‘Behind every great man is a great woman,’ so the adage goes.
In the 1960s, the woman behind the Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein was secretary Freda Kelly.
For almost 11 years, ‘Good Ol’ Freda’ supported the Fab Four and their music entrepreneur boss as fame, fortune and worldwide recognition transformed their lives.
Today, aged 70 and working as a legal secretary, Mrs Kelly is throwing her professional weight behind another cause - the Yorkshire-based network The PA Hub.
The PA Hub, which provides training and support to personal assistants, executive assistants and virtual assistants, has already established itself in York and Leeds and is now expanding to Merseyside.
It provides a forum for assistants to network, train, develop, collaborate, socialise and be inspired by world-class speakers, providing development support often only available in London.
Director and co-founder Marion Lowrence - a former PA herself - said the group has “made excellent progress in putting PAs on the map in Yorkshire”.
Mrs Kelly is helping to launch The PA Hub in Liverpool by sharing her experiences at a special event at 30 James Street Hotel on October 22.
Despite working with some of the most lauded individuals 20th Century, Mrs Kelly said staying grounded was an essential part of her job.
She said: “It’s difficult not to be star struck: these people are icons, but the most important factor in being a secretary is keeping your feet on the ground.
“I worked with the Beatles from the early days, so I suppose in many ways, they were a normal group of lads to me. I got to see the ‘everyday’ side to them.
“I was always brought up to remember that people are people, everyone has gifts in different ways, and you should appreciate and respect everyone equally.
“Spending so much time in close proximity with your colleagues, as a PA does, changes the dynamics a lot. You deal with elements which often cross over into their personal life, but your job is to be their gatekeeper, to watch out for them, and to make sure that their life is in order, so that they can continue to share their talents or expertise.”
Mrs Kelly’s career highlights include an invitation to Liverpool’s civic reception for the Beatles, at Liverpool’s Town Hall, where she was included on Ringo Starr’s table and attending Northern premiere of the Beatles’ first film ‘A Hard Days Night’.
As for how her most famous role came about, Mrs Kelly puts it down to another well-known saying - “being in the right place at the right time”.
“Not everyone is cut out to be a PA, you have to have a passion and skill for working with people, being able to be assertive with your boss, and be incredibly organised,” she said.
“It’s not a career you just do, it’s a career you live through, in many ways it merges with your everyday life – so you have no choice but to love it and make it work for you.”
Mrs Kelly added: “I’m humbled to have been asked to speak to the PA Hub network, I have wonderful memories, and it’s great to be able to share them not just with Beatles’ fans, but with my peers.”
PA Hub director Ms Lowrence said launch of the Liverpool group will be a “considerable turning point” for PAs in the city.
“There are so many instances where PAs really do act as pillars for the businesses they work for, providing support and more often than not, carrying out essential projects that are not really defined as their ‘role’, yet they are often overlooked when it comes to career development, training and recognition,” she said.
“The PA Hub provides PAs with a voice, training and assistance in highlighting the importance of the PA role within businesses, while giving PAs the confidence to take their career further.”
The PA Hub was founded by Marion and Jon Lowrence in 2012, before launching its events in Leeds in 2013.
Following demand from members in North Yorkshire, the group launched a York network in June 2014.
It now operates 10 events a year in each city, alternating between social and development events.
The PA Hub is a members-only network, with applicants undergoing a secure vetting process in order to keep the privacy and connections of its members intact.
Its members work for companies who have a combined annual turnover of over £41bn and employ over one million staff, the Hub said.