ANTHONY Fleming made a conscious decision as a child that he would not let his past shape his future.
The house in Newtown, which he recently renovated with his wife Shohreh, is a far cry from the Doncaster orphanages in which he spent his childhood and are testament to the successful businessman achieving his life’s ambition.
At the age of just three his father put him and his brother and sister into their first orphanage.
“When I was nine years old my mother managed to get her first council flat and the first thing she did was get me out of the orphanage,” he says.
“We had nothing in the flat, no furniture.
“At that very early age I decided that my past was not going to shape my future and I was going to have a much better and brighter future.
And I decided I would help people do the same.”
Anthony says he always did well at school, despite having ‘very little encouragement and support’, but had to leave early to bring money into the home.
By his early 20s Anthony had become a member of the Baha’i faith.
“My sister started talking about the Baha’i faith and I was worried that I needed to get her out of it, so I went to a meeting to try to find out what she was involved in,” he explains. “But after three months I realised I believed in it too and I have been a member since 1979.”
It was his religious conviction and the desire to support and help the community that took him to the Faroe Islands for six months during the early 1980s.
“I was working for the Coal Board at the time, in a managerial position, and everyone kept telling me I was crazy leaving what was then a good job,” he says.
He then spent time in Sierra Leone, before settling in Israel for eight years, working at the Baha’i World Centre, in a number of roles, including admin and IT.
“After Israel I came back to England and picked back up with my education,” he adds.
“I learned TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) in London, but I have never actually put it to use. I then studied Business and IT.”
He went on to become an NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) practitioner; studying with Paul McKenna and the technique’s creator Richard Bandler, before also becoming a trainer. Anthony started offering free coaching to friends and acquaintances.
“Whatever the problem I tried to help people,” he adds. “I had no boundaries and was getting a lot of positive testimonials and results. I realised I was quite good at it.
“But I also realised that free doesn’t work because people don’t value free. People listen more intently when they are paying because they want good value for money.
“People were always prompting me to get involved in business, especially my wife, who is a successful businesswoman herself.”
Anthony met his wife, Shohreh, in his early 20s, but she turned down his first marriage proposal all those years ago.
When they met years later Anthony knew instantly that he was still in love with her. Luckily she felt the same way and they have now been happily married for 14 years. Shohreh runs the Thatcham-based Prestige Network – a specialist language business.
“I enjoy helping people open their wings and fly, but it happened naturally that I got drawn into business coaching and mentoring and I realised I was good at it,” he adds.
“I have worked with Prestige but it always seemed to be when they had a problem.
“The last time I went back was three years ago, when I was a consultant for them.
“That ended last May and in that time I increased profits by 700 per cent, which was a fantastic success.”
Anthony is also very proud of the help he has been able to provide to local company Luke Johnson Flooring, of which he is now a partner.
Seeing the results he was getting prompted Anthony to set up his business coaching company – Anthony-fleming.com.
“It all came about in the last six months,” he explains. “That is when I realised how effective I am at it, so it became my focus.
“I blend life coaching with business coaching and it is getting the results that gives me the real buzz.
“You cannot change someone until they are ready, though. I don’t train anyone if I can see they are not ready.
“You cannot change a business if you don’t change the psychology of the people at the top.” His desire to want help others extends into his personal life too.
Anthony, who is 59 years old, and Shohreh are in the process of setting up their own charity.
The aim of Children’s Champion is to raise funds to distribute to help young people with anything they need, from buying a new wheelchair to funding their education.
Anthony is also a trustee of the local organisation, Young People and Children 1st West Berkshire.