Island Business November / December 2023

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HTP Apprenticeship College UKSA Branstone Business Park Isle of Wight Lottery Wightlink

IW Chamber Business Awards

Island Business Magazine Published by the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce


Editor Tom Stroud


Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce Mill Court, Furrlongs, Newport Isle of Wight, PO30 2AA Tel. 01983 520777


Designed & Printed by

This month is another packed issue, spotlighting success and celebrations for a wide range of businesses and sectors. We feature two Island manufacturers and tell the stories of Diametric Technical and Gurit UK. We also mark 25 years of Island contract cleaners Top Mops. Elsewhere there are further milestones, with long standing Chamber members receiving their awards at the recent AGM.

While every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of Island Business magazine the publishers do not accept any liability or provide any guarantee that the information is accurate, complete or up to date. The publisher and its employees and contractors have used their best efforts in preparing these pages and this publication but make no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, with regard to the information supplied. The views of contributors do not necessarily represent those of the IW Chamber of Commerce. The IW Chamber of Commerce and its employees and contractors shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages in connection with, or arising out of, the providing of the information offered here. Contains material sourced from responsibly managed forests, certified in accordance with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

We talk Apprenticeships with HTP’s Rachael Randall; we also feature the impact of Cowes maritime charity UKSA, with the support of WightFibre. There’s also a look at the new home for the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, which relocates to brand new premises at Branstone Business Park.

It’s our last issue of 2023 – and in case you thought things were winding down, check out page 5 for the full list of categories for next year’s IW Chamber Business Awards. Nominations officially open on November 30th and entries close at the end of January, by which time you’ll have read the Jan/Feb edition of Island Business. But between now and then, all the best for 2024, and it’s never too early to start writing your awards submission…






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Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce

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News IW Chamber Awards 2024 News Top Mops IW Chamber AGM Diametric Technical Gurit UK IW Chamber Visit to Gurit UK Wightlink Branstone Business Park UKSA HTP’s Rachael Randall Isle of Wight Lottery Mission Zero Events IW Chamber President CONTENTS


Isle of Wight named UK Destination of the Year The Isle of Wight has won the Best UK Destination of the Year category at the recent Group Leisure & Travel Awards. Facing tough competition from destinations such as London, Staffordshire, Wiltshire and York, the Isle of Wight was voted for by those responsible for planning successful holidays, the group travel organisers. Amy Summers, Sustainable Travel, Trade and Exhibitions Manager was at the awards ceremony: “It was an honour to collect the award at the Group Leisure and Travel awards ceremony on behalf of the Isle of Wight. My thanks to everyone who voted for us. Over the past year we have refreshed our group guide, added new itineraries, built relationships within the groups industry, and showcased the Island as the place for group travel.” The Island celebrated other successes as Warner Leisure Hotels, with locations at Bembridge Coast and Norton Grange, was awarded Best Accommodation for Groups. HF Holidays, with a property at Freshwater Bay, was named Best Group Tour Operator.

Record year for students at HTP’s Riverbank college

The new academic year has started with more than 160 students enrolled at HTP’s Riverbank College in Newport. It’s the most successful year for recruitment ever for young learners at HTP, reflecting a wider offering of courses, enhanced by partnerships with organisations including the Island’s NHS and Trotters Riding School. Based at Little London in Newport, HTP’s Riverbank campus offers fulltime, one-year courses, providing further education to school leavers. “HTP has been offering education choices for Island young people since 2023 and this year’s numbers are our best yet,” explains HTP’s founder and Principal Rachael Randall. “Our Riverbank campus was completely refurbished last year and it’s great to be welcoming so many learners in this new academic year. “From our professional kitchen to our gym, nail salon and our partnerships with the NHS and Trotters Riding School, Riverbank is a really strong option for young people leaving school, under 19. When they leave us, they go into real jobs, including Apprenticeships, or Further Education, having learnt new skills and built their confidence and motivation. We’re already recruiting for 2024.”

Double award win for Right At Home Right at Home Isle of Wight is celebrating after picking up two prestigious awards at a national ceremony. The homecare provider took home the Employer of the Year and Community Impact awards, after facing tough competition from other care providers located across the UK. The awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of franchise offices and their teams from the Right at Home UK network. “To win Employer of the Year was the icing on the cake for the incredible year we’ve had,” said Right at Home Isle of Wight owner Paul Butler. “Since starting the business, we have really tried to celebrate our staff and all the amazing work they do through recognition. Without them, we would be nothing. To win the Community Impact Award for the second year in a row shows the amazing dedication of the team to our Island community. We couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved through our community engagement.” Right at Home Isle of Wight, which was rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission last year, just 18 months after opening, provides care and support to people living in their own homes. 2



Island businesses win at Maritime UK Awards The winners of the Maritime UK Solent Awards 2023 were announced in October at a ceremony in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. Carisbrooke Shipping Ltd won the Technology GameChanger Award and the Maritime Legacy trophy went to Rachel Kitley, Principal of Cowes Enterprise College. The category celebrates someone who has made a significant impact to the strength of the Solent Maritime Sector. “I’m hugely honoured to receive the Maritime Legacy Award,” Rachel said. “Tonight’s awards have not only been an inspiring showcasing of the brilliant work underway but also of the exciting

future we all have in the maritime industry and in the Solent. Our maritime curriculum at Cowes Enterprise College that is rolling across many schools in the country is there to support the future of the industry. The maritime industry is not just a piece of our past but an important part of our future and we’re keen to support the next generation.” BAE had a highly successful night, winning the Global Trade, Future Skills, Large Business of the Year Awards, whilst their employee Jamie Bamforth won the coveted Apprentice of the Year Award.

Top Mops celebrates 25 years with a gala event Top Mops marked a 25 year milestone by celebrating with more than 100 guests at a gala dinner at the Lakeside Park Hotel & Spa. Sarah Ford, Top Mops Relationship Manager presented a look back at the business journey, from creation by Mark Tutty in 1998 to today employing over 300 staff across the region, managed from its head office based in Sandown. “What a great evening and amazing opportunity to celebrate all that the company and our team have achieved over the past 25 years,” Mark said. “The customers we are proud to work with and pride we take as an Island business. Here’s to the next 25 years.” Awards were presented to members of the Top Mops team, with Adrian Abraham receiving the Team Award, Aidan Atkins the Newcomer Award. Loren Tutty, Mark Hadley, Craig Ford, Brian Tutty, Perry Brown and Davey Boon all received Long Service Awards. A raffle and auction held on behalf of Cancer Research raised £1,546 with prizes and lots generously donated by Island businesses, including WightFibre, Hovertravel, Island Tea & Coffee Co, JR Zone and BeCalmed of Cowes. Read more about Top Mops on page 14.

BeCalmed offers LED powered Wellness

Cowes beauty therapy centre BeCalmed is expanding its range of treatments by partnering with the prestigious ESPA brand and its Light Salon range. The combined power of ESPA’s natural skincare with The Light Salon LED (Light Emitting Diode) light treatment further advances ESPA’s results-driven facial treatments to deliver longer lasting and more powerful results to spa guests. “Working with ESPA is a real coup for BeCalmed and for the Island,” says BeCalmed founder Caroline Hurley.


“The LED light treatments are typically available exclusively at a small range of mainland spas, so to be able to offer them to our customers in Cowes is a real boost for our business as well as a seal of approval from ESPA. The Light Salon are trusted professionals with an unparalleled industry reputation for excellence, making them the clear choice for a skincare technology collaboration which brings our clients advanced LED treatments. The team at BeCalmed are looking forward to introducing this unique combination of treatments to their customers.” NEWS


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IW Chamber Business Awards with WightFibre return for 2024 THE CATEGORIES IN FULL: Start Up Business of the Year Sponsored by PC Consultants

Entrepreneurship Award Sponsored by Liz Earle

Customer Service Award The Island’s most prestigious awards will be presented on May 10th at Cowes Yacht Haven. Entries will open on Thursday 30th November and must be received by Wednesday 31st January.

