Poking my nose in other people’s business

Having lived in the Cotswolds for over 40 years, I think I know my way around and I know a lot of people! And those people that I don’t know seem to know me!

For 20 of those 40 years in the Cotswolds, I have been writing about and promoting businesses, groups, organisations and events through the Fairford & Lechlade Business Club, my local Facebook page: www.facebook.com/FairfordGL7, other social media outlets, monthly articles in the Ripples magazine, the Fairford Town Council Newsletter and a weekly column – now increased to a whole page – in the Wilts & Glos Standard (WAGS). In other words, I write for mags, rags and WAGS!

During lockdown, I got to thinking that it might be more sensible and easier to manage if I put a lot of what I do under one roof – or website to be exact. I, therefore, asked the wonderful Emma of Bulldog Websites to design a blog/news website for me. This is now live for anyone to have a look at – www.chrisrobertsmbe.co.uk! The name of the site might sound a bit presumptuous, but I wanted people to know it was me behind these articles instead of having just the normal, run-of-the-mill blog and news site about the Cotswolds. In addition to where to go and what to see in the area, I have included information about who you might see and also a Which? businesses to use.

I am offering an introductory (really good value) discounted price for the rest of 2020 to anyone who would like me to write about them and promote what they do or what they are about to do. It can be a one-off article or a regular weekly/monthly slot. Please get in touch if you are interested: phone 01285 712150, 0744 350 0744 or email me at chrisrobertsmbe@gmail.com.  

Don’t forget: I love to poke my nose into other people’s business and then make up stories about them!

Re-inventing my business

By Barry Jackson of Aspire Academy

One of the things that Covid has forced me to do was to completely re-invent the way I run my business. This has included the launch of a brand new website: aspire-academy.net (don’t forget the hyphen!)

My involvement with The Cotswold Challenge (thecotswoldchallenge.com) gave me all sorts of insights into the concerns of young people and I will be posting weekly blogs and podcasts on my new website, in which I share tips on all aspects of career development and employability strategies. These will be free of charge, so all you have to do to access my tips is to go to the website and take out your free subscription. I have also included a section where young people and their parents can pose questions to me, which may be answered via my Facebook page or featured in my weekly blogs/podcasts.

If you’re not the parent of a teenager and this stuff is not relevant to you, the website is still a wonderful example of Emma Tuck’s professionalism in designing a bespoke website. Working with Emma has been great and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I now regard her as an indispensable partner. If you’re thinking of developing a new website, I can thoroughly recommend Emma’s services. Her own website is bulldogwebsites.co.uk.

Spotlight on Lechlade and Fairford

Maybe* has already helped 1000s of businesses accelerate their use of social media. This has proven to increase customer engagement, footfall and sales and is a critical business skill that drives significant sales when used well.

As part of the programme, every business in the Cotswolds is invited to join the weekly webinars revealing what’s working best on social media and to learn how to replicate it.

It’s 10am every Wednesday.

Each week the Maybe* team do a virtual ‘visit’ of two UK towns to reveal how independent businesses are winning at social media and reveal the steps that other businesses can replicate across the Cotswolds.

It’s 45 minutes of expert insight with clear actionable guidance that any business can take away to improve their performance as well as access to tools that help them see what’s working.

On Wednesday 21st October, Fairford was featured and Maybe* shone the spotlight on The Coffee Post, Corky & Prince and The Paperback Shop. These businesses were thought to have the best Facebook posts in and around Fairford. Not just great words and photos, but also videos and competitions to catch people’s attention and imagination.

The Lechlade spotlight was scheduled for Wednesday 7th October, but was then re-scheduled for Wednesday 28th October. I hope you all managed to catch the webinar.  

To register for the webinars or to find out more, please click HERE.

PR and why it’s important in business

by Fiona Scott of Fiona Scott Media

Everyone seems to think they know what ‘PR’ means – however, more often than not, they don’t!

Many business owners see it as pointless, with no ROI and it’s easy – they’ve got much better things to do with their time and money.

I wonder why bigger companies and brands see it as absolutely critical to their success then?

In simple terms, good PR (public relations NOT press relations) makes you and your business visible in the right way with the right messages consistently, so that you are in the best position for customers or clients to buy from you.

PR is for you if:

You want organic business growth

If you find yourself saying: “I need to get out there…”, then good PR means having a plan and a budget to do just that.

Business owners often feel the need to spread the word that they exist and they are impatient about making it happen right now. Forget it! It takes time.

PR is one of the most consistent ways to build awareness and spread the word in a cost-efficient way. By getting your company consistently mentioned in the news, on social media, via blogs like this, you can generate organic leads in an impactful way. You then have to recognise those leads and get on and sell…

You want more visibility

If you are frustrated that others in your sector get more ‘airtime’ than you do, ask yourself why that is? It’s usually not an accident that others are being seen – they are investing more effort in time and budget than you.

