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    Meet Equilibrium’s first-ever clients

    This article is taken from our autumn 2022 edition of Equinox. You can view the full version here.

    My relationship with Ray and Sylvia spans an incredible three decades. From Applewood to Equilibrium; Warsaw to Dunham Massey, we have celebrated many a milestone together.  

    Ray and Sylvia first came to me as they were looking to buy a flat in Altrincham. They needed a UK base to visit family whilst they lived and worked in post-communist Poland. I remember, Sylvia and I visited multiple banks and building societies on the high street to secure a mortgage. At the time, lenders were particularly hesitant to loan money to them as Ray was self-employed in another country and only had Polish złoty to his name. Fortunately, after much perseverance, I obtained a mortgage (with Halifax) and the purchase of the flat went through.  

    Ray recalls “We had sold our home and everything we owned so I could set up an advertising business in Poland with my Polish business partner and friend, Piotr. Having previously worked for an international advertising agency, I saw, what I thought, was a terrific opportunity, although my mother found it a questionable move at the time. We found it extremely exciting as the country was undergoing profound change and radical economic reforms (known as the Balcerowicz Plan). 

    “When we first arrived in 1990, shelves were bare, and luxury items, such as vinegar, were few and far between. However, when Lech Wałęsa was elected President and his government formed, the country experienced exponential growth. Global brands such as McDonald’s and KFC debuted in the capital, and trips to the supermarket became something of a talking point when favourites such as Mars bars, HP sauce and PG Tips started to appear. Our agency flourished under the new government policies, and Piotr and I started another two businesses. 

    “We lived in Warsaw for 12 years in total. I was so pleased we managed to persuade you to visit us, and I remember the pleasurable evening we shared in Castle Square. I will never forget how, one year, we received a bottle of champagne from you and the ‘then Applewood’ team for our wedding anniversary, which was no mean feat through Polish customs. 

    “Trust is what our relationship is built on. The way I see it, you look after our money so we can lead the life we want to, and we do just that.” 

    Returning home 

    From living in a Marriott hotel room to living next door to the President, they certainly made the most of their time in Warsaw. However, when grandchildren came along, they wanted to be closer to family and returned to the UK in 2002. Ray retired and, not being one to relax, he turned his attention to his roots and greatest passion, carpentry.  

    The National Trust property they rented on their return, handily came with a workshop, enabling Ray to make his ideas a reality, from crafting exquisite tables to his most epic creation, a rowing boat. More recently, Ray felt he could make a difference with a cause close to his heart, to help Ukraine. 

    “When Russia invaded Ukraine and images of war-torn cities infiltrated our news, it really struck a chord with Sylvia and me. You see, we were born in Coventry, and whilst we didn’t experience the bombings, we did experience the aftermath, the condemned buildings, and the overpowering stench of war. We are now amongst the few in England who still remember how it truly feels and smells to experience war,” explains Ray. 

    “So, when I saw a picture of a small stepping stool, I thought I could make some of those and sell them to raise money for Ukraine. With the help of my friend, Piotr, and his Ukraine connections, we were able to ensure any money raised went directly to the Ukrainian army.”   

    Here at Equilibrium, we are always keen to support worthy causes so when I heard what Ray was doing, I purchased one of his unique tables. Featuring warm tones and a striking grain, the new coffee table is the perfect addition to our client waiting area. 

    If you would like to donate to Ray’s cause, please visit our JustGiving page here.

    If you are interested in purchasing any of Ray’s pieces, visit WoodStuffCraft – Etsy UK. Alternatively, if you have any questions, please contact the Marketing team on 0161 486 2279 and we will put you in touch. 

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