MARITIME MOMENTUM: UKSA TRAINS THE NEXT GENERATION OF SEAFARERS Island Echo Medina Publishing Get Set Solent WightFibre Wildheart Animal Sanctuary BCC Economic Forecast
HTP: THE island PROFESSIONALs’ choice
UPSKILL YOUR TEAM Charles Little at Isle of Wight Council in Newport has achieved Level 2, 3 and 4 Business Administration qualifications with HTP.
FOR WORKPLACE TRAINING
• Grow your business • Keep your staff • Upskill your team Up to 100% funded • by government GE T UP TO
£ 1,00ER0 EM PL OY * BO NU S!
We work with businesses across the Isle of Wight and the south to deliver high quality staff training to help your business grow. We know that hiring and retaining good people is a challenge and that keeping staff motivated and valued is really important. We’ll work with you to upskill your team – designing bespoke training packages for your staff, and helping you to access government funding to support your business development. We have specific training programmes in areas like Business Administration, Health & Safety, HR, Customer Service, Marketing, Hospitality & Catering, Health & Social Care and much more.
Or why not develop your staff to help them progress into management? Industry-recognised management qualifications can make a real impact on your organisation. Our programmes are flexible and designed to suit your business. Most of the training takes place at work, making ‘day release’ a thing of the past. And don’t forget – for most businesses the government pays at least 95% of the training costs. Talk to our Business Development Team today about our wide range of work-based qualifications. We can help your business thrive – without hiring new staff and without breaking the bank. That’s why, when it comes to high-quality training, professionals across the Island choose HTP.
Call the team now on 01983 533926 • Email firstname.lastname@example.org
HTP Apprenticeship College • Main Campus: The Old Grammar School, St James Street, Newport, PO30 5HE
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Island Business Magazine Published by the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce Editor Tom Stroud email@example.com Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce Mill Court, Furrlongs, Newport Isle of Wight, PO30 2AA Tel. 01983 520777 Designed & Printed by Meridian3.co.uk 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).
FOREWORD WELCOME TO THE JULY EDITION OF ISLAND BUSINESS MAGAZINE As I write this, a little tired and suntanned after a weekend at the Isle of Wight Festival, it’s fair to say that events are definitely back. As the first proper post-pandemic summer kicks into gear, the Island is busy and hopefully prosperous, delivering real opportunities for those in the hospitality and tourism sectors, previously hit so hard by lockdowns and restrictions. With Cowes Week on the horizon we focus this month on UKSA, a maritime charity that trains young people for highly skilled jobs at sea, as well as providing seafaring opportunities for schoolchildren of all backgrounds. UKSA is also one of the Island’s largest employers.
We stay in Cowes to visit Medina Publishing, a high street retailer as well as a renowned publisher of books. A different sort of publisher is Island Echo, the on-line news website founded by Darren Toogood ten years ago. In this edition he reflects on a decade of business growth. We also mark a milestone for WightFibre and spotlight the value that a Queen’s Award for Industry can bring to an Island business. It’s a busy edition, reflecting a busy time for us all. I hope you enjoy your magazine.
Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce
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News Isle of Wight Festival Get Set Solent Island Echo WightFibre UKSA Wildheart Animal Sanctuary Medina Publishing The Queen’s Award for Enterprise BCC Economic Forecast Events New Members IW Chamber Chief Executive: Steven Holbrook
Garlic Farm celebrates collaborative future
Arreton evolution for Harvey Browns
The team at the Garlic Farm hosted a recent evening of “celebration, collaboration and conversation”, joined by many Island suppliers. The informal event also provided a moment for the Garlic Farm to update attendees with a ideas and progress on their vision for the future. “It was an opportunity to celebrate our work together so far,” says Barnaby Edwards. “We were able to talk to our closest collaborators on the Island, about our environmental and social goals and how we might work together to achieve the best
possible outcomes for our environment and community in this wonderful Island we all love. “We work with over 160 local suppliers and business and a large number of these joined us to share ideas on generating positive impact. Nature and people are what’s important to us and last night showed how we can all collaborate to help support progress in a really tangible way. There’s much more to come on this subject from us all on the Island - exciting times!”
Harvey Browns is rapidly becoming a sought-after destination for Island food lovers. The brand-new, custom built food hall, butchery and café site is the result of year’s work by the Brown family. They worked with architect BCM, to design the landmark steel and wood building on their family farm, and employed local tradespeople in the construction. The new location in the Arreton valley is described as “the next evolution” of the former Farmer Jack’s Farm Shop, based at Arreton Barns. As well as a much expanded range of products, Harvey Browns now employs 45 people, more than double the number of staff at their previous home. “The huge build, which was subsidised by grants, has already been extremely popular, and plans are afoot to extend the free car park,” says Jenny Brown. “Overlooking lakes dug by great grandfather, it is a beautiful destination to visit, shop and stay for a while to enjoy breakfast or lunch or even an evening beer or cocktail. The aim was to design something new and different for the Island, its visitors, and create a great place to work, really showcasing the scrumptious Island produce that we are hopefully becoming famous for!”
Upskill your kitchen staff with HTP As the hospitality industry recovers from the effects of the pandemic, a new generation of young chefs could help the sector to recover from the staff shortages of recent years. HTP Apprenticeship College in Newport is training school leavers to work as chefs, as well as working with Island businesses to upskill their existing staff. HTP’s Jon-Paul Charlo has worked in kitchens for all of his adult life, including at Michelin star restaurants in the UK as well as fine dining establishments in Europe. He’s a Training Consultant at HTP’s Riverbank Campus at Little London in Newport. He’s keen to work with 2
Island hospitality businesses to help Island employers to access funding to train kitchen staff. “The hospitality and catering sector has undergone massive changes in recent years,” Jon-Paul says. “At HTP we can supply funded training to upskill your existing staff, as well as train the next generation of chefs. We know that staff recruitment and retention have been issues for hospitality businesses, particularly during the pandemic. Talk to us today – we can help you to develop your existing team, with government funding, or help you to take on an Apprentice.”
