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Marlborough News journalist to give PR tips to business leaders

Peter DavisonPeter DavisonOne of the founders of Marlborough News Online will be showing business leaders how to win media exposure for their companies next week.

Peter Davison will be addressing the monthly networking breakfast meeting of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce.

During a short presentation, he’ll offer business owners and managers Five Ways to Turn Your Business Into News.

Peter has been a journalist for more than 20 years and a public relations consultant for 10, winning local, national, and international media exposure for a range of local clients under the name Secret Agent Marketing.

He started his career at the Marlborough Times, and five years ago was one of four media professionals who launched Marlborough News Online. He also owns and edits Wiltshire business news publication Business Biscuit.

The networking event will be held at Marlborough Golf Club from 7.30am until 9am on Wednesday, May 18, and is open to non-members.

Attendance costs £9 and places should be booked through Elaine Glass at Withy King via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Andrew brings 10 years’ experience to commercial property market

Andrew StibbardAndrew StibbardFrom managing office blocks in the City of London to selling corner shops in the Cotswolds, there’s not much Andrew Stibbard hasn’t done during a decade in commercial property.

Now Andrew has set up his own consultancy, filling a gap in the market for commercial property expertise in Marlborough and Hungerford.

But he’s casting his net much wider, regarding the ‘Cirencester-Trowbridge-Newbury triangle’ his patch.

“I’ve always wanted to run my own business,” said Andrew, who graduated in Property Agency and Marketing from the prestigious Cirencester Agricultural College in 2006.

Ramsbury born and bred, he cut his teeth at the Marlborough branch of residential estate agency Henry George, before moving to London for five years, with commercial property agent Jones Lang LaSalle.

Three years ago, he joined Cirencester-based estate agent Moore Allen & Innocent as the head of the commercial department, taking responsibility for the letting and management of premises as varied as shops in the chocolate box streets of the Cotswolds and industrial units in converted farm buildings.

As Stibbard Property, Andrew offers a range of services to both premises owners and landlords, and buyers and tenants.

He is building an extensive database of commercial buildings for sale and let, and can help owners to market their buildings, or business owners find their ideal property, whether that’s retail premises, offices, or industrial units.

Andrew also offers property management services to landlords, and clients make make use of the breadth of knowledge he has obtained over 10 years in the industry: from lease renewals and rent reviews to mitigating business rates.

For more information, log on to


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Marlborough’s new status as a Fairtrade Town discussed at Chamber breakfast

Allison Burden with Nick Helps from Tesco and Stephen Fenna from WaitroseAllison Burden with Nick Helps from Tesco and Stephen Fenna from WaitroseRecognition of Marlborough as one of 600 Fairtrade towns in the UK was celebrated at the monthly Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast on Wednesday.

The meeting heard from Allison Burden, leader of the Fairtrade Marlborough Steering Group, who was joined by Tesco manager Nick Helps and Waitrose department manager Stephen Fenna.

To become a Fairtrade town, businesses leaders were told, its citizens, council and companies had to show a commitment to Fairtrade produce – where farmers are paid a fair wage for the crops they produce.

Over the past 20 years, Marlborough has embraced Fairtrade produce. Retail anchor Waitrose, the meeting heard, must stock a minimum of four Fairtrade products to qualify for Fairtrade status. At last count, its Fairtrade range extended to 183 products.

Allison, who lives in Marlborough but spent 20 years in Africa and Asia, said she had seen firsthand how minimum prices had made “a huge difference” to growers.

“There is a direct link between coffee prices and malnutrition,” she said. “This is a matter of life and death for producers.”

Stephen said Waitrose was committed to the idea of Fairtrade, and that sales of Fairtrade produce – including coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, and even wine – were up 75 percent year on year.

This was due in part, he said, to a closing gap between the price of Fairtrade produce and products not carrying the mark.

“Our customers want to make the change because there’s very little price difference,” he asserted.

During last months Fairtrade Fortnight, said Nick, shoppers at Tesco were greeted with a 1930s farm cart loaded with Fairtrade produce. On top of the pile was TV playing a video about Fairtrade.

