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POPPY'S PEOPLE: A sunny disposition through stormy weather

POPPY'S PEOPLE: A sunny disposition through stormy weather

Wednesday 11 May 2022

POPPY'S PEOPLE: A sunny disposition through stormy weather

Wednesday 11 May 2022


As a self-confessed extrovert with multi-coloured hair and a larger-than-life family, you would be forgiven for assuming that Dominique “Dom” Ogier’s story is one of sunshine and rainbows, however she is someone for whom storm clouds have had far-reaching shadows.

I had the good fortune of having Dom as a “desk neighbour” for a short cross-over period in an office job last year. I marked her as inspiringly confident and unshakable, but it is not until hearing her whole story that I have come to understand the extent of her strength of character.

The youngest of four siblings, Dom describes her childhood as “magical”. 

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Pictured: Dominique Ogier recently played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar for GADOC.

“Everyone in my family is creative; my father was an amazing inventor and my mother an incredibly talented seamstress and we were all fortunate to inherit their creativity,” said Dom. 

“My mother has always absolutely loved Christmas and my father would go all out for her and create the most fantastic decorations for our home.”

After moving from Jerbourg, the family lived in Vrangue Manor, between the post office headquarters and Les Ozouets campus. 

“I think most people would recognise our house around Christmas time as my dad would always put up the most amazing light displays, but what not a lot of people know is that inside our house there would be even more decorations than outside,” she said. 

“When carollers would come, we would welcome them into the house and they would always be amazed at the extent of the decorations. 

“I remember one year there was an ice palace in the entrance way of the house and my dad also made a sleigh with reindeer for inside the house as well as outside. Everything was hand crafted; he was such an intelligent and creative man.”

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Pictured: Dom and her family won the Specsavers Liberation Hangar Ball fancy dress competition for the third consecutive year last weekend. 

Dom followed her creative calling to Plymouth University where she attained a 2:1 degree in graphic design. 

“I chose Plymouth to study because it was the only place offering typography, which gave me an edge as a graphic designer,” she said. 

“There are a lot of designers who haven’t studied typography, so although they can make a pretty picture, they don’t understand how type works with the image; I’m specifically trained in that and there’s a lot of psychology behind how graphic design works.

“Graphic design was a way that I could pursue a career as an artist and funnel my skills while making money long-term.”

Dom stayed in Plymouth for a few years as a freelance graphic designer. 

“I wanted to try living away and it was fine, but my friends moved away and it wasn’t really working out,” she said. 

“When I left university in 2010, we were told that only one in ten of us would be able to find work; the job market was horrendous but luckily my friends and I all managed to get into careers within graphic design."

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Pictured: An illustration Dom completed of herself from a photograph. 

Dom continued: “I had some clients I was working for, but I had sent out a physical portfolio pack out to a load of companies, back when people would send physical CVs. I sent one to Coast Media and it was picked up by someone whose husband worked for the design and advertising agency Two Degrees North.”

Dom was invited to interview at the business, run by brothers Marc and Chris Griffiths and said “the island called her back” when she was offered a job.

Shortly after starting her new role, tragedy struck Dom’s family when her father was diagnosed with myeloma, a type of blood cancer. 

“My dad was given a life expectancy of five years, but he only made it as far as one year from diagnosis,” said Dom.  

“My dad was so popular; it would take ages to go anywhere with him through my whole life because everywhere we went so many people would stop and chat to him. When we had his funeral, the church was packed to the rafters and that really says it all. 

“It was utterly horrendous to see someone who had been so full of life and so switched on, deteriorate so much with the cancer.”

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Pictured: Dom is one of the driving forces behind the Guernsey Street Festival and believers performers should be given "a fair wage". 

Dom, who is a talented musician and singer, said that an experience with her father helped to show her “the power of music”.

“My dad always encouraged me in my music, he and my mother had contemplated sending me to music college when I was younger, but he reached the conclusion that if I was forced to pursue it then I wouldn’t carry on. He wanted me to carry on because I got so much enjoyment from it, not because I had to,” she said. 

“When my dad became seriously ill, he was moved from the high dependency ward in Southampton to a critical unit for people who are going to pass away and have no chance of recovery.

“My dad being moved to this ward coincided with an audition I was going to in London for Britiain’s Got Talent; it had been planned for a long time and my dad knew that I was going. 

“Shortly before going, we received a call from one of the nurses in Southampton who said they were worried about my mum, who was there caring for my dad, because she had not been eating and they said that one of us needed to be there to help look after her."

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Pictured: Dom attained a make-up diploma during lockdown. 

Dom continued: “None of my other siblings had any holiday time left, I also didn’t have any left, but Marc and Chris knew that I was going to London for the audition, and they very kindly told me to take the whole week off to go to Southampton to look after my mum and dad.

“I will always be extremely grateful to Marc and Chris because they were so patient; they had also lost their father to cancer, and they were so understanding and compassionate to the situation.”

When Dom arrived at Southampton Hospital her mum warned her that her father was “unrecognisable”.

“My dad was bloated, was hooked up to lots of machines and he hadn’t spoken in days,” said Dom. 

