Dole to Dubai

By Kiran Bedder-Patel

Drew selling Formula one tickets out in Dubai

The only upside the hearing about them cold, blistery nights is when someone bring jealousy upon you talking about the hot middle east. Yeah its brilliant hearing that as your hands are red-raw through the cold and your nose is dripping non-stop. Honestly.

However Drew Birkett, 23 can be excused for pinching himself multiple times for how crazy the last 2 years have been. A whirlwind adventure what’s took him from the Jobcentre+ and door knocking selling iPhone leads to sharing VIP party tables in Dubai.

I’m offered a tea as I sit down in his newly refurbished flat. Only after a welcoming hug. Quite a warm feeling. Did he bring me that from his trip? Doubt it.

Straight to the point, Drew explains how at 15, he was left to fend for himself, in and out of hostels and living with odd families, he finally managed to get himself a flat but without a job or qualifications, times did get difficult.
“I’ll be honest, I was on the dole and I aint afraid of saying it. I used to get £75 a week and had my housing paid for, I used to gamble half of my money down the bookies and then nick food from asda and sell fake stuff for cash. It was the definition of hustling.”

After regular trips to the jobcentre and agencies, Drew was offered a sales role, selling mobile phones to existing 02 customers. A role what gave him a stepping stone to progress. Learn. Excel and even rise up to the next tax bracket.

“I’ve always thought I had the gift of the gab, my voice is quite dominant. I made a record number of sales and earnt the respect and got friendly with the right people. I always told the boss I want to be where the moneys at and he said he will eventually put me there.”

The rich list, an events organisation what hosts events such as VIP treatments at formula 1 events such as the Abu Dhabi and the Monaco grand prix as well as high class hospitality at packages at high end party venues like Marbella.

As the leading hospitality event for the final race of the season in the Middle East, they needed marketers for the boat party’s and who better to fit the role.

“The owner of the rich list approached our boss, as they knew each other from years ago, and said they needed agents to sell more tickets and someone who can close deals. Turn the answers from ‘maybes’ to ‘definitely’.

“I was handpicked on the Friday and by the Monday I was made to graft and handle silly amounts of numbers from people who earnt some serious cash.”

Following weeks of stress and hours of staring at screens confirming bookings, the rich list group including Drew flew out to Dubai.

Three weeks prior to the race, popular R&B artists, Craig David, Busta rhymes and Rick Ross were confirmed to perform, at the rich list after party. An event Drew was in charge of. “Oh mate, it was hectic honestly.”

He says rubbing his head and flickering his cigarette in and out his mouth due to his twitch. “First things first, I’ve never been on a plane. I went to the Isle of White once and that’s it. I was given my own little pod and could request any drink or food I wanted. I remembered when I didn’t eat for days now I’m being offered caviar on a fly emirates.

“When we touched down I was driven to a flashy hotel and was told to settle in and rest because I had to go to the Yas Marina Circuit the next day which was a couple hours away.”

Upon arrival to the circuit, two-days prior to race weekend, Drew was in charge of bookings and cash intake.

A Bizarre situation occurred when discussing the finances with his boss, Bally Singh, in his office when a sudden knock on the door led to Drew meeting one of the most promising sports stars coming up.

“Yeah Chris Eubank Jnr knocked on the door and came in, asked if I’m alright and simple suggested we join him that night at club Dubai on his table. I was just star struck. Like me. Little old me being asked out.

“By a boxer. A decent one as well. I went and even accidently knocked Anthony Joshua’s shoulder but he didn’t even notice because he’s massive. Like he was there in front me like you are now. I’m not gunna lie, I was too shy to create a convo with Eubank Jnr but he was such a nice guy and provided us with drinks all night long.”

Race day dawned upon Drew and was a major event for formula 1 fans as it was the season finale. Even though Lewis Hamilton had sealed the championship, it was still a hotly tested affair with Valtteri Bottas claiming first place.

After the victory parade, the grand prix was lit up with a sensational firework display and after parties scattered all around.

“I know ours was the biggest because we had Rick Ross rapping and drawing in so many people. Eventually the gates were so rammed, we just had to let everyone in for free. The money we made was ridiculous. I actually seen someone hand over £500,000 in cash. I remember thinking £13 was a lot in cash back in the day, now I’m seeing this.”

Drew seen my mouth drop in awe of the figure he had just said and repeated the number.

“Yes, £500,000 in paper.”

The rich list event made just over £1.5million and was considered a huge success and massive profits were made. A celebratory watch was given out to each of its staff members and a final meal as gratitude for all the hard work.

That was made well aware to me after being shown off at least 8 times. Finally flying home, drew recaps the flight with a delicate scratch to his beard and looks slightly upwards.

“I was sitting on the flight home with a vodka coke in my hand thinking how this has happened. I’m going back to my flat where I was on the dole when I moved in. I had no sugar or milk to my name. This was only two years ago.

“I’ve just made contact with Anthony Joshua and shared a drink with Chris Eubank Jnr. I never had the money to watch them on sky and now I’m in the same room as them.”

As I go to leave and thank him for his time, Drew points at a small booklet behind a cabinet. I ask what it is but instead of answering he grasps it and turns it around.

“Look mate, this was my giro” he holds with the same hand what a £3,000 watch is connected to.

Can’t be as good as getting back to this cold walk home though, surely?

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