Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Say no to new!

Struggling to find a new year's resolution? How about pledging not to buy new clothes for a year?

Our obsession with buying cheap new clothes and throwing them away has fostered a shocking culture of waste.

However, Newbury mother-of-two Victoria Lochhead is at the forefront of a national campaign to challenge customers to say no to new outfits and spend 2014 only buying vintage and second-hand clothes.

Victoria, owner of image consultancy Victoria’s Wardrobe, said the idea behind the campaign is to encourage people to think more carefully about where they spend their money, and about reducing waste.

According to recent figures, thanks to the low prices enjoyed by clothing consumers in the UK, 10,000 items of clothing are sent to landfill every five minutes, adding up to a shocking 1bn tonnes of textiles a year.

Victoria is organising a series of events throughout the year that she hopes will inspire people to turn their backs on fast fashion and to “say no to new”.

She said: “We’re asking people to join us by pledging not to buy new clothes throughout 2014 on our “say no to new” facebook page. The idea is to highlight how much is wasted by our attitudes to fast fashion.

“In my work as an image consultant, I’m regularly asked to help people who are overwhelmed by their wardrobes. I often find the same item in there seven or eight times.

“As well as the cost of buying new clothes, if you buy second hand, from charity shops, eBay and clothes recycling outlets, then you’re more likely to buy good quality pieces.

“People who have 70-80 pairs of shoes are not uncommon and I recently helped a lady who had 16 pairs of identical trousers, some with the tags still attached. Half of a woman’s clothes in her wardrobe don’t suit her, don’t fit or don’t make her feel great. It’s said that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.

There are some exceptions to Victoria’s challenge including underwear and swim wear.

“It’s the rise of fast fashion in recent years that has enabled people to buy something cheaply, wear it once and then throw it away.”
Along with her business partner Jo Marshall, with whom Victoria shares a market stall on Saturdays in Newbury, the pair run revamping workshops to encourage people to make the most of clothes that they might have considered throwing away.
“We like to encourage people to share, swap and revamp,” Victoria continued. “I recently heard about a lady who bought a jacket from a high street store, and the button came off, so instead of sewing another one back on, she threw away the jacket and bought an identical one.
“That kind of behaviour is just not sustainable. If you pay £4 for a top, then you have to consider how much the person who made it got paid and under what conditions.
“My vision is to see a fashion industry in which people waste less and love what they have.”


Sunday, 15 December 2013


West Berkshire business owners can get their 2014 off to the right start thanks to a series of Bigger Brighter Bolder success briefings.

Mindset coaching experts Tracey Miller and George Swift who run BBB from Benham Hill, are inviting people who want to achieve their resolutions to hear more about how to attain their goals and improve their self-belief.

Places cost £25 each and take place from 9.30am to 12pm on Thursday 23rd January, Wednesday 29th January and Wednesday 5th February.

George Swift, said: “This interactive workshop reminds us as business owners what we are really made of and why we deserve our success. Creating the mindset for success is a must for anyone who wants to be more successful in 2014, whether that’s in business or personally. This workshop helps you do just that, discovering what habits you can build on and form to be successful.”

For more information, or to book a place, email tracey@biggerbrighterbolder.co.uk or click onto www.biggerbrighterbolder.co.uk or http://bit.ly/BBBbriefing

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Can the Bowen technique assist boys with dyspraxia? Could you help?

A Newbury-based holistic therapist is looking for young children with motor skills difficulties and dyspraxia to be treated with the Fascia Bowen Therapy as part of her research doctorate.

Melanie Morgan-Jones specialises in the technique which is a gentle alternative treatment using minimal manipulation and frequent pauses for the body to respond. As there is no cure for dyspraxia, Melanie is researching how the Fascia Bowen Technique could help people with the condition who typically have difficulties with movement, coordination, judgment, processing, memory and some other cognitive skills.

Working from the Wellbeing Centre in Pound Street, Melanie now wants to apply her knowledge to her doctoral studies at the University of Bath. Her research question is about the benefits of using a very gentle therapy to help improve motor skills, as well other psychological factors such as self-esteem.

Melanie said: “I’ve been using the Bowen Technique and Fascia Bowen for a number of years locally, including on members of the Berkshire County Blind Society and my patients report that the treatment is hugely beneficial.

“I’m now looking for boys from Berkshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, aged between eight and 11, who have difficulties with motor skills. They would be treated either at school or in a private clinic. The target group is boys who scored at the 15th centile or below on an assessment administered by an Occupational Therapist called MABC-2. They will also be screened for other conditions.

“My supervisors are Dr Chris Ashwin at the University of Bath and Dr Fiona Knott at the University of Reading who are both well-known and respected in the field.”

Participants are asked to be seen for about an hour once a week during the school day in a small private room.

Claire Bushell, Director of the Wellbeing Centre, said: “Melanie is a highly-valued member of our team here and we’re delighted to support her in her innovative project. If you know anyone who fits the bill and might benefit from her free treatment, then please get in touch.”

Anyone who is interested can find out more by emailing Melanie on melmj@btinternet.com or via the Wellbeing Centre at www.newburywellbeing.com


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Buttermilk in the Sun

Buttermilk Confections is often in the sun, being situated in lovely Cornwall, but on Saturday, their new Fudgey Friday subscription service was featured in The Sun newspaper after we sent them this press release!

Thank you The Sun!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Interview with George Swift of Bigger Brighter Bolder on the importance of mindset to entrepreneurs

Fresh from persuading dozens of Thames Valley’s business owners and entrepreneurs to walk across coals reaching 1,200 degrees celsius, George Swift from mindset mentoring firm Bigger Brighter Bolder reflects on why he believes its so important to develop the mindset for success.

George has run BBB with his partner Tracey Miller since 2009. Initially set up as a coaching firm shortly after the pair met, the motivational duo started out together by providing coaching sessions to corporate sales teams and entrepreneurs.

Since then, the business has grown and diversified substantially into distinct services; coaching for sporting professionals and teams; coaching for corporates, and BBB Success Groups, a local club for entrepreneurs to ensure they have the right mindset to be successful.

In the sporting arena, BBB notably assisted Newbury Rugby Club to avoid relegation last season. The team was on course to be relegated for the fifth time, and managed to turn around its losing streak by taking part in BBB’s weekly empowerment sessions, motivational workshops and its own bespoke fire walk.

BBB runs bespoke empowerment events for corporates and also runs its own annual empowerment fire walk and workshop at the Regency Park Hotel in October, open to anyone. Having completed his first fire walk in his twenties, George completed specialist training to become a certified instructor and uses the fire walks as a catalyst to implement and encourage fast and immediate change.

“They’re a great tribal experience and are life-changing for most people. After walking over the hot coals of up to 1200 degrees Celsius myself, I realised that they were a great tool for experiential learning. They’re not a gimmick, but a very powerful metaphor for change.

“However, change is not about a quick fix and my take on personal development is that it should be honest and real. Every success story you will ever read tells you it’s a long haul.”

That led George and Tracey to launch the crowning glory of BBB - their unique BBB Success Groups which started in Thatcham in April 2012. Comprising local business people who meet twice-monthly, BBB Success Groups allow like-minded people to meet at mindset mentoring workshops, to set goals, develop the mindset for success and spur each other on.

Now with 32 members and numbers increasing all the time, George and Tracey are rightly proud of the groups’ achievements. One of the earliest members, Carolyne Wahlen from Gap HR, has been inspired by the group to get her first book, an employment guide called “Keeping you out of the rough” published this month. Other recent successes or “wins” as they are called within the groups, are Liisa Henriksson who has developed a music group and product for children called “Moosicology” and Rob Goddard whose business Evolution has tripled in staff numbers while doubling both turnover and profit in the last year while he’s been a member. He attributes his success to setting regular achievable and measurable goals and because he is held accountable to the group at each meeting.

George explained that the Success Groups were developed when he identified a lack of clarity over people’s priorities and that success was dependent on a formula of positive, structured thinking, self-awareness and learning from other likeminded people.

“We decided to develop the groups as we’d not come across anything similar and we wanted to build a team that would support each other. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely and we wanted a place that was supportive and positively focussed. Much like a weight loss club, it’s very powerful to be accountable to the group.”

George himself is well-placed to guide others on the path to success. He’s well-known for his no-nonsense workshops which combine his interest in evolutionary psychology and his love of personal development.

However, his own journey has not been straightforward and it’s the adversity he’s met along the way that have helped shape his interactive workshops. With a successful career in sales, followed by a lucrative foray into IT recruitment spanning a decade, disaster struck two years into running his own consultancy. The terrorist attacks of September 2001 saw his niche destroyed and bankruptcy beckoned.