Sponsored by Red Funnel

Community Award Sponsored by Moore (South) LLP

Employer of the Year Sponsored by Diametric Technical Ltd

Has your business got something to celebrate? Has 2023 been a winning year for you and your team? Could you be taking home a highly prized IW Chamber Business Award in a few months?

Training and Development Award

To stand the chance of winning, you’ll need to enter one of sixteen categories, including the launch of the brand new Creative Impact Award. This year also sees the Hospitality Business of the year category joined by the Tourism & Leisure award.

Technology and Innovation Award

“The IW Chamber Business Awards really set the standard on the Isle of Wight,” says Chamber CEO Steven Holbrook. “Every year they are hotly contested, and the Island’s business community makes things difficult for our panel of independent judges, who are based on the Island, on the mainland and internationally. “Businesses will be judged on their year and on their submission, by a panel of impartial business experts. Each year our shortlist spotlights the success of the Island’s economy and I’m sure 2024 will be no different. If you’ve never submitted before, this could be your year. Think carefully about the right categories to enter for and tell your story well, supported by the data that the judges will need to see. I’d urge every business to consider entering – to celebrate their own success and also to encouraging analytical thinking and self-reflection. Entering for an award is a great way to measure and assess your business’ strengths and successes.” NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023

Sponsored by Hillbans Pest Control

Environment and Sustainability Award Sponsored by IFPL Sponsored by Lifeline Alarms

Tourism and Leisure Business of the Year Sponsored by Visit Isle of Wight

Hospitality Business of the Year Sponsored by Cherry Godfrey

Manufacturing and Export Business of the Year Sponsored by GKN

Creative Impact Award Sponsored by Medina Publishing

Business Social Impact Award Sponsored by WightFibre

Growth Business of the Year Sponsored by WRS Systems

Micro Business of the Year Sponsored by Gurit UK

Small Business of the Year Sponsored by Wightlink Find out more at, where full category listings and terms and conditions are available. Entries open on November 30th and submissions must be received by close of play on January 31st. A shortlist will be published in March when tickets will go on sale for the glittering ceremony, held at Cowes Yacht Haven on Friday May 10th 2024. FEATURE


Spinlock unveils new office at Cowes landmark Award-winning Isle of Wight marine equipment specialist Spinlock has unveiled its impressive new headquarters at an historic landmark - Cowes Town Police Station. Spinlock, honoured with the first King’s Award for Innovation in April, is now operating from the 125 year-old building brought back to life following an extensive redevelopment. After almost 50 years on the Cowes waterfront in Birmingham Road, the dynamic B-Corp business has moved just across the road following an 18-month renovation and extension of the formerly derelict police station, having transformed the building and made it fit for future expansion. The remodelled premises now offer modern offices and open spaces to inspire and encourage collaboration, and provide a welcoming environment for Spinlock’s clients. Spinlock’s Chief Executive Chris Hill said: “Moving into our new larger head office at the former Cowes Town Police Station is a milestone event and a real investment in Spinlock’s future. The expansion of our design, marketing and sales facility enables us to continue operating and greeting clients in Cowes. The majority of our customers are spread over 66 countries and they truly value this connection and the opportunity to visit us at this iconic yachting venue.” Spinlock thanks Island suppliers for their contribution including Dave Bunday & Sons Ltd, Modh Design Ltd, MS Electrical, Gasworks, Lock Tight Flooring, Island Structural, John Nicholsons, Howdens, Glazing the Island, Island Ceiling Systems Ltd, Apex, Brewers, Sydenhams, Apex Timber, Ken Adams & Sons Groundworkers, Green Jiant, Wight Fire, WightFibre, PC Consultants, Woods Newport, Tile Superstore, Topps Tiles and ADL.

Indigo Graphics invests in printing technology Newport based Indigo Graphics is investing in a new Platinum Hybrid Q3-XL printer, offering eco-friendly fast printing. The new machine will allow larger scale printing, including heavier banners, larger size boards, giant wall art and posters. Mike Ellison, managing director and owner of Indigo Graphics and sister company Indigo Marine, commented: “We are incredibly excited. The technicalities of this machine will not necessarily excite the general public but what we can now offer in-house, here on the Island, is extra large format printing – up to 3200mm wide, in a super fast time. This printer will be the largest, and only one of its kind on the Island. “We hope this encourages Island companies and organisations to focus on using an Island based company rather than going straight online for advertising and promotional products. This investment is part of our growth strategy, ensuring Indigo Graphics is able to offer our outstanding services nationwide, as well as to Island businesses. We continually invest in our people via training courses and events, so it is natural to invest in state-of-the-art machinery, enabling us to offer the very best possible quality and service.”

Indigo Graphics MD Mike Ellison & Company Manager Lee Skiinner invest in new print machinery-LRG

Classic Boat Museum welcomes Kelly as new manager Kelly Wetherick is the newly appointed museum manager at The Classic Boat Museum, looking after sites in Cowes and East Cowes. The new role will help bring a transformational change to the museum’s development as well as supporting the growing team of volunteers. Kelly has been working in Island heritage for nearly 10 years. “This is an exciting time to be joining the Classic Boat Museum, with many dynamic projects on the horizon presenting an array of opportunities to capture people’s imaginations through our maritime heritage. I am very proud to be part of the team and I can’t wait to get started in my new role. I am looking forward to learning about the fascinating collections we have in the museum and to sharing their stories with our local communities and visitors.” 6




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IW Radio’s Perfect Pitch for 15k marketing support Isle of Wight Radio is offering a marketing and business support package worth more than £15,000 to an Island business looking to grow. The prize could go to a new Island business or to support a new concept for an established Island business. The competition is supported by Charlie Panayi, WightFibre, PC Consultants and HTP Apprenticeship College. Five companies will be selected to present their ideas to the judges, who will be looking for a great and innovative product or service for the Island, with potential for continued growth or expansion of the winning business. The overall winner will be chosen by Charlie Panayi, WightFibre’s John Irvine, PC Consultants’ Jonathan Thornton, HTP’s Rachael Randall and guest judge Dame Dianne Thompson. The panel will want to see accurate figures regarding the market size, manufacturing costs, retail prices, turnover, margins, gross and net profits. Island-based businesses can find more information and submit a 4-minute video pitch via

Kate celebrates 20 years at WP Recruitment & HR Kate Thomas is marking 20 years in recruitment on the Isle of Wight, having joined WP Recruitment as a consultant in 2003. Kate is now director of WP Recruitment & HR, taking over the company in 2016 from her former director. To celebrate, Kate has relaunched the Temporary Worker of the Month Award. The winner receives 13 weeks’ worth of Isle of Wight Lottery tickets, with the chance to win up to £10,000 whilst helping create and support Island jobs through interest free business loans. “I am aware that our success is not only down to our team, but the fantastic candidates we work with,” Kate says. “This award is an acknowledgement of our appreciation for their effort and commitment on behalf of our agency. I come to work to help Island people fulfil their potential and local companies meet their objectives. It isn’t always easy, workseekers’ expectations have changed dramatically in the last two decades and you have to take people at their word, but we have built up excellent relationships with the majority of our clients and candidates, many of whom come back to use our service again and again. I believe they value the continuity and level of local knowledge we provide.”

