Let’s Be Honest - Exercise is F***ing Boring!...

SORRY TO swear but this is how the following kinds of messages make me feel and I see them every day on my social media and in my inbox:

“Be A Fit Badass”
“You Don’t Get What You Wish For You Get What You Work For.”
“Get Off That Couch And Join Us At Our Stupid O’clock Bootcamp!

Please click here to read my latest Huffington Post article

Owners of a Wiltshire country house hotel have backed a national campaign to cut VAT on tourism.

Latest news from The Pear Tree, Purton

A NATIONAL campaign to cut VAT on tourism has been backed by one of Wiltshire’s most respected country house hotels.

The owners of The Pear Tree, Purton have signed up to the campaign Cut Tourism VAT lobbying the Government to bring the UK in line with most other European countries and cut VAT on tourism services including hotel rooms, attractions and restaurants.

Chaired by the MD of Butlins, the campaign believes cutting VAT will boost the UK economy by billions and will create 120,000 new jobs. It’s run by the British Hospitality Association and wants VAT cut to five per cent.

Alix Young, hotel manager, said: “Bringing the UK in line with other European countries will make us a more attractive destination for tourists. Currently British families or international visitors choosing a UK break pay almost three times as much VAT compared to a French or German holiday, and twice as much as in Italy and Spain.

“This makes us a far more expensive country to visit. Reducing tourism VAT would help lower prices, but also allow businesses to increase investment.”

The Cut Tourism Tax campaign claims the UK is one of only four European countries to not take advantage of EU rules allowing reductions. For example VAT on hotel accommodation in other EU countries currently stands at:

*13 per cent in Croatia.

*seven per cent in Luxembourg

*ten per cent in Austria.

Cut Tourism Tax has more than 1,000 active campaigners and 100 MPs have signed up to support it. North Wiltshire MP James Gray is the only Wiltshire MP to have backed the campaign to date.

The Pear Tree at Purton is one of the county’s most respected family run hotels. It opened in 1987 and is now managed by the second generation of the Young family – Alix Young and her husband Tim. Anne Young who originally opened the hotel, is still involved in the day-to-day management. This year, the hotel won the Cesar Award for Country Hotel of the Year by the Good Hotel Guide.

WILTSHIRE HEATING AND PLUMBING COMPANY SPONSORS CHARITY GALA BALL

Latest news from Business Against Poverty

Wiltshire-based heating and plumbing company John Williams Heating Services has been named as the Platinum sponsor of the Business against Poverty annual gala ball.

The event takes place next month and is a glittering annual celebration and fundraiser for the work of People against Poverty in association with the social enterprise Business against Poverty whose members work to support the humanitarian work of the charity. These organisations work together to raise funds to help families in need at home and overseas.

Bill Huxley, founder of Business against Poverty said: “We are thrilled Debbie and John Williams have chosen to sponsor our gala dinner at Platinum level. We’re also grateful to our other sponsors Bailbrook House Hotel, Zeke Creative and Mail Boxes Etc-Bath for their continued support.

Debbie Williams, co-founder of John Williams Heating Services, said: “We’re proud to sponsor this event and, in doing so, help generate more funds for this charity to carry out its vital work to help those less fortunate both at home and overseas.”

Money is raised to change impoverished lives by providing food, housing and education. Recently the team was able to purchase hundreds of tents and provided urgent food parcels to families in Nepal dealing with the aftermath of the earthquakes earlier this year where 9,000 lost their lives.

The charity, which is based in Hilperton, near Trowbridge, works in partnership with The Way of Joy project in Romania, the Starlight Centre in Nepal, St Joseph’s Creche Orphanage in Haiti and its UK project Bridging the Gap. They also run a child sponsorship programme in these countries including Malawi, Tanzania and India.

Businesses and supporters from across the country are attending the gala ball at the Bailbrook House Hotel, Eveleigh Avenue, Bath. Guests will enjoy a sparkling drinks reception, a three course meal, auction and raffle and dance the night away to music provided by local Bath band Limited Edition. Tickets are £75 with a few still remaining – details are available at http://bit.ly/1ZQQu19

Silent Christmas Auction in aid of Ainslie’s Pavilion project.

This year, from Sunday November 15, I’m running a silent auction instead of buying gifts for clients as I feel this is a way to give back allowing clients, contacts and friends to possibly bag a bargain while doing something good for my own community.

The charitable project is Ainslie’s Pavilion – I wrote about this in a blog post earlier this year - http://bit.ly/1Sb0miq

Ainslie passed away from cancer in February 2015. I’m supporting her husband Phil and son Alex, aged 15, as they work together over the next five years to raise thousands to refurbish or rebuild the pavilion at Purton Cricket Club, Purton, Wiltshire.