Culminating in the breakdown of his relationship with his partner, the mother of his twin daughters, he realised that only he could change his future life. George decided the time was right to follow his dream of studying animation at university.

However, events had provided a blow to his self-confidence and he found that panic attacks and lack of self-esteem prevented him from attending the first month’s lectures, prompting him to ask soul-searching questions on what he wanted from life. This proved to be a turning point, and from his first lecture onwards, he excelled with a First class honours degree, leading to a Masters degree and ultimately, the opportunity to lecture on the subject he loved. Rather than being competitive and pitting students against each other, his lectures were collaborative and supportive and sowed the very first seeds for Success Groups.

George said: “I realised when I’d been coaching for a while that people had that same chemical response in non-physical situations as in life-threatening scenarios. Based on our evolutionary beginnings this chemical reaction has a huge impact on the way that we think, or feel or do.

“I never just teach for the sake of teaching; everything must help lead to behaviours that lead to a positive outcome.

“The knocks help” he added. “Like in martial arts where we are conditioned to succeed, it’s important to have resilience and the ability to ride the rough times. “I know from personal experience that fear and self-doubt can be hugely limiting to people’s lives.”

Bringing this philosophy to BBB, his interactive seminars are based on a desire to know more about the way the brain works and are based on his realisation while coaching others in kick-boxing and self-defence, that the body’s fight or flight mechanism still responds to threatening situations, be they running from a wild animal or having to give a sales presentation to the Board.

“For me, coaching combines evolutionary principles with a proven success formula. The rules of success are simple; keep showing up and bringing your best.

“People’s biggest limitation is their self-belief,” he adds. “Our job at Bigger Brighter Bolder is to spend time looking at their mindset and empowering them with simple, functional skills they can believe in. My philosophy with Success Groups, like with martial arts, is to arm people with tools that are simple, accessible, functional and effective.”

The plan is now to extend the Success Groups to more locations within the Thames Valley.

George added: “We really want to open the Success Groups up so that more people can benefit. They are amazing and everyone shares the same values, meaning that they’re open with each other and where they’re going. We’ve had lots of new businesses created and alliances made.

“We’re genuinely privileged to be trusted in people’s lives and businesses. Seeing the members enjoy success is incredibly rewarding.”

BBB holds regular briefing sessions for people to find out more about Success Groups. Interested participants are invited to try out a “foundation programme” lasting two months before committing to Success Groups.

For more information, click onto www.biggerbrighterbolder.co.uk


First appeared in B4 Business magazine.

Profile on Danielle from PriorityPA

I've had a few requests this week for help with writing personal career profiles and having agonised for ages on what to say about myself on LinkedIn and Twitter, I can understand how difficult it is to tell people what you do in a short paragraph!

I absolutely recommend asking someone else to write your career bio as they can often use words that you feel might be "bragging" and can highlight skills and experiences that might not seem significant to you but are of great interest to the reader. It's much the same concept that makes Sarah Beeny's "My Single Friend" work so well.

So it was with delight that I wrote this for Danielle Millar of PriorityPA when she needed a 150 word bio for the local newspaper's "Women in Business" feature. I've met her a few times and have admired her sense of humour and her panache for all things admin. Now to ask someone to write my LinkedIn profile for me....

Danielle Millar runs priorityPA, a freelance personal assistant service for busy business owners, covering Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey.
Danielle is an experienced PA who loves to help people free up time to run their businesses by seamlessly taking care of time-consuming admin jobs. With her efficient and dedicated team, Danielle can work at your office or remotely to help you ease your workload and take over the tasks that just keep lingering on your to-do list. She has years of experience across a range of sectors and can effortlessly assist with everything from customer service databases to social media to travel arrangements.
Customers describe priorityPA’s flexible, common-sense approach as “second-to-none” and many have praised their professionalism and attention to detail.
Whether you’re looking for admin help for a day, an on-going project or a few days a week, Danielle is delighted to exceed your expectations. She can be contacted on 07930 609184 or at info@priorityPA.co.uk. For more information, click onto www.prioritypa.co.uk

Monday, 4 November 2013

Sharon fire walks her way to raising £700 for her son's specialist trike

Kimpton mum Sharon Kennedy raised £700 to help buy a specialist trike for her young son Cameron after taking part in a fire walk, walking over coals of up to 1200 degrees Celsius.

Sharon took part in the event run by mindset mentoring firm Bigger Brighter Bolder in Newbury on Halloween after considering various fundraising events. She will now be able to buy a Tomcat Trike to help her son who suffers with sensory processing difficulties, social communication difficulties and Dyspraxia thanks to her fundraising and a grant from Cerebra, a specialist charity that helps children with neurological problems.

Sharon said: “We’d like to say thank you to everyone who sponsored me. We have been brought to tears by the generosity of everyone including total strangers have given us large donations.

“The fire walk itself was an amazing event and I’d like to thank George Swift who ran the workshop and Tracey Miller for all of their help.”

Tracey Miller, BBB director added: “Sharon was amazing. She threw herself into the whole event and I know got a lot from learning about about the power of her mind. She did a great job of the fire walk itself.”


Why you should double your prices

I recently went to a seminar by Bigger Brighter Bolder on why you should double your prices which made me realise I was seriously undercharging and that I should align my prices with the market rate. I will ease myself into this on January 1 2014!

George Swift from BBB pointed out that a lot of new business owners compete on price from the outset but that rising prices actually is a good thing for everyone. Higher prices means that you work harder, produce a better product and up your game.

George describes it much better than I can and I highly recommend this article here to anyone with a small business: www.businesszone.co.uk/topic/finances/why-you-need-double-your-prices/54251

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Bigger Brighter Bolder’s fire walk attracts 30 brave entrepreneurs

Thirty of West Berkshire’s bravest entrepreneurs and business people faced temperatures of up to 1200 degrees Celsius when they took part in a fire walk on the night of Halloween.

The event was hosted by Newbury mindset mentoring firm Bigger Brighter Bolder at the Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham.

Participants received an interactive empowerment workshop by BBB Director George Swift on the power of the mind before being invited to walk barefoot over the coals.

George said: “The idea of the fire walk is to show that we can cope with anything by altering the way we think.”

As well as proving to be a life-changing experience for many participants, it was a special night for Rob Goddard and his now fiancĂ©e Liz Mills who announced their forthcoming marriage at the event, having kindled their romance at BBB’s 2012 fire walk.

Additionally, Sharon Kennedy raised £700 in sponsorship to do the event, giving her the funds to buy a specialist trike for her son who suffers from sensory processing difficulties, social communication difficulties and Dyspraxia.

Bigger Brighter Bolder specialises in helping businesses and business owners develop the mindset for success. They run BBB Success Groups for driven and like-minded business owners who meet every two weeks to develop the skills for success and achieving their goals.

Jane Midwood, Director of First Call HelpDesk, is a member of Success Groups and did the fire walk for the first time. She said: “George is amazing and the fire walk event was mind-blowing. You know he's been through the emotional stuff himself and he brings so much passion to every session he does."

George Swift from Bigger Brighter Bolder said: “The firewalk events hold a special place in my heart as they allow the possibility for people to create the immediate changes needed to release blocks and negative thinking and embrace their full potential.”


Friday, 18 October 2013

Internationally-renowned leadership guru and best-selling author Penny Ferguson speaks at the Athena Network West Berkshire!

Internationally-renowned leadership guru and best-selling author Penny Ferguson will be one of the guest speakers this month at the Athena Network.

Penny Ferguson, who is the author of The Living Leader, will speak to West Berkshire businesswomen at the Newbury south group at La Tasca in Newbury Market Square on Wednesday, 20th November.

Penny has helped unlock the leadership potential of thousands in her development programme, and will be sharing her thoughts on personal leadership. This will include the three key elements; effective communication, taking responsibility and challenging how people think.

Former journalist Margaret McDonnell will talk at the Hungerford group at Audley Inglewood on Friday, 8th November on how to write a press release and develop a relationship with newspapers and magazines.

The Newbury north group takes place at Donnington Valley Golf Club on Wednesday, 13th November where Caroline Matthews of CSM Financial Solutions will be offering advice and discussion about Business Protection.

Caroline will speak on how to protect businesses and their owners in worst case scenarios.

Karen Garley of HR Vision will speak at the Thatcham Athena Network meeting on November 19th at the Regency Park Hotel Thatcham. She will guide the audience on how to stay motivated during those times when enthusiasm is below par.

Debbie Miles, regional director of The Athena Network in West Berkshire said: “As ever, it’s a pleasure to host meetings for local businesswomen and to watch them develop professionally, create alliances and grow their businesses. If you’re a woman in business who wants to grow your network in a fun way, then please come and experience a meeting. We’re always delighted to welcome new faces.”