Top dogs: Preziosa Dachshunds wins at professional awards Island dog breeders the Preziosa Dachshunds Group is celebrating two wins and three nominations at the recent Professional Dog businesses UK awards. The business took home the Best Dog Product award along with the Best Canine Nutrition trophy, both recognising Preziosa Dachshunds’ Artisan Dog Bakery. “As a micro family run business who in the scheme of things are relatively new out of the gate in our industry, we were blown away to have been recognised nationally among our peers and colleagues,” explains founder Louise Rippon. “However, nothing could have prepared us for what was a memorable and proud moment! Winning both Best Dog Product and Best Canine Nutrition and coming a respectable second in the Best UK Breeder category was amazing! “As all business owners and entrepreneurs will know, it’s a lifestyle not for the faint hearted and we now are thankfully seeing the harvest from a work ethic that only passion and dedication can feed. Our business group is growing in strength, reputation and size and for us this win was a real testament to the love we pour into our work, our products, and our beloved Dachshunds. Come on 2024, we are ready for you!” NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023



IW College welcomes new chair of governors The Isle of Wight College has announced the retirement of Dr Nick England from his position as Chair of Governors after more than 16 years. The college’s new Chair, Sara Weech, has been a governor at the College since February 2021. Following a distinguished career in the health sector, Sara has extensive leadership skills as well as a deep knowledge and understanding of the Island’s community, having worked with and supported a number of local charities and organisations. During his tenure as Chair, Nick England has played a pivotal role in shaping the strategic direction of Isle of Wight College, ensuring its commitment to providing quality education and fostering an environment conducive to students’ success. Under his leadership, the college has witnessed significant growth, embraced innovation, and maintained its position as a centre of excellence in the south of England. Ros Parker OBE, Principal of the College, has said: “Nick’s passion for education and his unwavering dedication to the students have been instrumental in shaping the college’s vision. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy, marked by his commitment to enhancing educational opportunities and empowering students to reach their full potential”.

Top marks for Georgia in exam success

New Possibilities and Perspectives for Sarah

Georgia Whittle, a Paraplanner at Newport-based independent financial planning firm, Rouse Limited, has just smashed her latest exam results and won the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Certificate in Paraplanning prize for achieving the best average score (across all the units) of anyone who completed the Paraplanning Certificate in 2022. Georgia started at Rouse Limited as a member of the administration team, where she also excelled.

Sarah Hussey has launched Possibilities and Perspectives, offering a range of coaching, consultancy and training for business and education establishments on the Island and beyond. Sarah trained to be a Performance Coach after a series of cardiac events during the winter of 2022, when she decided to leave her job as Headteacher of Northwood Primary School Academy Trust. Sarah also offers keynote speaking about her own unique leadership journey which started with her as a school midday supervisor and ended up with Headship in a successful primary school.

“We are enormously proud of Georgia and her achievement,” says Rouse Limited director Lisa Butler. “She always puts her heart and soul into her work and is so deserving of this prize. At Rouse Limited we always encourage ambition and want to facilitate career progression in our team.” Georgia said: “I’m really pleased to have won this prize. It has given me the confidence to keep pushing on and to recognise that I can do this. It’s great to have the support of the team at Rouse Limited, where I have been given every opportunity to progress in my career in financial services. We’re all committed to continuing professional development and I’m ready for the next challenge!” 10


“My 25 years of experience and leadership training will be transformative where teams or individuals want to improve performance,” Sarah says. “I have a degree through the Open University which I studied whilst my daughters were very young and several post graduate diplomas including Leadership, Mental Health, Psychology and Performance Coaching. I also have a keen interest in supporting women with late diagnosis ADHD or suspected ADHD to get the best out of themselves.” THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR THE ISLE OF WIGHT



WightAID garden party raises £35,000 for good causes

NFU Mutual Isle of Wight donates to Independent Arts NFU Mutual Agents and their staff at the New Forest, Isle of Wight and Bournemouth agency recently nominated local charity Independent Arts, to receive a donation of £6,443.00 from NFU Mutual’s national £1.92million ‘Agency Giving Fund’. NFU Mutual’s donation has enabled Independent Arts to continue its very popular dance projects for older people and individuals with reduced mobility. Initial funding for the project ran out at the end of September, so the donation means that the initiative can continue until the end of March 2024. John Heather, Senior Agent at NFU Mutual New Forest, Isle of Wight and Bournemouth Agency, said: “We are delighted to be able to support Independent Arts with a donation of £6,443 through our Isle of Wight office. We have chosen to support a charity that directly helps the local community by using the Arts to focus on education, support, and wellbeing of the elderly in the community.”

The Island’s business community has dug deep to support the Wight AID Foundation, with more than £600,000 raised and distributed to more than 200 Island charities. A celebratory garden party held at the home of Amy and Geoff Underwood added more than £35,000 to the pot, which has now made more than 300 donations.

Lisa Gagliani, Chief Executive at Independent Arts, commented: “We’re so grateful to the Isle of Wight Agency of NFU Mutual for nominating our charity to receive a donation from the NFU Mutual Agency Giving Fund. The money has gone a long way to helping us continue to offer our popular dance-based workshops for older people at a time of continuing financial pressures on our small charity.”

“The money will all be granted to local good causes right here in your Island community and will make a huge difference,” says Amy Underwood. “Thanks also go to everyone involved in making the party one to remember, but special thanks go to WightFibre for their generous sponsorship. “If you want to continue your support for WightAID, maybe through a regular donation, the please do let us know. The more we can raise, the greater the impact we can have together.” Three Island charities were given £1,000 donations on the day, with John Irvine, CEO, of event sponsor WightFibre, giving cheques to Care In the Garden, Tidal Family Support and Community Spirited Café.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance wins at raffle

Cheque presentation from Andy White of Rouse Limited (on right) to Sarah Hulin from HIOWAA



More than £25,400 was raised for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance at an event hosted by Newport-based Independent Financial Planners, Rouse Limited. The spectacular raffle prize draw saw ticket sales and donations totalling over £12,700. The amount was matched by Rouse Limited, doubling the donation to the charity. The team at Rouse Limited chose HIOWAA as their headline charity for 2023 and worked tirelessly throughout the summer to secure fabulous raffle prizes, sell raffle tickets and raise awareness of the crucial service provided by HIOWWA.

Lisa Butler of Rouse Limited said: “We are particularly grateful to the volunteers, staff and clinical crew of HIOWWA for the service they provide to all of us. It has been a pleasure to have been able to support their work through this fundraiser. “Many people do not realise that, although working in partnership with University Hospital Southampton and South Central Ambulance Service, which are both NHS funded, HIOWAA is a charity and relies entirely on donations to carry out their life-saving service.”







In 1998 Mark Tutty launched Top Mops, a business founded on the principles of a ‘can-do’ attitude that puts the customer first. It’s an ethos that remains, and the cleaning company rarely says ‘no’, no matter how large, small, simple or complex the requirement.

TOP: Over 100 guests enjoy the gala event with

entertainment including Huxley Magic.

MIDDLE: Top Mops head office in Sandown

with just some of its 25 strong vehicle fleet.

ABOVE: Top Mops waste truck in front of the

Isle of Wight Festival main stage, a customer they have worked closely with since 2007. 14

Today, Top Mops is multi-award winning and has become not only the Island’s but one of the south’s leading independent contract cleaners. Employing over 350 people and headquartered in Sandown, Top Mops operatives work over 210,000 hours each year across the Island, Hampshire, West Sussex, Dorset, Wiltshire and even parts of London.

Within 10 years Top Mops had over 100 staff, servicing 80 sites across the Island, as well as starting their relationship with John Giddings and the Isle of Wight Festival, which has continued ever since. The first mainland contract soon followed, securing a foothold with The Ocean Village Centre, who they still work with today.

Top Mops recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, achieving one more milestone along its colourful journey that began when Mark was asked if he knew someone that could clean caravans. The Old Smithy in Godshill was one of the first customers and as regular contracts were established, the company grew, posting its first job ad for a full-time employee (with own car) in 2001. Today the company operates a fleet of over 25 vehicles, including specialist ‘Reach and Wash’, ‘Washroom’ and ‘Tippy-Truck’ vehicles.