During the two-week campaign, sales of Fairtrade hot chocolate accounted for 57 percent of product line sales – up from 25 percent. Ground coffee went from five percent Fairtrade to 15 percent while tea – typically the hardest to change, as customers remain brand loyal – went from two percent to seven percent.

Unlike Waitrose, not all of Tesco’s bananas are Fairtrade. The chain, said Nick, offered customers the choice. But, he admitted, non-Fairtrade bananas are sold as a loss leader – the product is one which consumers use to compare prices between supermarkets.

And talking of a race to the bottom, the meeting discussed the plight of UK dairy farmers. Last year, farmers protested after the ‘farm gate price’ they receive for their milk fell to 23p a litre – less than the estimated 30p a litre it cost to produce.

The blame was placed firmly at the door of the supermarkets, some of whom were engaged in a price war with each other – and were driving farm gate prices down.

Allison said the Fairtrade Foundation had said it would not be campaigning on behalf of UK farmers; preferring to concentrate on the world’s poorest producers, living on less than two dollars a day.

Both Stephen and Nick said their respective employers were working hard with the dairy industry to ensure that farmers received a fair price for their produce.

Marlborough businesses who want to find out more about the town’s Fairtrade status, and how to get involved, can find the steering group on Facebook at


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Businesses to discover what Fairtrade Town status means for Marlborough

Allison BurdenAllison BurdenMarlborough’s recent appointment as a Fairtrade Town will be explored and celebrated at the next meeting of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce.

Allison Burden, director of programs at Equality Now, and Poppy Vanner from Waitrose will be exploring the concept behind Fairtrade, explaining how and why Marlborough was awarded Fairtrade Town status, and encouraging local businesses to promote the Fairtrade ethos in their own places of work.

The networking event will be held at Marlborough Golf Club from 7.30am until 9am on Wednesday, April 20. Attendance costs £9 and should be booked through Elaine Glass at Withy King via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Fast-growing IT firm takes on four new team members

Daniel Matthews Jack Peploe and Alistair Reynolds of ThirdlineDaniel Matthews Jack Peploe and Alistair Reynolds of ThirdlineFast-growing IT and communications firm Thirdline has taken on four new members of staff, bringing its workforce to 20.

Daniel Matthews has joined Liddington-based Thirdline as a service desk technician, supporting clients with IT issues and helping them find solutions to meet their business needs.

And there have been two appointments to the company’s new creative division, Phoenix Factory.

Alistair Reynolds has joined the company in a development role, writing applications to make the company’s systems work more smoothly, and creating pieces of software to meet the individual needs of clients.

Meanwhile, wordsmith Dave McGuffog will be writing sparkling copy for Thirdline’s promotional print and website, and raising the company’s online profile through search engine optimisation. His talents will also be available to Phoenix Factory customers.

Finally, Ismaeel Mohammed has joined Thirdline’s Cirencester-based satellite office, heading up the device repair team, which fixes broken smartphones and tablets for business and non-business customers.

The company is also looking for an apprentice to join the IT repairs team in the Cirencester office.

The four new team members join Thirdline at an exciting time: the company has been shortlisted in four categories at the Wiltshire Business of the Year awards.

Thirdline is up for the Small Business of the Year, Customer and Staff Care, and Outstanding Excellence awards, while founder Jack Peploe is a finalist in the Business Person of the Year category.

The winners will be revealed at a glittering ceremony at Centre Parcs Longleat on Friday, April 15.

For more information about Thirdline services, log on to

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What makes successful people succeed? ponders Olympian

David HemeryDavid HemeryWhat is it that makes successful people successful? That was the question posed by Olympic athlete David Hemery CBE at the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce business breakfast last week.

Mr Hemery recalled his gold medal win in the 400m hurdles at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, setting a new world record in the process.

“On paper we (Hemery's British teammate John Sherwood won bronze) were the slowest, and the Americans should have won.

“On the podium, three things were going through my mind: relief that I hadn’t blown it; euphoria; and the question ‘why me?’

“It made me wonder, why do some people do well under pressure and others blow it?”

When his running career ended, Hemery worked as a coach in American, and it was while coaching at Boston University that he was given the chance to take a degree. For his dissertation, he interviewed people who had performed well under pressure.