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UKSA grant funding from Tesco
A new home for Rouse Limited Rouse Limited has moved to Lugley House on Lugley Street in Newport. The Grade II listed building is the new home for the well-known independent financial planning firm. With the help and expertise of many local-based building, decorating, and maintenance firms, the last couple of months have been spent redecorating and refreshing the building, within the Grade listing rules, to bring its heritage to life. With its heart, and core client base located on the Island, having offices in central Newport made perfect sense for the friendly firm. This move further cements Rouse Limited’s Island loyalties and also means that Lugley House is once more in the hands of a local business. Rouse Limited was previously based at Mill Court Cottage in Newport, its home for 15 years.
Cowes maritime charity UKSA has received a Tesco Community Grant which will go towards its Test the Water programme benefitting Year 6 Islanders. The £1,500 grant will fund 50 Year 6 island children to participate in a free half-day watersports session, in a bid to support all young islanders gain water-confidence alongside introducing them to sailing. The grant is the result of customers choosing UKSA as a beneficiary with tokens provided within Tesco stores at the beginning of the year. Amy Sweeting, director of development and fundraising at UKSA said: “The Test
the Water programme was developed to make a real, tangible difference to young people in UKSA’s community and we are really achieving that. It’s wonderful that locals have chosen our charity for the grant and that children on our doorstep can directly benefit from the funds. We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that 32 percent of children on the Island live in poverty, without the opportunity to reach their full potential and need to ensure opportunities like this continue to exist and grow.”
Established in 1992 as Rouse and Co, through incorporation as Rouse Limited in 1999, this latest development marks thirty years of providing Island-based clients and businesses, as well as clients from further afield, with intelligent and independent financial advice.
Read more about UKSA and its “Did you know?” campaign in our feature on p14.
Diverse Marine in trans-Atlantic robot project Cowes boat manufacturer Diverse Marine is working with American underwater tech specialist Nauticus Robotics. The Island business and the Texas based firm have been collaborating for 18 months and will work together to deliver the Hydronaut, described as “net zero transport, with or without a crew.” The Hydronaut is an 18m vessel designed to to support the launch, recovery and real time operations of Aquanaut, a fully electric, free-swimming subsea robot controlled with acoustic communication networking, capable of performing a wide range of data collection, inspection, and manipulation tasks. The order will deliver 20 Hydronaut vessels, with production and delivery of the first two vessels scheduled for Q1 2023. “We are delighted to have signed an agreement with Nauticus for the development and construction of Hydronaut for the Nauticus Fleet,” said Ben Colman, Director of Diverse Marine. “This is an exciting milestone in the development of our business and the start of a productive relationship with Nauticus.” JULY 2022
Island composite companies collaborate on footbridge STRUCTeam, the Cowes based composite engineering consultancy, and Apex Composite Structures, a Ryde based bespoke composite manufacturer, have worked in partnership to design and engineer a 12.5 metre footbridge. The newly installed structure provides pedestrian access through Newchurch meaning walkers no longer need to navigate the narrow and busy stretch of road through the village. Newchurch Parish Council commissioned the building of the bridge and were seeking an economical and robust crossing solution for this section of ‘Norah’s Way’ – a dedicated rights of way footpath, opened in 2019
by Norah Boswell’s family in her memory. STRUCTeam and Apex’s engineers specified lightweight materials and sustainable manufacturing methods wherever possible to allow for efficient production, easy transportation, and rapid installation of the bridge. It is estimated the composite bridge will need very minimal upkeep and will not need to be replaced for one hundred years. The bridge’s foam core is made from 30,000 reprocessed plastic bottles. George Downer of Apex Composite Structures says, “By selecting plastic bottles over the other options available to us, we have achieved a 33% reduction in CO2 emissions.”
IW College students help East Cowes regeneration Students from the Isle of Wight College’s Uniformed Services course have been helping out with the work to improve East Cowes Esplanade. Landslips in 2014 and 2018 meant part of the beachfront road had to be closed. Following community fundraising and support the Isle of Wight Council appointed Island-based contractor John Peck Construction to stabilise the soft slopes with rock baskets, and install new seating along the promenade. Isle of Wight College learners joined contractors from John Peck Construction at East Cowes to learn about the project, and help with work building the new structures. Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, the Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We are putting regeneration money into the esplanade improvements because we know it will benefit the wider town of East Cowes. “And more is on the way, with work already starting at the Columbine building nearby, supported by the £5.8m Levelling-Up Fund investment into the East Cowes Marine Hub.”
Business support for Wessex Cancer Trust walk Sandra Knowles from Hillbans Pest Control is thanking the Island’s business community for their support for her fundraising walk. Sandra clocked up 106km around the Island in two days, from Chale to Cowes and back again, raising money for Wessex Cancer Trust. Sandra was supported by Vehicle Consulting’s Nancy Thorley for the first day, although Nancy retired due to injury, leaving Sandra to complete the challenge on her own on the second day. “It was a huge challenge for me,”
Sandra says. “Despite some minor injuries at the end of day one I wasn’t going to give up. I was walking through sheer determination and stubbornness because I knew I was raising money that funds support and care for Islanders with cancer. The Island’s business community definitely came out to sponsor me and I smashed my initial target in one weekend. I raised £785 in total, with thanks to people and businesses including Wight Crystal, Dale Howarth, BeCalmed, All Things Printed, Red Squirrel Property Shop, PC Consultants and Chris Court.” THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE FOR THE ISLE OF WIGHT
Island businesses, producers and artists showcased at ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL This year’s Isle of Wight Festival provided opportunities for Island businesses to provide services and to showcase their work. Staging company Spyder UK were working hard during the weekend and the Top Mops vehicles were a regular sight at Seaclose Park. Backstage, artists and guests were able to sample local produce with Minghella Ice Cream, Calbourne Classics, Richmond Bakery, the Garlic Farm and the Tomato Stall all showcasing their wares in the guest village. Organisers John and Caroline Giddings took the decision to allow Island businesses to run the backstage bar, meaning that performers and their friends could choose from a local list, including Goddards beer and Mermaid Gin, rather than the typical national brands usually found at festivals. “We had a great weekend, with lots of good weather and some tasting sessions,” says Mermaid Gin’s Xavier Baker. “It’s also been an opportunity to showcase our brand new Mermaid Zest gin. Festivalgoers are definitely gin drinkers now. I think the craft beer revolution has helped to open people’s minds to trying more local products, with different hop varieties and with gin, lots of local botanicals and flavours through different tonics to pair with different garnishes. I think the festival has changed and the demographic has slightly changed too.” Bob Simpson, managing director of Goddards, agrees that the festival provided a welcome opportunity to showcase his brand. “We’ve had a really good response from people from the island and from the wider
