Read Vicky’s story to find out more about the difference a hello can make.
If you travel by train or you shop in Ayr you may already know this smiling face. This is Vicky. She has an infectious passion for people and a motivation to make Ayr a welcoming place for everyone. Vicky knows it only takes one second to change a person’s day. Taking time to say hello and welcome people to Ayr not only makes a difference to those she meets but has also opened other doors for Vicky herself.
Making Positive Changes
Vicky has a background in customer relations and experience of turning businesses around in tricky environments. She was therefore the perfect person to help reinvigorate Ayr Station. The station hotel had fallen into a state of disrepair and its uncertain future had affected the morale of the town. Ayr station wanted to do something to combat this negativity, so being familiar with Vicky’s skills, they called her in to work her magic on the platforms.
When you set out to change things people can be sceptical and resistant. Vicky knew that the station had become a focal point of unhappiness in the town and while she couldn’t change the situation she believed she could change how people felt,
"When I arrived at the station, I decided I would make a difference to everyone’s life there. I greeted every single person, I made sure they knew where to go, I complimented them on their choice of train, I welcomed everyone on board and waved them off on their journeys. Eventually people stopped seeing the distress and began to see the station as a place of happiness."
The people who were sceptical initially began hearing positive things from customers and this improved camaraderie amongst the team. People were really enjoying being there.
When I arrived at the station, I decided I would make a difference to everyone’s life there. I greeted every single person, I made sure they knew where to go, I complimented them on their choice of train, I welcomed everyone on board and waved them off on their journeys. Eventually people stopped seeing the distress and began to see the station as a place of happiness.
Feeling the Fear and Doing It Anyway
It wasn’t just the team at the station that had noticed the difference Vicky was making. The manager of Ayr Central had clocked the positive change and he offered Vicky the new position of customer relations at the mall. Excited by the promise of a new challenge she happily accepted. However, as her first day approached she began to feel nervous about her new role.
It’s not an easy thing to put yourself out there. We can all be a bit scared to make the first move. This was a completely new environment for Vicky and she wasn’t sure how successful she would be in a place where people seemed to be self-sufficiently going about their day.
"On my first day, I felt terribly nervous and apprehensive. I didn’t know how people would respond to this new initiative. My first couple of hours were an induction to the shopping mall and I really needed that breathing space. When it was time to engage with the customers, I decided to do a test. I would make eye contact, smile and say hello to everyone in the mall. I gave myself an hour and I knew if it didn’t work in that hour it wasn’t going to work at all. This took a lot of courage for me even though I have lots of experience. You have to feel the fear and do it anyway."
"Hello’, ‘hello’, ‘hello’ … It was incredible, every single person said hello back. The moment you begin smiling and laughing, everyone feels happy to be greeted. This can change someone’s day. These are happy connections. We all touch each other’s lives and we all move forward together."
‘Hello’, ‘hello’, ‘hello’ … It was incredible, every single person said hello back. The moment you begin smiling and laughing, everyone feels happy to be greeted. This can change someone’s day. These are happy connections. We all touch each other’s lives and we all move forward together.
It Starts with Hello
Vicky has her own personal experience of the challenges there are to make new connections. 20 years ago, she and her two daughters moved from one country to another. They arrived in a new and unfamiliar place where they knew no one. They had to make new friends in new schools, new businesses, new communities and it was really tough.
"After a few weeks, while the girls were at school, I found myself crying in the supermarket. I was feeling so lonely and not one person approached me. I always remember those times and that everyone can feel lonely. I am just going to treat everyone as I wish someone had treated me"
"It all starts with a “hello”, and what can come from that can be phenomenal. You can change lives. Anyone can do this; you just have to have the courage. The rewards you get back from sharing people’s lives are beyond anything you could imagine."
"You need to be open to talk, to share and to listen. You may experience negativity, but you keep going anyway. Work with those who are willing to work with you and others will come along when they’re ready. We can all make a difference to people’s lives and now is the time for action."
Working in the mall, Vicky hears the stories, celebrations and concerns of the town. One of the issues she hears about most often is people feeling negatively about the high street. Vicky says, "You have to look through that. Exciting things are happening, but it will take time. In the meantime, if we as a community can roll out the ‘Hello welcome to Ayr’ feel-good factor, we can take our minds off what’s wrong and make the most of what we’ve got."
Let’s start today. Let’s say hello.
You can find Vicky brightening up Ayr Central.