By 2016 Top Mops had grown considerably, seeing new demand across the south with contracts established in Portsmouth, Southampton, Salisbury, Bournemouth and Poole. Top Mops duly took on their first mainland contracts manager to co-ordinate the now 180 strong workforce, servicing over 120 contracts. Less than two years later the company bought its own offices in Sandown, a new HQ for the business that boasts a conference room and

dedicated training areas. Further expansion continued for Top Mops with ‘Handyman’ services introduced in addition to ‘HomeCare’ for homeowners and landlords. In 2020 when Covid struck, Top Mops met the challenge to support multiple NHS Trusts. Within days of requests Top Mops re-deployed operatives into Covid teams, using specialist equipment and PPE to keep dedicated Covid wards open. This ability to adapt and meet challenges is enabled through a unique approach and commitment to training and personal development, led by Sarah Ford, recognised by The British Institute Of Cleaning Science (BICSc) and recipient of their Outstanding Candidate of the Year Award. Sarah uses her knowledge to conduct training for new and existing operatives, giving them a deeper understanding and greater ability to tackle any cleaning environment, ensuring they consistently deliver the high standards of cleaning and hygiene expected. Recent years have seen the company’s success accelerate, with a 38.5% growth in financial results in 2021, with customer retention

increasing to over 95% and the team expanding to 276. Adding to this was the development of washroom and waste collection services that expanded even further the companies already impressive capabilities. Last year the company received multiple awards, from the prestigious “Business of the Year” and “Customer Service Award” at the IW Chamber Business Awards to the South Coast Awards where they received the “Mid-Large Business Award”. Today, the capability of Top Mops cannot be overstated. More than 90 operatives met the challenge of last year’s Isle of Wight Festival, with zero issues reported as they maintained everything from high-profile VIP to event fields, even stepping in when other contractors let the event down. It’s a far cry from the cleaning of caravans in 1998 when the Top Mops story began.

Stacey Davies of Top Mops in full PPE, part of Top Mops Covid teams, supporting specialist Covid wards during the pandemic.



IW Chamber’s 2023 AGM

The Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce held its Annual General Meeting on October 6th at the New Holmwood Hotel in Cowes, over a networking lunch.

“From COVID to the cost of living crisis it’s been another difficult year for many Island businesses, especially in the tourism sector. From all the data we are seeing along with anecdotal evidence, numbers are down and I think that’s impacted on a lot of businesses, wider than just tourism. Spending power and disposable income have taken a hit.

IW Chamber President Jonathan Thornton welcomed members to the AGM and he presented awards to Wight Computers, Go Internet, Tapnell Farm Group, Spence Willard and RPL Construction marking 10 years of membership. Hydromar and Mountbatten received silver awards for 20 years of membership.

“What we learned from COVID is that when things are tough, the Chamber is even more important. It really does do a lot of good work when people are struggling and when things aren’t going well. We really appreciate all your support, throughout the year. Everything we do is funded totally by the membership. We don’t rely on any government funding or contracts. “The Isle of Wight Lottery, as of today, has pumped over £1.2 million into the Island economy with interest-free loans, creating well over 400 jobs. Some very large and successful businesses on the Island would not exist without the support of the Chamber and the Isle of Wight Lottery. “I’d like to mention Westfield Health, a healthcare package available to members, which offers a huge amount of cover at incredible value, at a time when the NHS is under tremendous pressure and businesses are keen to incentivise and hold on to staff. Our Chamber advice lines are essential when things get tough. Chamber HR and the Legal Advice Line provide crucial advice and the value gained from a single call often pays for membership in a single conversation.

The Chamber’s Chief Executive Steven Holbrook looked back on a “tough year, but also a good year” for the organisation.




BOARD MEMBERS Jonathan Thornton (IW Chamber President), PC Consultants

John Allen (Past President), Ventnor Self Catering

Steven Holbrook, IW Chamber Chief Executive

Mark Lee

The British Chambers of Commerce is increasingly a global voice for business. As part of that network the IW Chamber has a loud voice, helping present the views of the business community to government in the most powerful way. “It’s been a tough year, but also a good one. Looking forward, there are lots of good things on the horizon. The Chamber is increasing its team, with two new staff members starting soon. We’re also relocating to brand new premises at Branstone Business Park in Arreton. So it’s a new era for the Chamber and I’d like to pay special thanks to my team as always. They do an incredible job. With a very small team, we really punch above our weight.” Steven Holbrook, IW Chamber Chief Executive

(Chair of the Board), Lifeline Alarm Systems Ltd

John Irvine, WightFibre

Alison Colley, Real Employment Law Advice

Sarah Chatwin, ERMC Ltd

Sandra Knowles, Hillbans Pest Control

Tracy Osborn, Quarr Abbey

Fran Collins,

Bronze: Wight Computers

Bronze: Go Internet

Bronze: Tapnell Farm

Bronze: RPL Construction

Bronze: Spence Willard

Silver: Hydromar

Red Funnel

Rob Holgate, AJ Wells

Helen Farrant, Liz Earle Beauty Company

Karen Lucas, Vikoma

Alistair Dickinson, MyCRM

BRONZE AWARDS FOR 10 YEARS MEMBERSHIP Wight Computers’ Andrew Nordbruch Go Internet’s Trevor Cook Tapnell Farm Group’s Michelle Russell Spence Willard’s Emma Bradley & Charles Spence RPL Construction’s Samara Lamb & Mark Lounds

“It’s great to see everybody here today, there’s a real buzz in the room, with businesses of all different sectors represented by the Chamber as the voice of Island business. It’s very important in increasingly challenging times to be able to support one another as businesses and as individuals. The work that the Chamber continues to do, often behind the scenes, is really important and the team at the Chamber are amazing.”

SILVER AWARDS FOR 20 YEARS MEMBERSHIP Hydromar’s Paddy Lightfoot and Alex Lightfoot Mountbatten’s Nigel Hartley Silver: Mountbatten NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023

Jonathan Thornton, IW Chamber President FEATURE


Diametric Technical’s Graham Steele (left) and Joe Newnham


Diametric Technical: Why our team are the 32 reasons for our success The manufacturers of bespoke product branding discuss what they believe are the essential ingredients for a successful business.

After celebrating a landmark birthday last year, Diametric Technical has now achieved 41 years of trading. The Diametric of today may appear to be very different to the original company, but there are also fundamental similarities which the current directors believe are intrinsic to its ongoing success. With a focus on innovation and always moving forward, what is the key to maintaining progression?

“We are a very unique business,” comments Graham Steele, Joint Managing Director. “There aren’t many companies like us, so when we recruit, we focus on the person and not specifically their prior experience. Transferable skills are key. This is the same for our team, we are always evolving, so our team are amazing at evolving with us.” Diametric now has a growing workforce of 32, with 19 people based at their manufacturing plant in Newport and 13 at their Swanmore branch. A large percentage of the team have worked with Diametric for over 10 years, and six for over 20 years. Ray and Tony, who both recently retired, stepped down with a combined service of 67 years! “It’s a daunting feeling to start thinking about replacing two very experienced and highly valued individuals,” Operations Director, Joe Newnham says. “We were incredibly lucky that both Ray and Tony gave us a lot of notice, which meant we could take advantage of an extended training period before they left. Taking on new people also brings with it fresh ideas and experiences, and we embrace the opportunities this can offer our company.” Pat Daas, who is the Financial Controller for the company, is now the longest standing member of the team and has been in the role for over 27 years. She has always been keen to support across other departments and has a proactive approach to the changing demands of her role. Pat says, “A willingness to adapt and learn other skills is especially important in a smaller firm. It also enables you to respect each part of the process as we all ultimately want the same goal.” The importance of each role is something Joint Manager Director, Stacey Steele, feels strongly about. “Our whole team are vital to Diametric’s success. Everyone is integral to their own department, but there is also an added layer of support across the company to ensure we keep going. We’ve had some challenging situations which have really shown us what the team can achieve!”




