Shirley originally trained at the Cordon Blu school of Cookery in South Africa, and graduating as top of the class was offered a job as a teacher. After a year teaching she moved onto Ove Arup Engineers as their catering manager in their Johannesburg office and at 21 was organising a party for 700 of their clients. In order to spend more time with her entrepreneurial father, she moved to the UK and a year later became a receptionist at David Popham Hairdressing, following a job at Oxfam Trading.
Shirley went on to found her own business, and only in 1990 did she and David marry. They have three sons and Shirley took a career break to be fully involved in bringing up their boys, a full on requirement as their middle son has a rare syndrome, requiring 24/7 care. During this time, Shirley was a Governor at Springfield School, the founding Chair of the Parents committee at Helen and Douglas House Hospice and the chair of many school committees, raising in excess of £250k in that capacity.
Now that all the children have grown up and Oliver is in a supported living situation, Shirley has taken to running the business. Her organisational skills and her love of business, has taken it to a new level and she is now looking to grow and expand Popham.