To date, we’ve had amazing support and I’d personally like to thank everyone who has raised money so far and who is helping behind the scenes as the initial plans take shape. Much more on this project will be shared during 2016. You can keep up to date or offer your support via Facebook here - http://on.fb.me/1GTY6to

For the silent auction, thanks to the support of clients and business contacts, I’m able to offer a range of goods and services. Where possible each one will be given a retail value for your guidance.

To receive full details of the lots you will need to sign up to my newsletter here - http://bit.ly/1des9ht - and I’ll be talking about the lots on my social media.

Lots include jewellery for men and women, skincare, a photography session, cinema tickets, telephone cover for a business, de-cluttering service and more. The auction will be launched on Sunday November 15 and will run for three weeks only.

If anyone would like to donate at lot – product or service – please contact me via email by Friday November 13 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Flog It! In Wolverhampton:

I’m off with my antiques and collectibles pals on the day-time BBC tv show Flog It! This month.

We’re filming at Wolverhampton Art Gallery on October 14 as part of the 15th series of the programme fronted by antiques expert Paul Martin, who is also a Wiltshire resident.

Feel free to pass on this information to family or friends in the area who might want to come along and get their items valued and, possibly, sold at auction.

Flog It! Is a day-out for everyone, it takes time to film this hugely popular programme which routinely attracts an audience of several million.

Award winners:

I’m thrilled to share with you the news that two of my clients were selected from thousands to be among the 100 to be celebrated by the national Small Business Saturday campaign culminating on December 5. John Williams Heating Services and Active Potential Therapy were assigned - September 24 and August 29 respectively and were celebrated all day by the Small Business Saturday team. Also coming up, aesthetic clinic Medikas has been nominated for an award for their clinic in Clifton, Bristol and founder of the company Dr Beatriz Molina is a finalist for Aesthetic Medical Practitioner of the Year. I’m also giving a talk about stories suitable for journalists at the British College of Aesthetic Medicine annual conference in London at the end of September.

Coming up:

In November, I’ll be exhibiting on a stand at the biggest business expo in Wales on Thursday and Friday November 5 and 6. This event, organised by Introbiz, has grown in stature and thousands of people attend. I strongly recommend it to any business person who wishes to trade in Wales, or who wishes to find out more about this vibrant business community. Attendance as a delegate is free but must be booked via this link - http://bit.ly/1OejDz9

Workshop news

I’m holding my first all-day workshop for small businesses, sole traders or marketing managers on Thursday October 1.

As I often do offer training in strategic PR, marketing and planning, it’s wonderful to be able to do something by bringing a group of ambitious business people together for an affordable cost.

It also means taking a day out from the office – away from day-to-day distractions – to focus on embracing strong communication for any business, be that communication internal or external.

During this day, I’ll help you create a PR toolbox to start your business, or to grow your business with a strategic, medium term PR plan.

It will be a hands-on workshop where there will be small group work, and laptops or tablets will be required.

There will be no more than 20 in the room on the day and all refreshments, including lunch, will be provided and parking on the day is free of charge.

The location is superb, very close to the M4 and Swindon. We'll be exploring the role of social media in each other's businesses as part of the communication process. The aim is to walk away with a strategy and a story written and ready to go (and you might make some great contacts along the way).

The cost of the day is £150 plus VAT and you can book here - http://bit.ly/1K0vNJp - (a booking fee also applies).

Please note there is a cancellation policy with this event - due to costs incurred if anyone cancels their place with less then seven working days' notice - the fee is non-refundable.

If you can’t make that date and you’re interested in another event – please email me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I’ll let you know when I’m holding the next workshop.

Dragons’ Den entrepreneur appoints first global distributor of the GripIt

Teenager Jordan Daykin joins forces with RS Components to take his invention overseas.

Jordan Daykin, the teenage entrepreneur who invented the revolutionary and universal plasterboard fixing GripIt with his grandad, has announced RS Components (RS) as a preferred distribution partner.

The deal comes less than a year after 19-year-old Jordan appeared on the BBC TV series Dragons’ Den asking for investment in his fledgling Wiltshire manufacturing business.

Less than a year later, his company is working with RS Components, a trading brand of Electrocomponents plc, the global distributor for engineers. With operations in 32 countries, Electrocomponents plc offers around 500,000 products online, through catalogues and at trade counters, shipping more than 44,000 parcels a day.