As the business landscape alters, many companies are faced with the need to accept change to continue. This can affect the business as a whole and put strain on staff to adapt to new requirements. Graham acknowledges the difficulties faced by employees to acclimatise to continuous changes. “Some of the changes we are undertaking are driven by a need to keep up with our customers and our competition. Some are driven by industry standards and new regulations, as well as other factors such as leaving the EU. We must stay ahead of these changes, but we are also asking our team to be agile and adapt to change.” External factors and a competitive market have contributed to Diametric’s drive to expand and diversify the processes they can offer. Their manufacturing plant has seen its digital print studio expand exponentially in the past two years, which has in turn led to recruitment and further training for current staff. The cut shop has also acquired an advanced cutting table, with further plans to expand the department. This addition, which is a significant upgrade to existing equipment, has been hugely motivational for the team. “Initially we were only going to train two members of staff”, notes Joe. “But everyone was so keen to learn how to use it and as a result we quickly had greater flexibility with our workflow.” This positive approach to training and development is something Diametric are proud of. A ‘training matrix’ is used to track current skills and training development for every member


of the team. This has been invaluable in enabling individuals to keep track of their own progress and aims, as well as informing managers when identifying support for covering different tasks. As a result, every department has additional cover and back-up in busy periods. An enthusiasm for training can also mean roles change within the company. Jessica Payne initially joined Diametric seven years ago as a quality inspector. Her desire to learn more about print meant she quickly moved into that department and is now ‘Screen Print Technical Lead’. “Not a lot of places offer the same amount of in-house and cross process training, so I’ve been really lucky,” says Jess. “I’ve had the chance to train in every department and it’s given me a chance to challenge myself and expand my skill set. I have gained so much confidence in myself thanks to the opportunities I’ve been given.” Over the past four decades, there have been many industry changes and multiple challenges to overcome. But Diametric believe the secret to their success has always been the same. “Ultimately, it’s our team. We have 32 individuals who bring a mixture of skills and experience to work with them each day,” explains Graham. “We can apply different strategies for improvement and growth, but they can’t be fully implemented without the team’s support. They are the real experts and together we are constantly finding new ideas and solutions for moving the company forward.”




CHEMICALS, COMPOSITES AND THE COMMUNITY Gurit UK wants to connect and collaborate with Island businesses

IW Chamber members recently enjoyed a tour and a networking breakfast at Gurit UK in Newport. It was a very busy event, with high profile attendees from the business community, all curious to see what goes on behind the doors of one of the Island’s key manufacturers and largest employers.

“I think a lot of people are surprised that there’s a major chemical producer on the Island,” says James Daws, operations manager at Gurit UK. “Our factory manufactures resins and adhesives that are shipped all around the world to so many different customers. Because our products aren’t widely sold on the Island, direct to consumers, we’re a bit off the radar, so it’s great to welcome Chamber members and start a conversation.” Gurit UK is part of the manufacturing arm of Gurit, a global leader in composite materials. The multi-national business has production sites and offices in Australia, Canada, across Europe, China, Ecuador, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Turkey and the United States. With more than 110 employees at the St Cross Business Park factory in Newport, Gurit UK is a significant link in the global chain. “We’re the only manufacturing site for chemicals within Gurit,” James explains. “We supply the wind and marine sectors and we’ve got a worldwide customer base. We have a lot of direct customers within Europe itself, and we have other Gurit entities that act as warehouses for our materials, so we’re an important part of the company. “We manufacture epoxy resins and adhesives. That’s glue, essentially, for bonding big structures together. In the marine sector our products are used in boats and on decks. Our materials also bond wind turbines together or sensor components. We manufacture liquid resins too, which are increasingly being used to repair and extend the life of turbines, boats and components. Sustainablity is really important to us. We do sell in small containers, to chandleries and even for home use. Our products leave here in anything from 200 litre drums to half litre bottles.” In recent years the manufacturing sector has suffered supply chain issues and increased raw material costs. Post pandemic, the sector still faces a challenging global outlook. Although not immune from these pressures, Gurit UK is stable and James is upbeat about the future. “We had the same difficulties as other manufacturers during the pandemic, and the marine sector definitely slowed down. But things are recovering quite well now and looking positive.” James is also keen to renergise communication after some turbulent years. Whilst the events of the pandemic brought Island businesses together with a sense of emergency, Gurit UK is keen to reach out and make more links with local businesses, maintaining local connections. “One of the challenges after COVID is making sure we all collaborate on things together again,” James says. “There’s no particular reason for us all to have a meeting here right now. But it’s actually really important for us to welcome Chamber members, and to engage, so we can have an open discussion and make contact. There are so many areas where we don’t compete with each other and we could collaborate more.” Gurit UK is a Silver Patron of the Isle of Wight Chamber. James is very keen to network and to collaborate with businesses who share the same values. “I’d like to work on sustainability together, because we’re all transporting goods on and off the Island. There will be areas there that we can collaborate on to reduce our impacts together. When we’re sourcing products and services, we want to reduce carbon footprint but also support the local




community and local businesses too. Yes, we are part of a multi-national business, but we do use local suppliers when we can. If we can do it here locally on the Island and at an appropriate cost, then why not do that?” James has worked for Gurit UK for fifteen years, joining the company as a graduate. It’s part of the company ethos to develop staff from within and its particularly pertinent with an Island workforce. “Recruiting can be a challenge here, particularly in specialised industries like ours, where we’re recruiting engineers and chemical experts. So we try and grow a lot of our own talent, with apprenticeships and graduate schemes. I started here in our technical side, and I’ve moved through process engineering, technical support, customer services, supply chain and now I’m operations manager. My engineering manager started here as an apprentice. One of our values at Gurit is ‘successful together’ and developing our people, trying to develop that talent internally and give people that opportunity. You can start as an apprentice or as a graduate and then move your way up. If you want to work in engineering, there’s a lot of opportunity here on the Island, with plenty of potential for development. You don’t have to leave the Island to build a career.”

James Daws (right) chats to WRS Systems’ David Jackson at the recent IW Chamber event

“I think a lot of people see the Island just as a holiday destination, but there’s a lot of industry here and a lot of innovation going on in composites, design and electronics. We all need to work together to understand what the challenges are of working on an island and doing business here. We can jointly work on those challenges together and make sure we keep the Island a critical place for this kind of industry.” James Daws, operations manager, Gurit UK





James Daws and the team at Gurit UK in Newport welcomed members for a fascinating tour of the factory, some quality networking and an excellent breakfast spread. Members gained an insight into operations at the St Cross Business Park site, enjoying shared ideas as well as a fine selection of pastries…






TRY THE WIGHTLINK DIFFERENCE You know travelling with Wightlink makes it easy to cross the Solent, so why not set up a business account? Whatever kind of company or organisation you run, just contact our friendly team in the Business Hub to find out how we can help. We know how to get things moving. Our customers include small business owners, tour operators, accommodation providers, logistics companies, farmers and many tradesmen and women. Wightlink’s fleet of modern and comfortable ferries is waiting to welcome you or ship your freight, drop us a line at or call 023 9285 5260 to book your place onboard.

WIGHTLINK IN A NUTSHELL Our two vehicle routes connect Fishbourne and Portsmouth with a round-the-clock service in 45 minutes and Yarmouth with Lymington in 40 minutes. Both enjoy excellent motorway links to the rest of the mainland. It takes just 22 minutes for foot passengers to cross by FastCat from Ryde Pier Head and Portsmouth Harbour, where you can continue your journey by rail or bus. We care about the environment and our community. Victoria of Wight, sailing daily from Fishbourne, is England’s first hybrid energy ferry, cutting emissions everyday. Wightlink works with marine scientists to provide habitats for marine creatures at our ports and reduces food miles by buying from Island suppliers. We sponsor talented athletes, sports teams and other good causes with discounted travel. Wightlink’s Business Hub team members are experts in supporting customers and we have lots of account options. Try us first:

CROSSING THE SOLENT IN COMFORT You can grab a tea or coffee and some refreshments from Island companies while you sail on any of our vehicle ferries, then sit back, relax and enjoy the view. You’ll also find children’s play areas and movie rooms on selected ferries and a dedicated pet area on every ship. If you’re travelling on the FastCat, head for the Sun Deck to get some fresh air. We’re always there to support you when you need it with a range of accessible travel requirements, should you, or your customers, have limited mobility.

WE SPEND MORE THAN £6MILLION A YEAR TO KEEP OUR FLEET SHIPSHAPE Autumn sees the start of refit and dry-docking season when all our ships and FastCats get a little TLC – it’s like taking your car to the garage for a service and MOT. Annual tasks include replacing and updating key equipment onboard, and there’s always plenty of painting to be done.