You want brand awareness

If you are taken aback that no one has ever heard of your product or service, it usually means you’ve been lucky so far or perhaps you’ve had one or two main clients, so you’ve rumbled along nicely making enough income. However, if lockdown has taught you anything, it should have taught you that’s a dangerous way to do business. That big egg in your basket may turn rancid almost overnight.

You work in the third sector

If you run a charity or any kind of social enterprise, building the awareness of the organisation or your charity event is important in order to encourage donations and support for the cause, and PR is the essential tool to do so.

In order to encourage and nurture support, you have to evidence what you are doing from day one whether it is through case studies or client testimonials. Even if you attract funding from other sources, such as local authority grants, you will be required to demonstrate how that money has been used and how you have impacted your service users.

Take PR seriously – it’s your shop window

PR is vital and shouldn’t just be shoved into someone’s job or given to someone in-house, who doesn’t want to do it and won’t make it a priority, or given to the most junior person in the room, who hasn’t been trained.

Through effective marketing strategies, PR promotes its clients’ agenda and, when used appropriately, PR can give a business or organisation the power to overcome almost any obstacle and generate multiple opportunities.

If you need a helping hand to get started doing PR well, why not book a virtual power hour with me at £99 + VAT? Email me on fiona@fionascott.co.uk. 

News from The Barn Theatre

The Barn Theatre has been awarded £349,500 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF). It was one of 12 diverse Gloucestershire arts and culture organisations that benefitted from a share of the CRF. The Barn Theatre team would like to thank everyone that has donated to the Save Our Barn Campaign and local councils, communities, members of the theatre industry and Cotswolds MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

The Barn Theatre has now launched its brand new website for a smoother online experience; book tickets for upcoming productions and NEW cinema screenings from Barn Cinema. 

Coming up at The Barn Theatre

16th October – 8th November Marry Me A Little

6th January – 16th January The Importance of Being Earnest

13th January – 7th February The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Business Forum on-air surgery for businesses

The Business Forum is a twice weekly programme hosted by Cotswolds District Councillor, Tony Dale, who is Cabinet Member for Economy & Skills. This show will provide an on-air surgery for businesses across the Cotswolds. 

A panel of knowledgeable and informed guests will respond to questions about the recently launched £54 million CDC Recovery Investment Fund, as well as the difficult decision faced by company owners with the end of furlough and the start of the Government’s Job Support Scheme. 

Since the first broadcast in March, the Business Forum has focussed on providing information and entertainment for the individuals and families who make up our communities. Delivering local news every day, with regular updates from our County Councillor, our GP, our clergy and headteachers. 

However, we recognise that our local businesses are likely to want similar support, particularly with the transition from furlough to the Job Support Scheme. The Business Forum provides our District Councils, Chambers and Business Clubs the opportunity to inform and guide at a really local level. Explaining the help and resources that they are making available. Answering questions on air and establishing what business owners really want to know by emailing contact@cotswoldradio.com. 

Office move provides improved accessibility and support for local businesses

McGills Chartered Accountants moved to their new Malmesbury offices on Friday 23rd October located at 14a The High Street, Malmesbury, SN16 9AU.

The move makes their new Malmesbury offices more accessible than ever with their own front door opening straight out on to the High Street. The move also means that McGills can offer a choice of phone, video conferencing or personal face-to-face appointments for local businesses, whilst observing strict social distancing guidelines. 

McGills still has its office in Cirencester, which is based at Oakley House on the Tetbury Road. 

Contact McGills in Cirencester on 01285 652128 or in Malmesbury on 01666 823201 or visit www.mcgills.co.uk. 

Wrag Barn 30th Anniversary Celebrations

There was a huge turnout for the 30th anniversary golf competition on 10th October. Everyone was eligible to play and the format was a 2-ball Texas Scramble. We had all sorts of combinations – husbands and wives, friends, fathers, sons, daughters and pairs who’d never met, but wanted to join the celebrations. The field was so large that the final entries were playing up the 18th when the sun was going down!

The new normal with the Covid regulations make it safer to avoid presentation gatherings, but it didn’t detract from the extraordinary results which were:


Richard and Lewis Ward with a net score of 62.2

Runners up

Andy and Riley Banks with a net score of 64.2

Both Father and Son teams are a huge part of the Wrag Barn Community. 

Richard Ward ran the Junior Section for 12 years, unconditionally giving his time and wisdom which yielded fantastic results. So many Juniors have gone on to work in the golf industry or maintain a low golf handicap while pursuing a different career. Richard’s son Lewis was Captain of the Junior Section in 2017 and, after all their hard work, it’s wonderful to see them have time to play golf together with such impressive results. 