“My mum and I would talk to him, but he wouldn’t respond. Some of the nurses found out that I had been to the Britain’s Got Talent audition and that I had a guitar with me on the trip and they told me to bring it into the hospital and play for my dad.”

Dom recalls that she was initially hesitant about bringing a guitar to a critical ward where people were seriously ill. 

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Pictured: Dom said her parents have always encouraged her musical talents. 

“I learned my dad’s favourite songs and I would just sit and play to him all day and, unbelievably, he started tapping his toes,” said Dom. 

“When I stopped, my mum asked my dad if he wanted me to carry on and he answered 'yes', after not speaking for days until that point, it was amazing. 

“The nurses told me that the music had also cheered up everyone else on the ward; it was the biggest example of the power of music and it almost sounds unbelievable, but it’s completely true.”

Dom’s father recovered enough to be moved back down to the high dependency unit.

“The next morning, my mum and I went back in to see him, and he was sat upright in bed, fully conscious and just casually said 'morning' to us. We couldn’t believe it,” said Dom. 

“One thing I will never forget is my dad saying to me that he had been in complete darkness but then he heard me playing the music for him and he knew that I was there and that brought him back.”

Eventually Dom’s father was allowed to go back home. 

“He came home around Christmas and then he passed away on 1 April, so he had that time between to say goodbye to people,” said Dom. 

“It was incredibly hard. I feel as though I was mourning him while he was still alive because I was mourning the loss of the vivacious man he had been. I know everyone thinks that their dad is a hero, but mine really was a superhero and he was truly loved by so many people."

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Pictured: Dom and her family dressed as though they were in a black and white photograph for one of the fancy dress competitions. 

Dom continued: “One of my father’s values that will always stay with me is that it doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is, we are all people and everyone is worthy of your time.”

Dom describes the grief of losing her father as being like the “ball in the box” analogy. The analogy suggests that grief is like a box with a ball in it and a pain button on the side of the box. 

Initially, the grief ball in very large and any movement will knock the pain button, over time the ball grows smaller so hits the pain button less frequently, but with the same intensity. 

“My dad was inspirational, and I missed him so much, and that grief hit me particularly hard during the covid lockdown,” said Dom. 

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Pictured: Dom is a talented artist across different disciplines. 

Dom continued: “I was diagnosed with clinical depression and went to counselling, where I recognised that I had delayed trauma from the loss of my dad. Counselling allowed me to let go of a lot of guilt that I was holding on to surrounding my father.

“My dad had written a poem before he died, which was about our family and how he had had a good life. He had asked me to make it into a song, but it was too painful for me to do so; I held a lot of guilt for a long time about that.

“I also felt guilty because I met my now fiancé, Dan, four months before my dad had been diagnosed and I felt guilty for spending time with Dan when I could have been with my dad. Counselling really helped me work through that and allow me to move on from the guilt I had been holding on to.”

 Dom said that her depression had worsened through the lockdowns as her creative outlets were removed. 

“I am an extrovert and I love music and performing and being in a choir and all those things that I loved doing so much were taken away in the lockdown,” she said. 

“It was when I was only left with my work that I realised how unhappy I was with work. I think a lot of people do a similar thing, with work or relationships, where you’re not in a good situation but you’ve been in it so long that you think it’s normal.

“It’s like being sat in a room that’s on fire and saying that it’s fine, then when you’re taken out the room you can look at it and see for yourself that it’s on fire."

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Pictured: A Christmas wreath made by Dom, who shares her mother's love of the festive season. 

Dom continued: “I knew I wasn’t happy at work, but I was also very grateful to have a job because I knew that a lot of other people weren’t that fortunate. So, I was piling guilt onto myself for not being happy when so many people were in a worse situation.”

Dom decided to leave her job and has started working as a freelance graphic designer. 

It is clear that Dom has kept her dad’s lessons at the forefront of her mind as she devotes her free time to supporting charities and performers. 

“I have always picked a charity to support with my graphic design, like Animal Aid, each year because I have grown up being taught that it’s really important to give something back. I think that’s a value that is held by a lot of people in this island,” she said. 

“It is hugely rewarding to be able to give back and it’s so beneficial for the soul.”

Dom also helps to run the Guernsey Street Festival.

“I feel very passionately about supporting artists and having the Guernsey Street Festival as a platform for both new and established artists,” she said. 

“One thing that is very important to me is that all the performers are paid fairly; it is not a matter of you only receive the money that the public put in your bucket when you’re performing."

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Pictured: Dom said that she is "identifiable" by her bright and changing hair colours.

Dom continued: “There is a misconception with performers that, because we get so much enjoyment from it, we shouldn’t need to be paid. Although we do enjoy it, people don’t see the graft that goes into training and studying and practicing; people deserve a fair wage for that.”

Dom said that the “inquisitive mind” she inherited from her father will be an asset in her new freelance work. 

“My business will be two pronged with both a corporate side and the other side of the business will be wedding-based. I’ve done quite a lot of design work for friends’ weddings and, through researching for my own upcoming wedding, I realised that there really aren’t many options available if you want something unique,” she said. 

“I don’t have set plans for how I want the future to play out because I think if you plan too much then your plans will go awry. 

“I am looking forward to the journey of working for myself and seeing wherever that will take me; it’s scary but I’m very happy to be embarking on this adventure.”

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