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What Our Clients Say...

We have consistently been ranked on the first page for people searching for music, film and TV t-shirts, and business is booming!

Roger Hunt,
Noise Management Limited

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Staffer in the Spotlight

Jamie McArdle

FirstFound’s top salesman Jamie McArdle was just eight years old when doctors gave his parents the option to switch off the machine keeping him alive. The youngster had been in a coma for five weeks after being run over by an ambulance responding to an emergency call.  But Jamie’s devastated parents, Joe and Rita, strongly believed their son could fight back.  Miraculously, just weeks later, Jamie regained consciousness to begin the slow and painful process of learning to walk again.

The accident, which happened near the McArdle family home in Armagh, Northern Ireland, left virtually every bone in Jamie’s body and face smashed to smithereens. But the fighting spirit that helped to heal him as a child is just as strong today, 16 years on.

Not only is Jamie one of FirstFound’s top sellers, but he’s a talented snooker player hoping to turn pro, already beating off competition from legend Jimmy White, and other pros including John Higgins and Peter Ebdon.  Here 24 year-old Jamie, our latest Staffer in the Spotlight, reveals how the tragedy shaped his success both in and out of work.

Here at Optimise we always like to meet the man or woman behind the phone – can you start by telling us how long you have been with FirstFound and what is your role within the company?

I joined the company in early February and I have been one of the top sellers since I started in our division.  My dad always taught me ‘if you’re not first, you’re last.'  He said, ‘There are no runners up son.’  I am very competitive and hate losing.  I go into a game believing that whoever I play I will win. I don’t play with fear.

When did you first start playing snooker?

After the accident I was in a wheelchair for six months before starting on the long road to recovery.  To pass the time I used to go to a local social club. I won a pool competition when I turned nine, and realised I had a natural talent for it. 

One night, when I turned 13, I was allowed to be a sub on my dad’s team.  I got my chance to play shortly afterwards when one of the members had to pull out of a game.  Rather than forfeit the match my dad and his team mates let me play and I scored 103 in the first frame!

At which point did you realise that you had a chance of playing professionally?

When I got to the semi-finals of the world Under 21 championships in Latvia by beating the eventual champion Ding Junhui, who is now recognised as China’s best ranked player.

Before that I had played, and won, my way through a series of under 16 tournaments ultimately beating off 61 other competitors to win the Northern Ireland Junior under 16s, qualifying for the Europeans travelling to Latvia, Egypt, and Bangkok.

You have competed against some of the top names in the game  . . . drop some for us!

Yes.  I was awarded scholarship place in the under 21s World Snooker Academy in Sheffield for three months two years ago, which has led me to face every player in the top 16.

I’ve played Jimmy White three times (beaten him once), John Higgins, Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Allen, Steve Davis, Matthew Stevens and Peter Ebdon, so far.  It is tough coming up against the pros though.  They spend ten hours a day playing snooker, two hours swimming and the rest sleeping.

Last year you came in the top 16 out of 256 competitors in a national contest – what sort of shape are you in for your upcoming match?

I competed at the world snooker centre at Pontins, Prestatyn, last year where I beat off a few pros to get to the last 16 of the event and was eventually knocked out by Stuart Bingham.

The next big tournament is the Pontins’ Open Spring Snooker Festival.  As usual I will prepare myself as I always do with plenty of practice.  I expect it to be very tough in terms of exceeding what I did last year.  But, if I keep working hard maybe I can do better.

If you make it to the finals of the Pontins match, what will happen then?

I will be receiving a lot of coverage in the national press and on as well as appearing on television.  The final will be screened on British Eurosport - and it carries a £16,000 prize pot.

I’m really grateful for the support from the bosses here at FirstFound, who are even sponsoring me.  My ultimate aim is to get on the pro circuit by going on the Pontin's International Open Series (PIOS) Tour next season, knuckling down hard, and hopefully cement my place in the 64 top ranked players worldwide.