Welcome from WCC Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson

Hello and welcome to the July edition of Warwickshire Means Business.

I am delighted to be writing my first WMB introduction since becoming Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place. I have succeeded Cllr Kam Kaur in the role and Kam is a hard act to follow but I will do my best to support the business community of Warwickshire in every way I can.

I am really enjoying learning more about the huge range of business support that the County Council and our partners in the region provide. It is also great to get out and about the county to meet all sorts of small businesses and see how they are growing with our support. In this edition of Warwickshire Means Business, please have a read about how that support has helped Adventurize, The Dough House, Access Panel Shop and Clare Harding Coaching.

We also report on an excellent recent event which promoted the benefits of Inclusive Recruitment and the first of a series of events to be held around Warwickshire to showcase the great producers that drive our rural economy.

Our Special Feature shines the spotlight on the businesses which help to protect us all by having an on-call firefighter on their staff - thank you all! 

We hear about how 1 Mill Street has given a vibrant new dimension to Leamington Spa creative sector. And we look back upon the first 'Get Social' event organised by Coventry & Warwickshire CDA which I was delighted to attend to hear about how social enterprises to do much fantastic work to support our communities.

Please have a good read and do get in touch with us if any of our business support could help you.

Best wishes,


Featured News

Visitors flock to 'Glastonbury with Motorbikes'

"We're really grateful to the County Council for their support...the event was a massive success and now we have that captured perfectly in a fantastic showreel filmed with the equipment we brought with the grant."

A major tourism event which attracted thousands of visitors to Warwickshire last month is set for growth, as is the business that organised it, following support from Warwickshire County Council.

The Adventure Bike Rider Festival 2022 brought 10,000 bike enthusiasts from all over the world to Ragley Hall, near Alcester.

It was the third time the festival, which has been hailed as "Glastonbury with motorbikes and posh toilets" has been held at Ragley by Stratford-upon-Avon-based Adventurize.

Such was its success that bookings for next year's event are already flying, helped by a polished showreel compiled with state-of-the-art equipment bought with a County Council grant.

A £13,000 Adapt & Diversify Fund grant enabled Adventurize to purchase equipment to film the flagship event. The funding will have lasting benefits for the business as it also means they can continue to produce high quality media for their membership platform and process online subscriptions.The equipment is now in regular use to film content for their growing online magazine subscription

"We're really grateful to the County Council for their support," said Adventurize director Alun Davies. "The event was a massive success and now we have that captured perfectly in a fantastic showreel filmed with the equipment we brought with the grant.

"We had 10,000 visitors from all over the world, including Australia, Canada and a lot from Europe. The feedback was so phenomenal we have already put tickets on sale for next year... and sold half of them!

"We have applied for a licence to host 15,000 and ultimately aim to host 20,000. Ragley Hall is such a wonderful venue and they are great people to deal with. The event really couldn't have gone any better and, thanks to the council, we have a brilliant showreel  which will attract more visitors to the county next year.

The two rounds of the Adapt & Diversify grant scheme awarded more than £1.5million to businesses in the retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors as part of the County Council's package of support as Covid restrictions eased.

"The Adventure Bike Rider Festival was a fantastic event," said Louisa Smith, Contract and Project Monitoring Officer for Warwickshire County Council. "The Festival brought thousands of visitors to Warwickshire which was great for the local economy.

"The success of the event in such a wonderful setting means that many of those visitors can't wait to return to our lovely county and I'm delighted that the Adapt & Diversify grant has enabled to maximise benefit for Adventurize which hosted the event so well."

Project Warwickshire helps The Dough House to rise

"The Dough House is exactly the sort of creative, talent-driven small business that makes our towns and our county such a joy to visit. I am delighted that Project Warwickshire has been so effective in helping Fulden to advance with her growth plans."

A thriving Stratford business that literally started at a kitchen table is seeing sales rise after moving into a new venue in the town and widening its customer-base.

The Dough House was founded by Fulden Tur in her home four years ago after she gave up her corporate career to offer clients the chance to learn how to create their own traditional afternoon teas before getting to enjoy their creations.

It has now moved into a quaint venue in Ely Street in the town centre and, as well as attracting bookings from individuals and private groups, has become a hit with corporate clients too. Eighty per cent of its sales in May was from business customers, including a group from Aldi’s head office.

The Dough House has also expanded its experiences to include pasta making, flatbread and meze making, sourdough pizza making and a Shakespearean cooking experience.

The business survived the height of the pandemic by selling produce and emerged from it with plans for growth, including finding premises where it could bring together more people at one time. To support that growth, Fulden, who was trained by a range of organisations including Cordon Bleu in Paris, was introduced to the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce by a contact at Shakespeare’s England.

The business was eligible for support through Project Warwickshire – a free recovery and growth business support programme to help companies in the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors in the county, in the wake of the of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Project Warwickshire is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council. The support is delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Shakespeare’s England and Northern Warwickshire Tourism, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council.

Chamber business adviser Russell Grant worked with Fulden to create a business plan for growth and also supported an application for a capital grant towards the refurbishment of the property, which was formerly a hair salon. The grant, for almost £15,000, was awarded through Coventry City Council.

Fulden, who employs four people and is looking to add to the team in the next few months, said: “It is amazing to have our own space in the town centre and the response has been wonderful. As soon as I walked through the door, I knew I wanted to bring the business here and it’s helping to take us to a new level.

“I’d started to think about how I could grow at the end of last year and I put a post on social media. A contact at Shakespeare’s England got back to me and said I should speak to the Chamber. Russell was really helpful and talked through my ideas and helped me to create a business plan for growth. He also identified that there was an opportunity for grant funding and, with his help, the application was successful.

“Part of the plan was to really start to look at the corporate market and that is already proving to be huge for us. We had some major bookings in May with some very well-known companies bringing teams of people here to enjoy the experiences. That is an area of the business we feel we can continue to grow.

“I also work with other local companies which is good for the regional economy, including Katherine Attreed-Atkat Marketing, who has helped to support me on my marketing plan.”

Russell said: “It has been great to work with Fulden and to be able to support the business’ growth. It really highlights how well the eco-system of business support works in the region – from the initial introduction through to all of the help we were able to give. The fact that it has helped the business move into new premises and also grow and diversify its client-base is testament to that.”

Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: "The Dough House is exactly the sort of creative, talent-driven small business that makes our towns and our county such a joy to visit. I am delighted that Project Warwickshire, which Warwickshire County Council is proud to co-fund, has been so effective in helping Fulden to advance with her growth plans."

Valuable insights into the benefits of Inclusive Recruitment

"It was exciting to hear more about the Fair Chance programme and the broad range of Warwickshire businesses engaging with it to offer opportunities to those who need it most."

An online event delivered by Warwickshire Skills Hub gave some great insights to businesses about the benefits of Inclusive Recruitment.

The event, organised by Claire Dougan, Business Skills Support Advisor for Warwickshire County Council's Fair Chance Employment Programme, heard from a variety of speakers regarding best practice and the ways everyone can work together to support Inclusive Recruitment. 

Chloe Millage, Careers and Employability Programme Manager at Warwickshire Skills Hub, launched the event by sharing details of the Skills Hub's team work to support schools, businesses and individuals. Chloe delivered a presentation on the Fair Chance programme, explaining how, by making small adjustments, businesses can recruit from untapped talent pools such as SEND, resettlement and refugee, ex-military, ex-offenders, care-leavers, carers, women returning to work and those over 50; in short, those furthest away from the labour market who need more support and some adjustments to make working achievable.

More than 20 companies have signed up to the Fair Chance programme so are actively seeking to recruiting people in those categories.

Next speaker was Samantha Lees from Nabcel, who have recruited through the programme. Sam revealed that their recruit, Lisa, is a great asset to the company, growing in confidence in her role and looking to increase her hours to full time.

