The Girls Who Refused To Quit: Bishop's Stortford mum and medium Amy Fleckney hopes to empower women with her own hard-hitting true story as part of anthology
As part of a campaign to encourage people to open up and speak more freely about their mental health, a mother of three from Bishop’s Stortford has co-written a book with 14 other inspirational women.
Amy Fleckney has shared her own story as part of anthology The Girls Who Refused to Quit, which was published on February 4 to coincide with Time to Talk Day. It aims to start conversations about mental health and help end the stigma that surrounds it.
In her chapter, Amy chronicles how she single-handedly raised her two children after leaving an abusive relationship. She describes a “relentless time of penny pinching” and describes being forced to move into a mobile home near Waltham Abbey to make ends meet.
She now lives in Bishop’s Gate with her three children: Jasmine, 12, a Herts and Essex High School student, Reggie, 8, who goes to Hillmead Primary School, and Arabella, 2.
The 35-year-old works as a full-time medium, doing virtual readings for people all over the world. Before the coronavirus pandemic, she put on her first live psychic show at the Victoria Hall Theatre in Old Harlow, which was a sell-out.
Amy had ambitions to share her story, so she reached out to Cassandra Farren, founder of Welford Publishing Ltd. Cassandra shared her own story in her first book, The Girl Who Refused to Quit.
“Many reviews shared how readers loved how real, raw and relatable it was,” said Cassandra. “I went on to publish three more books whilst I ran an author mentoring programme. I realised there were many women who wanted to share their story but felt daunted by the publishing process, as well as the vulnerability of laying their soul bare.”
She decided to publish an anthology to make it less daunting for the contributors.
“I selected women who had a strong desire to make a difference to others, as well as wanting to make peace with their own past,” said Cassandra.
“The intended purpose is to share that no matter what you’ve been through in your life, your past does not define you and there is always hope.
“Many of the authors have shared that being part of the book has been life-changing. I feel honoured that I’ve been able to play a part in their healing journey whilst creating a ripple of empowerment in the world.”
Having released two volumes of The Girls Who Refused To Quit, Cassandra invited Amy to be part of the third and final edition after meeting her.
“Other than having the kids, the two days the book launch was on were probably the best two days of my life. It was such an amazing experience to be a part of,” said Amy.
The third volume contains stories on a vast range of topics, such as child sexual exploitation, caring for a baby with complex medical needs and losing a parent to dementia.
In her segment, Amy talks about how she walked away from the man she loved after the relationship turned toxic and went it alone with her two young children.
“I was a single mum bringing up two kids. When I say in the book they were all I had, that is how I felt. I left their dad with the clothes on their back and that was it,” she said.
When she was 20, she moved from Bedfordshire to Essex to be with her children’s father, so when the relationship broke down she did not have family to fall back on. “I’ve got an amazing family – my parents are amazing – but they live far away,” she said.
Her chapter details the support she received from a wide range of companions. While a close friend cooked dinner for her and her children four nights a week, an acquaintance left a bottle of cough medicine on her caravan doorstep when she was poorly, and her landlord, identified only as Mr R, took her to visit her grandmother’s final resting place.
“My friends were amazing but I wanted to be able to provide for the children solely myself,” said Amy. “They depended on me. I wanted to be able to give them what they needed.
“I was 30. I was like ‘Oh my god, I’m waking up in a caravan on my 30th birthday’. It was soul destroying.
“My mental health was suffering, but it was always behind a big smile on my face because I had the kids.
"By day I was okay, but by night, when the curtains were closed, was when I used to feel like I was suffering. It almost killed me.”
Writing the memoir meant Amy had to relive an immensely difficult chapter of her life, but she was determined to do it. “I hope my chapter helps one person just realise that when it’s dark there is light,” she said.
She is continuing her virtual mediumship work and hopes to be able to put on live shows once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
And she hopes to write her own, standalone book with some mentoring from Cassandra.
“I left my chapter on a bit of a cliffhanger,” she said.