Gifted Hands Massage
Hi there. I’m Gifty Stratford, the sole owner and director of Gifted Hands Massage Limited. Thanks for dropping by my new website.
In case you are wondering, I’m originally from Ghana in West Africa but have been fully settled in the UK ever since 1997. For several years I worked in insurance, and funnily enough, it was thanks to my time at Lloyds Insurance call centre in Bournemouth that my interest in massage first developed.
The Magic Touch
Working in a call centre usually means sitting at a desk for long hours at a stretch, and a few friends in my team would often complain of back and neck pains. As a result, just to help them through the shift, I began giving them a rub on their backs, necks, and shoulders. At that time I was doing this without any proper understanding of the techniques involved, but they loved it anyway. Everyone commented on how easily I could find and get into their knotted muscles, and how firm my touch was. Soon, the requests for a ‘Gifty massage’ were coming in from all directions.
Time to get Professional
It was then that I had my life-changing thought. If I really did have a natural aptitude for massage, then I might as well get properly trained in the various techniques and be paid for my services. That sounded reasonable. So, in September 2015 I applied for a holistic massage course at the Bournemouth and Poole college. I loved every moment of it, and within a year I had my ITEC level 3 qualification in Swedish, Indian Head and Hot Stone Massage.
A Sporting Chance
But that was only the beginning. My course tutor, Jan Annis, said that I had great potential and encouraged me to widen my skills by taking further training with her on an ITEC Level 3 and level 4 sports massage course. This was an opportunity I quickly grabbed. Part of the training allowed me to do specific case studies and event hours, including working with the Lytchett Minster Rugby Club. Jan Annis is the club’s physiotherapist, and as part of my course she was happy for me to do the pre and post event massages, including pitch side events. Since qualifying, I have subsequently been part of the official massage/pitch side team for the Lytchett Rugby Club annual tournament every year up to and including 2019.
Other events I have been proud to be associated with include:
- Was part of the massage team doing pre and post event massage for the ‘Wiggle New Forest 100 sportive 2016 cycling event’.
- Did pre and post massage work at the Bournemouth marathon 2016/2017 for Poole NHS, and 2018/2019 for Nuffield Hospital, Bournemouth.
- Raised money for Children in Need by massaging staff at Lloyds Insurance. (Back to where it all started, ha ha).
- Provided massages at discounted rates at my sons’ school (Moordown St John’s) Summer Fete. All proceeds were donated to the school’s fund for the restoration of their swimming pool.
Developing further skills
I love learning new skills, so in January 2021 I attended an Adult Mental Health First Aid Two Day course and am now a Mental Health First Aider. This course teaches in depth skills for providing first aid to people who may be experiencing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.
In 2018 I did a four-day diploma course (accredited by APNT) in pregnancy massage. This was held in London with the highly respected Suzanne Yates, founder and principal of Wellmother (Association of Physical and Natural Therapists).
I also did a course on the taping and strapping of sports injuries.
I’ll be looking to do more CPD (Continuous Professional Development) courses in the coming year. Those currently planned include reflexology, plus facial and oncology massage.
Together with the Gifted Hands mobile massage service that I provide, I also work a few hours each week on a self-employed basis at two other established local businesses: e:motion fitness hub offering specialist pre and post sports massages plus other massage options; and an osteopath treatment centre in Ferndown. On top of this, I also do one day’s employed work each week at luxury hotel Lime Wood in their renowned Herb House Spa in the New Forest.
Working in the spa gave helped me develop the business idea of producing my own brand of massage creams, so during the first lockdown I had the time to source out extracts and essential oils blends for a unique and organic blend of CBD creams to target muscles and joints. Please visit our shop page for further details on this and to order yours.
Finally, I’m also looking to give back by heading back to Ghana where unemployment is high, and training people in the profession of massage. This has been a vision of mine for some time to really help women set up their own business to be able to support themselves and their families.
I am a member and fully insured through Federation of Holistic Therapists for added peace of mind.
And when I’m not working…..
Yes, I work hard, and I’m a single mother. But my three boys are the most important thing in my life and I always find a way of juggling work to fit in with their school activities and hobbies.
What else? Well, I love cooking, dancing, and listening to music. That’s mostly R&B 70s/80s hits from Motown and Afrobeats, my African roots. I also thoroughly enjoy going to the gym, and usually do that very early in the morning to help kick start my day. And finally, because I like to have a laugh, I can often be spotted attending local comedy shows. I also love cycling and am currently learning to roller skate which is so much fun.
I feel so lucky to be doing a job that I love. And the best part of all? That has to be the enormous sense of fulfilment it brings. Every time I am able to successfully treat a client’s injuries, or when they come back to tell me their aches and pains are all gone away, that’s the best feeling of all.