Sam mentioned that some adjustments were made to the recruitment process to make the experience less overwhelming, such as Lisa meeting the team gradually over the first week rather than all at once, and how she felt communication with the whole team has improved as a result.

Claire Cookson, chief executive of DFN Foundation, then spoke about the benefits of employing those with additional needs and autism. Claire explained that only 5.1% of people with learning disabilities known to local authorities in the UK are employed but  65% of people with a learning disability in the UK want to work...and there are currently over 1.4 million unfilled vacancies in the UK.

Claire also spoke about Project Search supported internships for young people in their last year of education and the benefits of on-the-job learning programme with many sites in the UK and worldwide. Seventy per cent of young people from Project Search go on to secure full time paid employment. 

“I was delighted to be invited to present at the event,” said Claire. "It was exciting to hear more about the Fair Chance programme and the broad range of Warwickshire businesses engaging with it to offer opportunities to those who need it most."

Hashim Bhayat, Careers Support and Guidance Advisor at the County Council's Asylum and Leaving Care team, was next to speak and shared the challenges of supporting these young people. He explained how they require ongoing support and guidance to build their confidence and move forward into employment. This does require employers to be supportive and open to employing from different untapped talent pools.

The session finished with an open Q&A, in which people shared their experiences and the importance of good support to enable everybody, whatever their backgrounds, to reach their potential.  

Claire Dougan said: "The event was a great success with some wonderful speakers. We hope it will be the first of many of these events to work with businesses and people from untapped talent pools to create opportunities for Inclusive Employment."

Rural producers and businesses in the spotlight at showcase events

"We are very excited about the opportunities these showcase events provide for rural Warwickshire businesses to connect and find out about support available to them."

A partnership between Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Rural Hub to promote rural produce and business through showcase events throughout the county is proving to be very fruitful.

The partnership, driven by WCC's Rural Policy and Commissioning Officer Abi Culley, provides opportunities to inspire, build confidence and share experiences of adding value to produce on site, at source to retail or directly to trade or consumers.

The first event, ‘Wines and Vines,’ held at Blabers Hall Wine Estate in North Warwickshire, was a great success. Around 20 farmers and landowners from all over the county enjoyed a tour of the six-acre vineyard by owners Clarke and Adele Adams, who shared their business journey and explained the challenges they have faced.

Marie Stephenson from Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and Chris Lawes of Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, provided presentations on the free support available for small and medium businesses in Warwickshire.

Finally, delegates were treated to taste a range of their produce, including Blabers Hall's new Hemlingford red wine. The showcase provided an opportunity for informal and quality networking, so many positive connections were made, including the unexpected outcome of a local farm-based restaurant serving Blabers Hall wines.

WCC is pleased to announce that the next showcase event will be hosted by St Maur at their farm premises near Alcester.

St Maur, a thriving new business in Warwickshire, makes small-batch elderflower liqueur, handcrafted in Alcester from responsibly sourced ingredients including elderflowers from ancient family-owned woodlands which surround the Ragley Hall Estate. Since starting in 2020, the business has received four industry awards, most recently winning the Coventry and Warwickshire’s 2022 Foodie Newcomer Award.

Dr Andrew Wells, St Maur director, said: "We want to play an active role in the community so in September we are delighted to host an opportunity for those in the retail and hospitality sectors, along with farmers and landowners, to attend a St Maur Showcase event." 

At the event, Warwickshire producers will be able to pick up some tips on how to add value on site/at source to their produce by hearing about St Maur’s journey. There will also be guidance on how to encourage and build confidence in producers to sell direct to trade and customers, thus reducing food/drink miles and stimulating the local economy, sustainable action and purchasing. 

The showcase will also provide opportunity for networking between hospitality providers and local producers. 

Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate & Culture, Cllr Heather Timms, said: "We are very excited about the opportunities these showcase events provide for rural Warwickshire businesses to connect and find out about support available to them.

"The first, at Blabers Hall, was a great success and we are very grateful to Clarke and Adele for hosting so well. We look forward to the next event St Maur and hearing more about their journey and growth."

Representatives from Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and WCC's Business Support team will also support the St Maur event, where there will be opportunity for informal conversation. 

Details and booking for the event will be posted on Warwickshire Rural Hub website https://www.ruralhub.org.uk/

Support programme helps Nuneaton sisters plan for growth

“From where we were to where we are now is amazing and Rita has helped us more than she will ever know."

Two sisters with a wealth of experience in the construction industry have celebrated their Nuneaton business’s first anniversary by planning for future growth.

Lisa and Julie Cartwright established Access Panel Shop at the Pool Road Business Centre in Pool Road in June 2021.

The flourishing business is a stockist and distributor of access panels for the construction industry for walls and ceilings with a wide range of standard and bespoke products.

Access Panel Shop was set-up after the sisters were made redundant at the same time and they approached the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce for assistance.

This led to the Chamber providing free support on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, through the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Warwickshire County Council and all five District and Borough Councils.

Lisa and Julie were assigned Rita Booth as their business coach and she provided free start-up business support through workshops and one-to-one coaching, which includes everything from advice on marketing through to business planning.

This has helped the sisters to establish a UK-wide network of customers from London to Scotland as well as closer to home – and plans are underway to launch an e-commerce website this autumn.

Julie said the Chamber’s support had been crucial in getting the business off to the right start.

She said: “We have over 40 years’ experience between us in the construction industry so when we were both made redundant, it was only natural to set-up a business in this sector because we know the products and the industry. It is in our DNA.

“Having our own business has given us greater financial freedom and an opportunity to make our own decisions and the first 12 months has flown by. In the last week, we have driven 1,000 miles to make site visits and deliveries and the customers we have built up have been brilliant because we can supply one item or hundreds depending on their requirements.”

Lisa added that the Chamber has been really supportive of Access Panel Shop’s plans every step of the way.

“It can be daunting launching a new business but Rita has really helped us with our confidence as well as practical advice,” she said. “From where we were to where we are now is amazing and Rita has helped us more than she will ever know.

“She has also provided help with our online e-commerce site which is nearly ready to be launched where we will be selling our standard products because when it comes to the ordering of specialised products, we prefer to speak to our customers to make sure everything is just right.

“We also have an upcoming expansion of our range including roof and floor access panels plus the development of a new product in the future.

“From attending Chamber events, we have started going to women in construction events which we think is really important because we want more women to consider this as a career option.

“The sector is definitely changing because when we go on site visits now there are more women there which is really encouraging for the future.”

Rita Booth, Business Coach at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said she wanted to encourage other SMEs like the Access Panel Shop to become involved in the start-up programme.

She said: “The funding for this programme finishes in June 2023 and the help and information available is really important for new businesses.

“When I first met Lisa and Julie it took a few sessions to formulate a plan to make the most of all their experience in the construction industry.

“We put together a strategy to target national companies first and they are now starting to attract more business in Coventry and Warwickshire.”

Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “I am delighted that the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme has proved so beneficial to Lisa and Julie. The positive way they responded to having been made redundant themselves is an inspiring example of the enterprise and adaptability that we see in so many of Warwickshire's wonderful small businesses. It is great that the programme has helped them so much.”

The Chamber has a range of support for start-up businesses, whether you want to make your business idea a reality, or require advice on how to build your new businesses. For more information, please visit www.cw-chamber.co.uk/business-support/business-start-up/

Get Social event at Coventry & Warwickshire CDA is a great success

"Warwickshire has a vibrant Social Enterprise economy and it was great to see them networking and sharing learning."

More than 40 guests gathered for Coventry & Warwickshire CDA's first 'Get Social' event to celebrate Social Enterprises and all that they bring to communities.

The event was organised to give guests the opportunity to meet members of the Social Enterprise community and find out about their business ventures and the valuable contributions they make across the region. 

