Stress at Work. A Truly Harrowing Example, Where Lives Fall Apart

I very rarely watch the news, but earlier this week I watched in horror as the case of Chris Richardson’s hotel venture came to light


In 2008 he bought a hotel in Sittingbourne, Kent and agreed to borrow over £4m from their bank. In 2010, just 10 days before opening it, and with several bookings lined up, the bank announced that they would not lend him any more money and were handing his hotel to their Global Restructuring Group.


The problem


In February 2010 his hotel was valued at £7.7m once the work was done. However, a new valuer was brought in and revalued it at £2.5-3m to sell immediately. The bank made the decision to sell, all of the staff were sacked in front of Chris, he was sent off the premises, and his life fell apart.


He went to court, but couldn’t afford the legal fees and ended up defending himself against expensive legal teams as he tried to argue that his hotel was unfairly taken. He got nowhere and was penniless, with a wife and three daughters to look after. In 2013 his wife, aged just 45, died of cancer. There is no question that this was exacerbated by the continuous stress that they must have both been going through on a continuous basis.


Although years later he found a new partner, this incident was still dominating their lives


The claims about the unfairness of the case were dismissed by the courts without trial, and he was made bankrupt last Spring. More recently, a report was leaked to the BBC about his and many other cases. It turns out that the buyer of Chris’s massively reduced price hotel was a different branch of the same bank, and that their Restructuring Unit had done this in nine out of ten cases.


I watched in disbelief at what Chris and his family must have gone through


In cases like these where people are in an almost permanent state of fight or flight, it will burn people out. I can only imagine how Chris feels about his bank, of which he had been a long-term customer. On the other side of the coin: how must this bank’s employees be affected by this news leak?


This case is a stress-melting pot and will do permanent damage to anyone involved


As a stress expert: there is little consolation to be found to anyone caught in this continuous cycle of sleeplessness, anger, helplessness, insecurity, fear and hurt. It is a small consolation that the truth of this debacle has come out, but this will be little consolation to the mother of Chris’s children.


This case is a tragedy


For Chris and his family, I hope that this finally brings you peace and a better life. For the corporate parties involved: I hope that you will look at your entire culture and purpose, and align it in favour of your staff and customers.


If your organisation needs help in this realignment, I can definitely help you.



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