mainland too. It;’s always a good weekend. We’re very lucky to be backstage and it’s really good to get new products out and let people try them. We’ve made new contacts this weekend, from across the country.” For those looking for a non-alcoholic pickme-up, Isle of Wight coffee was also on the menu. Sigrid, who played the main stage on the Friday, told the audience that she had “enjoyed a local coffee” before she came on stage, almost certainly thanks to the Isle of Wight Tea and Coffee Co. “Our master roaster Mike kept the coffee beans dancing in the VIP area all weekend,” says Jon Carter. “We supplied an espresso machine and grinder. The roasted bean of choice this year for the festival is the Brazilian Arabica, dried in the cherry, then milled to separate, providing a medium body, with light citrus notes and a soft acidity.” With a heatwave warning in place for the festival’s first few days, keeping hydrated was essential. Wight Crystal supplied the festival with their products, raising the profile for their charitable work. “We all love working with the team at Isle of Wight Festival and have built up a great working relationship over the years,” says Tracey Sangster. “We feel part of an extended family. Supplying the festival is very important to our charity Osel Enterprises and
Mermaid Gin’s Xavier Baker Island Tea and Coffee Co’s Mike Towsend (right) with logistics supervisor Will
our profits go into The Way Forward Programme, who work with people who have a learning or physical disability, people on the autistic spectrum and people suffering from mental health conditions, providing services 7 days a week and every evening.” The festival also provided exposure and experience for Island performers. The Kashmir Café hosted Island acts and local ales all weekend; education provider Platform One showcased Island performers including their own students at their own stage. Platform One student Beth Brookfield enjoyed a particularly special weekend, playing on the main stage as the winner of the Wight Noize competition, judged by music industry experts. It’s been an eventful year for 19 year old Beth, who adds the Isle of Wight Festival to previous performances this year at TedXLukely Brook and the IW Chamber Business Awards. “It’s been amazing,” Beth says. “I used to stand on my trampoline in my garden and pretend it was the mainstage whilst I was listening to sound of the festival. It’s always been a part of my life so it feels so right to play here.” Beth Brookfield
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NEED A CASH INJECTION FOR YOUR BUSINESS GROWTH PROJECT? Island businesses should act now to get a share of £700,000 grant funding from GetSet Solent Island businesses can apply for grant funding for eligible projects with costs between £4,000 up to £100,000. The 25% grant funding is available to businesses based in the Solent LEP area including the Isle of Wight as well as New Forest, Havant, Gosport, Portsmouth, Eastleigh, Southampton, and Fareham.
“This is an incredible opportunity for businesses in the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership area,” said Nicola Wiley, Senior Finance Advisor for GetSet Solent. “Right now, we have growth grant funding worth £700,000 to allocate to successful applicants who fit the criteria for the grant scheme.” “Getting a growth project off the ground can make a huge impact on the success
Already in high demand, GetSet Solent recommends applying as soon as possible so you do not miss this great opportunity which is only available until 31st July 2022. The GetSet Solent Growth Grant is for businesses planning a step change in its operations, production, or engagement with customers. The money can be used to fund capital costs such as new machinery, equipment and other assets not funded through asset finance. The grant can also be applied to revenue investment, which includes activities like marketing consultancy, branding and website development, new performance improvement systems such as Client Relationship Management system and developing an app. All helping to increase your business turnover and create new job opportunities. The grant awarded is up to 25% of your total eligible project cost. So, the maximum grant awarded under the scheme is £25,000 for a total project cost of £100,000. The minimum amount of growth grant is £1,000 with a total eligible project cost of £4,000.
of any business. The GetSet Solent team have finance advisors on hand to support you through the grant application process as well as experienced business growth and sales and marketing specialists to help ensure you make the most of the investment received.” Redwood, based in Waterlooville, successfully applied for the GetSet Solent Growth Grant when Co- owner Richard Albon needed funds to help upgrade their current warehouse to hold more stock and improve efficiency within the company. They also wanted to purchase equipment, including a new forklift truck, and employ an extra salesperson. “The GetSet Solent team held our hand throughout the whole process from start to finish and our application for grant funding was successful,” said Richard. “Our sales and marketing strategy has always been at the forefront of our business activities and now with the opportunities that social media brings, along with the grant funding from GetSet Solent, we are set up to succeed.”
“The GetSet Solent team were very supportive. Grant applications require a lot of preparation, and it can be daunting but with the help of the GetSet Solent Finance Advisor we were able to complete the application with ease.” Richard Albon, Redwood
Interested eligible businesses must enrol on the GetSet Solent Programme to access the growth grant and get fully funded business, marketing, and finance support. Grants will end when all the funds have been allocated on a first come – first served basis. So, enterprises need to act NOW to ensure they benefit from this fantastic opportunity. To find out more about the GetSet Solent Growth Grant and check eligibility visit: www.getsetforgrowth.com/solent/grants or call 0800 917 5411.
Ten years of Island Echo How has Island Echo evolved as a business in ten years? Island Echo started life in a completely different marketplace and, I’m not going to lie, it was tough to begin with. We were fighting against well-established competitors but also trying to change how news was consumed by the reader.
Darren Toogood founded the news website Island Echo in 2012. Ten years later it has established itself as one of the Island’s most-read sites, publishing thousands of stories each year with millions of page views. The business has expanded too; as Editor and Publisher, Darren now heads up a team of four.
I’ll happily admit that it was an amateur outfit, in a tiny office in Wootton, without the money or experience behind it that many businesses need to succeed. It was just me, my idea and a computer - and occasionally a sign in the window saying ‘out on a shout’. I soon realised that making an online news website profitable wasn’t going to be easy. With perseverance and hard graft it worked out, but I think that timing and luck had a lot to do with it. Island Echo now turns over six figures and it has evolved to cover more news than ever, from 1,654 stories in 2013 to 5,682 in 2021. Many dismissed us – and to this day we can’t please everyone - but we are now a multi-award-winning digital publication that has taken the Isle of Wight by storm with over 27million page views and 2.7million visitors in 2021 alone. The business continues to grow, becoming more professional and respected along the way. Warren Whitmore joined us last year as our first ever Community and Sports Reporter, followed by Sophie Mawson as an Account Manager, looking after our ever-growing client base. Recently we welcomed James Rann as a full-time Digital News Reporter.
