In short, I’m an author and entrepreneur. I was the co-founder of the successful chain of Juliana’s discotheques, which my brother and I started in the 60s and grew to be the world’s largest entertainment group of its type at the time, and the first Discotheque Company to ever go public. It was sold in 1989 for £30m.
Since then I’ve been one of the founding directors of a property investment business and held a number of directorships, as well as forging a successful career as an author. My debut memoir, No Ordinary Experience became a best seller and I’ve also written a novel, The Other Side of Loss.
My most recent book, Hope...And The Hedgehog, an exploration of the meaning of life, is out on May 5th 2022. I live between Herefordshire in the UK and New Hampshire in the US.
Courtfield, Herefordshire, England
My mother, Mary Holroyd-Smyth (d.) 1989 grew up on the banks of the Blackwater river in County Cork, Southern Ireland, on the Ballynatray estate.
My father, Joseph Vaughan (d.) 1972 grew up on the banks of the river Wye in Herefordshire, on the Courtfield estate.
The Holroyd-Smyths adhered to their Irish Protestantism every bit as devoutly and tenaciously as the Vaughans stuck to their Roman Catholicism. This didn't stop my parents from marrying each other. My mother, who had already converted to Catholicism, subsequently met my father and they were married on St Swithin's Day 1942 and almost immediately afterwards my father was posted overseas to spend the rest of the war slogging through North Africa.
My twin brother Richard and I were born in Courtfield House and, after a short migration to the Cotswolds and then London, returned to be raised in the Dower House on the Courtfield estate. I have two older brothers, Patrick and Oliver. The eldest, Patrick (who sadly died in 2020) and Oliver, the brother with whom I went into business. The family moved to the Cotswolds, where for a while we lived in a rambling establishment, The Manor House at Bourton-on-the-Water. Within a couple of years, we were on the move again, this time to the other extreme, to 71/2 Smith Terrace, a tiny house in Chelsea. A little later we made a third move and, for a while, settled in a more substantial family home at 2 Cambridge Place.
I married Sarah Harding-Rolls in 1979. We raised three wonderful children, Sophia, Georgianna and Henry, in our house in Pembroke Villas, London. We have now moved back to Herefordshire only a few miles away from my family home, Courtfield.
This was my mother’s home in Ireland. It is where she was born and where my maternal grandparents lived.
Although never in line to inherit either the house or land (she had four brothers), my mother was totally disinherited and cruelly disowned by her family when she converted from Irish Protestant to Roman Catholic.
I never once met my grandparents or visited this house until long after their deaths, when my uncle allowed us to do so. Tragically, a few years later he shot himself. My mother did not remember a happy childhood growing up there.
Although I was born at Courtfield, I have no memory of it as my father sold it when I was 2 years old and we moved first to the Cotswolds before moving on to a more modest home in London.
Because of the tradition of primogeniture (eldest boy gets all) practised by landed families in England at the time, as the youngest of four brothers, I was never in line to inherit property or wealth. My two immediately older brothers and I grew up always knowing that we would have to go out and make our own way in the world. Although I undoubtedly benefited from a privileged upbringing, I had no silver spoon in my mouth.
Following my rather haphazard, unorthodox early education under the care of the Dominican monks, in 1996, while still in my late teens my older brother, Oliver, and I co-founded Juliana’s Discotheques Ltd. With a small loan from our local bank in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, England.
Together, over the next twenty years, we steered this embryonic business from the back of an old van into becoming the largest entertainment group of its kind in the world at that time. With offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney, Juliana’s Holdings Plc, as it became, was by then employing some 500 people, operating in over forty different countries on four continents. Taken Public by Blue Chip Merchant Bank, Morgan Grenfell, the then global company was two and a half times oversubscribed at its very successful launch on the main London Stock Exchange in 1983.
In 1986 my first book ‘No Ordinary Experience - the Juliana’s Story’ was published. Thereafter my brother and I were involved in the setting up of a number of other businesses, some of which became very successful, others less so. Although I have been described as a serial entrepreneur, I prefer to describe myself as a ‘vigorous muddler’. An occupation I define as someone who goes to the office every day and muddles vigorously - it is the vigour with which the muddling is undertaken I consider to be the important part!
I have served as both an executive and non-executive director of a number of different Public and Private Companies and was for twelve years a Trustee/Director of LAMDA (The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art). I now divide my time between personal business interests in London, UK and New Hampshire, USA.
Although not my first book, ‘The Other Side of Loss’ is my first novel. Contrary to its title, is not about death but is actually a modern-day parable of loss and redemption, of despair and triumph, of human weakness and the life-affirming salvation of human strength in all its meanings.
I'm proud to say it's a highly successful book, especially in the US, selling 10,000 copies (the average self-published digital-only book sells 500 copies) and is still selling, 7 years later. My latest author adventure, Hope... and the Hedgehog takes a slightly different path to my previous two books. More a pocket philosophy, this is a digestible exploration of the meaning of life.