All events take place from 12pm to 2pm. For more information, email debbie.miles@theathenanetwork.com or visit www.theathenanetwork.com

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Kimpton mother prepares for Fire Walk to raise money for son's life-changing trike

A mother from Kimpton, near Andover, is taking part in a fire walk to raise money to buy a specialist trike for her young son.

Sharon Kennedy is raising funds in order to purchase a Tomcat Trike which would be life-changing for her four-year-old son Cameron who suffers from sensory processing difficulties, social communication difficulties and Dyspraxia.

Cameron can only walk short distances before pain and fatigue set in, meaning the Tomcat trike would enable him to become more mobile and independent.

Sharon is hoping to raise £600 towards the cost of the £1,873 trike with the additional funding coming from a grant from Cerebra, a specialist charity that helps children with neurological problems.

Sharon said: “Cameron and I went to try out the trike and it brought a tear to my eye to see him pedalling for short distances without help with the biggest smile on his face. The trike would mean that he could do things that other children can do, such as coming with me when I walk the dog. “

The fire walk takes place on 31st October in Newbury and is being run by specialists Bigger Brighter Bolder who are holding the event on Halloween to empower local business owners.

Sharon found the fire walk event online and contacted organisers Tracey Miller and George Swift.

She joked: “I wanted to do something a little bit different to raise money and this is shorter than a traditional sponsored walk.”

Tracey Miller, BBB director added: “As specialists in developing the mindset for success, our fire walk workshop is designed to help people overcome the fear and doubt that gets in the way of their success by actually showing the mind what’s possible. We’re delighted Sharon’s chosen our event and as well as raising money to help buy the trike, which will be life-changing for Cameron, we hope Sharon gets something really special for herself too.”

For more information on the fire walk, click onto www.biggerbrighterbolder.co.uk or to sponsor Sharon, click onto www.justgiving.com/local/project/firewalkfortomcattrike


Thursday, 3 October 2013

A very important announcement - warning contains fudge: Get Your Fudge Fix with New ‘Fudgey Fridays’ Delivery Box

Buttermilk Confections, expert creators of traditional Cornish fudge, have announced the launch of mouth-watering ‘Fudgey Fridays’, where fans can get their fix of decadent fudge delivered to their door every month. The fudge subscription service will see a tasty tray of treats drop onto doormats monthly for a treat that will set the taste buds tingling. With classic flavours like Belgian Chocolate and Cornish Clotted Cream, or adventurous varieties like Blueberry Cheesecake or Double Deadly, no month will ever pass by without a hearty helping of fudge again. David Goad, Managing Director of Buttermilk Confections says, “We are very excited to launch Fudgey Fridays and offer subscribers a regular helping of our award-winning fudge direct to their door. Our distinctive fudge is crafted with care by expert fudge makers using traditional old recipes that are too good to keep to yourself. Share them around the office or give them as gifts.”

Each tray will contain two different flavours so recipients can tailor-make their own Fudgey Friday. There will be themed trays, taster options and the classic flavours that everyone loves to ensure that each package is a decadent treat that will always satisfy. Whether sampling a brand new flavour, enjoying something different like Blackjack, or Apricot Brandy fudge, or savouring the classic taste of caramel fudge, each package will contain an explosion of flavour, with the smooth and creamy texture that can only come from handmade treats.

The fudge fix will drop onto doormats on the last Friday of every month, offering a payday treat that screams indulgence. There are a range of different subscriptions available ranging from three to twelve months, and membership includes an induction into the fudgey family at Buttermilk Confections. Subscribers will receive signed cards, newsletters and personalised emails offering the latest updates about fudge flavours, new themed trays and other offers from Buttermilk Confections.

For those who know a friend who is crazy for fudge, there is an introduction service which allows members to invite one friend per month. Each new member will get to experience their next Fudgey Friday for free, with benefits for the person extending the invitation too. Fudgey Fridays also make a great office snack to incentivise employees on that last Friday of the month. Leave them open near the coffee machine or hand them round and make Fudgey Fridays a celebration for the whole workplace.

For more information about Fudgey Fridays and to subscribe, visit http://www.buttermilkconfections.co.uk


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

How to double your prices!

If you run your own business and you’ve ever wistfully dreamt of earning more money while working fewer hours, then Newbury mindset mentoring firm Bigger Brighter Bolder is holding a workshop that could help you do just that.

BBB is holding two interactive “Double Your Prices” workshops on Wednesday, 16th October and Wednesday, 6th November from 7pm to 9.30pm.

Run by BBB director George Swift, the workshop takes a look at the mindset behind pricing, value and self-worth. It will challenge your thinking as a company owner and offer clear and concise models to help you change the way you look at your business.

He said: “For many entrepreneurs setting their pricing can be extremely daunting and they often feel that price is the only factor that they can compete on. In fact, they are offering a unique service to their customers. This workshop will help participants understand why it’s essential to raise prices. Raising prices is good for you and contrary to what you might think, it also benefits your clients and ultimately your whole industry.”

The workshop takes place in Benham Hill and tickets cost £25. Places are limited and can be booked by emailing tracey@biggerbrighterbolder.co.uk


Tuesday, 24 September 2013


The Athena Network, West Berkshire, has just announced its line-up of speakers for October.
On Wednesday, 9th October, the Newbury north group at the Donnington Valley Hotel will hear a talk on ‘effective ways of reducing stress and creating coping strategies so you are more productive in your business’ given by Amanda-Jane Sopp of Mindset & Solutions.

On Friday, 11th October, the Hungerford group will meet at the new Blandy’s Restaurant at Audley Inglewood in Kintbury. Peronel Barnes, from Create & Consult will be running a session on how to be more creative and to use this way of thinking to influence the shape of your business.

Meanwhile, the Thatcham group will meet on Tuesday, 15th October at the Regency Park Hotel, where Jo Cooke from Tapioca will offer "Ten tips to stop procrastinating” and how to be more productive and energetic.

Lastly, the Newbury south group will meet at La Tasca on Wednesday, 16th October where Lis Allen of ‘the Vagina Dialogues’ will offer tips on public speaking.

Debbie Miles, regional director of the West Berkshire Athena Network said: “It’s always inspirational to see the wonderful connections that are made during our meetings. If you are a businesswoman who would like to join us and benefit from the energetic and supportive meetings, then do please come and try out a session. This month, our speakers offer a wealth of information from dealing with stress to improving your public speaking ability.”

All meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm. For more details, email Debbie.miles@theathenanetwork.com

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Mitchells celebrates award win for excellent customer service

Mitchells in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth are celebrating yet more recognition of their outstanding customer service after receiving a regional award for their work with the Motability Car Scheme.

The Renault and Dacia dealership with branches on Long Road, Lowestoft and Suffolk Road, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, is one of the first winners in the new Dealer Awards programme which is designed to ensure all Motability customers receive exemplary customer service across the dealer network.

The awards are judged on how the customer service that users receive based on customer feedback and reviews of their Motability performance. All winners of the quarterly awards are automatically entered into the new national, annual awards which will be held for the first time in January 2014.

pictured from left: Justin Brown, Mitchells Motability Specialist, Paul Kelly from Motability, Matthew Huke-Jenner, dealer principal at Mitchells and Andrew Bunting, Mitchells After Sales Manager.

Celebrating their Motability Dealer Award win, Matthew Huke-Jenner, owner and dealer principal, said: “We are proud to win this Motability Dealer Award. Motability is renowned for its high standards and Mitchells is thrilled to be recognised for our dedication to working in partnership with Motability. We look forward to continuing our award-winning approach to business and customer service and hope to do well in the forthcoming annual awards.

“Renault and Dacia offer a wide range of cars suited to Motability thanks to their driveability. Here at Mitchells, we’re currently offering, before the end of September, the eye-catching new Clio Dynamique Media Nav 1.2 16V 75 with zero advance payment which is an outstanding deal.”

Anyone who receives the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance, the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment or the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement can exchange the weekly payment to lease a new car through Motability. Insurance, servicing, RAC breakdown assistance and replacement tyres are included in the cost of the lease. 

For more information about the Motability Scheme and to find your local dealer, visit www.motability.co.uk or call 0800 093 1000.
For more information on Mitchells, please call 0844 249 5802 (Lowestoft) or 0844 249 5793 (Great Yarmouth) or visit www.mitchellsrenault.co.uk or www.mitchellsdacia.co.uk


Information for editors:
• Motability is the UK’s leading car scheme for disabled people. It provides affordable, convenient, worry-free motoring to over 620,000 disabled customers and their families. Scooters and powered wheelchairs can also be leased through Motability.
• The Scheme is available to anyone who receives the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance, the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment or the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement. Customers transfer their mobility allowance to Motability to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair.
• When leasing a Motability car, insurance for two named drivers, servicing and maintenance, full RAC breakdown assistance, tyre and windscreen replacement and 60,000 mileage allowance over three years are all included in the cost of the lease. A range of popular car adaptations are also available at no additional cost.
• When leasing a scooter or powered wheelchair, insurance, breakdown assistance, servicing, maintenance and repairs and tyre and battery replacement are all included in the cost of the lease. Pricing is standard nationwide.

