Candid Caller

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NEXT Tuesday, the hearing resumes which is expected to make Kevin Maxwell the UK's largest-ever bankrupt, with debts of pounds 407m. Many people have faced bankruptcy and lived to tell the tale, so this week the Candid Caller's phone-around asked the following questions: How does it feel to go bankrupt? And how do you bounce back?

'When the crunch came I was angry, sad and embarrassed,' says Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, declared bankrupt in 1991. 'But you do bounce back by being optimistic. It's not the end of the world, although it does make life a bit difficult for a couple of years - especially on matters of what you earn and how you earn it.

'You learn from your mistakes, and now I don't trust solicitors or accountants.'

'My husband was extremely hurt and despondent, but I got angry, especially about the way my family was treated, while at other times I felt desolate and lonely,' says Kay Short, of Liverpool, the wife of John, who lost his haulage business in 1984. 'It's a long, dark tunnel and everywhere you go there's a door slammed in your face. We're still really struggling, even though my husband was discharged in 1989.'

'I had three companies and one went to the wall when somebody did a bunk for an astounding amount of money,' says Rick Wakeman, a member of Yes, the Seventies supergroup. Rick Wakeman Enterprises Ltd went bankrupt in 1982.

'For the next six months I couldn't get credit anywhere - apart, ironically, from credit card companies. Even the milkman would give me a bill every three days. Then the problem disappeared as quickly as it started and my credit was back to normal.

'A good friend sat me down and convinced me that my earning capacity and talent were still there. Then I quietly started setting everything up again. Within a year the tabloids were referring to me again as 'Rick Wakeman, rock millionaire' so I knew it had to be true]'

'Your sense of values drastically alters. My immediate reaction was that I felt for my 22 employees, and then I was concerned for my own family's needs,' says Jim Freer, bankrupted by his garage business in 1989 and now employed as a cab cleaner in Ayrshire. 'On the positive side, going through the experience of losing our home and being ostracised by some friends made my relationship with my wife much deeper.'

'Due to the hurricane in the area, your call cannot be completed at this time. Please try later,' said the answering machine in the Florida base of Sir Freddie Laker, whose Laker Airways was declared bankrupt in 1982.