In the last ten years the speed of the news cycle has accelerated. In the last two years we’ve also been through a pandemic, which has made more people interested in the news, but it also hit businesses and potential advertisers hard. How has Island Echo adapted to a changing marketplace? The consumption of news has become a 24-hour, mobile beast and Islanders expect the news almost instantly, which puts a huge pressure on the team to deliver around the clock, 365 days a year. During the COVID pandemic the interest in local news skyrocketed, with record-breaking visitor numbers and page views for Island Echo. In 2020 we published 1,120 more articles than in 2019, so that gives an indication on how the workload increased very rapidly. It was a worrying time for everyone. When the first lockdown hit we did lose a few advertisers, but interestingly we also gained a few new faces as innovative Isle of Wight businesses looked to adapt and overcome the predicament they found themselves in. Back in 2012 I took the decision to be a digital-only publication, so I don’t think Island Echo has been the one adapting to the changing marketplace as we have been the ones leading that change. 10
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How important has the Island’s very defined sense of community been to Island Echo? Would it have been the same if you’d launched a news site on the mainland? Absolutely not. The Island’s unique, close-knit community has been a key reason behind Island Echo’s success. Word of mouth works and this also helped us with marketing the website. We have never spent any serious money on marketing, plus we hit social media just at the right time when Facebook and Twitter really started to boom.
What have you learned about business in the last ten years? I don’t come from a business background and I didn’t take the usual entry route into journalism so, in all honesty, I didn’t know much about the world of business when I launched Island Echo. I left Medina High School at 16 with nothing more than GCSEs and just a couple of years later I was launching a news outlet. I was taking a bit of a punt. Things really started to become serious around 2016. I had moved from being a photographer, to a journalist, to an editor and then found myself becoming a ‘proper’ businessman. I am now personally becoming more involved in national matters, contributing to parliamentary enquiries into the future of local journalism and sharing my experiences with organisations such as the Public Interest News Foundation and the Department of Media, Culture and Sports, who are exploring the safety of journalists in the UK.
Having the defined parameters of where our patch starts and ends is helpful. Islanders know that when they come to Island Echo they are seeing news that is relevant to them. Island Echo was once perceived as being for youngsters, perhaps due to being online-only, but actually our readership now spans all ages.
What did you want to achieve with Island Echo? I started my media career as a photographer, so Island Echo was launched with an emphasis on good photography, as well as with a vision to provide 24-hour news with a non-political approach to reporting. I wanted to make a reasonable living doing something I loved whilst providing a quality, Islandcentric service. But I also wanted to break the status quo. The Isle of Wight now has one of the most competitive news markets in the country, so I’m told, which is fantastic for residents, advertisers and other organisations. I’m really proud to be a driving force behind that, for the benefit of fellow Islanders. Undoubtedly the market will continue to change, technology will continue to develop, and the team will continue to grow. I’ll still be around – I’ve got another 40 years until I retire!
From left: James Rann (Digital News Reporter), Darren Toogood (Editor/Publisher), Sophie Mawson (Account Manager) and Warren Whitmore (Community and Sports Reporter).
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Work nearing completion on The Broadway, Totland
Over half-way milestone for WightFibre’s Gigabit Island More than 40,000 premises on the Isle of Wight can now receive WightFibre’s full-fibre broadband service. It is a landmark moment for the Cowes based broadband provider meaning that more than half of the Island’s properties can now take up WightFibre’s service and enjoy some of the world’s fastest broadband speeds.
Ongoing work in Upper Green Road, St. Helens
Full-fibre broadband is now available to 40,000 premises on the Isle of Wight
The most recent areas to join the Gigabit Island network include Ventnor, Lake, Nettlestone and Seaview. The majority of the homes in Sandown and Shanklin are also equipped to receive WightFibre’s service. Cables have already been laid to a further 14,000 homes with service to those homes scheduled to become available in the coming months. With WightFibre’s network already servicing Newport, Ryde and Cowes, it is safe to say that the majority of Island businesses are also able to take up ultra-fast and future proof broadband. WightFibre’s Gigabit Island Project is now well over the half-way mark with a total of 460km of trenches dug to date. The company expects service to be available to 60,000 premises by the end of the year and to 75,000 homes by the end of 2023 with an ultimate target of around 80,000 premises. This is 96% of all premises – a very high percentage coverage particularly for a rural area such as the Isle of Wight. John Irvine, CEO of WightFibre, said, “We are really pleased to have connected our first full-fibre customers in Ventnor and Seaview. We expect the network build across the Island to be largely complete by the end of 2023. Our new full-fibre, future-proof network is second to none on the planet and this, coupled with our very high levels of customer care, is giving customers what they want – fast reliable broadband that just works.” Since 2001, WightFibre has owned and operated its own telecommunications infrastructure entirely independently of BT Openreach. WightFibre provides phone, tv and broadband services to homes and businesses on the Isle of Wight. Only WightFibre is committed to building a full-fibre broadband network across the whole Island. WightFibre’s full-fibre, ultrafast and future-proof broadband is live in Cowes, East Cowes, Newport, Wootton, Ryde, Lake, Godshill, Nettlestone, Seaview, Sandown, Shanklin, Ventnor and are about to go live in Freshwater and Yarmouth – extending reach into the West of the Island. Work on WightFibre’s Gigabit Island Project is ongoing in Totland, St Helens, Bembridge, Brading and other towns and villages across the Island. The WightFibre Gigabit Island Project will see full-fibre broadband deployed to around 75,000 homes and business across the Island by 2023 and is already available to over 40,000 premises. The scale of this significant civil engineering project is reflected in figures that show how 500 Kilometers of trenches will be dug, containing 5 million meters of duct and 750 million meters of fibre-optic cable as this full-fibre, ultrafast and future-proof broadband network continues to roll out across the Island.
UKSA UKSA’s CEO Ben Willows wants to raise awareness of “the world’s leading maritime training centre”, sited at the mouth of the River Medina. Ben spoke to Tom Stroud.