A wide range of ‘green’ vehicles with emissions of 120 grams of CO2 per km or less are available through Motability.
• Motability is the national charity that directs and oversees the Motability Scheme. Registered Charity in England and Wales No 299745. Motability also provides financial assistance to customers, who would otherwise be unable to afford the mobility solution they need.
• Motability Operations is the not-for profit public company, that operates the Motability Car Scheme and the Motability Powered Wheelchair and Scooter Scheme, under contract to Motability.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Newbury entrepreneurs are invited to walk over hot coals with Bigger Brighter Bolder

Newbury coaching firm Bigger Brighter Bolder is holding its annual Empowerment Firewalk event on Thursday, 31st October at the Regency Park Hotel.

The event takes place from 4pm to 9pm and involves a five-hour workshop from George Swift from BBB on the power of self-belief. Participants are then invited to walk across smouldering hot coals of temperatures of 2,000 degrees and in some cases it’s been a life changing experience for them.”
George said: “The event is for anyone who feels they are held back by fear and self-doubt, but particularly local businesspeople. We’ve run these events in the past and participants have reported feeling incredibly motivated and empowered.

picture from last's year event

“Everyone is welcome – previous attendees have included entrepreneurs, speakers and sports people, including the whole staff and team at Newbury Rugby Club whose performance improved substantially that season”

Places are £197 or £147 if booked before the 30th September at www.biggerbrighterbolder.co.uk


Friday, 6 September 2013

Griffins Financial Solutions Ltd: How to avoid a £10,000 a day fine from The Pensions Regulator.

Every employer in the UK now has a legal responsibility to help its employees save for their pensions. By the end of 2014 all businesses with 59 or more employees and by October 2018 all employers will have had to enrol eligible staff into a qualifying pension scheme and this change will come at significant cost– above and beyond just the increase in employer pension contributions.

For the larger firms, managing such a pension auto-enrolment scheme will draw on the valuable time, budget and expertise of their established pensions, payroll, IT and HR departments. However, many small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have neither the administrative infrastructure nor the resources to oversee such a resource intensive over-arching project.

To meet this need, the team at Griffins Financial Solutions, the Chartered Financial Planners and IFA, is now offering a new service which co-ordinates the whole process under one roof by one specialised team.

As an employee benefits and pensions consultant, Griffins Financial Solutions understands the needs of a business and its employees. It knows that, to meet these needs, it is first essential to put in place the right qualifying pension scheme and processes. To achieve this, Griffins will review a business’s current pension arrangements, inform the business of the financial impact that different pension schemes may have and research the market for the right pension plan and provider. Once chosen, Griffins will set up any new scheme and take care of the required employee communications.

To ensure full compliance with current pension legislation, Griffins will also review and, if necessary, suggest amendments to the contracts of employment. Furthermore, Griffins will review present payroll arrangements to ensure that they can handle the auto-enrolment process and liaise effectively with the pension provider or provide its own integrated payroll solution.

Griffins Financial Solutions’ new single source fully integrated pension auto-enrolment service provides a web-based solution that works with both the payroll system and pension provider and will administer online reporting whilst ensuring ongoing compliance. It also keeps records for at least six years to comply with legislation.

Dion Prideaux-Reynolds

Dion Prideaux-Reynolds from Griffins is a benefits specialist who has put together the unique package. He said: “Pension auto-enrolment can be a headache for small and medium-sized businesses.

“Griffins Financial Solutions can set up and help you administer your chosen pension scheme, with full compliance to the new pension legislation, leaving you to concentrate on running your business and helping to avoid the substantial fines of up to £10,000 per day for non-compliance.”


Picture caption: Dion Prideaux-Reynolds, Employee Benefits Manager from Griffins Financial Solutions

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Mitchells to display latest models at Lowestoft Town Show and Henham Rally

Fresh from delivering its first cars with the new “63” registration, Mitchells Lowestoft is taking to the road twice in September to display its latest range.
First stop is the Lowestoft Town Show from Friday, 13th to Saturday, 14th September. The dealership will be displaying its latest Renault Clio, Captur and Zoe models as well as the “shockingly affordable” Dacia Stepway, Duster and Logan estate.

The following weekend, diesel and petrol will meet steam as Mitchells takes its selection to the annual Henham Steam Rally.

Alongside the attraction of steam engines of yesteryear, staff will be on hand to answer questions on the latest range.

Logan MCV

Mitchells Dealer Principal Matthew Huke-Jenner said: “It’s always a pleasure to take our cars to events like these so that people can browse them in relaxing surroundings. We’re particularly excited about the brand new Dacia Logan which is priced from £6,995 making it the UK’s lowest priced vehicle of its type.

“A modern and functional estate, the Logan MCV is the fourth vehicle in the Dacia range and offers a choice of three engines. The entry-level Access offers 15-inch steel wheels, ABS, traction control, ABS and airbags, making it an affordable, practical solution for families.

“If you’re in the area attending one of these popular events, please come by and say hello! We’ll be giving away Renault goodies such as colouring sets, sunglasses, watches, Frisbees and sunshades.”


Friday, 30 August 2013

CH-R Family Solicitors opens in Newbury

CH-R Family Solicitors, a new international firm specialising in all aspects of family law, is opening its doors in Newbury this week (2nd September).

The firm has been started by Claire Hamilton-Russell and Daisy Hutchinson who previously worked together for 10 years at another Newbury law firm. Both trained with leading London firms and have significant experience in high level family law and a total of more than 30 years of legal experience between them.

Claire and Daisy are both specialists in legal issues involving high net worth individuals and work with clients worldwide, as well as London and Newbury. The opening of the new business means that further jobs have been created for two assistant solicitors and two support staff posts.

Claire Hamilton-Russell started her career in 1989 and now specialises in divorce and pre-nuptial agreements. She is a member of Resolution, a code of practice for family lawyers and is a mediator with them. She has been recognised as a leader in her field by Chambers UK; a guide to the best solicitors in the UK.

She specialises in work involving family and child law; focusing on financial settlements often with an international element. Her work increasingly involves pre and post-nuptial agreements as well as civil partnership agreements.

Claire Hamilton-Russell (left) and Daisy Hutchinson from CH-R Family Solicitors, opening in Newbury this week.

Her business partner Daisy Hutchinson qualified in 2003 and is a family mediator similarly specialising in divorce and civil partnerships.

Claire and Daisy decided to set up their own business to bring a personal touch to family law and a bespoke service to their clients in Newbury and the surrounding area.

Claire said: “We’re committed to creating a presence here in Newbury, serving Berkshire, Hampshire and London. In our previous roles, we’ve built up a great reputation for high quality family work and we will continue to work with our clients to give them the support and reassurance they need at what is often a difficult time.

Daisy added: “We’re thrilled to be starting up a new law firm in Newbury. We are able to bring a fresh approach and a personal service, combined with many years of experience in dealing from everything to simple divorce cases to complicated tax and trust issues.”

A launch event is planned for later in the year.


Friday, 23 August 2013

September speakers at the Athena Network, West Berkshire

After a summer hiatus, West Berkshire’s Athena Network members can look forward to an informative programme of speakers in September.

The networking group holds four meetings in the area; the first on Wednesday, 11st September at Newbury north at the Donnington Valley Hotel will host Karen Garley of HR Vision Ltd on making a strong first impression.

Claire Dore of Arbonne International will be talking about effective team management and how to motivate a successful team, on, Friday, 13th September, at the Hungerford group, which meets at the Bear Hotel.

Lis Allen of ‘The Vagina Dialogues’ fame will be giving a talk on the art of public speaking at the Thatcham group, meeting at the Regency Park Hotel on Tuesday, 17th September and Sharon Kielty-White from MoreTime Business Development will be offering tips and techniques on how to grow a business and increase revenue potential at the Newbury north group at La Tasca on Wednesday, 18th September.

All groups are for West Berkshire businesswomen and run from 12pm to 2pm.

Debbie Miles, regional director of the West Berkshire Athena Network said: “We had a lovely summer social where all of the groups were invited to meet and enjoyed the ‘fruits’ of a cookery demonstration by Emma Benson from Mrs B’s Home Cooking.

“In September, we’ll be back in the swing of things and offering networking and training for local entrepreneurs. As ever, our supportive group of members will be gaining support, referrals and enjoying useful insights from informative speakers.”