The announcement also sees the introduction of the second generation of GripIt, also launched today, which makes the fixing even more user-friendly. RS Components have exclusive rights to the distribution of this new generation GripIt – the world’s first universal fixing - for two months.

Jordan, who runs GripIt from a manufacturing base in Melksham, Wiltshire, invented the fixing with his grandfather Stan Daykin, now 81, after struggling to secure a blind to a window of a converted garage at Stan’s home. Jordan was 13 at the time.

They confronted a common problem faced by many homeowners and businesses in more modern buildings, the gap between the plasterboard and the steel lintel was too narrow and the drill bits kept snapping. There were no fixings capable of securing the blind when there was nocavity behind the plasterboard.

Stan and Jordan came up with a design with a ‘wing’ feature which fans out, thus spreading the load and allowing modern walls to bear the weight of objects more effectively.

The pair then spent several years securing the patent for their design before launching GripIt, achieving some success prior to appearing on Dragons’ Den.

After pitching for two hours, Jordan’s passion and knowledge gained the respect of Dragon Deborah Meaden and Jordan became the youngest entrepreneur to receive an £80,000 investment. Since then Deborah has had a hands-on approach to help Jordan develop the business.

This desire to take GripIt to the next level led Deborah to think of RS as a dynamic strategic partner.

Deborah said: “RS is an obvious choice to take GripIt to customers all over the world. As an RS customer myself back in the holiday industry my team relied on RS for their extensive product range and next day service.”

For RS, the GripIt was an obvious addition to its product range as the fixing provides a stronger anchor capable of handling loads of up to 180kg.

This makes them ideal for use in the home and in a variety of industrial settings, where a robust, heavy duty wall fixing is required.

Jordan said: “GripIt solves a problem encountered every day, all over the world, and we’re keen to bring our solution to the global market. RS has the global reach with a large customer base of installers and engineers. With this business relationship we feel we are on our way to achieving our ambitious goals.”

Ben Lawton, Head of Category at RS Components said:

“We’re dedicated to providing products to our customers which solve day-to-day challenges making their lives easier. The GripIt is an innovative,new-to-market product offering high loading capabilities, ease of installation and consistent reliability to rival the traditional plasterboard fixing.

“Jordan’s passion and commitment for the product and its development is inspiring and the GripIt is a simple and effective British invention.”

GripIts are easy to use comprising a circular plastic plug with a pair of metal locking wings. This is inserted in a hole of the same diameter drilled in the plasterboard, and tapped with a hammer to engage anti-rotation tabs. The fixing is then screwed in place.

These fixings can be used on rendered or un-rendered cavity walls, double-thickness plasterboard, insulated plasterboard, or dot and dab walls.

RS is stocking the full range of GripIt, available in four sizes from 15mm diameter to 25mm. The fixings are colour coded in four sizes 15, 18, 20 and 25mm diameter – they auto adjust to fit any thickness of plasterboard from 9.5 to 15mm.

For further information and to place an order visit www.rs-online.com.

Booked for several talks

I’m thrilled to have been booked for several talks over the coming weeks. I’m giving a talk to Women In Property in South Wales about telling stories around you and your business – and also ‘What’s Your Story?’ to members of the networking group Business Scene in Newbury, Berkshire.

I always enjoy talking to people and sharing my passion for clear, people-orientated story-telling but most of all I enjoy meeting new business people and allowing them to share their stories with me. I’ll try to capture some imagery to share with you all in due course.

 

 

Systemagic Ltd supporting local charities

One of my clients – a company called Systemagic Ltd, based in Bath and Wiltshire – believes in the value of supporting local charities. For several years it’s sponsored the Kennel Break annual fundraising event for the Bath Cats & Dogs Home.

In addition, managing director James Eades is organising a hot cross bun ride in Trowbridge for residents of a home for vulnerable adults. Each year the bikers ride to the home allowing residents to touch, feel, see and, if appropriate, sit on a powerful bike. This year more than 100 riders are expected to take part on Good Friday – to brighten the day of these inspirational people.

 

Filming for Flog it!

This month I’m filming as a director on two shoots for the BBC day-time tv show Flog It! – one in County Durham and another in Cumbria. Look out for some photographs from the shoots as we go.

These adventures around the UK are such a wonderful experience, allowing me to work alongside consummate professionals in both tv and the world of antiques and collectibles.

The absolute joy though, are the people who come along to the shoot and make a day-out of the experience. They bring objects along which have stories to tell and something quite ordinary - once you’ve heard the story behind it – can suddenly take on a whole new meaning.