It was a great success as the evening showcased all things Social Enterprise. Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economy and Place Cllr Martin Watson and Coventry & Warwickshire CDA operations manager Mandy Bygrave welcomed guests before three peakers shared fascinating information about their business journeys.  

Alison Phillips of Kindred CSR spoke about Corporate Social Responsibility and how social enterprises can gain support from the private sector. Charlotte Kissack from Make, Good, Grow, explained how they unite good business with good causes.Tim Landreth, from award-winning social enterprise Nuneaton Signs. spoke about how the organisation invests heavily back into its employees and Infrastructure.  Nuneaton Signs provides meaningful employment to the disabled and many of their employees either have a physical disability or a mental health condition.

After the success of the inaugural Get Social, more will be organised across Warwickshire in the future, dates and venues to be confirmed. 

"It was a great event and we heard some really inspiring stories about how businesses and social enterprises can work together for the benefit of all," said Mandy Bygrave. "Warwickshire has a vibrant Social Enterprise economy and it was great to see them networking and sharing learning."

The Get Social event was part-funded by Warwickshire County Council’s Place Shaping and Economic Recovery Fund as part of its support for CDA’s social enterprise programme.

For more details of Coventry & Warwickshire CDA, please visit their website or email m.bygrave@cwcda.co.uk.

Alcester's Sam takes Apprentice of the Year award win in Parliament

"Sam has achieved a huge amount in his short career...with his passion and enthusiasm he'll go far."

Sam Arrowsmith from Stratford-upon-Avon has been crowned HS2’s Apprentice of the Year at an awards ceremony at the Houses of Parliament.

Sam joined HS2, the company building Britain’s new zero carbon railway, in September 2020 and his ‘enthusiasm and constant pursuit of excellence’ led to him being recognised as a rising star on the project by HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson.

Sam began his Level 4 Associate Project Management apprenticeship at the height of the Covid pandemic, a difficult time for a young person to be starting out in their career, but he didn’t let that faze him and instead relished the opportunities it presented.

With major construction projects given the green light to continue during lockdown restrictions, Sam seized the opportunity to play a leading role in HS2’s ‘Back to Better’ group, which implemented measures to ensure the thousands of people supporting HS2’s construction remained safe.

He has since worked alongside senior leaders and HS2’s construction partners, to write a Learning Legacy paper, sharing details of the good practice measures that were put in place, so that major infrastructure projects of the future can benefit from the lessons learned.

Sam’s dedication to the ‘Back to Better’ project didn’t detract from his day-to-day role in project management, so much so that he completed his two-year apprenticeship six months early and achieved the highest pass rate – 89% - amongst his fellow 2020 cohort.

On presenting Sam with the Apprentice of the Year award, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: "Sam has achieved a huge amount in his short career. With his passion and enthusiasm he'll go far, and I'm confident he'll inspire others to step forward and play a part in this transformational project."

Achieving excellence outside of his day-to-day role remains a constant driver for Sam, who also spends time volunteering with HS2’s education team. Eager to inspire the next generation to consider a career in construction and rail engineering, Sam has returned to his own sixth form college, Alcester Grammar School and secondary school, Studley High School, where he hopes to inspire others to consider an apprenticeship on HS2.

On receiving his award from the HS2 Minister, Sam said: “It's a real honour to be recognised today and I'm so proud to have won this award. The last two years have flown by and now that I've finished my apprenticeship, I can't wait to get started in my new role as assistant project manager. HS2 has really opened doors for me and I'm so proud to be part of the team that is building HS2 in my home county of Warwickshire."

Community Skills Hubs set up in libraries to help career-seekers

Young people will have a safe space in which to improve their employability skills following the launch of the Warwickshire Community Skills hubs.

The Warwickshire Community Skills Hub, delivered by Career Seekers Direct, offer a safe space for young people to improve their employability skills with 1:1 support in job coaching/careers advice, digital training and looking at accessible job opportunities.

The first session has been held at Leamington Library and hubs will be set up in four other library locations across Warwickshire - Atherstone, Bedworth, Rugby, and Nuneaton.  

The programme is available for individuals aged between 16 and 30, living in or supported by a Warwickshire area and unemployed or at risk of being NEET.  

For expression of interest please complete the following MS forms: https://forms.office.com/r/KzuJiiWzU1  

149 jobs created or saved by innovative support scheme

"The Duplex Investment Fund has made a significant difference."

Nearly 150 jobs have been created or saved by an innovative scheme funded by Warwickshire County Council which was launched to help businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire find the investment they need to grow. 

The Duplex Investment Fund, which was introduced in 2019, is a combined grant and loan initiative jointly managed by Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), the Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT), Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council and the Midlands Engine. 

The project is funded by £3.9 million of grants from the Government’s Local Growth Fund and the Growing Places Fund, distributed and managed by CWLEP. Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council have both invested a further £2 million in the scheme managed by CWRT. 

CWRT has supported 26 businesses throughout Coventry and Warwickshire which has led to 149 jobs being created or saved. 

They have also lent £1,786,698 and have issued £536,936 in grants to businesses across the area - ranging from commercial outdoor furniture specialist Woodberry in Leamington, to landscape, maintenance and restoration firm Ventureserve Limited in Coventry. 

Warwickshire-based Beer & Coffee Company group, Pugs Pubs received £75,000 from the Duplex Investment Fund after investing £160,000 itself to open its fourth pub, the Lazy Pug, which has five ensuite bedrooms, a restaurant and coffee house in Shipston-on-Stour. The funding from Duplex has also enabled the creation of 18 jobs. 

Matt Crowther, Director at Pugs Pubs, said: “The Duplex Investment Fund has made a significant difference since we wouldn’t have been able to open the Lazy Pug without it. 

“Having the loan and grant meant we could refurbish the entire pub and kitchen as well as create five rooms and business is going really well. Bookings for the summer are looking really good and business has grown slowly but steadily.”    

Sheridan Sulskis, Chief Executive at CWRT, said the feedback from businesses who had been helped by the Duplex Investment Fund has been really positive. 

“The loans and grants that CWRT have issued to businesses in a wide range of sectors throughout Coventry and Warwickshire has reached over £2.3 million which underlines the success of this innovative scheme,” she said. 

“Pugs Pubs is a perfect examples of a businesses which has grown due to this funding being available and they are creating jobs which boosts our economy and encourages innovation.”

Warwickshire County Council leader Cllr Izzi Seccombe said: "The Duplex Investment Scheme is a great example of organisations working together to provide the most effective and timely help to small businesses. I am delighted that so many businesses have been supported and so many jobs created or saved by the scheme which is an integral part of the County Council's ongoing commitment to support small businesses throughout Warwickshire in every way we can."  

Businesses wanting to find out more about the Duplex Investment Fund can contact CWRT on 02476 551 777 or at www.cwrt.uk.com/duplex or www.cwrt.uk.com 

Coach gets coaching to fledge new business

"John looked at the way I present the business and has come up with some fresh, new ideas that have helped me to consider the way I showcase what I do moving forward."

A Warwickshire-based former solicitor has launched a company which specialises in the coaching of lawyers – and has received some inspiration of her own from a regional business organisation.

Clare Harding Coaching was launched earlier this year after Clare gave up her coaching role for a national law firm and decided to go it alone.

Clare, who is a qualified coach with 20 years of experience in the legal profession, has been supported by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce as her business starts to take off.

Adviser John Fitzgerald carried out a full audit of the way Clare presented the business and also offered advice on online courses to attend that could help her continue to grow.

The support delivered by the Chamber, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council, forms part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Warwickshire County Council and all five District and Borough Councils.

That, coupled with Clare’s expertise and existing network of contacts, has seen the business make a strong start.

Clare said: “I really enjoy being a coach, but I wanted to do my own thing and not be tied to one firm.