For more information, email Debbie Miles on debbie.miles@theathenanetwork.com

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


The much-loved “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON” motivational posters that were produced during World War II have been the subject of a recent trademark row – one that a Newbury trademark specialist says could have been avoided.

The long-forgotten posters were found in an old box of books that Barter Books purchased at auction. Designed to boost morale during the war, they were never actually issued but have enjoyed recent popularity thanks to their upbeat message.

However, Mark Coop of Keep Calm and Carry on Ltd registered the phrase as a trademark (along with other people) in 2007 for various goods including household and kitchen utensils and clothing and the wholesaler supplies more than 170 retail outlets, including John Lewis, Debenhams, Heals and River Island.

The row broke out recently when Coop filed evidence against Kerry Cade from Simply Printing Ltd to stop her from using the phrase on her products. She argued that the phrase was in common use and should be available to decorate items.

Barter books had previously sold copies of the poster through their shop. They also filed evidence in the case on behalf of Mrs Cade to say that only 41,000 copies of the poster were sold by them. Barter Books did apply the slogan to other goods but did not register it as a trademark.

Dale Campbell, European Trademark Attorney and director of Trademark Tribe in Newbury, said: “The EU Office (OHIM) did not agree with Mrs Cade and has ruled that it is indeed a trademark. This ruling has important implications for those who infringe a trademark registration and a moral for those owners who fail to register their brand.

“A trademark registration grants ownership of the brand name for the goods and services which allows them to protect their goodwill and to take action should others begin using the name without their permission.

“When another business sells your goods without you having control of the quality and the use of the brand, they harm your business by stealing your potential customers and could damage your brand by selling inferior goods.

“Why leave it to chance that another business or person can come along and sell your brand and pocket the profits?”

Dale added: “Mr Coop developed goodwill in the brand and the registration as a trademark has legitimately allowed Keep calm and carry on Limited to protect this goodwill, which is the essential function of a trademark.

“The EU Trademark Office essentially agreed with this. In fact Mrs Cade’s own evidence filed shows examples of invoices and websites that are associated with the actual owner of the trademark and that they are genuine customers of Keep calm and carry on Limited which is proof that the goods do actually originate from one source; Mr Coop’s business.

“Whether you agree or disagree with the decision, you cannot argue the fact that Keep calm and carry on Limited had the foresight to produce household items and clothing. You could argue that he worked hard and spent considerable money in bringing the goods to market and now he is begrudged the success by others that would like to infringe his trademark right and steal some of his success. It may be a difficult trademark to defend due to the popularity of its own success but rightly so it is a trademark registration.”


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Mark Thomas - 100 minor acts of dissent at Newbury 12th July

I love Mark Thomas. And it seems that it’s a mutual thing as he appears to love Newbury too. Why else would he have chosen the dusty setting (as he discovered when he banged a chair seat for emphasis only to be covered in a cloud of dirt) of New Greenham Arts as the setting for his new show 100 Minor Acts of Dissent?

The show is, much like Thomas himself, driven by acts of bedevilment. From May 2013 to May 2014, he intends to complete 100 minor acts of dissent; simple things that drive progress forward and make the UK a better place to live. As we were among the first crowds to see it, it did mean that he'd only completed a handful. Probably worth seeing the show again later in the project.

The show was created after Mark's father, the subject of the touching, but still hilarious Bravo Figaro, died. Combined with turning 50, Mark flexed his mayhem muscle by challenging himself to photograph a different police officer every day for a year. Without their permission. This created some laughter, some threats and some face-covering.

The results prompted him to come up with 100 minor acts of dissent. Number one was a service called “We will drive them to the airport”. Who has screwed the economy up more than bankers? And who asked them to?

To answer this problem, Mark Thomas has responded to the bankers’ frequent moans of “if you don’t let us have our bonuses, then we’ll leave!” with this – wewilldrivethemtotheairport.co.uk

a website where you can sign up to volunteer to drive the bankers to the airport.

Other projects include “Pornershop” which is aimed at stopping porn from being sold in cornershops. To do this, he has been buying porn, opening it, exchanging the odd pornstar’s face with that of Margaret Thatcher and carefully placing it back on the shelf. What a shame we’re unlikely to hear how that went by the end user!

How about tax evasion? As Apple pay their tax in Ireland, Mark decided to invite an Irish band to the Apple store to serenade shoppers with some traditional Irish music, while changing all of the iPad screens to show the tax authority’s webpage.

The last one involves two of my favourite things: stickers and books. I have filled my handbag with "bastard trade" stickers depict a banker hitting an African child in the face; the idea is you put them on items such as certain chocolate brands etc that are the direct opposite of the Fairtrade ethic. More fun can be had with the other stickers which are aimed at the big book chains.

I can't recommend this show highly enough - it's your public duty to attend, to laugh and to indulge in taking part in a couple of acts of minor dissent.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Debbie Miles from the Athena Network, West Berkshire, offers 10 tips for successful networking

When you’re starting or building a business, people will often recommend networking events for attracting new clients.

While this is an ever-popular and effective way of gaining referrals, getting started can be daunting for some people.

Debbie Miles from the Athena Network, West Berkshire runs monthly networking lunches for women in Hungerford, Newbury north, Newbury south and Thatcham so is well placed to advise people on how to get the most from their networking.

Here are her top ten tips:

1. Decide what kind of networking works for you; early mornings? Lunchtimes? After work? Do you want to go weekly or monthly? If you have young children you may want to avoid breakfast meetings which can start as early as 6.30am!

2. See if you can work out who is coming before the meeting so you can target the people who you want to meet. Get there early so you can meet people as they come into the room.

3. Practise summarising what you do in one sentence. Debbie loves to cite the florist who says I make people happy or the photographer who says “I shoot people for a living”.

4. Bring plenty of business cards and make sure they’re good quality and say exactly what you do.

5. Be memorable. Offer to help chair meetings or to give a talk on your specialist subject so people remember you.

6. Bring props to meetings to demonstrate your work – perhaps you’re a designer who could bring some examples of logos you’ve designed? Or an interior designer who could bring photos of finished houses?

7. Follow up individually. You can get to know people in more depth by meeting later in the week for a coffee. The Athena Network recommends meeting people for a “one-to-one” and there are even prizes for the most prolific networkers! Be sure to follow up as the other person may forget, but don’t just add people’s email addresses to your mailing list.

8. Be sure to refer and thank anyone who has done a good job for you.

9. Don’t just think of attracting clients – there may be other people in the room who you could work with who will bring a whole package to a customer. Perhaps you’re a beautician who could refer work to a hairdresser? Or an architect who needs a solicitor to call on?

10. You’ll go home with lots of business cards so it’s worth inputting them into a spreadsheet when you get home.

Debbie adds: “Networking can take time out of your working day, so it really is worth doing a little preparation ahead of the session to ensure that you’re really doing it effectively. At the Athena Network, as well as networking for gaining new clients, our aims are to educate, support each other and to build alliances.

“We have four groups of inspirational women who all gain enormously from each other’s support but we’re always looking for new members and guests to keep things fresh.”

For more information contact Debbie via www.theathenanetwork.co.uk

Thursday, 25 July 2013

A word on the difference between an advert and a press release

You would be astonished how many times people call me to ask where their advert is going or why a newspaper has changed/cut their copy.

An advert is paid-for. You contact the paper, tell them what you want to say and pay them to print it exactly as you wish.

A press release is a story that you submit to the paper in the hope they will run it for free. The pay off, of course, is that while this will be free if they cover it, you can’t guarantee if they will use it, let alone where or when.

Not confusing the two will make life easier. Much like the advice a weary flight attendant gave me to help me tell the difference between the "call attendant" button and the light bulb one.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Come and join the success revolution at Bigger Brighter Bolder!

Newbury motivational and performance coaching firm Bigger Brighter Bolder is holding three information sessions for West Berkshire business people to find out more about their popular Success Groups.

The briefings take place at Benham Hill, Thatcham on Wednesday 17th July from 9.30am to 12pm; Thursday 18th July from 7pm to 9.30pm and Wednesday 31st July 9.30am to 12pm.

Each briefing will give an insight into the power of collaborating with like-minded people before interested participants are invited to try out BBB’s Success Foundation Programme which is a two-month long trial of Success Groups.
Success Groups have been running for just over a year and much like a weight loss club, enable people to meet regularly and set goals.

Members then support each other and assess the success of their goal setting. In the past year, some of the achievements include: doubling turnover, publishing a book and competing at national level in sport.

George Swift, director of BBB said: "Whether you’re interested in achieving financial, business or personal results, being accountable to your peers during the workshops is an extremely powerful way of making sure you stick to your goals.