READY FOR ANYTHING You’ll be amazed what we ship across the Solent. So far this year we’ve carried: •

25 million cobs of sweetcorn from Island producers

120,000 tons of delicious Isle of Wight tomatoes straight from the farms

37 lodges and smart new holiday homes for accommodation providers

2 locomotives for the Steam Railway and many other items of heavy machinery for Island Line

Jay Miller’s Circus and a funfair for the Festival

And countless love letters, parcels, brochures, bills and other communications, thanks to the hardworking drivers of the Royal Mail FEATURE



BRANSTONE BUSINESS PARK IS THE NEW HOME FOR IW CHAMBER The Chamber will partner with IW Council to find and look after business tenants

New residents have been moving to Branstone Farm since the end of last year, when homeowners first received keys to the 42 new-build affordable homes back in October. The units at Branstone Business Park were released at the start of this year, and now the very latest resident to relocate to the Arreton valley is the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber will act as an anchor for the new park, finding tenants and working with resident businesses. The new units are environmentally sustainable, fitfor-purpose business premises, with air-source heat pumps, high specification energy efficiency and super-fast full-fibre broadband, set in a stunning rural landscape.

“It’s a very positive step for us and for the team,” says IW Chamber Chief Executive Steven Holbrook. “The Chamber will have a new home where we can expand and reach out. Strategically positioned in the Arreton valley and with ample parking, it’s going to be a lot easier for members to visit us. There’s parking for the team and the transport links are really good. “The Chamber is also excited to be working with the Isle of Wight Council to manage letting the new units. There’s a natural synergy between membership and wanting business spaces, so it makes total sense for the Chamber to sit at the heart of this new development. We’re in a position to readily direct and talk to businesses about this project and its benefits. The green credentials are impeccable and these properties have been designed with sustainability and the environment at their heart. We’re in a stunning setting, and we’re looking forward to a new era.” The Chamber will take up residence in Unit S1. Neighbouring businesses include Brightbulb Design, the Isle of Wight Council’s AONB team, Element Housing and Christopher Scott. Nearby is Goddards Brewery, which relocated to new larger premises in Arreton earlier this year, creating 15 jobs. 24



“Arreton is probably the fastest developing area for business on the Island,” says Christopher Scott. “These new modern units are top-end standard, and they appeal to the kind of business that traditionally would have aspired to being based in a converted barn. You’ve got the stunning countryside landscape too, which you just don’t get on an industrial estate. There are no challenges around car parking access and queueing either. The new units have superb eco credentials, and our electricity bill is

about a tenth of what it used to be. The rents here are substantially less and very affordable compared to Newport, Cowes and Ryde.

business that is expanding beyond its incubation stage, or potentially reaching its final phase. The units here can allow for ongoing growth.”

“The last three years have seen a dramatic change in Arreton and hopefully the Chamber has been a big part of that. Branstone Business Park sits near to Goddards Brewery, Harvey Browns and the Tomato Stall, as well as the agriculture and biodigesting that goes on here, along with other under- the-radar businesses. There’s a lot of innovation going on.”

The new units are the first phase of development at Branstone Business Park, with another similarly sized area of space approved for building in the coming years.

Two units are currently available, with very flexible rental terms, from 12 months up to 10 years including break clauses. There’s a shared boardroom – “the Wight Room” – available to rent as and when businesses require. “Branstone is an ideal fit for a business in its second phase of growth,” says the Chamber’s Steven Holbrook. “It’s for a

Branstone Business Park explained Funded by the Isle of Wight Council and the Solent LEP, the Branstone Farm project, set over approximately 22 acres, is a unique scheme on the Island comprising, a small community village setting of 42 affordable housing homes, 7,830 sqft of business park space, a bio-diversity park, a community growing area, and the home of the biosphere, together with the new Goddards Brewery and visitor centre.


“It’s a unique development for the Island, very much the first of its kind,” Christopher Scott explains. “The public sector and the private sector are working together, and that’s one of the reasons why the Solent LEP are very happy to support the project. It could be an incubator or act as a pilot for other schemes if the Council was prepared to work with the private sector again. The response from people living in a community which includes affordable housing, walking parks, biosphere and the business centre isn’t found anywhere else on the Island and is rare in the UK.”

Branstone Business Park is a unique stakeholder collaboration between the IW Council, the IW Chamber of Commerce, Vectis Housing, the AONB team and many others to create space that works for start-ups, innovative and growing businesses, along with anchor agencies and businesses integral to the Island’s future. The first phase of the business park development is now complete and ready for occupation, with planning permission granted for a further 7,100 sqft of net space planned for phase two.





UKSA has been helping young people to reach their true potential by providing pathways into maritime employment for more than 35 years. The Cowes based charity welcomed 6,785 students from schools and groups through its doors and out onto the Solent last year.

Two million UK school children go on residential school trips every year and 40% of trips are specifically organised to engage hard to reach pupils. A recent study reported that 52% of children do not tell their parents about a trip due to money concerns. UKSA aims to remove both financial and social barriers to enable students from any background to access its programmes by providing funding for those who need it. The charity wants its beneficiaries to achieve their best, to gain lifechanging experiences, qualifications, and progress along a pathway into a maritime career. UKSA empowers children and young people to reach their true potential by cultivating a positive mindset, developing vital life skills, broadening horizons, and offering structured pathways into employment in the maritime industry.

UKSA’s CEO Ben Willows

“UKSA is working hard to become an impact-led organisation, ensuring that we measure our impact throughout all of our work. We assess a range of indicators across all our delivery areas, from changes in key life skills to course pass rates and employment statistics. From our Skills for Life assessments which take place before and after each child’s experience with us, we know that we have increased the water confidence of over 2,516 Island children this year.” Ben Willows, UKSA CEO






Outdoor learning has been found to improve academic attainment by up to four months. UKSA believes that every child should experience water-based learning, encouraging them to leave their comfort zone, develop new skills, push limits and have the freedom to explore their potential outside of the classroom.

Become a regular giver

UKSA’s local youth development initiatives include programmes such as ‘Test the Water’, and ‘Polly’s Challenge’, as well as delivering Further Education courses to local young people in partnership with the Isle of Wight College. The next step on its pathway is The Sea.Change Foundation programme, providing transformational outdoor education, designed for those who may not excel in the tradition academic environment. UKSA’s fully-funded Further Education courses, such as its NCFE in Sports and Physical Outdoor Activities or The Maritime Foundation course have been designed specifically for students who want to embark on exciting and rewarding careers in watersports instruction, the leisure industry or in yacht training.

OCEANS OF OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE THAT NEED IT MOST UKSA relies on the support of individuals, local and national businesses, and grant making trusts to fund beneficiaries on both the Island and mainland who often come from low socio-economic groups, have disabilities and/or additional needs and/ or are involved with the care system participating in watersports for the first time. This also includes young people who are at risk of exclusion from school or of offending, those not in education, employment or training, as well as young people facing socio-economic barriers when looking to pursue careers in the maritime industry. Find out how you can help UKSA to provide lifechanging experiences below.

It costs less than a cup of coffee – Just £2.91 a month - to fund a child on the water. Sign up through and help us make a difference today.

Fundraise By taking part in a challenge event or hosting a fundraising event and you can help UKSA continue to remove barriers for young people so they can achieve a future they might never have thought possible.

Become a corporate partner There are many ways for your company to partner with UKSA. From taking part in a team building day on one of their yachts, to choosing them as your Charity of the Year, you can make a huge difference to the lives of children and young people. Visit the UKSA website to find out how you can help:


CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME Despite growing up no more than 20 minutes away from the sea, we know that a significant number of children on the Island have never been in the water. Through its Test the Water programme, UKSA supports young people to gain water confidence and introduces them to sailing. The bleak reality for our Island children is that the attainment gap for disadvantaged school children on the Isle of Wight, at the age of 16, is one of the largest in England at 24 months. 30% of children on the Island live in poverty and this has increased by over 10% in the last two years. Each year UKSA offers every Isle of Wight school the opportunity to give each Island Year 6 child an on-the-water session. Supporting up to 1,400 beneficiaries each academic year, this programme was designed to provide children on the Island the chance to get on the water, regardless of background and without the barrier of cost. John Irvine, CEO of WightFibre, provider of full-fibre broadband across the Isle of Wight said: “Through our sponsorship of the Test the Water programme, we are happy to help UKSA deliver new and positive life experiences for many young Islanders who otherwise – despite living on an Island – would never get the opportunity to get in or on the water. UKSA does amazing things, and WightFibre are happy to do our little bit to help but more support is needed to ensure this fantastic initiative will continue for many generations to come.” NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2023




“I know I keep saying it, but if think you know Apprenticeships, look again.”

