:01.059)

Gemma Barker (49:07.222)
So I think for me, that entrepreneurship goes down to, you know, really caring and loving the work that you do. Because if that’s at the heart of everything, then you just can’t go wrong. And instilling that in the rest of your team, which I think we’ve got.

Andy & Chris (49:15.424)
Hmm, interesting.

Andy & Chris (49:21.876)
Be interested. Yeah. Gemma, it’s been a fascinating, enlightening and very honest conversation. I think it’s been brilliant. But we can’t let you go just yet because we always ask our guests two questions. And the first question we have for you is if you could be a fly on a whirl.

A fly on a wall. A fly on a what? A fly on a whirl. I’m not sure what a fly on a whirl would be. I think that’s a walnut wind type whirl. But if you’re, so you’re the fly on a wall and there’s a certain situation, where would that be? Who would be there? What’s going on?

Gemma Barker (49:53.01)
Okay, 10 years time, my children, my two boys are sitting in a room talking about me and I would be a fly on the wall without me being there. And I’d like to, I remember a colleague of mine saying or a good friend of ours saying a few years ago, he went through some business coaching and we were talking about it over a dinner party and he said, oh this business coach asked me,

Andy & Chris (50:03.954)

Gemma Barker (50:19.618)
We were looking at kind of where we want to take things over the next five to 10 years. And he said, start with asking yourself how you want your kids to talk about you in 10 years time. And we will work back from there. And it’s stuck with me since then. So.

Andy & Chris (50:30.536)
Wow. No one has ever done a future fly on the wall. No. We’ve done 120 of these. Yeah. No one has ever done a future fly on the wall. Thank you. Yeah, nobody.

Gemma Barker (50:39.818)
Oh really? I think if you ask them now it would be vacuous right? They’re seven and eight they care about how many sweets I’m gonna let them have tonight but you know yeah but yeah genuinely I want them to say good things and think good things about their mum.

Andy & Chris (50:44.708)
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, what about Halloween last night?

Andy & Chris (50:52.556)
Wow, how interesting. What, they’d be 17 and 18, wouldn’t they? Yeah. I can see how that would really influence and impact all those small decisions you do, because kids watch you all the time. You know, they’re watching every minute behaviour, and quite often it’s the things that we do when people aren’t watching us are the most important things, because when you’re on the show, people always kind of put on a…

a slightly different behaviour. But when you’re not being watched, I think you find the truth as to what somebody’s really like. So that would be a very interesting. So we have to make a diary note, and in 10 years time, we’ll get you and your two boys who are going to be now in their late teens on. And we’ll say, right, okay, let’s find out. It could be. You could set up a little one of those little mini-cams that you can hide. Yeah, yeah. And our follow-up question is, if you could meet somebody.

Gemma Barker (51:29.266)
Yeah, I mean it can be terrifying, couldn’t it?

Gemma Barker (51:36.152)

Andy & Chris (51:39.912)
You’re going to sit down in a country pub with a coffee or a glass of wine. Living or dead? Yeah. Fact or fiction? And have a chat. Who would you like to meet?

Gemma Barker (51:49.176)
So this could really disappoint you, but I have to be really honest. It would be Harry Styles.

Andy & Chris (51:55.92)
Really? Oh, I don’t think we’ve had Harry. No. Would you go bonkers?

Gemma Barker (52:00.402)
It would be. I absolutely love him. I’m yeah, I’m sorry. I really thought about this question and I thought right who can I think about? It’s really inspiring and actually it’s just yeah no it’s Harry Styles. There was a rumor that he moved to our area um about 18 months ago. Um oh my gosh yeah honestly changed my world. I think I sent about 30 text messages in half an hour going oh my god.

Andy & Chris (52:10.76)
Nelson Mandela. Michelle Obama. All these incredible people.

Andy & Chris (52:21.361)
So you cycled everywhere.

Andy & Chris (52:29.332)
Have you got a feather boa?

Gemma Barker (52:29.922)
You never guess what? I went to see him twice in June. I just love him. I love his music. Love him. Yeah. We refer to him as my house as Mummy’s boyfriend. So anytime Dave, my husband and I have a row, my little one goes, don’t worry Mummy, we’ll end up with Harry Styles soon. I’m like, yeah you’re right.

Andy & Chris (52:33.529)
Oh, there you go.

Andy & Chris (52:37.804)


Andy & Chris (52:47.849)
Did you dress up like cowboy hat and boots and feather bow or whatever?

Gemma Barker (52:50.942)
I had a feather bow and I had an I love Harry hat. Yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (52:54.352)
One of my, we had some people who went and they said that the road, the road from Wembley Park around was littered with feathers and glitter. Yeah. Cause he was there for a few days, wasn’t it? Yeah.

Gemma Barker (53:05.02)
It’s like nothing ever, no, a lot of love in the room. It was just great.

Andy & Chris (53:09.472)
You get on very well with my daughter. My daughter went and saw him and it was at Hammersmith and She camped out because obviously at Hammersmith There’s a certain amount of seating but it’s mostly open standing and so she stayed overnight with her friend And it wasn’t the best of nights and Harry Styles Had arranged for pizza and hot chocolate to be delivered and she still has her Empty hot chocolate cup on the basis. I don’t think Harry Styles got particularly near to this hot chocolate cup

hand but she still has her hot chocolate cup because for whatever reason you know I think some people just connect with you know music styles in a different way.

Gemma Barker (53:47.45)
Yeah, I mean, bless her. Yeah, I mean, that’s why he’s such a legend. I’ve got a book. My friend bought me a book when I started. Well, actually, I’ve got I should have had my mug. I’ve got a I’ve got a mug that says I don’t feel like doing anything today, but I do Harry Styles. I mean, I’ve got a colouring kit. I’ve got a Be More Harry kit.

Andy & Chris (53:51.274)

Andy & Chris (54:02.284)
Ha ha

Gemma Barker (54:12.566)
Almost 42, it’s embarrassing isn’t it?

Gemma Barker (54:18.542)
Yeah, wow, that was the plan, yeah. It’s just sat there. I’m not sure I could do it justice, to be honest, but yeah, big fan. That would be my man.

Andy & Chris (54:25.728)
Brilliant. Gemma, thank you. Thank you so much. It’s been brilliant. Thank you very much. It’s been a really, I mean, given what you’ve been through, I think it’s incredibly uplifting. Inspiration. Yeah, I think your outlook, you seem to have your shit together, and whether you’ve masked it really well, you’ve seen to somebody who’s really understood Is that another website? your situa- Yeah, understood your situation and got all the important elements lined up. And a real-

sense of purpose and love for life. It’s great to see and I’m glad you’re well as well. That’s brilliant, it’s brilliant. No, it’s brilliant. Brilliant, I look forward to seeing you soon as well. At an event sometime. Cheers, you’ll keep well. Bye y’all. Cheers.

Gemma Barker (54:58.502)
Oh, thanks so much for having me. I’ve really enjoyed it. Thank you.

I’ll show you up.

Take care, bye. Bye.


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