UKSA has been helping young people to discover the sea and carve out careers in the maritime industry for more than 35 years. Well established and with a significant national reach, the United Kingdom Sailing Academy welcomes thousands of students through its doors and out onto the Solent each year. Despite its continued growth and success, as well as being one of the Island’s largest employers, the Cowes based charity is looking to engage more with Islanders. The charity has launched a “Did You Know?” campaign to promote its work with young people, some from deprived backgrounds, providing a taste of life on the water.
UKSA IN COWES IS A NATIONAL MARITIME CHARITY, AN EXPERT TRAINING PROVIDER AND ONE OF THE ISLAND’S LARGEST EMPLOYERS. DID YOU KNOW THAT?
“We believe passionately in inspiring and supporting children and young people to broaden their horizons through our life-enhancing water-based adventures, education, and training for careers at sea,” explains UKSA’s CEO Ben Willows. “Our commitment to the Island is ever growing and we’re proud to continue to exceed the numbers of children on the Isle of Wight who are benefitting from our funding, which we can only do with the continued support from our amazing donors. 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 1,400 Island children in the last year.” In 2022 more than 11,000 young people will experience the thrill of sailing as part of a UKSA programme, either as part of a school trip or an educational course. If you have a school-age child on the Island, the chances are that they will have taken to the sea in recent years, as part of UKSA’s commitment to offer every Year 6 Island student an experience on the water. Sea.Change, the charity’s generously funded 5-day residential programme for 14 to 17 year olds, runs through the school holidays, and is for teenagers across the UK to learn about training and careers in the maritime sector. UKSA also hosts thousands of mainland students each year, often from inner cities, many of whom are seeing the sea for the first time. It all adds up to a transformative and inspiring experience for young people, which can instil a lifelong love of the sea. “UKSA provides an experience than ignites an interest and a passion,” Ben says. “The sea is a total leveller, regardless of your background or academic skillset. When you’re on the water, with the sun and spray in your face and the waves breaking around you, you learn to take decisions as well as resilience, literally standing on your own two feet, in a kayak, on a paddleboard or a boat. “Our experience shows that a career at sea can provide a rewarding experience and we are well placed to support all students with an aspiration for a long-term career in maritime. We work closely with funders and partners to remove both
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financial and social barriers to enable students from any background to be able to access UKSA programmes.” With 285 UKSA students entering maritime employment in 2021, it’s proof that the Cowes training programmes offer a credible alternative to university and the opportunity to enter the workplace with qualifications, skills and real-life experience. UKSA’s campus on Arctic Road in Cowes employs around 100 permanent staff, swelling to almost double in peak season, with the addition of seasonal staff and external providers. With a new 136-bed accommodation centre due to open shortly, thanks to the support of UKSA’s donors, the charity will be able to welcome an additional 3,000 young people each year to continue growing its impact on life skills and career prospects. The new facility boasts configurable zones offering more flexible arrangements, as well as disabled access. “Our training programmes can provide pathways for roles such as deck officers, deck and interior crew, yacht skippers, watersports and sailing instructors. On any given day, we welcome hundreds of students, some of them staying residentially. We offer paddle boarding, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, keelboating on a fleet of over 300 craft, including four large yachts. We have a variety of classrooms, with navigation simulators, meaning we can teach Year 6 students who have never sailed before, right up to trainee officers who are studying for their Officer’s Watch course. When they qualify they can work on boats the size of a Navy frigate, a work boat or a superyacht.” UKSA’s future looks buoyant. Although Ben is keen to stress that the organisation is a charity and is grateful for all the support it receives, UKSA’s programmes are well funded and demand is increasing. “Despite the pandemic years, more people than ever are coming to UKSA to train. That’s great for Cowes and also the industry. In the past year we’ve expanded our focus on mental health too. We were thrilled to be nominated for our work at the recent IW Chamber Business Awards. We’ve also launched a mental health first aid course which all Island businesses and employees can benefit from.” “UKSA is the world’s leading maritime training centre,” Ben says. “We have industry-leading instructors helping thousands of individuals launch long-term careers. We’re the only place in the world to offer such a breadth of training and pathways, all from our great location in Cowes.
UKSA: Did you know? • During 2021, it funded 3,275 young people on water-based adventures, a record for the charity. • From the Island, 1,400 Year 6 students took part in UKSA’s Test the Water programme. 285 UKSA students entered maritime employment in 2021 • In the next 12 months, UKSA will welcome over 11,000 beneficiaries and will continue to provide funding support to the most deserving young people to ensure costs do not form a barrier to experiencing outdoor water-based activities. • Founded 35 years ago, UKSA is the largest Royal Yachting Association training centre in the world and delivers Maritime and Coastguard Agency endorsed professional training to maritime students from across the globe.
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New primate rescue facility at
THE WILDHEART ANIMAL SANCTUARY is the “first of its kind” – IW Chamber members are the first to see inside The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary’s new primate habitat has been heralded as the beginning of “a new era of animal rescue in the UK.” The sanctuary in Sandown is operated by The Wildheart Trust, a charity committed to rescuing exotic animals from cruelty across Europe. The facility is constructed of two gigantic bamboo domes, the first of their kind in Europe. The iconic geodesic structure will house multiple species of primates that the sanctuary aims to rehome over the coming years as regulations on keeping primates are tightened up. The largest dome stands 12m tall and is constructed from 777 bamboo poles which laid end to end would stretch over 2km. To complement the eco-domes are bedrooms made from 102 bales of straw, with an insect friendly living roof and a selfcleaning living floor, which the animals can access 24hrs a day. “The new primate rescue domes are proving a huge boost to the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary,” says Lawrence Bates, Chief Operating Officer at The Wildheart Sanctuary. “Not only was the remit to provide an unrivalled space for our primates to thrive, but to deliver this in an ethical way, minimising our impact on the environment during the process. This forced some creative thinking from the teams as we replaced traditional build materials with next generation solutions. “At the heart are the iconic geodesic bamboo domes that tower over the bay, allowing the visitors to see the animals in a naturalistic space. Of course, such solutions come at a price,
so engaging the support of local businesses and organizations that share our aim of a better world for all species has been key in realising the vision. The facility has certainly wowed and amazed visitors, driving visitation and enabling us to engage with a larger audience, which can only be to the benefit of animals in need as more people are made aware of the issues of overexploitation of animals and planet. “Visitor experience is of course key in driving funds into the charity and the new pathways have converted 20 yards of boring plain concrete into 200 yards of winding forest trail that encourages people to explore, increasing hang time and secondary spend. We enjoyed a very busy half term week and the indications are that our direction of travel is certainly a hit with locals and tourists alike.” IW Chamber members enjoyed an exclusive first look at the new facility, as part of an informative and well attended event hosted by the Wildheart team. “It was fantastic to be able to share the completed primate rescue facility with the Island business community,” says facilities manager Darren Carter Smith. “So many different people and organisations have helped to realise this vision, which would never have come to pass without their support. I think everyone who has been involved feels a sense of pride at being a part of such a groundbreaking project, unique in Europe and one which will see our primates rehabilitating in the lap of luxury for years to come.”