INTERVIEW Rachael Randall, founder and chief executive of HTP Apprenticeship College talks recruitment, reward and re-energising staff

HTP Apprenticeship College has been working with employers for more than 20 years. When you talk to businesses who are new to Apprenticeships, where do you start? I always highlight the way your business can benefit from investing in staff, without the need to recruit. The biggest problem is there’s often nobody out there to recruit in the first place, especially at a senior level. Growing your own, or hiring people and training them, is a much more sustainable way of growing your team, especially as you’re supported by government funding. If you want to increase productivity, then work with us, and we’ll be able to help you to generate those opportunities. Minimising staff churn is crucial and the way to keep your team is by training them. You can then promote them into your higher-level vacancies, backfilling from below, because it’s easier to get someone in at a lower level and train them (although it takes longer) than it is to recruit directly into a managerial role.

Top: HTP Apprentices at St Mary’s Hospital Above: Learn cookery skills in the professional kitchen at Riverbank

Promoting from within creates that culture of continuous improvement, and it also allows people to progress and be paid more. Contented employees won’t leave and training staff raises their productivity, commitment and effectiveness. I don’t mean working longer hours necessarily, but when they’re in the workplace, staff feel valued and they work better for the business. It makes a huge difference, especially if an employer links training with salaries.

Graduation day: learners from across the Island and the South celebrate their qualifications with HTP




What kind of issues are you seeing in the workforce right now – and how can Apprenticeships help? The Island has the same issues that small businesses face all over the country, but the stresses are more extreme here because the pool is smaller and more rigidly defined. We have an ageing workforce, but we’re also losing a lot of knowledge as we’re seeing people in the 50 plus age group walking away from their jobs, leaving a skills gap at senior level. The tourism and hospitality sectors have had a really tough time, for the last two years. After the initial surge when restrictions were lifted, the weather and the rising cost of living have hit businesses hard. This year’s season – when businesses no longer had support packages - staffing has continued to be a major issue. We still have a shortage of chefs and in hospitality generally, with businesses struggling to trade because they literally don’t have enough people to do the job. We’ve had our biggest group of young people joining our cookery

programme at our Riverbank college for many years, so the shortage isn’t because it’s seen as an undesirable career. People do still want to come into the sector, but there’s a big problem with burn out. I think it’s a challenge for the employer – again, to keep their staff – and that does mean giving them the right hours and paying them properly. Apprenticeships are a great solution for young people in particular, to keep them on the Island, in well-paid jobs. Degree level Apprenticeships are equivalent to a university degree, without a student loan, making highly skilled jobs a realistic prospect for young people and employers alike.

We live in tough economic times. Does that make businesses more or less keen to invest in staff? The public sector’s budgets can make them more reticent to recruit or develop staff in difficult times, whereas lots of other industries are working harder in a recession. They’re more willing to train their staff because they need to outperform in the current climate. The majority

of the businesses we work with are SMEs. Apprenticeships are all about the partnership between the employer and the provider. At HTP we’re really proud of the programme we have delivered for the NHS on the Island. In its first year we placed 12 young people into new roles, initially via Traineeships. In year 2 we’ve recruited another 15 young people and now we’re talking about our third cohort for September 2024. It’s all about looking at creative and innovative ways to get staff on board.

What’s the biggest myth about Apprenticeships? I think there’s still a perception that they’re low paid and that parents think their children won’t earn a decent wage. The majority of apprenticeships now are all paid at the going rate, if not higher, and always equivalent to the minimum wage for your age, if you’re 19 or over and have completed the first year of an apprenticeship. They are real jobs.

What holds businesses back from Apprenticeships? I think it’s a fear of the unknown – or not seeing the benefits. There’s possibly a fear of the bureaucracy, but that’s what we’re here to take care of. Businesses shouldn’t be worried about the recruitment aspect because we help with all that. There’s no reason to hold back at all!

Rachael Randall is Principal and CEO of HTP Apprenticeship College Ltd which she established in 2000. Rachael is the chair of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and Rachael also sits on the board of Visit Isle of Wight.






WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU? By the end of this tax year, the IW Lottery has to date: • Paid out 542 prizes in the year 2022/2023 totalling £118,000. • Paid £35k into our good causes interest-free lottery loan fund, which now exceeds £200k. • Paid out 7 interest-free business loans in the year totalling £220k and created 19 jobs. • That’s a total of 113 loans over the life of the lottery totalling £1.2 Million and creating over 450 jobs to date on the Island.

As the year draws to a close, we thought we’d have a look back at how the lottery has impacted businesses and individuals on the Island. Whether it’s been via a lottery loan, using the lottery as a staff incentive or reward, or winning a lottery prize, we know that it’s just the sort of good news that everyone needs. During the course of the year, businesses Jack Thompson, Wed & Prosper, and Wight Knuckle Brewery amongst others successfully applied for and received loans to expand their businesses, buy new equipment, employ Island staff, and in the case of Wed & Prosper, launch a new business, 1840 by Wed & Prosper. Each applicant commented on how easy the application process was and how the money loaned would help their businesses grow and thrive. You can also access lottery panel help after you have received the loan with Jack Rebours commenting, “After our initial meeting with the panel, we also know that going forward we can contact them again through the Chamber if we need any further guidance which is an invaluable extra that the loan has given us.”



Some companies offer Iottery tickets as an incentive to staff – like Kate Thomas, director of WP Recruitment & HR, who has relaunched WP’s Temporary Worker of the Month Award with the winner receiving 13 weeks’ worth of Isle of Wight Lottery tickets. As employers, you can also sign your staff up to the lottery through payroll or a monthly direct debit and we have a new poster ready for you to put into staffrooms and staff areas which explains how to do this. For those who aren’t aware of what the Isle of Wight Lottery is, it has for the last 22 years, been helping Island businesses to grow. And you can play for as little as a pound a week. It’s a great way to contribute to the community while having the chance of winning big. Governed by the Gambling Commission which enforces strict guidelines to ensure fairness and transparency, through the lottery, 20% of the gross proceeds are contributed to the Restricted Good Causes Fund, benefitting the Island community. The Loan Fund offers interest-free loans to Island entrepreneurs who can borrow up to £50,000 to invest in their business provided that the expansion will create jobs or sustain employment. The second good cause is the Isle of Wight Chamber’s work to support new and growing businesses on the Island. The Chamber helps to nurture new startups and newly self-employed people by providing opportunities and advice, regardless of whether the businesses are Chamber members or not. Many reasons to play the lottery as an individual or sign up as a company. Or to get an all-important interest-free business loan. And you could see the end of the year out with a bang and win £10,000 on the 29th of December. But if you’re not in it, you can’t win it.







By Matt Greg, Chair of the Mission Zero Business Hub

Is ‘going green’ merely a well-intended initiative, or does it have tangible benefits for your business? Let’s explore. The crux of the argument for many businesses I speak to lies in the term ‘Return on Investment’ or ROI. They ask questions like: “If I invest in renewable energy, eco-friendly materials, or waste management systems, what’s the payback period? How does it improve my bottom line?” Let’s get right to it. You can’t answer these questions without understanding the individual circumstances. But the notion that sustainability is costly and yields little financial gain is outdated. Businesses of all sizes are realising the economic advantages of incorporating sustainable practices. Here are a few ways how:

1. COST SAVINGS OVER TIME Reducing energy consumption or minimising waste naturally leads to reduced operating costs. For instance, switching to LED lighting or investing in energy-efficient equipment can offer considerable savings in the long run. Even if the initial investment is high, the payback period is often shorter than you’d expect. Many suppliers will be happy to help you calculate the payback, or point you in the direction of resources to do so; you just have to ask.