“I can now work with individual lawyers and also for law firms. For individuals, I can partner with them to help them progress in their career and, when it comes to working with law firms, I can support them with wider staff development.

“It’s an issue that has become more and more important as firms are having to work harder to attract and retain staff so ensuring they are valued and being offered opportunities for development is critical.

“I’m now working with clients in London and I’ve also picked up business in Warwickshire too and the plan is to continue to grow.”

Clare added: “When I was deciding to launch, a friend said to me that I should contact the Chamber about support.

“Very quickly, there was a meeting set-up with John Fitzgerald and he’s been really supportive. He looked at the way I present the business and has come up with some fresh, new ideas that have helped me to consider the way I showcase what I do moving forward.

“The courses have also been very helpful – especially the creative content marketing session.

“It was an online course that lasted four hours, and it really held my attention for the whole time. I got so much out of it on what, how and when to post which has proved to be so valuable. It’s already led to me picking up work, which is great news.

“It’s been so valuable for so many reasons and I’d recommend contacting the Chamber for help if you are just starting out.”

Clare has joined up to the Chamber’s 22in22 Women in Business Mentoring Programme.

John said: “It has been great to support Clare in the early stages of her business, which has got off to an excellent start.

“I looked at all aspects of the business and could see straightaway that Clare was offering an amazing service to her clients.

“For me, it was about reflecting that back to her and helping to inspire her into taking the next steps as a business. I advised on which courses would suit Clare best to help the business grow and, because I’d got to know her, I could use my areas of expertise to give her ideas for the future too.”

Warwickshire County Council leader Cllr Izzi Secombe said: "I am delighted that the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale programme has proved so valuable to Clare as she seeks to grow her business. The programme is an integral part of the wide range of support which WCC, along with our partners, offers to small business across the county and underlines our commitment to do all we can to sustain a strong local economy ."

The Chamber has a range of support for start-up businesses, whether you want to make your business idea a reality, or require advice on how to build your new business. For more information go to https://www.cw-chamber.co.uk/business-support/business-start-up

For more information on Clare Harding Coaching go to http://www.clarehardingcoaching.com/ 

Green Business Programme makes Alphateq more energy efficient

"The information from the Green Business Programme could not have been timelier."

An innovative tool manufacturer in a Warwickshire village is looking forward to a greener future in its third decade after receiving a grant to improve its energy efficiency.

Alphateq was set-up by Brian Garforth in a small unit with just three employees in 2002 and has consistently grown since. Its 31 staff are now located at The Wharf in Stretton-under-Fosse. 

The business, which designs and manufactures tooling for prototype and production processes, has expanded over the years into the aerospace, automotive and motorsport sectors. 

With more importance being placed on the green credentials of businesses throughout the supply chain, Alphateq acted after being contacted by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub about energy saving grants available. 

The business was visited by Jonathan Howl from Coventry City Council, which runs the Coventry and Warwickshire Green Business Programme and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, to carry out an energy audit. 

He helped Brian and operations director Chris Garforth apply for a grant from the Green Business Programme towards the total cost of the project which was £16,758 with Alphateq being successful with its application for £5,758. That has led to nearly 100 lights being replaced with LED lighting throughout its five units over 25,000 sq ft including its offices, CNC shop, pattern shop, studio and engineering shop, and tool room.    

It is estimated the business will save 4.55 tonnes of CO2 emissions by doing this, and the cost of the new energy measures will be paid back in just over three years. 

Brian Garforth, managing director of Alphateq, said it was important to make the business run as carbon-friendly as possible. 

“We are a specialist engineering company which takes its energy efficiency seriously which is even more important with the current volatility in the cost of electricity and gas,” he said. “We spend over £100,000 a year on electricity so it is common-sense to review every element of our business to see where savings can be made as well as benefiting the environment. 

“The information from the Green Business Programme could not have been timelier and the energy audit from the council gave us food for thought. 

“We have replaced every fluorescent tube, modular recessed quad fitting and high-intensity fitting with LED alternatives throughout the business which will not only greatly reduce our electricity bill, but we will also benefit from a significantly lower spend on lighting maintenance. 

“When we are bidding for new work, our green credentials are assessed more than when the business was first established so we are hoping this will be a double-win in the future.” 

Adam Plumb, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said he wanted to encourage other SMEs to contact the Growth Hub to find out if they were eligible to apply for various grant schemes which are being delivered by Coventry City Council. 

He said: “The Coventry and Warwickshire Green Business Programme has been extended to June 2023 with additional funding now available for small to medium-sized businesses with 250 employees or less to introduce energy efficiency measures. 

“As Alphateq discovered, it is a relatively quick and easy process to apply for a grant with the free energy audits identifying where energy, water and waste savings can be made to not only help a business save money and improve the environment but run more smoothly.” 

Warwickshire County Council is working with Coventry City Council, Coventry University and the CWLEP Growth Hub to promote the programme with which nearly 300 Warwickshire businesses have already engaged. 

Alphateq has also received support through Business Ready, an innovative support programme for high tech, high growth businesses, delivered by University of Warwick Science Park. Business Ready forms part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale Programme and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Warwickshire County Council and University of Warwick Science Park.

Forget Me Not cafe moves forward thanks to CWRT Recovery Loan

“The loan has allowed us to move forward with our café plans that we have had in the works for four years – to create a dementia and disabled-friendly café.’’

A new café aimed at people Living with Dementia and disabilities is to be launched in Leamington this summer after receiving a Covid-19 recovery loan from Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT).

Fran Scott and Steve Cooper first came up with the idea for the Forget Me Not café four years ago and are now turning their dreams into reality having rented a property in Clarendon Avenue from Warwick District Council.

After contacting Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub for guidance on support, they were referred to the CWRT.

David Owen, Loans Officer from CWRT, visited the couple to discuss their plans and identified the Covid-19 Recovery Loan as their best source of financial assistance. CWRT has safeguarded 208 jobs and is forecasted to create 98 new job roles with Covid-19 Recovery Loans, for a total of 19 businesses.

The Recovery Loan Scheme is aimed at supporting businesses as well as accessing finance as they recover and grow from Covid-19. Businesses that have received funding from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme or the Bounce Back Loan Scheme are able to access the support.

Fran Scott said this loan was a great help to Leamington Spa-based Forget Me Not café.

“Following the end of lockdown, we have- moved forward with our plans and after contacting CWLEP Growth Hub, we got in touch with CWRT and they have helped us with a Recovery Loan. Without their help, we would not be in the position we are now in.

“The loan has allowed us to move forward with our café plans that we have had in the works for four years – to create a dementia and disabled-friendly café.’’

She has spoken to the Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK to receive advice on providing a home-from-home café for vulnerable members of the community.

Fran added: “We have taken their suggestions on how to develop the café with details such as not having black tiles on the floor since people with dementia can sometimes think there is a hole in the floor, and we’re going to have memory boxes with artifacts from the 1930s onwards because often people with dementia have short-term memory loss but can recall films or news events from their youth.

“We are now aiming to open in the next two months and as a charity, we are looking for volunteers from the community who are builders that could work at cost as well as volunteers to work in the café including those with learning disabilities.

“We are employing a fully-qualified chef to create all the items on the menu which we will be adapting for our customers, and we are also hoping to attract students and shoppers so that all members of the community can mingle with each other.”

Sheridan Sulskis, CEO at CWRT, said: “The Recovery Loan Scheme has been perfect for ventures such as the Forget Me Not café to receive access to finance to help with their recovery following the pandemic.

“Following the success of the Recovery Loan Scheme which comes to a close at the end of June, CWRT have several other funding options available to businesses that may be looking for financial support within Coventry and Warwickshire, and so I would urge any businesses who are in need of assistance to get in touch with us and see how we can help you.’’