“I found there are two attributes shared by high achievers,” he revealed. “They are self aware and self responsible. Someone who is aware of what to do and who takes responsibility will perform effectively.”

Today, David runs 21st Century Legacy to help to bring coaching and self-managed leadership to young people.

The intent is to inspire, engage and empower them to become more aware and responsible for their life choices, and a team of high-achieving athletes visit schools, coaching both teachers and students.

“I want young people to be the best they can be,” he said, “because that is a challenge for everyone.”

The next Marlborough Chamber of Commerce business breakfast will be held at Marlborough Golf Club from 7.30am until 9am on Wednesday, April 20. Attendance costs £9 and should be booked through Elaine Glass at Withy King via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Olympic gold medal winner to address Marlborough Chamber business breakfast

David HemeryDavid HemeryOlympic gold medal winner David Hemery will be recounting his success stories and talking about teaching skills to young people at the next meeting of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce.

Hemery, who lives near Marlborough, is famous for the double Commonwealth title he won in the 120 yard hurdles in 1966 and retained in 1970, and for the gold he won in the 400m hurdles at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 – setting a new world record in the process.

Away from the athletics track, Hemery has been a coach, teacher, manager and writer, and was until very recently Vice Chairman of British Olympic Association.

For twenty-five years he worked to bring coaching into management in major blue chip companies, and seven years ago he founded 21st Century Legacy to help to bring coaching and self-managed leadership to young people. The intent is to inspire, engage and empower them to become more aware and responsible for their life choices.

Last year he ran the London Marathon, at the age of 71 – and wrote a column about it for Marlborough News Online.

The event will be held at Marlborough Golf Club from 7.30am until 9am on Wednesday, March 16. Attendance costs £9 and should be booked through Elaine Glass at Withy King via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Skurrays - the oldest name in the UK motor trade - disappears

The rebranded Now Vauxhall site in MarlboroughThe rebranded Now Vauxhall site in MarlboroughThe oldest name in the UK motor trade has disappeared following the retirement of its owner.

Established by Ernest Clement Skurray in 1899, Skurrays ran car dealerships in Swindon, Marlborough and Oxford. It was a Vauxhall dealer for more than a century, and the Skurray family owned the firm until the 1960s.

But following the retirement of managing director Nick Plevey – the most recent custodian of the Skurrays brand – the familiar name has disappeared forever.

Speaking to industry publication Automotive Magazine, Mr Plevey – who bought the business in 2009 – said: “I’m 60 now and I’m going to start my retirement. I started work serving petrol at 14 and it’s been none stop ever since. I’m ready for a break.

“Throughout my time here we’ve enjoyed excellent backing from Vauxhall Motor Holdings and it’s a relationship that the brand has maintained with the Skurrays name for over a hundred years.

“The biggest loss in all this is the loss of the Skurrays name.”

The Swindon and Marlborough dealerships have been bought by London-based Now Vauxhall.

Managing director Jon Taylor said: “We are very pleased to be taking our first steps outside of the M25 with our new locations in Swindon and Marlborough.

“This is an exciting time for the Now team and customers alike. We are confident we will be able to provide a fantastic experience to all as we develop the business further.

“We look forward to working within the local community and to welcoming customers, past present and future into our Now dealerships.”

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Training provider shortlisted for two major awards

The Haddon Training teamThe Haddon Training teamA Marlborough-based equestrian training provider is in the running for two prestigious awards.

Haddon Training, which delivers work-based apprenticeships in horse care, animal care and business, has been shortlisted for the Times Education Supplement’s Further Education Awards, and in the Apprenticeship 4 England Awards.

The renowned TES FE Awards celebrate and reward the dedication and expertise of the people and teams who continue to make a significant contribution to improving the skill levels of young people and adult learners. The awards are open to anyone working in the UK FE sector.

Haddon Training has been shortlisted in the Training Provider of the Year category. The winners will be announced on April 22 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

The Apprenticeship 4 England Awards recognise and reward training providers and employers who are dedicated to delivering quality Apprenticeships.

Haddon Training are hoping to repeat their success last year, when they won the Small Prime Award. Due to the company’s recent growth, it will be competing this year in the Medium Prime category.