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ANTS! Are these problematic picnic pests bothering you? Don’t panic – Hillbans Pest Control has you covered! The Garden or Black Ant is the most common species of ant in the UK. A colony can house up to half a million ants. Worker ants can live as long as seven years and a queen for up to 15 years. If a queen ant sets up her colony close to your property, you may develop a problem with ants invading in search of a food source. Ants will feed on anything and particularly enjoy things that are sweet. When they find food, they leave pheromones as a trail for other ants to follow. These pheromones are one of the ways they communicate with each other. Ants also use sound, touch, and vibration to keep in touch with their colony.
How will you know if you have a problem? •
You will see large numbers of live insects.
You may see a nest outside of your property resembling a small pile of soil or dirt.
Some species will nest in your walls or other quiet dark spaces, more difficult to spot.
How do you prevent an infestation? •
Clean up any food substances and liquids on countertops/floors/surfaces immediately.
Store your food in airtight containers and bags.
Keep pet food cleared up when not being eaten. Don’t leave it out. Clean bowls regularly.
Block off any entry points around doors and windows ensuring proper seals are being used.
Ensure that all rubbish bins are tightly sealed both indoors and specifically outdoors.
Hillbans Pest Control are here to help you identify and treat these pesky little critters. For more information about our services please visit our website at: www.hillbanspestcontrol.co.uk/ or to speak to a member of staff contact the office at 01983 406 999
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INTERVIEW PAUL ARMFIELD, Medina Publishing From the Arabian Peninsula to Cowes High Street: Medina Publishing continues to grow, with a retail shop, local interest books, an awards programme and a sense of community. “It’s all about creating a warm welcome and widening your customer base. Once people are over the threshold and have a great experience they’ll come back, and they’ll tell their friends. So from a commercial point of view, though many local books won’t make much money, they are a great investment in the future and should be encouraged.” Paul Armfield
Medina Publishing was founded in 2009 by Peter Harrigan. He had grown up on the Island but spent much of his career in the Middle East, having initially worked on the press, promotion and marketing of the 1969 and 1970 Isle of Wight Festivals. Peter moved his publishing business to the Island in 2019, where he took the decision to open a retail outlet in Cowes, recruiting Paul Armfield to manage Medina Publishing Bookshop. Paul also directs Island events and publishing activities for the company. He talks to Tom Stroud.
Medina Publishing sells books on the high street as well as being a publisher. How does one part of the business support the other? Medina Publishing initially focused on producing titles on the Arabian Peninsula, including quality books on the Arabian Horse, falconry, archaeology, Islamic art and heritage, pearling and desert exploration. The aim has been to educate and entertain, whilst fostering a cultural understanding, particularly between the West and the Islamic world, encouraging respect for all. The EXPO Dubai 2020 World Fair commissioned Medina Publishing to produce five books in both English and Arabic, including the visitor guides as well as children’s books and a title focusing on innovation. Other commissioned titles include works on UNESCO World heritage sites in the region. Medina Publishing also publishes books relating to the Isle of Wight and we plan to develop more titles focusing on the Island. Moving the business and office to the Island in 2019 and then opening a bookstore on Cowes High Street had been a great success. We now have a well-stocked and lovingly curated shop. Being a publisher and also a bookshop has given us new insights and many friends as well as opened up new opportunities, as well as openings for those looking to work in the creative sector.
We hear a lot about “the death of the high street” as well as the growth of digital when it comes to publications. Is your shop in Cowes High Street flying in the face of all of that? Like other products that can be obtained elsewhere for free or cheaper, customers seem keen still to pay for those things that they value, and books seem to be highly valued by many. The Kindle effect seems to have levelled out and we get many people, including young customers, who use e-readers for convenience still wanting to own the book. Each day I can guarantee at least one customer commenting on the wonderful smell of books. The small size of the shop helps with sales too. Because we can’t stock everything, we have worked hard to curate a bespoke selection of books that represent what we feel to be the best and most interesting titles. Customers definitely appreciate the limited choice, rather than the twenty bays of A-Z general fiction you’d find in a bigger store. What’s more, we work hard to make sure the customers can actually see the books, by clear displays and not creating any unnecessary visual clutter. 18
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What is the marketplace like for local books? Is the Isle of Wight the kind of place that is more likely to support local publications? When I was manager of Ottakars and later Waterstones in Newport, I’d go to national meetings where other stores would talk of local publishing with disdain. But here on the Island it formed an important and substantial part of our business. When I would talk of ‘Ghosts of the Isle of Wight’ as being a best-seller they’d laugh, and when I’d say it was Volume 6, they’d laugh even louder, but when I’d tell them the quantities we’d sold their jaws would drop. Maybe the Island’s finite boundaries make our sense of place more strongly felt and our interest in local literature more pronounced. For Medina, local books are an important tool in placing the shop at the centre of the community and attracting new customers who might not otherwise think of coming to a bookshop. I’m approached weekly by local authors asking us to stock their books, and though most won’t sell more than a few copies, that’s no reason why they can’t be celebrated. I’ve hosted hundreds of book launches over the years. They make the authors feel valued and part of the literary community and they bring new people into the store who, once in, really enjoy themselves.