“Our members meet twice-monthly so that BBB can deliver mindset mentoring workshops and the members can spur each other on. The groups have seen members re-evaluate their business and life goals and some have even changed career. Although finance isn’t the only measure of success, one member has quadrupled her income, and others are publishing books or setting up their own businesses.”

Fellow director Tracey Miller added: “BBB Success Groups are for you when you want success and you want to be around other people that are happy to support you and celebrate with you.”

Current member Carolyne Wahlen from Goring, who runs Gap HR Services, has found the group to be invaluable. She said: “Success Groups have helped me put the foundations in place to grow. Since then, I’ve doubled the number of clients I serve, quadrupled income and am working fewer hours. The business has grown and I’ve taken on an employee.

“I absolutely recommend Success Groups which get better and better every time I attend; I’ve managed to overcome long-held beliefs that were holding me back and have really defined what is important to me. All of the people there have supported each other and given feedback in a non-critical way.”

Meanwhile, musician Liisa Henriksson, from Newbury, has battled a huge fear of rejection that was holding her back and has been unstoppable since she started attending Success Groups.

In the past 12 months, Liisa has released and marketed a product, completed and edited her first academic book and had the courage to send it to professors for endorsement, and started playing live music again.

She said: “I can honestly say BBB Success Group has changed my life. I am free to take a more serious attitude towards my musicianship. I set goals and actually achieve them rather than always expecting perfection and getting frustrated.”

The groups meet twice a month, but prospective members are invited to try a two-month foundation course before committing. For more details or took book a space at a briefing email briefing@biggerbrighterbolder.co.uk

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Buttermilk Confections raises £153 for the Cornwall Air Ambulance

Award-winning fudge manufacturer Buttermilk Confections raised £153 for the Cornwall Air Ambulance after carrying out a prize draw in their Port Isaac shop to win fudge and Doc Martin goodies.

The winner, Petra Marshall from Long Eaton, was touring around Cornwall on holiday but fortunately was contacted by the Buttermilk Confections shop in Port Isaac and claimed her prize within the hour.

Her winning ticket was selected by youngster Isaac Lucas.

Michael Meakins, a Doc Martin 'extra' and organiser of the event at the Buttermilk Shop, handed over the cheque to Julie Thompson from the Air Ambulance base at the Newquay headquarters this week. The fundraiser at the shop which doubles as the Doc's Pharmacy in the popular ITV series was scheduled to take place to coincide with a Doc Martin event in the US on the same day planned by a Washington State-based fan. However, a flood at the tearooms where the event was due to take place in Vancouver, US, meant it has been cancelled until later this year.


Love the style and versatility of the Clio but looking for something more spacious with a higher riding position? Then you’ll be pleased to hear that Mitchells Renault in Lowestoft is now offering the Captur -Renault’s head-turning new urban crossover.
The Captur is a high-riding big brother to Renault’s best-selling Clio, blending hatchback, MPV and crossover characteristics into a versatile package aimed at families.

Renault is renowned for safety and the Captur has received the marque’s 15th five-star Euro NCAP rating. It feels safe too as it rides higher than the Clio hatch and is more family-friendly thanks to its bigger boot with variable floor and sliding, split-fold rear bench.

As well as being safe, it looks great too thanks to its flowing lines, large wheels, swept-back headlights, generous ground clearance and steeply-raked windscreen.

Perfect for families as well as busy people who like to carry a lot of leisure kit, the Renault Captur is roomy and practical. With one of the largest boots in the class, it has a sliding rear bench seat and a maximum load space of 455 litres.
Driving pleasure is a huge focus for the Captur and drivers will love the raised driving position, which is 100mm higher than the Clio, as well as the highly-interactive in-dash Renault R-Link multimedia tablet which provides access to a whole new level of connectivity, with plenty of dedicated motoring apps.

It doesn’t disappoint at the pumps either – the Energy dCi 90 uses just 76.4 mpg and emits just 95g of CO2 per km, which are record low figures for Captur’s class.

The Captur starts from just £12,495 on-the-road and that includes an impressive range of core equipment in all four trim levels; Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav.

The Expression includes 16” alloy wheels, 60/40 split and sliding rear seat bench, body coloured bumpers, cruise control, ECO mode, ESC (Electronic Stability Control), ETC (Electronic Traction Control), front and rear electric windows, HSA (Hill Start Assist), speed limiter and trip computer.

Next, the Expression+ includes all of that plus front fog lights, body coloured door mirrors and handles and hands-free key card. It also features auto lights and wipers, as well as climate control.

Predicted to be the UK best-seller, Dynamique MediaNav, brings in the world of personalisation as well as the zipped seat covers which can be simply wiped or washed.

Its personalisation comes in the form of a chrome colour pack giving sporty good looks, plus centre console, air vent and gearlever surrounds. It also includes “MediaNav”, the integrated multimedia tablet with seven-inch touchscreen, including Navteq Nav ‘n’ Go satellite navigation, 4x20W Arkamys radio, Bluetooth, USB and handsfree technology.

The top-of-the-range Dynamique S MediaNav contains plenty of premium touches such as electric folding door mirrors and rear parking sensors (City Pack). It also adds heated front seats and an attractive contrasting roof.

Matthew Huke-Jenner, managing director of Mitchells Renault said: “The Clio is tremendously popular here in Suffolk and beyond so the Captur should also inspire similar loyalty as it combines the best of three worlds; the MPV, SUV and family hatchback. Here at Mitchells, we are very excited by Captur which is one of the most stylish, versatile, frugal and keenly-priced additions to the supermini crossover market yet.”

For more information, click onto www.mitchellsrenault.co.uk or visit the dealership on Long Road, Lowestoft (01502 500950).

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Who is talking at the Athena Network in West Berkshire in July, I hear you ask?

West Berkshire businesswomen are invited to hear talks on blogs, tax-planning, branding and making a strong first impression at The Athena Network’s events this month.

Alice Elliott, the Fairy Blog Mother will be presenting at the Newbury north meeting at the Donnington Valley Hotel on Wednesday, 10th July. Her talk is on how to blog and how blogging could raise your business above your competition .

At the Athena Network Hungerford at the Bear Hotel on Friday, 12th July Caroline Matthews of CSM Financial Solutions will talk on tax efficient planning for businesses.

Dale Campbell of Trademark Tribe will be presenting “using your brand to give you a competitive advantage” and discussing how to stand out in a crowded marketplace, by defining and differentiating your business effectively at the Thatcham group at the Regency Park Hotel on Tuesday, 16th July.

Finally, at the Athena Network Newbury south at the Hilton Hotel on Pinchington Lane on Wednesday, 17th July, Karen Garley of HR Vision Ltd will be discussing how to make a good first impression. She will be asking what impression you want to create and is your manner or behaviour actually portraying this? 

Debbie Miles, Regional Director at the West Berkshire Athena Network said: “As ever, we have a fabulous line-up of inspirational women giving talks on their specialist subjects. That we have such apool of talent to draw on for our talks is testament to the power of networking and shows the diversity of West Berkshire’s businesswomen.”

Each event takes place from 12pm to 2pm. For more information, contact Debbie Miles on 07891 503225 or debbie.miles@theathenanetwork.com


Daniel Kitson review - Corn Exchange 28th May

It takes a special kind of comedian to sell out the Corn Exchange weeks in advance for a performance on the Tuesday night after a Bank Holiday, particularly when that comic is notoriously publicity shy.

But then Daniel Kitson is not your normal stand-up.

Eschewing the round of game shows, corporate tours and DVDs that are bread and butter to other comedians, he's attracted a cult following with his own brand of thoughtful philosophical comedy.

Newbury was one of the first pit stops on his new “After the Beginning, Before the End” tour which is a show about…well…everything.
Covering the biggest subjects from life, memory, perception and experience, Kitson seats himself at a table and operates a mini sound desk that produces repetitive metronomic beats as a background to his monologue, giving the impression of being inside his head.

After opening with a simple everyday question: “Tell me a bit about yourself”, and discussing the impossibility of understanding another person’s life, he then intersperses his thoughts on human experience with snippets of a recording of a conversation he had with his friend.

This builds up line-by-line to prove that each human’s memory of certain events is as he put it, “just one side of a dodecahedron on an ocean of infinite dodecahedra”, but this was such more than just an essay on Montaigne’s philosophy.

Kitson’s faltering, but rhythmic poetic delivery might be a thing of genius and raw beauty but it also contains unstoppable humour. He invites the audience on a journey to share his existential angst and inner-most soul searching for the meaning in his life, such as examining in great detail why he is living alone at the age of 35. Just when these soliloquys become too much to take, the window into his psyche is expertly shattered a simple laugh garnered by recalling the hilarious prank he played on a date after walking her to her car.