Warwickshire County Council has also committed significant funding to supporting small businesses via its Local Communities and Enterprise Fund which is part of the Warwickshire Recovery and Investment Fund. The council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy & Place, Cllr Martin Watson, also praised the plans for the café.

He said: “This is a wonderful example of how the loan can really benefit our communities and give them the power to tackle the issues that affect them locally.

“This loan is not only helping to safeguard a business. It is also helping that business to provide an absolutely essential service to improve the quality of life for some of our more vulnerable residents as well as employment opportunities for others. I’m delighted that the county council is supporting businesses like Forget Me Not.”

Martin Nwangwa, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, added: “We made the initial approach to find out if there was an opportunity to provide assistance, and we initially referred the Forget Me Not café to Coventry & Warwickshire CDA for charity grants, and then CWRT.

“It is great to have played a part in helping the charity get up and running and underlines that the Growth Hub is here to help in all sectors to boost the economy.”

The Recovery Loan Scheme is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. British Business Bank plc is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government. It is not authorised or regulated by the PRA or the FCA. Visit http://www.british-businessbank.co.uk/recovery-loan-scheme.

Further information about additional support from CWRT including Warwickshire County Council’s Local Communities and Enterprise Fund is available from www.cwrt.uk.com or by calling 02476 551777.

Information sessions will show SMEs how to Get into Rail

SMEs looking to "Get into Rail" can take on all the information they need from a series of sessions delivered by the Birmingham Centre for Rail Research & Education.

The course will be delivered on five successive Tuesdays in September and October from 10am to midday. The first four sessions will be online via Teams with the final one face-to-face.

The sessions are free for SME’s located within the West Midlands region, subject to confirmed eligibility and completion of project documentation.

The course is intended to enable participants to gain an understanding of the rail sector architecture, an awareness of Great British Railways and transition plans and an increased understanding of rail challenges and opportunities.

The sessions are aimed at businesses which are interested in diversification into Rail to achieve business scale-up and growth and SME’s which are engaged with Innovation and New Products (with particular emphasis on digitisation).

Session details

Session 1 (Sept 6): • Get into Rail Aims and Objectives • Introduction to Birmingham Centre for Rail Research & Education • Round Table introduction/discussion for SME’s • Rail Sector Challenges for 2022 – Great British Railways

Session 2 (Sept 13): • UK Rail Architecture • What is Rail Looking For?

Session 3 (Sept 20): • Rail Supply Chain Procurement • Sources of rail news/information • Rail associations/bodies

Session 4 (Sept 27): • Rail Quality standards o What they are o The awarding bodies o How to apply for accreditation

Session 5 (October 4): • Action Planning for Get into Rail • Developing your Business Plan

For further information, please contact Rachel Eade at r.e.m.eadembefrsa@bham.ac.uk

Road Safety Partnership partners with Driving for Better Business

Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership is partnering with Driving for Better Business (DfBB) to promote a free scheme to businesses across Warwickshire who have employees who drive for work.

The new initiative was announced during the NPCC National Commercial Vehicle Campaign between July 11 and 24.

The DfBB programme provides essential tools, information and resources to local businesses with staff who drive for work to help improve their safety and the safety of other road users on Warwickshire’s roads.

The partnership is encouraging businesses who employ drivers to sign up to DfBB as soon as possible.

Driving is the most dangerous work activity that most people do and as well as helping improve driver safety, the programme includes essential information and legislation that commercial drivers should know, from driver hours and weight limits to vehicle roadworthiness.

 All the DfBB resources are free to access and distribute via the Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership page (https://www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com/region/warwickshire/sign-up/

Collaboration is perfect brew for Warwickshire cider-maker

"We’re both Warwickshire-based and share the same values about the environment, which is at the forefront of everything we do."

Napton Cidery is celebrating a pivotal partnership thanks to the launch of Purity Brewing Co.’s new cider.

The two award-winning businesses have collaborated to create the brewers’ medium dry Pure Cider recipe, now available in pubs, bars and restaurants throughout the UK. The partnership, to produce both 330ml cans and 50-litre kegs of the product, marks a further milestone in the success of the family-owned cidery which continues to grow in Napton-on-the-Hill. The company, which has engaged with Warwickshire County Council's Project Warwickshire programme, which supports small businesses in the tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors, last year announced £250,000 expansion plans.

It is a proud moment for owners Jolyon and Charlotte Olivier, whose business was inspired by a holiday in Cornwall ten years ago.

Jolyon said: “It’s great to have the opportunity to work with Purity which is a well-known brand but they obviously believe in what we do as well. We’re both Warwickshire-based and share the same values about the environment, which is at the forefront of everything we do.

“I think it also shows, from what we’ve achieved already, that we’re here to stay and the provenance and story is a strong one.”

Today, the team in Napton on the Hill ferments, presses, bottles and apples from six orchards across the Herefordshire region. They also produce limited-edition ciders and perry as well as juices, spirits and vinegars. The business has enjoyed 103% year on year growth, expanding the ciders into more than 50 pubs and restaurants as well as securing new contracts with Spar and Co-op Midlands stores.

Based in Great Alne, Purity was established in 2005 by Paul Hasley and James Minkin who were on a mission to ‘brew great beer without prejudice, with a conscience and a consistency and attention to detail.’

Central to their ethos is a strong commitment to supporting the environment. Purity only uses natural ingredients; supports recycling programs and respects the local community and environment. Waste products are recycled through its unique wetland system. This sustainable ecosystem helps minimise carbon dioxide emissions, reduces energy consumption, and encourages wildlife diversity.

Andy Maddock, Purity Brewing Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with our friends at Napton Cidery. With sustainability at the heart of our business we are always keen to partner with likeminded brands and businesses who share the same passion.

“As a sustainable family run business with focus on great quality cider only 30 miles from our brewery in Warwickshire, we knew we had found the right Pure Partner. We’re looking forward to building long standing business partnership with Jolyon and Charlotte and watching our Pure Cider brand grow!”

For more information, please visit Napton Cidery and Purity Brewing Co.

* Project Warwickshire is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council. The support is delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Shakespeare’s England and Northern Warwickshire Tourism, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council.

“I can’t recommend The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise highly enough”

Warwickshire-based founder of Little Soap Company, Emma Heathcote-James, applied last year for The Queen’s Award for Enterprise (QAE) in Innovation for her company’s environmentally friendly Eco Warrior soap brand – and was hugely successful.  

Following her experience of the application process, Warwickshire County Council spoke with Emma to find out why she applied for a Queen’s Award for Enterprise and what benefits the award can bring to your business in Warwickshire.  

Ahead of its time in 2008, Little Soap Company was created by Emma when she questioned why supermarkets didn’t offer any choice of natural or organic soaps.

Now, almost 15 years later, and with nationwide distribution in supermarkets, chemists, and online retailers, the company’s latest multi-award-winning range Eco Warrior is entirely plastic free, formulating traditionally bottled liquids into bar form. Soap is no longer soap, with job-specific bars for hands, face, body, shave, and shampoo

Emma decided to apply for a QAE as Little Soap Company is a proudly British business, supporting British manufacturing, jobs, and communities. After becoming a certified B Corp which recognised the company’s efforts in sustainability and driving a business with purpose, Emma reviewed how the business could better acknowledge its British roots; the innovative work they do for the industry; and become globally recognised as an outstanding British business.  And what better way to represent this than an official award from Her Majesty The Queen?  

The QAE is the highest accolade available to UK businesses and recognises outstanding achievement across four different categories: Innovation, International Trade, Sustainable Development, and Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility).  