We are actively involved in the launch of the Isle of Wight Book Awards, judged by Joanna Trollope, Alan Titchmarsh and Hunter Davies. We received over a hundred entries, an exceptional amount and a good indicator of just how much literary talent there is on the Island. Medina Publishing has recently published a number of books of local interest. Three books on the original Isle of Wight festivals, ‘Nammet’, a celebration of Island food, ‘Out On An Island’, an oral history of the LGBTQ+ community on the Island, and ‘Isle and Empires’, a thorough and compelling account of the Island’s connections with Russia and the Romanovs. All of these books are of a quality not normally associated with local publishing and have been well received. We are now completely committed to further titles that celebrate the Island’s rich cultural heritage, with a dozen or so titles in various stages of preparation. This is an exciting phase in our development and vision to be at the heart of our community. Medina Publishing founder Peter Harrigan (left) and Medina Bookshop manager Paul Armfield. JULY 2022
THE QUEEN’S AWARDS FOR ENTERPRISE “The Queen’s Awards are great for your business, great for Britain and great for the Isle of Wight”
Geoff Underwood knows more than most about the power and acclaim of winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. As founder of electronics manufacturer IFPL, his business has earned a trio of Queen’s Awards. Recently appointed as Deputy Lieutenant to the Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight Susie Sheldon, Geoff is now encouraging more Island businesses to consider entering for these prestigious honours. Geoff is working with Claire Locke to help businesses to submit their applications. Claire is also no stranger to these awards; like Geoff she’s also a Deputy Lieutenant and she was awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2016, one of only five individuals to receive this award nationally.
Why should businesses apply for a Queen’s Award? The Queen’s Award is the equivalent of an MBE for a business, so there’s a lot of kudos for the owners and management of those businesses. There’s also a massive boost in morale as well for everybody who works there and people can take a lot of pride in that. It’s a highly respected honour and it puts you on a front foot when you’re dealing internationally. My business IFPL has won these awards three times and our subsidiary company won two this year. We do the majority of our business in America and our customers really look highly upon the Queen’s Awards. They’re good for UK PLC, and especially good for the Isle of Wight too.
Is the Island good at winning these awards already? Yes, we definitely punch above our weight. Wight Shipyard, Spinlock and Teemill have all received Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in recent years. The Mobile Vet received the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2016, which shows that you don’t have to be a large employer or a manufacturer. Businesses of any size can enter, as long as you have enjoyed a period of consistent growth.
How easy is to apply and to win a Queen’s Award? They are highly prestigious awards and not won easily. Your submission must
Geoff Underwood spoke to Tom Stroud.
Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight Susie Sheldon presents Geoff Underwood with IFPL’s most recent Queen’s Award for Enterprise
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have the detail. Claire and I will support businesses and review the applications if we get the opportunity and the Queen’s Award office is very good at giving feedback, both positive and negative. Claire and I will happily go and visit potential businesses and just talk top level numbers with them. We can give them some insight into whether we think they’re in with a chance or not, then then it’s up to them to take it from there. There are four different categories of the award. In 2022 there were 232 UK businesses that were recognised with Queen’s Awards. Of those, 141 of were for International Trade, 51 were Innovation, 31 were Sustainable Development and nine were Social Mobility. It was also the first year for a while when the Island didn’t receive an award, although we did have some shortlisted businesses which ultimately didn’t qualify.
Why are you helping businesses to apply? I’m passionate about the Isle of Wight. I’m locally born and bred and I think the Isle of Wight needs needs a lot of good news stories. It’s where I live, work and play and I think it’s a beautiful part of the world. We need to play up the good news stories and the Queens Awards are definitely an area where we can do that. Business can often get a bad rap but good businesses are run by people
I think we should celebrate our successes. The Queen’s Awards are a symbol of national pride. It’s an international seal of approval, but it’s also about pride in the job you do, where you live and it’s pride in the nation. So I think it works at every level.
Isle of Wight Queen’s Award winners: Teemill, Wight Shipyard (below left), Spinlock, (below centre) and The Mobile Vet (below right)
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the UK’s most prestigious business awards, given only to companies or individuals who are outstanding in their field. Previously known as the Queen’s Awards to Industry, the first Awards were given in 1966. International Trade: Winners demonstrate that their business has achieved substantial growth in overseas earnings and in commercial success (for their business size and sector) through either outstanding achievement over 3 years or continuous achievement over 6 years. Innovation: Winners demonstrate that their business has substantially improved in areas of performance and commercial success by either
outstanding innovation, continued over at least 2 years, or continuous innovation and development over at least 5 years. Innovation achievements are assessed for: invention, design or production; performance of services and products; marketing and distribution; or after-sales support of goods or services. Sustainable Development: Winners in this category demonstrate commercially successful products, services and approaches to management which have major benefits for the environment, society and the wider economy, either by outstanding advance over at least 2 years or continuous achievement over 5 years.
Sustainable Development achievements are assessed for: invention, design, production, performance, marketing, distribution, after-sales support of goods or services; or management of resources or people and relationships with other organisations (or their representatives). Social Mobility: Winners demonstrate that their business has had a social mobility programme running for more than 2 years and can prove that the programme benefits the organisation financially or otherwise (for example, it has improved your reputation or led to savings in the business). Find out more at: isleofwightlieutenancy.org.uk/honours/ queens-award-for-enterprise
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BCC Economic Forecast: Testing times as quarterly growth dries up Quarterly economic growth is expected to grind to a halt this year before dipping briefly into negative territory as global events continue to weigh heavily on the UK economy.
UK Economic Outlook – 2022
The British Chambers of Commerce has downgraded its expectations for UK GDP growth for 2022 to 3.5% (from 3.6%) against a deteriorating economic outlook. It now expects the UK inflation rate to reach 10% in Q4 2022, comfortably outpacing average earnings growth. The heightened economic uncertainty and rising costs are also expected to significantly weaken business investment, with 1.8% growth predicted in 2022, down sharply from 3.5% in the previous forecast.
Businesses and consumers face unprecedented inflationary pressures flowing from rising raw material costs, the increase in the energy price cap, and upward pressure on energy and commodity prices. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate is expected to reach 10% in Q4 of 2022. This would be the highest since CPI records began in their current form in 1989. CPI inflation is expected to finally fall back to the Bank of England’s 2% target by the end of 2024. At the same time the Bank of England interest rate is expected to rise to 2% in 2022 and 3% in 2023. These represent significant shifts from the 1% and 1.5% rates previously forecast in Q1.
