by CHRIS GILMORE
Angela Williams has lived a life most can only dream of, but despite her privileged background she has always remained focused on the needs of others.
Born into one of the wealthiest families in England but now residing on the Sunshine Coast, Angela has released her debut book called Extravagant Life to Extravagant Love. It is an intimate, honest and at-times humorous look into life Angela’s commitment to changing lives in the red-light areas of England’s most violent cities.
Angela, 46, who lives with her husband, son and two dogs at Pelican Waters, says she was inspired to help those working on the streets by her father’s charitable works and her own faith.
“I have always carried this sense of responsibility to wisely use what I had been given in life for the benefit of those that really need it,” she says. “This journey led me to jump in my car one day and put food and drink in the boot and drive into the red-light area of Coventry and stop to women while they were working on the streets.
“I had been on an outreach team in Manchester city who help women in prostitution on a previous occasion and was shocked at the scenes I had witnessed. It really challenged my preconceived notions that they chose this life, because what I really witnessed was women so consumed by drug addiction that it had stripped any sense or reality from them and they were totally trapped and imprisoned in this lifestyle. I just knew I had to do something and I had a responsibility to act. This eventually led to the formation of a charity called Embrace that services the needs of women in desperate circumstances.”
Angela grew up in the West Midlands, which is often considered the epicentre of the British motor trade. It was in this industry that father’s company found dizzying success in the 1970s. She grew up in a seven-bedroom country home on 14 acres, complete with an underground swimming pool, gymnasium, stables and a helicopter pad in the backyard.
“We would regularly pop into the local newsagents in the village and they would be the first to tell us if my dad had hit the papers again or what number he was ranked in the release of the Sunday Times British Rich List,” she says. “He was always granted a spot somewhere among the top 100.
“My father’s success has often brought attention in the media but it was really his skill in business and philanthropy work that brought him attention … He often reached number one in the UK for making donations to charity, giving over £300 million ($550 million).”
Angela says she fell in love with Australia in 1997 after spending her first year of marriage in Sydney, but it wasn’t until 2011 – and now with a son – that they made the move permanent.
“The Sunshine Coast was always our first choice, having holidayed here many times over those years to visit my uncle and aunt, who have lived here for nearly 30 years,” she says. “We had always been impressed by the beautiful beaches, the perfect weather, the amazing lifestyle and the joy on people’s faces as they actually said hello to you as you walked passed. We were also drawn to the stories we’d heard from my cousins about their school, Nambour Christian College, and the diverse education they were offered. I couldn’t think of any schools in the UK that had a farm as part of the curriculum and so we headed here without reservation and enroled our son. He graduated from Year 12 last year and it was the best decision we’ve ever made for our family.
So why did Angela decide to write Extravagant Life to Extravagant Love?
“We are living in a world that is so dazzled by fame, wealth and popularity that we are to blinded to the needs of others, even people living around us or in our own households,” she says. “Something needs to be done to switch the focus of our culture from looking solely at our own self first to noticing the need in others around us. Challenging times affect us all, whether we live in a mansion or a mud hut, and we need to stop looking for reasons to divide us and search for the reasons that unite us so that we may live together more considerately of each other.
“It takes each one of us to play our part in changing our culture to be a more loving, accepting and inclusive place to live. It is for this reason that I have written my book and told my story. My aim is to show that what might look like a dazzling life is not all filled with glitter but comes with the same challenges in life that other people face. If we are looking for true fulfillment in life then it won’t be found in how extravagantly we live but can be found in how extravagantly we love.”
Although Angela is no longer directly involved with Embrace Warwickshire, the charity she formed in 2008, she says it is still going strong and continues to make an impact in that region.
“Its main focus is helping women to exit and recover from a life in the sex industry in the city of Coventry,” she says. “Having walked alongside women in such desperate circumstances for many years, however, has changed me significantly and this cause continues to be an area that I love to support and champion.”
Angela is also a motivational speaker at churches, schools, women’s gatherings and other events, sharing her experience of what it is like growing up wealthy and how the ‘rich kid’ label made her feel isolated.
“It was considered that I was too lucky to understand a normal life,” she says. “My main focus is around the damaging affects of labeling and making assumptions about people based on what’s visible on the exterior. This message then of course translates well to women in prostitution that are also separated from society due to the labeling and discrimination that they suffer. I advocate that being kind to one another, particularly if they are different to us, can change our world for the better.”
Extravagant Life to Extravagant Love is available from Amazon via amz.run/4uxB. For more about Angela visit angelawilliams.com.au.