Today’s consumers are increasingly eco-conscious. They’re more likely to support brands that align with their values. Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability isn’t just good ethics; it’s good business. In fact, a 2020 study by IBM showed that nearly 60% of consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. Additionally, according to a recent Nielsen report, 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, a number that jumps to 73% among millennials.

Sustainability can differentiate your brand in a crowded marketplace. It provides a compelling narrative that resonates with stakeholders from customers to investors. A strong sustainability agenda adds a competitive edge and can even command a price premium.

3. EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION A business that champions sustainability is often seen as a more appealing workplace. This not only aids in attracting talent but also in retaining employees. Staff are more engaged when they feel their work has a positive impact, reducing turnover costs. According to the 2019 Cone Communications survey, 74% of employees said their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues.

4. RISK MITIGATION Regulations around environmental responsibility are tightening, both globally and locally. Being ahead of the curve ensures you’re not caught off guard by new laws that could result in fines or operational disruptions. You could try searching online for: “What environmental regulations exist or will soon exist in [insert your industry]”.

6. FUTURE-PROOFING Long-term planning is integral to any business. Adopting sustainable practices now is a form of futureproofing. Whether it’s resource scarcity or changes in consumer behaviour, being sustainable equips your business to adapt. In conclusion, sustainable practices offer a multitude of benefits, from immediate cost savings to long-term resilience. Sustainability is not a ‘tick-box’ exercise; it’s an investment in your business’s future. The ROI might not always be instant, but the compound effect over time—financial, ethical, and social—is incontrovertible. As businesses on the Isle of Wight and beyond are discovering, you don’t have to choose between doing well and doing good. In today’s world, they’re increasingly becoming one and the same. To learn more about how you can make your business more sustainable, visit

Join the


Being a member of the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce is a great business decision! Membership starts at little more than £3 a week and entitles you to a huge range of business support, exclusive events and member discounts.

IW Chamber members have access to these four essential services:

ChamberHealth & Safety ChamberHR ChamberTax ChamberLegal

These services give you unlimited access to no less than five business advice lines and a website which features over 750 free downloadable template documents. Not only that but you are protected by £1,000,000 of legal expenses insurance which includes employment cover and tax enquiry cover.

All these services are included in your membership fee.

Don’t delay…join today!








Isle of Wight College, Newport

Delivered by Good Skills Training

Thursday 16th November, 11.30am-2pm

YMCA, Shanklin

IW Chamber members - £20 per person

Monday 15th January, 9am–4pm

Join us for lunch hosted by The Isle of Wight College who will be providing a delicious 2 course lunch prepared by their talented students. Our guest speaker is Florence Hubert from The Bank of England. Florence will discuss current economic conditions and the outlook for the UK economy (i.e. growth and inflation) over the coming 2-3 years. She will be happy to answer any questions Chamber members may have.

IW Chamber members - £70+VAT per person


This one-day course is designed to give delegates the knowledge, skills, and confidence to help those that have become unconscious, and those with minor injuries. The Emergency First Aid at Work Course also looks at the responsibilities of the Emergency First Aider. On successfully completing this course, attendees will be confident, safe, prompt, and effective emergency first aiders. The certificate will be emailed after completion.

Thursday 23rd November, 9.30am– 4pm


Available to non-members, £5 admin fee

Delivered by Good Skills Training

We offer new businesses the opportunity to take their ideas from paper into practice. We offer a business seminar aimed at people who are starting a business. Get the tools you need to take your idea from the drawing board to the real world. This course is designed for those with a business idea through to those who have been in business for six months.

YMCA, Shanklin


Tuesday 30th January, 9am–12.30pm IW Chamber members - £65+VAT per person This half day course is designed specifically for those who have been designated with the responsibilities of Fire Marshal or Fire Warden. The course will look at the legal responsibilities of both the company and the individual. By the end of this course learners will understand what their duties as a fire marshal are. The certificate will be emailed after completion.

IW Chamber members - £16 per person


Join us for a hot breakfast and the opportunity to network with other members.

Wednesday 7th February, 7.30am-9am

Wednesday 29th November

Caffe Isola, Newport IW Chamber members – FREE

IW CHAMBER NETWORKING BREAKFAST Quay Arts, Newport Friday 5th January, 7.30am-9am IW Chamber members - £16 per person Join us for a hot breakfast and the opportunity to network with other members.

Meet members for informal networking in a great location. It’s free to attend, with hot drinks and toast for everyone.

SPARKLING AFTERNOON TEA Luccombe Hall, Shanklin Thursday 8th February, 3.30pm-5.30pm IW Chamber members - £20 per person IW Chamber members and their guests are invited to join us for a Sparkling Afternoon Tea in the Grand View Restaurant at Luccombe Hall.


Cafe Isola




Looking to start your own business? Need help getting moving? We can help!

Our expert business mentors will give you an overview of running your own business, operating as sole trader or company, bookkeeping, insurance, professional services, marketing and more. The Red Funnel Business Start Up Course is a great way to learn more about the world of business and how to get moving in the right direction. The informal environment is also a friendly place to ask questions and learn with like-minded people.

The Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce is providing monthly, one-day business start up courses, sponsored by Red Funnel. Our friendly courses will help you to get started on the road to being your own boss.

The Red Funnel Business Start Up Course is only £5 to attend, thanks to the support of Red Funnel. The courses are promoted by the Isle of Wight Lottery, as part of the Lottery’s work to create and sustain employment on the Isle of Wight.

Sign up today! Thursday 23rd November, 9.30am– 4pm Visit:


Building resilience into your business

IW CHAMBER PRESIDENT By Jonathan Thornton, IW Chamber President

For those of you who attended the Chamber’s recent AGM, it was a moment of celebration and a chance to recognise success and longevity. It was great to see both new members and longstanding members of the Chamber recognised for their support over years if not decades. Some have supported the Chamber in the background for a long time and we’re grateful for that support which really builds up the whole Chamber membership.

The AGM is a perfect opportunity to bring together the Board but also to showcase the opportunities that there are to work closely with the Chamber. Board positions do become available and so if you have a skill that you feel could benefit the Island business community there is always that conversation that we’re eager to have. We are representative of small, medium, and large businesses across the Isle of Wight and are here to benefit all. Recently I met with a delegation of Nigerian business leaders who were on the Island for CPD accredited training having been attracted to the Island by our biosphere status. The programme was set up with trainers and experts from the Island delivering that training, and the delegation also had the opportunity to visit businesses and tour the Island which was a great opportunity for all of those involved. The standard of training that was delivered was excellent and as a result, the delegation is planning to return in the future and spread the word. We discovered that we had connections with Nigeria through the High Sheriff and others, making for some interesting conversations. On a more serious note, I would like to mention resilience. There is much uncertainty in the country and challenging circumstances which are creating worry for staff and business leaders. This is why it’s so important to build physical and mental well-being within your team and your leaders. It can be extremely stressful running a company and that’s where having a support network is vital. I was speaking with someone recently who told me that they made use of the Chamber helpline during COVID to get advice and to speak to someone about a number of different subjects. This reminded me that these are the features of your Chamber membership that are there to be used and taken advantage of. The Chamber team is also on hand for advice or just to run an idea past – it’s not just about the visible networking, although this is also important for making connections and building networks. Whether you are a new or an established business, all of this help and advice is available to build your own resilience and to pass that down through your team. We often talk in the Chamber about recognising success, recognising growth, and recognising great companies which is important, but we also recognise that some are struggling and it’s how we can support each other as Island businesses that is equally important. There are so many ways we can help each other by engaging with one another, and I want to reiterate that the Chamber is available and accessible to all at every stage of your business growth and development from start-ups to established businesses. We have seen many changes over the past few years and experienced circumstances that we never could have predicted and had no control over, but it’s how you make your way to the other side that counts. We’re always here to help and we look forward to what 2024 might bring.




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