Enter your email to read this article
Read news on any topic, in one place, from publishers like The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more.

Woman was bullied for years for having same name as local nightclub

A woman who endured bullying as a child because of her name has revealed the difficulties it caused her - but says she now feels hugely proud of it. Utopia Adaway, 32, was taunted that she was named after the local nightclub, and her grandfather found it so strange he called her by another name.

Now, however, she uses her unusual name as a way to teach others that being unique is a good thing. And she says she feels 'special' to have such an uncommon name.

She gained her distinctive title after doctors mistakenly told her parents they should expect a boy. Delighted to welcome a little girl instead, Utopia's dad decided to give his only daughter, a 'special' name - and chose Utopia as it meant 'Paradise'. While the name was welcomed by many, her grandfather said it was 'too strange' and called her 'Emma' instead. Eventually her mum put her foot down and told him to refer to her correctly - and the disgruntled relative settled for calling her 'Topi' instead.

Utopia, from Berkshire, faced similar issues at secondary school, where classmates bullied her. She told the Mirror: "Kids can be horrible. They bully each other. In society, if you're different, it is frowned upon and it's wrong. It shouldn't be. Everyone is so unique and I love that. And I love I'm different now."

Fuel was added to the fire by the fact that a nightclub in the local area was also named Utopia, leading many to wrongly assume her parents had christened her after it. The club shut down a few years ago, with an IKEA store built in its place, but Utopia still gets people asking her about it to this day.

Utopia, who works in finance, said: "Even now, I'll go to an interview with, you know, for a new job or something, and people who are older than me will be like, 'Oh, you remember the nights in Utopia? And I'm like, Well, I was only three when that nightclub opened! Even now, I've still got the newspaper where I was in it on the dancefloor."

A clipping of the article in question shows a three-year-old Utopia outside her namesake club with her mum, making a very special guest appearance at the opening night back in 1992.

Nowadays when Utopia tells people her name, many will end up getting hopelessly confused about where exactly she's from, assuming she's from Poland or 'possibly a man who is German'. Utopia added: "I'm like, 'No, I'm definitely a woman. I'm definitely British.'

"If I say my name, they'll look at me and think 'is that really your name?' And some people say, 'really?', and I'm like, 'Yeah'. Then they say, 'What's your first name?' and I'm like, 'That is my first name'. Then they're like, 'oh, how unusual!'"

Although Utopia's name has led to some difficulties, she says her experiences of being bullied ultimately helped shape her into the confident person she is today. She said: "Because I was bullied when I was younger, partly because of my name, I think it's made me a more confident person now. No matter what your name is, your colour, it's good to be different because you stand out from a crowd and people remember you."

Offering advice to anyone currently having to deal with bullies, Utopia added: "Everyone has their own opinion and they're entitled to that. But just be you because there is only one of you."

For stories from where you live, visit InYourArea.

Find recommendations for eating out, attractions and events near you here on our sister website 2Chill

Find recommendations for dog owners and more doggy stories on our sister site Teamdogs