Becoming a recipient of this award often brings unparalleled prestige, exposure, and credibility to a company, as well as pride and inspiration to employees. Key benefits also include improving opportunities to break into new markets, attracting new investment, raising awareness of brand and products, and attracting new talent. Speaking about how the QAE has benefited Little Soap Company, Emma said: 

“There has been additional publicity which is always brilliant for any business, but on top of that there’s been the kudos. I emailed all our current buyers at the supermarkets and chemists the morning the results were published in the London Gazette – good news touch points are always great to have and nudging one buyer with the news made him put us forward for their wholesale arm, while another retailer agreed to list us in 500 stores, after five years of prior attempts to achieve a listing. 

“In total we’ve got the opportunity to sell into a further 8,500 stores and chemists, which is huge and was absolutely spurred on by that news. We’ve been featured in the June issue of Entrepreneur Magazine - even making the front cover - as well as articles in SoGlos, The Stratford Herald, the summer edition of Midlands Living Magazine plus countless council, trade, and business articles. 

“What I didn’t expect so much was the platform it’s given us to raise awareness of what’s important to us as a business – of course the usual climate change, the impact consumers can have with their purchasing decisions, the importance of female business leaders but more recently, bringing visibility for LGBTQ+ leaders. Receiving this award is by no means the end, it’s just the beginning.” 

The process to apply for any of the four QAE categories is free, although requires plenty of time and consideration to finalise the answers required before this year’s deadline of midday on Tuesday 6 September 2022. Emma added: 

“It was a real team effort pulling together all of the information needed for our QAE application. However, the application process did act as a good benchmark, as it reminded us of just how far Little Soap Company has come in the last fifteen years. 

“I can't recommend The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise highly enough, and more so a shout out to women leaders – we need more applying! At events to promote these awards, there are very few of us and that really needs to change fast!” 

Representatives from Little Soap Company will attend a Royal reception at Buckingham Palace this month and be officially presented with their QAE by the Lord Lieutenant, The Queen’s representative in the county, in October 2022. All successful QAE companies are also able to fly the Queen’s Award flag at their main office and use the emblem on marketing materials for up to five years.  

Cllr Martin Watson, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy, said: “The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the highest accolades available to UK businesses, offering unparalleled prestige, exposure and credibility to your company, opening the doors to new markets and new customers, whilst also raising employee morale. 

“The county of Warwickshire has a very proud record of innovation and, increasingly, the development of sustainable technologies and so I encourage as many local businesses as possible to apply.  These awards are a fantastic opportunity to showcase the incredible business talent and successful enterprises we have in this county.”   

The Warwickshire Lieutenancy has prepared a locally focused brochure on the benefits of the QAE, and is available to support any Warwickshire-based businesses with their QAE applications. The Lieutenancy can be contacted by email at lieutenancy@warwickshire.gov.uk. 

To find out more about the QAE, visit www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise

Views of businesses wanted for WFRS consultation

Business have been urged to make their views known after Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service (WFRS)  launched a public consultation to ask the people living, studying and working in Warwickshire how their future priorities should be delivered.   

Everyone wants to know that WFRS will be there for them in an emergency. But WFRS also has responsibilities to prevent accidents and emergencies from happening in the first place and to protect people by ensuring the buildings in which they live and work are safe. So, their primary focus will always be to keep Warwickshire safe, through prevention, protection and response.  

This consultation is a chance to tell WFRS what matters most to you and what approach they should take. They are especially keen to hear from Warwickshire businesses, large and small, given their role to protect all types of commercial and other premises.  

To learn more about the strategy and consultation, please watch our series of short videos here.  

The responses that WFRS receive from this consultation will inform any updates to their Prevention, Protection and Response draft Strategy, which forms part of the Community Risk Management Plan. This is the plan that assesses the risks they face and sets out how they will reduce them, while also making sure they have the right resources at the right time, in the right place. 

The consultation can be completed here and will close on 25 September. 

Leadership programme for people working on environmental challenges

A free online leadership programme is available for people working on environmental challenges.

The programme, suitable for both private and public sectors, is targeted at people who want to work collaboratively to solve those challenges.

For more details, please visit:


The deadline for application is August 10th.

Rod and Steve join team of Business Ready advisors

“I love meeting businesses and looking at their ideas and seeing how I can help them to grow. That’s ultimately what Business Ready is all about.”

Businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire with plans for growth can benefit from the expertise of two new advisers who have joined a programme that supports firms in the region.

Rod Roberts-Dear and Steve Tipson have joined the Business Ready team and will draw upon their years of experience across a range of sectors to help companies achieve their potential.

Business Ready delivers support to expanding businesses managed by the business support team at the University of Warwick Science Park and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme.

It works with tech-based firms that need support to develop and grow their business, as well as access to finance, access to skills, access to new markets and access to incubation space.

Steve has been a serial entrepreneur since he left Lancaster University at the age of 21 when he founded the first web design business to appear in the Yellow Pages.

His most recent venture was sold in 2020 and he will offer a range of expertise, particularly around digital marketing, to help businesses to grow.

Rod spent the early part of his career working for large corporations and had a long spell in the automotive sector.

He worked overseas in a range of places – from Europe to Asia – and, since 2005, has provided coaching and consultancy services across several sectors including construction, manufacturing and automotive.

Steve said: “I ran my most recent business for 12 years before we sold and, in that period, I’ve consulted with more than 500 companies.

“So, when I’m working with businesses now, I will recognise the fact that they are all different but, equally, I will have seen the challenges, the issues and all the opportunities before in some shape or form.

“I love meeting businesses and looking at their ideas and seeing how I can help them to grow. That’s ultimately what Business Ready is all about.”

Rod said: “I met Ian McFarlane-Toms, who runs Business Ready, at a business show and we got talking and he mentioned this opportunity which sounded really interesting to me.

“Meeting and talking to the owners of SMEs is something I really enjoy and for the past ten years I’ve been supporting firms as both coach and manager. I know exactly where they are coming from and what they need to achieve their ambitions.

“It’s exciting to be able to work with so many companies and to help them grow.”

Ian McFarlane-Toms, programme manager at Business Ready, said: “We are thrilled to have Steve and Rod on board with Business Ready.

“They bring a wealth of expertise and experience in many different sectors that will be passed on to businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire through the programme.”

Companies that would like to find out more about Business Ready are invited to visit https://business-ready.co.uk/

Special Feature

Businesses with on-call firefighters deserve 'badge of honour'

"We rely heavily on our on-call teams, so the support of these businesses is vital to us. Any employer who releases staff in this way is making a massive support to their community." 

Businesses which employ on-call firefighters have been thanked for their "massive contribution" towards ensuring that communities throughout Warwickshire are kept safe. 

Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service's full-time firefighters are supported by around 140 on-call colleagues who carry pagers and ready to respond within five minutes in case of emergency to their local Fire Station. 

Many on-call firefighters work for companies which accept that there will be occasions when this employee has to leave at short notice. As the on-call men and women are integral to delivery of the vital service, the co-operation of those businesses is hugely appreciated, says WFRS On-call Support Officer, Paul Whitaker. 

"On-call firefighters are the backbone of the service," Paul said. 

"We rely heavily on our on-call teams, so the support of these businesses is vital to us. Any employer who releases staff in this way is making a massive support to their community. 

"We invite businesses to our annual awards ceremony as a thank you, but really they wear a badge of honour at all times. We find that employers are proud to have an on-call firefighter working for them." 

WFRS is currently looking to add to its team of on-call firefighters at its 12 stations around the county. The kudos to a business of having an on-call firefighter on the staff is considerable, but the inconvenience is not, according to Peter Bell, who first joined Stratford station as on-call, before becoming a whole-timer.  

"There is a lot of flexibility," said Peter, who is now Response Support Officer for Bidford, Stratford and Shipston. 

"We work with the employers to arrange what works best for everybody. On-call officers are not on call all the time, just on their shifts, and even then other crew members might be available so that employee might not be needed. They are just there for emergencies so it can have very little impact upon the employer."  

The impact is, in fact, only positive as the business finds itself with a more highly-qualified employee. 

