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


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 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 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 Also search the internet at large and the company name register, such as Companies House 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 ( a trademark advice and registration company that helps small businesses protect their brand. Contact Dale @TradeMarkTribe or via


Free for editorial use only. For more information contact @magatha28

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 or visit the fundraising page at

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