Tracey Mackness

I was born in Essex and grew up with my family who had a fruit and veg stand. At an early age we were put to work on the market. My Dad was in and out of prison for   things such as hijacking lorries when I was growing up. I had one younger brother. When I was 16 my Dad sold the business after his last spell in prison. And I went off in a different direction then. Doing cash-in-hand jobs to get by as I’d always thought the family business would be my bread and butter for life. But now it wasn’t.

When I was 24 years old, I got married and divorced within one year. Then at 31, I  married again – and just like the last one, he was undesirable too. Shortly afterwards, I had a nervous breakdown and ended up in psychiatric unit. Later, when I was 36 I met someone else who took me on the journey I am on today.

He was importing drugs into the country. I ended up with a 10 year prison sentence for importing cannabis into the country. Looking back, I was in too deep and didn’t quite realise what I was getting into.

In hindsight, I feel the punishment was quite harsh. But the amount of cannabis I was helping import was one tonne, it was quite a lot. I played a role. It was a deterrent sentence and it worked.

I left prison with qualifications that I hadn’t left school with. I trained to become a   butcher. I put my time in prison to use. Getting 10 years was probably the best thing that happened to me. I’ve managed to carve a career out for myself.

On leaving prison, I bought 30 pigs from the prison to start up my business and now I’ve got my own pig farm. I’ve been out of prison for 5 and a half years. My autobiography comes out soon it’s called Pigs Might Fly. In 2007 I won the Barclays Trading Places award with the Sun newspaper – it gained me a lot of recognition and media attention. Then one of the men from Barclays bank wanted to write a book and asked if I would work with him using my story. The first publishing house he went to brought it straight away.

I’d like people to be optimistic, not too negative. Get out there and get out – the youth of today don’t seem to have that spirit I don’t think they are that driven. They need to have it drummed into them at an early age. When I look around and see what I’ve achieved I think that anyone can do it with enough drive.

There was not much further I could have gone down. The only way to get forward was to make the best of a bad situation. I proved people wrong – six years ago I was in prison and no one believed I could start my own pig farm. Now it wakes me up in the morning. That and the ability I have to want to succeed. I’ve come along way but plan to take things further. I still have plans for my own sausage and mash cafe one day.

Taken from Issue 17