"The firefighters' role is so important that on-call firefighters are trained to a high level," said Paul. " We train the employee to a high standard and give the employer back someone who is highly motivated and highly trained whether that's advanced first aid training specifically dealing with trauma, driver training or supervisory management courses." 

* Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is recruiting for on-call firefighters across the county, especially in Fenny Compton and Shipston-on-Stour. If any business would like to learn more about on-call and the benefits of having an on-call on their books, they are very welcome to contact the service for advice. For more details, please visit:  https://bit.ly/OnCallWarwickshire 


Guest column

Why 1 Mill Street is much more than a coworking space

Since its launch on November 1st, 2020, 1 Mill Street has injected life back into a redundant building and brought a vibrant new dimension to the business community of Leamington Spa, as Jem Morey, Marketing and Community Development Manager at 1 Mill Street, explains.

Coworking spaces are the hot new thing. A burgeoning market which has property developers and venture capitalists falling over themselves to acquire vacant, run-down buildings on the edge of soon-to-be-gentrified neighbourhoods.  

What comes next is the redevelopment of these premises into contemporary, trendy workspaces of which the likes of Google would be envious. Complete with stylish, sharp, pretentious décor, overpriced coffee served by handle-bar moustached hipster baristas on their gap-years, and procrastination-inducing ‘break-out spaces’ (aka sofas).

At first glance, 1 Mill Street, Leamington Spa, could be an example of this. When, in fact, this is far from the truth. 

1 Mill Street was founded and funded, privately and independently, by local entrepreneur Nigel Shanahan and his wife Dessie after the sale of their Warwickshire-based business ‘Rant and Rave.’

Launched on the 1st November 2020 (the first day of the UK’s second lockdown), 1 Mill Street was built on values of trust, innovation, but more importantly, member success. If their members are achieving great things, this reflects well back on them as well as the wider community of Leamington Spa and Warwickshire. 

In the 18 months since 1 Mill Street opened, it has become a melting pot, an eclectic mix of local businesses, digital creatives and freelancers collaborating and making great things happen. Set over three floors, 1 Mill Sill Street has flexible workspaces, inspiring meeting rooms, a state-of-the-art podcast studio and is home to (possibly!) Leamington’s best coffeehouse and bar.  

Now, as a sizeable share of 1 Mill Street is dedicated to their membership, there is some confusion as to what the public, non-member businesses and freelancers can do here.  Well, emblazoned on the front of our building are the words ‘Everyone’s Welcome’, and they stand by this statement.

Yes, they do have an exclusive members coworking area, but the rest of our facilities are open to everyone. You don’t need a membership to work or study from their coffeehouse, book a meeting room, record in their production studio, or use their events space.

But what really sets 1 Mill Street apart from the soulless, uninspired outlets seen on every London, Birmingham and Manchester street corner is their events calendar.  

Their events are largely free and open to members, the local business community, and the public. They are punchy, action-packed, 90-minute sessions with key-takeaways. They do this to stop everyone needing to take a day off work to attend an eight-hour seminar.

These events fall into three categories:

For You, is all about self-development. For example, there are monthly visits from clinical psychologists and clinical hypnotherapists that help freelancers and business owners perform at their peak.

For Your Business, is all about business-development. Examples of these events concentrate on marketing, sales, product development, and R&D.

And finally, For Fun! 1 Mill Street believes you can’t be expected to spend the lion share of your life working on yourself and your business without blowing out some steam at the end of the week.

If this has piqued your interest, you can find all the details on these events by becoming a Social Member on their website, for free.  

1 Mill Street needs to be seen to be believed, and they’re always happy to show anyone around their space. If that sounds like you, pop in and say hi, drop them an email or message them via one of their social channels.


A round-up of upcoming events...

2022.07.28 - 2022.08.08

UK House - Commonwealth Games - The first event of its kind, UK House will champion solutions across eight areas of strategic importance and showcase opportunities for sustainable growth, trade and investment, including Future Mobility and the Digital Creative Sector.

DIT/ West Midlands Growth Company

8 days

The Exchange, Birmingham

Weblink here


Talk Property - Kenilworth - Property Professionals meeting for Brunch, one table, one conversation ....Estate agents, mortgage brokers, planners, conveyancers, property lawyers, bankers, insurers, architects, interior designers, garden designers, builders, trades etc.

Talk Business UK


The Almanack

Weblink here


Conducting customer research - This workshop examines the direct and indirect benefits of conducting independent customer research. How these benefits provide a strong case for investing in customer research. And how to go about conducting research to get the most valuable information.




Weblink here


Leamington Spa Buzz F2F - A face-to-face monthly networking event where like-minded local business folk meet to broaden their contacts and talk through issues they may have.

Business Buzz

10:00 onwards

1 Mill Street

Weblink here


Leamington UNO Networking - Networking in Leamington. VISITOR DAY NEW single seat networking meetings, twice a month in Leamington Spa Talk Business UNO - Leamington

Talk Business UK


Bar + Block

Weblink here


Rugby Buzz F2F - A face-to-face monthly networking event where like-minded local business folk meet to broaden their contacts and talk through issues they may have.

Business Buzz

10:00 onwards

Gallachers of Rugby

Weblink here


Warwick Buzz - F2F: A face-to-face monthly networking event where like-minded local business folk meet to broaden their contacts and talk through issues they may have.

Business Buzz

10:00 onwards

The Globe, Warwick

Weblink here

2022.08.31 - 2022.09.01

Design software for BIM: Autodesk Revit for Beginners


09:00 onwards

Coventry University

Weblink here


Low Carbon Vehicle Show - The UK's first centre of excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies. It incorporates four key features: technology, extensive seminar programme; facilitated networking and development and commercially available vehicles.


2 days

UTAC, Millbrook

Weblink here


ChamberLIVE: Virtual Speed Networking - Virtual Speed Networking will give you the opportunity to connect with fellow members and tell them about your business. As with our normal Speed Networking, everyone on the call will get a 60 second chance to introduce themselves!

CW Chamber of Commerce



Weblink here


Employment: Misconduct outside the workplace and business disrepute - In this webinar, Mike Hibbs – Partner and Robin Gronbech - Solicitor in the Employment team will discuss the key employment law considerations and potential pitfalls.

Shakespeare Martineau



Weblink here


Coventry Motofest - MotoFest Coventry is a weekend of non-stop cultural celebration and motoring madness. Free family fun in the UK’s Motor City.
10-11th September

Coventry Motofest

2 days

Coventry City Centre - various

Weblink here


Off-Site Expo - A national exhibition held in Coventry to showcase the latest offsite technology is set to grow more than fifty per cent in size as the focus on modern methods of construction increases in the construction industry.

Maelstrom Event Solutions

2 days

CBS Arena

Weblink here


The Emergency Services Show - The Emergency Services Show is the UK’s leading annual showcase of the blue light sector, featuring 450+ exhibitors, live demonstrations, unique learning opportunities and unrivalled networking.

Emergency UK

2 days


Weblink here


Carbon Accounting Workshop. Access expertise from Coventry University academics and industry experts to achieve Net Zero goals through dedicated collaborative support.

CUE Business Solutions

09:00 - 16:00

Institute for advanced engineering, Coventry

Weblink Here


Talk Manufacturing - Food Manufacturing - Talk Manufacturing: Local manufacturing insights Discussing 'Developments and trends in Food Manufacturing.

Talk Business UK


Wellesbourne Innovation Campus

Weblink here


Engineering Design Show - The UK’s biggest event dedicated entirely to engineering, electronics and embedded design. Design engineers benefit from direct access to the latest products, services and innovations available to the sector.

Mark Allen Group

2 days

CBS Arena

Weblink here


Robotics and Automation Exhibition - An exhibition that will showcase how businesses can use robotics to increase productivity and counteract the skills shortage will take place in Coventry this November.

