A Derbyshire-based entrepreneur has defied the odds after being told he “may not walk or talk again” by opening his second party shop at the former Ilkeston Co-op site – and now hopes to be an inspiration to fellow stroke sufferers.
Simon Griffin, who owns Discount Party Warehouse in Ripley and now Ilkeston-based Discount Party Outlet, launched his business in 2011, selling party products online from his house with wife Emma.
The one stop party business grew quickly, especially after the Queen’s Jubilee in 2012, and moved to a unit on Prospect Court in Ripley to store and dispatch the products. However, Griffin suddenly suffered a major stroke whilst watching TV in February 2014.
He said: “I collapsed and my wife noticed that my face had drooped on one side. I can vaguely remember being in an ambulance but after that it’s a blur”.
He was taken initially for scans at Derby Royal who then rushed him to the QMC in Nottingham. Hospital staff informed Emma not to expect much improvement in the short term, and that any minor improvements may take up to six months. Despite this, after just five days he was transferred back to Derby for rehabilitation.
Griffin said: “I still had no movement or feeling in any of my left side – I needed help to do absolutely everything! It drove me mad, and was told that I would be in hospital for weeks”.
Within eight days at Derby Hospital however, he had managed to persuade doctors to let him go home and had also persuaded Sean Butler to open their first shop in Ripley via a text.
Griffin added: “I sent a text to Sean from my hospital bed offering him a job as shop manager, and he replied saying that he thought that I was mad! Whilst I was in hospital, I was thinking that I could either see this as a permanent disability, or I could make sure that this new business opportunity gave me something to strive for”.
Despite needing to re-teach himself how to walk, drive and even use a knife and fork following his stroke, Griffin’s first shop on Prospect Court in Ripley was opened within three months of that original text being sent.
Now, against all odds, approximately two years after suffering the stroke, Griffin and his wife are opening their second shop.
Griffin aims to support stroke charities and hopes that his story can be seen as an inspiration to others.
The new 2,500 sq ft high street shop will offer customers “everything for their party, under one roof”.
Griffin added: “We were looking for a high street location because the shop in Ripley is on an industrial court away from the town centre. We saw a gap in the market in Ilkeston. The location is fantastic in the former Co-op.
“We have now grown to ten members of staff. I would like to thank all of the existing staff and everyone who helped to keep things going whilst I was ill. I would especially like to thank my wife Emma. The amount of patience and support she shows through my recovery is amazing”.