WHEN your ancestral Herefordshire home once offered sanctuary to a Tudor princeling, and the discotheque business you launched in the back of a van went on to become the largest entertainment group of its kind in the world, chances are you're someone with quite a story to tell.
And that's exactly what Tom Vaughan has done with his first novel, The Other Side Of Loss, a compelling and thought-provoking debut novel about temptation, corruption, loss and love. A successful entrepreneur and co-founder of Juliana's Discotheque, Tom has already outlined the soaring rise of the business in his memoir, No Ordinary Experience - the Juliana's Story, now he's unleashed the richness of his imagination in his new novel.
The plot opens when a young vicar of a run-down London parish discovers the winning ticket for the largest jackpot in US lottery history on the collection plate one Sunday in church. A colourful and intriguing cast of characters are brought into play, from the violent cruelty of Caribbean drug gangs to the yearnings for love of London's social outcasts, the money-driven hubris of Manhattan's financial elite to the home-spun wisdom of New Hampshire, this is some read. But talk to 66-year-old Tom Vaughan about his own life, and that is equally compelling.
Born at Courtfield, near Ross-on-Wye, Tom grew up in rural Herefordshire without benefit of running water, electricity, telephone or television. Before he left for school in the mornings, he and one of his three brothers were required to pull 100 strokes each on a leaky old pump to provide water for the kitchen. The thrill of watching The Lone Ranger or Champion the Wonder Horse entailed a trek across hill and dale to a neighbour with a television.
Courtfield has been in the Vaughan family for 500 years, and was originally known as Greenfield. The name changed after the royal Tudor court lived here to provide a safe haven for the future Henry V.
A strong Catholicism in the family has led to some illustrious forbears for the Vaughans, and Tom will be among those celebrating the centenary of The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in London's Holland Park which was founded by his ancestor. Tom received a monastic education at a Dominican school near Abergavenny, and while his academic qualifications were negligible, he looks back fondly upon his school years. "They taught us self-belief and self-confidence, it was marvellous," he says.
Bolstered by that can-do attitude, Tom and his brother Oliver approached the bank manager in Ross-on-Wye and secured a £100 loan to start a discotheque business.
"At local parties, my parents despaired when they had to say what their sons were doing - one is an estate agent, another a farmer, and two are something called disc jockeys!" But the business grew at a great pace, and the Vaughan brothers were required to provide music at Prince Charles' investiture ball in Caernarvon. "Suddenly the party chit-chat changed!" laughs Tom.
Eventually, demand for Juliana's travelling business became too much to handle, and Tom introduced the Lygon Hotel at Broadway to the concept of discotheque. "We became solidly booked and then bigger hotels took on the concept. It took off like a firestorm." Soon, Juliana's discotheques and nightclubs were all the rage in hotels and cruise ships all over the globe, employing 500 people and operating in more than 40 countries.
Tom now divides his time between homes in London and New Hampshire, though he's happy to say he's going to settle in Herefordshire.
"It's a strange business, to disappear for 46 years but it's good to be back in Herefordshire, and it's thrillingto see the bank which gave us our first loan is still there in Ross!"
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