But after meeting and falling in love, an Adlington couple turned their lives around and created a thriving shipping container business, with their work even starring on ITV soap, Emmerdale.
Now Bridget Alexander and John Nelson are using their success to help others struggling to make ends meet. The kind-hearted pair are offering free rides in sports cars to teens from families who cannot afford the mounting costs of school proms.
Mum-of-three Bridget, who is originally from Coppull, amassed more than 5,000 shares and 1,500 likes in a day when she wrote about their offer on Facebook last week. Ever since, both their Ford Mustang SL V8 Convertible and Ford Ranger Raptor Conversion have been booked up nightly, with pick-ups scheduled right up until Wednesday, July 20.
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The 47-year-old said: “It’s going absolutely mental. It’s unbelievable. My Facebook was lagging as I tried to reply to all the messages we had.
“We feel very privileged to be able to help people in this way. It can make a big difference in families’ lives to know there are people who care about them.
“John and I have had financial worries. We’ve both had businesses fail, and we were left with nothing when we walked away from former partners seven or eight years ago.
“We know what it’s like to fall on hard times. We’re down-to-earth people and we’ve had it rough. We’ve been shafted and stabbed in the back.”
Not only starting again as single parents before becoming an item, Bridget watched her beauty salon sink while dad-of-two John was forced to give up his career as a personal trainer after suffering a lower back injury. Despite finding other jobs, they struggled to afford the cost of rent and lost their family home.
Chorley-born John said: “We’ve been in that place where you think you’re moving forward and then boom, something hits you and you fall backwards. We’ve had times where our kids wanted KFC and we had anxiety because we couldn’t afford it.”
Hoping to secure a council house, the 39-year-old took on a job converting shipping containers into accommodation - which changed their lives forever.
After learning the trade for two years, they set up their own company, Compare Containers in Leyland, right before lockdown.
“Covid was our silver lining,” said John.
“Businesses needed outdoor pop-up spaces and we even made a coffee shop for Emmerdale.
“We’re not millionaires but we’ve made a few right moves so we want to help people in difficult positions.”
The couple – having five children and four grandchildren between them - know all too well how anxiety-inducing prom season can be for families struggling to put food on the table.
As Bridget said: “Kids want the best of everything and proms are becoming as big as weddings.
“If we were to fall into financial difficulty, we would have the luxury of family to help us but not everyone has that.”
Commenting on their good deed, she added: “We don’t want anything in return. We’d rather people make a contribution to Derian House Children’s Hospice. We just want to give lifetime memories to some girls and boys and make their day more special.”