Barnsley grandmother takes leap of faith

20 April 2011

A youthful grandmother is no stranger to taking a risk or two and now she is taking a leap of faith with a new business that has a special message.

Jill Govier has launched JayGo Touchy Feely Textiles with the help of business support programme Enterprising Barnsley.

She uses recycled clothing, vintage bedding, old jumpers picked up at jumble sales and brand new textiles to create highly personalised craft work ranging from purses and key rings to cushions and handbags and a whole lot more.

Each item includes a quotation, ranging from lyrics from a favourite pop song to words of wisdom from a film or famous person.

Jill said: “I find if I take a quote out of the context it was used in originally it adds a different slant to it. For example when I put `May The Force Be With You` on a girly pink cushion with love hearts and sparkly buttons it becomes more Girl Power than Star Wars and people do see the fun in it.”

Jill's own motto is "take a leap of faith" and that is certainly something she has done over the years.

Now aged 50, Jill left school at 16 with no qualifications and went to work in the local sewing factory. Twenty years and two children later she packed it all in to obtain passes in maths and English and went on to study for an arts degree and teaching certificate.

She taught art at Priory School in Lundwood for four years, but then packed up all her belongings and travelled around the world. She crossed America, called in at Fiji, Malaysia and Thailand and then in Australia landed a teaching job in the outback.

For three years she worked in a remote industrial settlement called Karratha (correct) in Western Australia- 1,500 miles from Perth and five hours drive from anywhere. To while away her lonely nights she got her hands on an old sewing machine and started to get creative.

When she returned to her home in Honeywell, Barnsley, she initially went back to teaching, but Jill decided she was going to make one more leap of faith - and the result is JayGo Touchy Feely Textiles.

She contacted Genesis, which is part of Enterprising Barnsley specifically designed to help new businesses and create new jobs in Barnsley.

"My business is a combination of all those years of experience at sewing machines combined with my love of art- and words- hence the quotations, My spare bedroom looks like a miniature sewing factory- I have got fabrics all over the place and I've never been happier," said Jill.

"Genesis has been invaluable. It’s provided me with free business advice and coaching and given me the confidence to go ahead because I know the people advising and encouraging me are professionals who know exactly what they are doing.

"The next thing is I am going to ask for is their help in setting up my own webpage, so I can reach even more customers."

Jill's creations, which features freehand machine embroidery, are now being sold at craft fairs and via her Facebook page. She also runs workshops at the Civic in Barnsley to pass on her creative passion to others.

Enterprising Barnsley is a business support programme which helps businesses with high growth potential. The programme has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe's support for the region's economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. Enterprising Barnsley also offers office space and runs networking events.

The Genesis project is aimed at new-start and early-stage businesses, with support given over a 12-month period.

"I couldn't have done it without Genesis," says Jill. "They have been utterly brilliant and helped me turn this dream into a reality. Here I am aged 50- a grandmother and with my own business - this is a leap of faith I am so glad that I made."

Jill's Facebook page can be found at


Jill Govier can be contacted on 07754969380.

Media contact Gail Robinson: 077333 63304. Additional media contact: Kate Betts on 01226 766900 or 07910 165 444 or at

Enterprising Barnsley is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and the University of Huddersfield’s Barnsley Campus. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to provide an integrated programme of business support. For more information on Enterprising Barnsley go to


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