Kitson is clearly loved by audiences everywhere and part of this may be down to his vulnerability or his ability to overthink jaw-droppingly simple subjects. The audience will always think of Kitson now should they ‘google’ themselves or pass someone in the street who appears to be quite attractive, recalling Kitson’s inner conflict at deciding whether he’s shallow for objectifying a woman for being beautiful.

Daniel – hurry back to Newbury please. And if he does, I would recommend booking your ticket now.


Appeared in the Newbury Weekly News June 20

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Vagina Dialogues

A Newbury motivational coach and mother-of-four is holding an interactive event at Arlington Arts to celebrate experiences of motherhood.

Lis Allen is hosting the "Vagina Dialogues” at Arlington Arts on Wednesday 10th July from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. The presentation and discussion will cover topics such as the power of the subconscious mind, the importance of mothers as role models and the art of persuasive communication.

The unique event is open to all women, whether mothers or not, and will open up a debate about mothering and how to encourage children to have self-confidence and self-belief.

A mother to four girls, Lis wants to open up a debate about parenting and being a mother.
She said: “'I'm working with my four daughters to create an educational and coaching programme for mothers that deals with the power of the mind and mothering consciously.

"The event will be fun, thought-provoking and leave women feeling hopeful and excited about the future for their families.
“Motherhood is, in my view, one of the most important and challenging jobs on the planet and yet we get no structured training for this. I work with my four daughters and we’re in the process of creating an educational and coaching programme for mothers that deals with the power of the mind and mothering consciously.

“Our aim is to help mothers to truly believe in themselves and their decisions, raising happy confident children.”
Tickets cost £9.97.



Tuesday, 18 June 2013


Lowestoft learner drivers have an extra incentive to get behind the wheel as a local driving school has become the first in the area to take delivery of the all-new Renault Clio.

Andy Borrett, who runs L-Zone Driving School, snapped up the latest incarnation of the Clio from Lowestoft Renault dealer Mitchells last Friday and by Tuesday, he was already celebrating his first pass.

As part of the Renault network, Mitchells offers a package for driving instructors who choose Renault as their instruction vehicle, which gives them free metallic paint and cashback to pay for the installation of the dual controls.

The New Clio has already proved popular with learner drivers too.

From left: Mitchells Renault sales executive Mark Sherwood with Andy Borrett. Pics by Jonnie Kent.

Andy said: “I had the last version of the Clio and it was great. However, the new one is just fantastic too in how it drives and how smooth it is. It handles well and is comfortable for my pupils and for me too as I can be on the road for hours at a time.”

Matthew Huke-Jenner, Managing Director at Mitchells Renault said: “The New Clio has gone down a storm and we were delighted that
Andy came back to us for his second vehicle. The Clio has proved to be excellent for new drivers as it’s safe, economical and reliable but also great to look at and easy to drive.

“Students will love it, but it’s important that Andy is comfortable too as he will be in the car a lot. We wish him and all of his pupils the very best.”

For more information, click onto www.mitchellsrenault.co.uk or visit the dealership on Long Road, Lowestoft (01502 500950).

Friday, 14 June 2013

A look through the archives

And by that I mean that I might be sorting through the boxes under my bed.

Just found this review about a Levellers CD!

As a youngster in the early 1990s, I would have laughed if anyone had told me that the Levellers would be playing the Royal Albert Hall in years to come. This is a band that famously recorded the largest ever crowd for their headline performance at Glastonbury, who put on their own Beautiful Days Festival and a band who are loved by their fans for their energetic, powerful live performances, rather than performing classical venues like this one.

However, in September 2008, the band did play at the Royal Albert Hall, and this CD is a wonderful homage to that evening. Such is the incredible sound purity of this live 10-track album, you get a real sense of being at the gig.

The first track No Change features just two of the Levellers line-up, lead singer Mark Chadwick on guitar and Jon Sevink on trademark fiddle and providing backing vocals, in a understated and beautiful song reflecting the current political climate even more accurately than when this song was written 20 years ago. The rest of the band, along with a string quartet, join the pair to perform Julie, a haunting and touching song about a heroin addict; this version sounds so beautiful and crisp amongst the awe-inspiring of the Royal Albert Hall, that it brought me to tears.

Together All the Way brings the tempo back up with a rousing favourite, and the pace increases with Before the End, a surprising love song by the band.

The string quartet really comes into its own with Chemically Free, a song not often heard played live. This song appears on Mouth to Mouth, but is brought to life on this live album with the most incredible string version that is a million times better than the recorded version and sounds like a classic folk song.

Death Loves Youth is a newer offering from the Levellers, and this is a great version. Then its back to the 1990s for Exodus, a much-underrated song from the Zeitgeist album, which has much to say about civil liberties. This version, and Hope Street and This Garden, which follow, are softened by the additional strings, and once again performed passionately, underlining how the lyrics are just as relevant today as when they were written about the Tory government. The last track on the CD is Men-An-Tol, sung by Simon Friend whose voice matches the venue for elegance. The track formed part of the encore on the night, sending very happy Levellers fans into an autumnal London night.

Even the artwork is brilliant, provided as ever, by Levellers bassist Jeremy Cunningham. Levellers Live at the Royal Albert Hall is a must-have, not just for the Levs fan, but for anyone who appreciates the hard work, vivacity and musicanship of talented bands who’ve stood the test of time, as opposed to the gibber that’s served up by the likes of X-Factor and Fearne Cotton.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Award-winning all electric Renault ZOE leads the charge for Mitchells in Lowestoft

Mitchells Renault in Lowestoft is entering a new phase in its history as the all-electric ZOE arrives in the showroom this week.
Though the futuristic Twizy has been available from the dealership since last year, the ZOE is a mainstream supermini with space for five and offers a range of 100 miles.

The ZOE is available in three trim levels: Expression, Dynamique Zen, and Dynamique Intens, with a current starting price of only £13,995 on-the-road after UK Government Plug-in Car Grant deduction. Battery hire costs from £70 per month.

The price includes the installation of a wall box, worth £500, at the customer’s house to charge the ZOE.
ZOE has won the hearts of the motoring press and just this week scooped the Technology Award as voted for by Fleet World magazine for seamlessly “taking electric motoring to the mainstream”.

Matthew Huke-Jenner, dealer principal at Mitchells Renault in Lowestoft, is also a fan of the ZOE. He said: “The future is here!
“We’ve had a phenomenal amount of interest in the ZOE and many of our regular customers have popped in to see if could realistically be part of their lives. The answer is a resounding yes! The ZOE really is a beautiful and comfortable car that is driveable and practical.

“We predict it will be a huge hit with local drivers who want to reduce their motoring costs and reduce their carbon footprint, thanks to its refinement and advanced technology and all at an affordable price.
“As electric cars have fewer moving parts that a diesel or petrol car, they need less maintenance meaning that there are huge savings on servicing to be made.
“We thoroughly recommend a test drive and we’re on hand for any questions about life with an electric vehicle.”
For more information, click onto www.mitchellsrenault.co.uk or visit the dealership on Long Road, Lowestoft (01502 500950).

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Dual-Atlantic fundraisers for the Cornwall Air Ambulance on June 22

Port Isaac’s Buttermilk Shop and an enthusiastic US-based Doc Martin fan are holding simultaneous fundraising events for the Cornwall Air Ambulance on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sharon Harbeck moved from the UK to the town of Vancouver in Washington State where she runs an English tea room. On a recent visit back to Cornwall, she popped into the Buttermilk Shop in Port Isaac that doubles for the series’ pharmacy and bought some fudge from Doc Martin aficionado and ‘extra’ Mike Meakins who works there.

Keen to help with the Buttermilk Shop’s drive to raise money for the Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, Sharon decided that she would invite children to dress as a character from the series at a special “Doc Martin event” on June 22 back at her tea room. She also plans fundraising stalls such as white elephant, a book stall and the sale of plants, flowers and cakes.

She said: “Many of the expats I know here in Vancouver are big fans of the show and are very excited about the Doc Martin day.

“We’re very much hoping to make it an annual event and as ardent fans of Doc Martin and the beautiful part of Cornwall it’s set in, we thought it would be lovely to raise money for the Cornwall Air Ambulance.”

Meanwhile, back at Port Isaac on the same day, the Buttermilk Shop is holding a raffle where one lucky winner will go home with a Buttermilk Fudge hamper filled with fudge and Doc Martin goodies with proceeds going to the Cornwall Air Ambulance. Tickets are on sale now in the shop priced at £1 each and the draw will take place on June 22.

Mike Meakins and Sarah Taylor from the Buttermilk Shop show the fudge-filled hamper that could be won in a dual-Atlantic fundraising event for the Cornwall Air Ambulance.

