WHEN Emily and Alan Braithwaite from Southampton met in 2006 little did they think that, six years later, they would have set up an event company specialising in bell tents, as well as launching a franchise arm of the business this year.

But that’s exactly what has happened to this outdoors couple who now live in Botley.

Having met through the Scout Association, both had demanding full-time jobs; Alan worked in IT for a phone provider and Emily, a community project officer for the Forestry Commission.

With stress dominating their day-to-day lives, they knew they wanted a career that would offer them a lifestyle change but couldn’t quite decide on the route to pursue.

Having tied the knot in 2012 and spending a dreamy night under the stars in a hired bell tent in the Purbeck Hills, something about that magical first night as man and wife also struck a career chord that was to come to fruition some months later.

Emily said: “It was the perfect summer evening; we heard bats, the early-morning bird song and watched dusk turn to dawn – one of the simplest yet most special nights of our lives.

“We thought nothing of it at the time being newlyweds and it was only after stepping off the plane back from our honeymoon in the Seychelles that we had one of life’s curve-ball moments and had to find a solution to our career crossroads.

“Alan had been made redundant and my job was also at risk, leaving us in a seriously compromising financial position, but I think in some way, being so vulnerable focused our mind, tunnelled our vision and made us razor sharp in focusing on what it is we wanted to do in life.

“We decided to make a plan to get out of the 9-5 and start working for ourselves.

“Memories of that evening under the stars came flooding back and, after much thought and planning, we knew we could carve a niche for ourselves in the bell tent and event hire business.

“Then I fell pregnant with our first child. When maternity leave finished I dreaded going back to the 9-5 and having to work around certain time frames. I loved the job but the time restrictions were the main issue for me.

“Very quickly, I then fell pregnant with our second child and this was the real turning point – I had to make the leap from my ‘regular’ job and into the business full time – there was no going back.

“In 2013, we both made the jump and decided to make a go of our business for outdoor event and celebrations and are now working on it full time together.”

Six years later and with six extra feet around them (Emily and Alan have three children, 4, 2 and 5 months) they couldn’t be happier.

Emily added: “After some national coverage we realised that there was scope for the business to grow outside of Hampshire so decided to set up a franchise arm and roll out the www.baylilybelltents.co.uk model nationwide.

“In the early part of this year we launched The Outside Bride as an extension of our outdoor events business and we are now looking forward to welcoming franchisees into the Baylilly family.

“We have a happy healthy work-life balance, away from the rat race, have grown the business ourselves and just love working in our passion - the great outdoors.”