GDP growth Expectations for growth in 2022, at 3.5% are now less than half the 7.5% growth recorded last year. Quarter on quarter GDP is expected to flatline with no growth expected in Q2 and Q3 before contracting by 0.2% in Q4. This negative outlook reflects a combination of soaring inflation, weak business investment, tax rises and the global economic shocks - initially caused by Covid and then compounded by the war in Ukraine. Annual UK economic growth is expected to slow sharply to 0.6% for 2023 before recovering slightly to 1.2% in 2024. Consumer spending is now forecast to grow at 4% in 2022, a fall from the 4.4% prediction in the first quarter. This reflects the historically high squeeze on real household incomes as inflation far outpaces the forecast 5% growth in average earnings for the year.
Investment Business investment is forecast to grow at 1.8% in 2022, a large downward revision from the previous forecast of 3.5%. The downgrade reflects heightened political and economic uncertainty, and rising cost pressures which are limiting smaller firms’ abilities to invest. The BCC’s survey data for business investment have shown no sign of recovery since the start of the Covid pandemic.
Commenting on the forecast, Alex Veitch, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Our latest forecast indicates that the headwinds facing the UK economy show little sign of reducing with continued inflationary pressures and sluggish growth. The war in Ukraine came just as the UK was beginning a Covid recovery; placing a further squeeze on business profitability. “The forecast drop in business investment is especially concerning. With inflation forecast to race ahead of wages, we are concerned about a dip in consumer spending which would further impact businesses and hamper growth. We forecast that if trends continue, inflation will only return to the Bank of England’s target rate at the end of 2024, implying a prolonged period of difficulty for the UK. “Against this backdrop, the government must put in place stable and supportive policies that help businesses pull the UK out of this economic quagmire. Firms must be given confidence to invest, only then can they drive the growth the economy so desperately needs.”
EVENTS & TRAINING AFTERNOON TEA AT QUARR ABBEY
BUSINESS START UP COURSE
Thursday 7 July 2022, 2.30pm – 4.30pm
Thursday 21 July 2022, 9.30am – 2.30pm
IW Chamber Members and their guests - £5 admin fee
IW Chamber Office, Newport
This is a unique chance to network while enjoying the peaceful surroundings of Quarr Abbey. With a cream tea in the garden, it’s also a chance to find out more about the Abbey. We would recommend that every member bring a non-member/client to this event.
EMERGENCY FIRST AID AT WORK COURSE Delivered by Good Skills Training Tuesday 12 July, 9.00am – 4.00pm YMCA, Shanklin IW Chamber members – £65+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 aider.
IW CHAMBER BUSINESS FORUM WITH BOB SEELY MP Friday 15 July 2022, 1.00pm – 2.00pm Online IW Chamber members only Join us for our next members session with Bob Seely MP. This will be an interactive session allowing attendees to give feedback of your recent business experiences and what your business/industry needs moving forward. Spaces will be limited to ensure everyone gets a chance to speak.
Available to non-members, £5 admin fee 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.
COWES WEEK BBQ & DRINKS WITH RED SQUIRREL PROPERTY SHOP Wednesday 3 August 2022, 1.00pm – 4.00pm Island Sailing Club, Cowes £65 +vat per person Join IW Chamber and our sponsors Red Squirrel Property Shop for fun, informal networking at our annual Cowes Week Summer Barbecue. We’re at the Island Sailing Club, overlooking the action on the water, where you can soak up the atmosphere with a locally sourced barbecue and unlimited drinks, including Mermaid Gin.
IW CHAMBER BUSINESS BREAKFAST Friday 5 August 2022, 7.30am – 9.00am Liz Earle, The Green House, Nicholson Road, Ryde IW Chamber members - £16 per person Join us at Liz Earle for a delicious hot breakfast and the opportunity to network with other members.
FIRE MARSHAL COURSE Tuesday 19 July 2022, 9.00am – 12.30pm YMCA, Shanklin 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.
IW CHAMBER TEA & TOAST NETWORKING Wednesday 7 September 2022, 7.30am – 9.00am
Caffe Isola, Newport IW Chamber members – FREE Meet members for informal networking in a great location. It’s free to attend, with hot drinks and toast for everyone.
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Want to join the Chamber? Call the team on 01983 520777 or online iwchamber.co.uk 26
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Being a member of the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce is a great business decision! Membership starts at less than £3 a week and entitles you to a huge range of business support, exclusive events and member discounts.
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Events, engagement and the return of Expo: why networking is at the core of IW Chamber By Steven Holbrook, IW Chamber Chief Executive
It has been just over a year now since people started to return to the world of face-to-face networking. Our ‘big’ return event last year was the Red Squirrel Cowes Week BBQ at the Island Sailing Club. We launched it with an air of trepidation around how such a large-scale event would be received. We were blown away by the reaction and, since then, by the Island’s businesses community’s desire to get back to inperson networking. It feels something of an anniversary as we approach this year’s event on Wednesday 3rd August, twelve months since some element of normality returned.
The take-up of the event has again been tremendous and it has fast become both a staple in our calendar, but also one of the most popular events of the year. If you haven’t yet bought a ticket, I would fully recommend giving this event a try. People really enjoy it for a reason, so come and find out why for yourselves. It is a celebration of the best of the Island, in terms of food, drink and events and a great place to network with a very broad range of people. One of my personal favourite events is the Afternoon Tea at Quarr Abbey, which also returns this month. Last year the food and drink were fabulous, as were the surroundings and those attending. I was desperate for Quarr Abbey to host us again this year and delighted that they so generously obliged. Our upcoming Expo is the one time of the year where a very wide range of Island businesses come together to showcase what they do and what they offer. As a business or a customer, you can meet the leaders of these businesses, discuss with them your needs and how they can provide solutions, face to face. You can cut out the Google search and all the back and forth that usually follows. Instead, you can walk around, chat and build a relationship. It’s a much stronger and more powerful way to start any interaction, both as the seller and the purchaser. Business is about relationship. People do business with people, but even more importantly, they do business with people they like. This is where Expo comes into its own. Some people come to Expo with a clear need and they’re looking for a business to meet it. Others come and discover an opportunity and service they didn’t even know existed. Whether you are buying or selling, Expo is the place to come to chat and learn and interact. After the event we hear so much about all the connections made and contracts signed and networks formed. Expo’s exhibitor stands sell out incredibly quickly as it is the place Island businesses want to be. If you haven’t been before, whether it is to exhibit or visit, make this the year you come along and see what it is all about for yourself. It’s free to attend, at the Lakeside Park Hotel in Wootton on Wednesday September 14th. We look forward to seeing you there.
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