Andy and Riley Banks have an Instagram (@father_son_golf) and Youtube channel and use these platforms to inspire so many with the candid stories of their journey. They record the lows in as much detail as the highs, which provide inspiration and support to other golfers. Andy never forgets to record how much he enjoys spending so much time with Riley during his formative years.

Shop local for Christmas – with a twist

A lot of our Club members’ businesses have struggled over the past few months and I would like to suggest a way to help some of them. It is a shop local scheme, but with a twist. Instead of using the big stores or mail order giants, why don’t we buy our friends and loved ones presents from our own Business Club members? You can stay safe at home and email your chosen Club member and ask to buy a voucher from them. 

Here are a few suggestions – apologies if I have left anyone out:

Fairford Town Football & Social Club Season ticket

The Trout Inn, Lechlade Lunch or dinner for 2 or 4 people

Cotswold Woollen Weavers Voucher to buy any of the beautiful goods on sale

New Inn Hotel, Lechlade Lunch or dinner for 2 or 4 people

The Health Box, Lechlade Voucher to buy any of the healthy goods on sale

The Purple Plumbing People Ltd Voucher to use against any plumbing work needed

Corky & Prince, Fairford Voucher for a weekly bouquet or one-off bouquet

Jen Winnett Art Voucher to buy any of the beautiful goods on sale

Apollo Health Therapy Voucher for treatment

Allison Murray Design Voucher to use against cost of re-branding

Corinium Security Systems Voucher against goods

KJ Accounts Voucher to pay for financial services

Cotswold Hoburne Lunch or dinner for 2 or 4 people

Ye Olde Swan at Radcot Meal for 2 or 4 people or glamping experience

The Crown Inn, Lechlade Lunch or dinner for 2 or 4 people

The Rose & Crown Lunch or dinner for 2 or 4 people

The Old Swan Inn, Lechlade Lunch or dinner for 2 or 4 people

The Cotswold Chippy Take away fish and chip supper

Wrag Barn Golf Club A round of golf or a meal for 2 or 4 people

Bulldog Websites Voucher towards website build or hosting

Lynwood & Co Ltd Voucher for goods

Green Hills Cleaning Voucher for cleaning services

Ray’s Ice Cream Voucher towards ice cream tubs

Tollhouse Gifts & Gallery Voucher for goods

Abbey Wills Voucher towards will writing

PCH Business Support Voucher towards a consultation

Sourdough Revolution Pizzas

The Riverside Lunch or dinner for 2 or 4 people

National Trust Voucher for National Trust membership

Andrew Garland Action Coach Voucher towards a consultation

Concise Training Ltd Voucher towards training/website services

Cotswold Boat Hire & GLS Marine Voucher for boat hire – weekly/daily

Morris Owen Voucher to pay for financial services

McGills Chartered Accountants Voucher to pay for financial services

Magic Beans Café Voucher for meal or snack

Bluestone Insurance Services Ltd Voucher towards insurance

Spike’s Diner Voucher for meal 

Fabulous Partyware Voucher to buy any of the beautiful goods on sale

Odd Jobs Handy Man Voucher to buy any work that needs doing

Flint & Lambourn Marquees Ltd Voucher towards marquee hire for a special occasion

Lechlade Trout Fisheries Day or season ticket for fishing

Swan at Southrop Lunch or dinner for 2 or 4 people

Thyme Voucher for a meal / a stay / a cookery course

Londis (Oxring Ltd) Fairford/Lechlade Voucher towards groceries, goods

Sudbury House Hotel Lunch or dinner for 2 or 4 people

If you need contact details, please look on our website www.flbc.org.uk and click the Members tab at the top of the Home Page. If you can’t find the details you need, please get in touch with admin@flbc.org.uk. 

Please print out this list, so you’re never short of ideas. Enjoy your stress-free Christmas shopping!

Bibury Antiques Fair

Bibury Antiques Fair will be at the splendid location of Bibury Village Hall on Sunday 1st November. 

Opening at 10am and closing at 4pm, there will be a Track & Trace system in place. Please help by providing a name and a phone number or email address – really it is not much to ask to keep people safe. The information, written in the visitors’ own hand (sanitiser by the side to clean the pen) will be stored for three weeks and then destroyed. This will go towards ensuring there will be more events at this Hall and ensuring that everyone has a great day there.

The Fair will have a slightly different layout, and a one-way system, to prevent congestion. Look forward to seeing you there – entry fee is just £1.

Find out more from: 07977, 936882, biburyantiquesfair@gmail.com or visit: www.biburyantiquesfair.com.