Mike Meakins from the Buttermilk Shop said: “We get a lot of fans of the Doc Martin show coming in to see the pharmacy and to buy traditional Cornish fudge while they are here but Sharon really has gone above and beyond. We wish her well with her event!”

Tom Matthews, Events Fundraiser at Cornwall Air Ambulance said: “Buttermilk are great supporters of Cornwall Air Ambulance and have been very enterprising in turning their Doc Martin connection into a really fantastic fundraiser. To have this brilliant support now crossing the Atlantic really is incredible, and we are so grateful to Sharon and all her staff and customers for their support!”

The Cornwall Air Ambulance attends around 1,000 emergency calls for help every year throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The Air Ambulance needs to raise more than £2m a year to keep flying.


Newbury trademark specialist warns about the importance of protecting your brand

With M&S hitting the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons over a trademark dispute with Interflora, a Newbury expert is warning that businesses should take action immediately to safeguard their livelihoods and avoid costly legal battles.

Dale Campbell, a Newbury-based trademark attorney, advises businesses to check that they own their own brand name as it could cost thousands of pounds in legal challenges to rectify.

A trademark clearance search, undertaken by an expert, will verify that the proposed name is not already registered to someone else and confirm that it complies with trademark laws. Appointing an expert will save you from paying fees to file an application only for it to be rejected or challenged.

She says: “With many companies offering similar goods and services it is your brand that is your competitive advantage. Many businesses assume that registering a company or domain name gives them protection for that name. Though logical, this isn’t always the case.
“Your brand is only protected and defended if it is registered as a trademark. The registration procedure results in a registration certificate which has legal status, allowing the owner of the registered trademark the exclusive right to use that mark.”

She cites the recent example of a company that came to her for help when they were approached by a well-known brand and accused of trademark infringement.
Unfortunately, there was nothing she could suggest but to comply with their demands as the other company was first to register the trademark.

“A search through the internet and through Companies House registrations, domain names and social media names too would have saved my client tens of thousands of pounds. It would also have saved his business, not to mention a great deal of stress.

“Trademarks are probably the cheapest intellectual property asset to protect. If you are ever challenged, the party who has had the foresight to register their trademark will retain the upper hand. We can take care of all of the hard work for you from just £440 for a registration lasting 10 years, meaning that you can make one of the best investments in your brand for a mere 12p a day,” adds Dale.

The way to choose a brand that will not conflict with a registered trademark is to search the Trade Mark Register in the UK www.ipo.gov.uk. Also search the internet at large and the company name register, such as Companies House www.companieshouse.gov.uk/. Make sure the name you pick is not the same as one already registered if they are operating in the same business sector as you. You can use the same name as long as you are not competitors such as Polo (car, sweet and clothing). If in doubt ask a legal specialist such as Dale for advice.

Dale says: “Small business owners think this is a problem which will never arise. That is potentially a costly mistake. Also, potential investors love Intellectual Property Rights and owning a trademark registration means you own a valuable asset. It could be the best £440 you spend on your business.”
Dale Campbell is a Trademark Attorney and the founder of TrademarkTribe (www.trademarktribe.com) a trademark advice and registration company that helps small businesses protect their brand. Contact Dale @TradeMarkTribe or via http://www.facebook.com/trademarktribe


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Saturday, 1 June 2013


A team of Lowestoft fundraisers are undergoing the gruelling Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for the Children with Cancer charity.

The five-strong team are friends from Lowestoft and Harleston who hope to raise £1,000 in sponsorship for the charity by testing themselves in mid-June against the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales.

From left: 3 Peaks challengers: Justin Brown, Jon North and Andy Chase

The team is led by Andy Chase, who will be joined by Justin Brown, Jon North, Andy Coates and Gav Starks.

The group will start with Ben Nevis which is the highest of the three (1343 metres) before moving onto Scafell Pike (978 metres) and then arriving at Mount Snowdon in the dark to ascend its 1085 metre-high summit.

As well as physical fitness, driving safely between the three peaks is a crucial factor in ensuring the event is completed within the 24-hour time limit, so team member Justin Brown, a sales executive at Mitchells Renault, asked bosses there if they could borrow a Renault Trafic minibus for the weekend.

From left 3 Peaks challengers; Jon North, Justin Brown and Andy Chase.

The vehicle was specially selected for its load-carrying space and comfortable nine seats and will be driven between mountains by the team members’ partners so that the climbers have time to “relax”.

Justin Brown, sales executive at Mitchells Renault in Lowestoft, said: “We’ve always spoken about doing it and decided that this was the year. Under Andy’s guidance, we’ve all been training hard on bikes and rowing machines as well as adhering to a strict diet.”

In a previous physical challenge, Justin raised £800 for the Sandra Chapman Centre in June 2010 with a fundraising parachute jump.

He added: “The parachute jump was great fun but in some ways much easier than the Three Peaks Challenge which is one of the UK's most challenging physical events.

“We chose Children with Cancer as it’s a cause that is close to everyone’s heart and we’re keen to raise as much as possible for this very worthy charity. Anything that is donated to the sponsorship total would be very much appreciated.

“We’d also like to thank Renault for the loan of the comfortable and practical minibus which will prove to be a real asset over the weekend as we can sit back and hopefully prepare for the next stage while someone else does the driving!”

For more information, click onto www.mitchellsrenault.co.uk or visit the fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/4geeks3peaks

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Tuesday, 21 May 2013


The “shockingly affordable” Dacia range is now available at Mitchells in Great Yarmouth.

The dealership on Suffolk Road is now offering the value-for-money brand which has recently been in the news thanks to its jaw-dropping prices.

Mitchells has long been known for supplying local drivers with Renault cars and vans, so the staff can also offer their expertise to guide motorists through everything Dacia has to offer. As Dacia is part of the Renault group, buyers can be assured that safety and affordability are paramount.

Incredibly, you can drive away a brand new Dacia for £6,000. For that, you’ll get a Dacia Sandero with £5 change. The model cannot be beaten when it comes to price, space and equipment and despite only being launched in the UK this year, the Dacia Sandero has already won awards from the motoring press for quality and affordability.

The Dacia Sandero supermini offers room for five adults, fantastic fuel economy and low emissions. There are three versions of the Dacia Sandero to choose from, starting with the entry-level Access. It has the safety features you’d expect from a car from the Renault stable; ABS with Emergency Brake Assist, ASR traction control, ESC (Electronic Stability Control), driver, passenger and front side airbags and ISOFIX points in both outer rear seats.

Meanwhile, you can drive away Top Gear magazine’s “bargain of the year”, the Dacia Duster from just £8,995. Combining form with function, the handsome Dacia Duster offers air-conditioning as standard, a six-speed gearbox and much more besides. Despite having only been on sale in the UK for a few months, the Dacia Duster has already amassed plaudits from motorists who love it for its quality, practicality and driveability.

The launch of the new dealership comes just in time for the Dacia Sandero Stepway which arrives in showrooms shortly.

The Dacia Stepway is reinforcing the brand’s reputation for great prices as it has been labelled the “UK’s most affordable supermini crossover” with prices start at just under £8,000.

It goes on sale in June and the Stepway’s SUV-style and jaw-dropping prices have already proved a winning combination. The new model has 40mm extra ground clearance, making it more capable of tackling trickier terrains. It also boasts a boot capable of swallowing 320 litres with the 60/40 split-folding rear seats in place. When the seats are down, there’s a family-friendly 1,200 litres of space available.

At just £600 more than the same version of Sandero, the Stepway has a capable off-road look thanks to its satin chrome roof bars, front and rear scuff plates and black wheelarch extenders, as well as 16” alloy-look wheels, body-coloured bumpers and door mirrors.

The standard equipment also includes electric front windows, front fog lights and roof bars.

However, frugal-minded buyers may be most excited by the innovative “ECO mode” button. With fuel prices seemingly constantly on the rise, the ECO mode button will limit engine torque and help improve fuel consumption by up to 10%.

Matthew Huke-Jenner, managing director and owner of Mitchells, said: “Everyone is keeping an eye on their finances at the moment so there’s no better time to open the doors to our Dacia showroom.

“Such is the appeal of the Dacia brand and all that it offers that many of our cars have been purchased by people who haven’t even seen the car. However, we’d welcome local motorists to come and see us and book a test drive in one of the Dacia models.

“Feedback so far has been immense with local drivers enjoying Dacia’s reliability and incredible pricing, and we’re delighted to be investing our resources into launching the brand here in Great Yarmouth.”

For more information, visit Mitchells Dacia on Suffolk Road, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth or call 0844 249 5793. Alternatively, click onto www.mitchellsdacia.co.uk