Akabo Media

2 days

CBS Arena

Weblink Here


Advanced Engineering Show - Advanced Engineering is the UK’s leading annual gathering of OEMs and engineering supply chain professionals. Taking place on 2 & 3 November 2022 at the NEC, Birmingham, the show is entering its 13th year as the UK’s engineering innovation hub.


2 days


Weblink here

News in Brief

Latest news in brief from around the county...

Aston Martin seeks to raise £653m in “Game Changing” Event

Gaydon-based Luxury car maker Aston Martin has revealed plans for a £653m equity capital raise, with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) to become a new anchor investor and the second largest shareholder. The company's executive chairman described the move - designed to accelerate Aston Martin's long-term growth - as a "game changing" event.

£5m Low Carbon Innovation Hub Coming to MIRA Technology Park

Plans have been approved for a £5m green infrastructure project linked to a Low Carbon Innovation Hub that will support tech companies as they focus on developing low carbon technologies. Funding has been agreed which will transform an existing building at MIRA Technology Park into a low carbon research centre, bringing with it transformational charging and testing infrastructure for electric and hydrogen vehicles.

MTC and Adelan with ATF Funding to Drive Forawrd UK Fuel Cell Manufacturing

The  Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) at Ansty Technology Park has joined forces with hydrogen technology pioneer Adelan in a project aimed at significantly ramping up fuel cell manufacturing capacity in the UK. With funding from the Government’s Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), Birmingham-based Adelan and the MTC will study ways of building UK capacity for manufacturing fuel cells for the automotive sector, helping the UK drive to net zero.

Plug and Play UK Adds University of Warwick, APC, Zenzic as Partners for UK Mobility Innovation Programme

Recently created by global innovation platform and prolific early-stage investor Plug and Play, alongside founding partner Jaguar Land Rover, Plug and Play UK will create an innovation hub that is the first of its kind in the UK. The programme will build an ecosystem of start-ups and scale-ups, corporates, investors, and academia to explore the challenges and solutions that will define the future of the mobility sector, create jobs, and help shape the digital economy.

 Sonic Boom in Silicon Spa

Sega Publishing Europe Limited has doubled their game development floorspace at Victoria Court, in Leamington Spa. Sega Hardlight studio is behind the critically acclaimed adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog™ on mobile platforms such as Sonic Dash, Sonic Boom and Sonic Forces. It now has 15,300 sq. ft. office space at Victoria Court.

 Med-tech Firm Quanta wins major technology award

Alcester-based Quanta Dialysis Technologies has won the 2022 MacRobert Award, the UK’s top engineering innovation prize. Quanta has been awarded the accolade for the SC+ compact dialysis machine, a compact kidney dialysis machine. Its portability allows it to be used to treat kidney failure patients at home, relieving the burden on hospitals.

Delivery giant DHL to occupy 300,000 sq ft at Segro Park and create 600 jobs

DHL Parcel UK has become the first occupier at Segro Park Coventry after choosing the development as the location for a major new UK logistics hub. It will  initially a 300,000-square-foot unit on a 25-year lease at the 200-acre industrial and logistics park in Warwick District, creating up to 600 jobs, including warehouse, driver, administration and management positions.

New £5.5m scheme could bring hundreds of new jobs to Warwick and Leamington

The final development in a major business and industrial park in Warwickshire is set to create hundreds of jobs and scores of new companies in Warwick and Leamington. The Space Business Centre Warwick will feature 61 200-500sqft units being created by developer AC Lloyd Commercial and is designed to attract start-up and expanding enterprises and will be a mix of office, industrial and storage units and will provide short-term flexible accommodation to help the businesses grow.

Construction Starts on £20m Coventry Boutique Hotel

Leamington Spa-based property developer Castlebridge has broken ground on a £20 million hotel project in Coventry city centre. Once complete, the Hotel Indigo will feature 100 rooms designed with Coventry’s history in mind. It will also have a gym, restaurant and bar which will be available to both hotel guests and the public.

 New Appointment To Drive Innovation Agenda At University Of Warwick Science Park

Mark Tock has been appointed Chief Operations Officer at the University of Warwick Science Park as part of a strategy to drive innovation across the West Midlands. The Science Park will continue to work with the University of Warwick to foster collaboration between business and academic research. This includes access for major initiatives such as global innovation platform Plug & Play’s Mobility Platform, based at the National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC).

HS2 Reveals Outdoor Factory and Training Academy at Kingsbury

The first pictures have emerged from HS2’s giant construction compound in Kingsbury, Warwickshire. The 550,000m2 site is run by HS2’s civil partner, Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), and will soon become the workplace for around 1,000 people tasked with building the high-speed rail line on a network of viaducts crossing motorways, roads and footpaths.

 Major Business Event Comes to West Midlands During 2022 Commonwealth Games

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will coincide with UK House: The Commonwealth Business Hub. The first event of its kind, UK House will champion solutions across eight areas of strategic importance and showcase opportunities for sustainable growth, trade and investment, including Future Mobility and the Digital Creative Sector.

Business Economic Sentiment Presents Mixed Outlook for Economy

Coventry and Warwickshire's economic outlook has dropped to its lowest point since the second quarter of 2021, according to new research, but is still in "positive territory". The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce's latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) said that, despite the drop, the region remains on par with the rest of the UK economy. The service sector experienced a drop in domestic orders, down from 62.1 to 52.4, while in manufacturing, the score jumped from 47.6 to 53.9.

New Leader at Chamber of Commerce

A new chief executive is taking the helm at Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. Corin Crane has joined the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce after leading the Black Country Chamber for almost six years. He succeeds Louise Bennett, who has run the organisation for 20 years and will remain with the organisation for a brief period to handover.

People Profile

Louise and Stephen bring their passion and experience to the Skills Hub team

Warwickshire Skills Hub, part of Warwickshire County Council’s Economy & Skills Group, has welcomed two new members to its team as Louise Stolz and Stephen Hall join as Employability and Skills Project Officers.

Both new recruits bring a wealth of relevant experience to their roles, as well as a passion for supporting people who are seeking the best career pathway.

Louise has joined after more than a decade at Tamworth Borough Council during which she worked in Employment & Skills.

"I’m really excited to have joined the Warwickshire Skills Hub Team as Employability & Skills Project Officer," Louise said. "I will be supporting them in the development and delivery of a variety of projects including the Fair Chance Employment Programme and the Warwickshire Apprenticeship Progression Programme.

"With my previous experience in Employment & Skills at Tamworth Borough Council, I am passionate about giving people every opportunity to develop their skills and employability and giving them the tools to succeed in their chosen career path."

Stephen arrives with extensive experience collected over 20 years with organisations in the world of welfare to work, including private providers Working Links & Maatwerk, Coventry City Council and social housing provider Bromford.

His roles have been very varied and include Hub Adviser (running Atherstone Learning Disability Hub) and Families Coordinator (Part of the Troubled Families Programme).

"I am delighted to be joining the Employability and Skills Team," said Stephen. "I'm looking forward to being able to utilise my experience of providing careers advice and support to jobseekers over the last 20 years to help support and develop future skills and employability programmes. Over the years I have gained experience of working with a variety of funding streams and supporting people in pretty much every situation imaginable.

"I particularly enjoy being able to be part of supporting individuals to improve their skills. I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing the difference this can make to families and also local communities.

Chloe Millage, Careers & Employability Programme Manager at Warwickshire Skills Hub, said: "I am delighted to welcome Louise and Stephen to the team. They have a real passion and enthusiasm for helping to set young people on the road to the right careers and have brought a lot of valuable experience to our team. I am sure they will both be great assets to the team."

* Members of the Skills Hub staff are being part funded by the European Social Fund as part of the Coventry & Warwickshire ESF Technical Assistance project.

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