The awards will be presented at the Emirates Stadium, London on February 25.

Locally, Haddon Training has made it to the next stage of the Wiltshire Business Awards in the Small Business of the Year category.

Chris Hewlett, managing director, said: “To be shortlisted in two national awards makes me so proud of the whole team at Haddon Training. We are a niche training provider that strives to raise the standards of the industries in which we deliver qualifications.

“It is very humbling to know that the company, who delivered their first qualification 19 years ago, has now been shortlisted for two prestigious awards in the further education sector.”

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Community champions bring free wifi to Marlborough town centre

Bob Holman of MADT with Free Community Wifi device and nodeBob Holman of MADT with Free Community Wifi device and nodeCommunity champions are celebrating after a Free Community Wifi scheme was rolled out to cover 100 percent of Marlborough town centre.

The scheme allows anyone with a wifi-enabled device to log on to the internet for 20 minutes at a time, as often as they like, for no charge - perfect for casual users who want to check emails, log on to their social media channels, or access websites while they enjoy a coffee or do some shopping.

Meanwhile, regular users who want an uninterrupted service can pay £10 a year for always-on wifi, for two devices.

What's more, the entire scheme has been delivered for less than £10,000 - far less than similar market town schemes that have cost ten times that amount.

Now more businesses are needed to host the small devices that will make the facility more robust and reliable.

The scheme was funded mainly by grants from Wiltshire Council's Marlborough Area Board, with contributions from individual business owners, and was delivered by Marlborough Area Development Trust.

Board member Bob Holman said: "Visitors to the town, whether they are tourists, or locals popping in to shop and do business, can benefit from free wifi, and that's a terrific selling point for Marlborough.

"And the scheme has allowed us to address the lack of a Tourist Information Centre by allowing us to provide information and walking tours through a dedicated website -

"But there are a host of benefits to the business community that we are keen to explore.

"For instance, we could launch an e-commerce site for Marlborough retailers, potentially including a Click and Collect service to allow customers to pick up purchased goods out of hours.

"We could also potentially use the wifi to extend the town's CCTV provision, with cameras both inside and outside premises, saving business owners tens of thousands of pounds when compared against commercially available schemes, and providing an accessible system allowing business owners to keep an eye on their premises - day or night - via their smart phone."

The system works by business owners donating a fraction of their wifi bandwidth to the scheme by means of a 'node'. There are currently 37 nodes in the town, which relay and boost the Free cCommunity Wifi signal around the town.

The nodes offer added security implications to business owners: they also allow businesses to offer wifi to visitors to their premises, without the need to give them access to their company broadband router.

The nodes also have built-in firewalls and content filtering, which means certain websites - for instance sites with adult content, or which encourage or enable piracy - are blocked to users of the community wifi scheme.

Nodes are located along the length of High Street and its environs, including Hughenden Yard and Hillier’s Yard. Marlborough Area Development Trust also operates small, local free wifi schemes in Ramsbury, Aldbourne, Avebury and Lockeridge.

The next stage of the Marlborough scheme is to install nodes in more business premises to improve the robustness and reliability of the scheme. The Development Trust is therefore looking for more local business owners to come forward and help support the scheme - please contact Bob Holman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 01672 890222.

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Rick Stein gives a clue to menu options at new Marlborough restaurant


Rick, Charlie, Jack, Jill and EdwardRick, Charlie, Jack, Jill and EdwardTV chef Rick Stein has spoken of his delight in obtaining planning permission for a 100-seat restaurant in the town – and has given excited diners the first clues as to what to expect on the menu.

And Mr Stein has told how he was immediately taken with the 18th Century Grade II listed Lloran House in Marlborough’s High Street.

“When I first saw the building in High Street I thought what a perfect restaurant it would make,” he said.

“For the menu I’m thinking a strong element of local meat and game, but with many of our favourite seafood dishes from Padstow too. I’m very much in favour of local food and we’ll be looking to highlight some of the best produce in Wiltshire.”

With the lease signed, Jill Stein with her son, Ed, and daughter-in-law, Kate will start the interior design.

Jill said: “Ed, Kate and I are working on a country townhouse feel. It will be inspired by Marlborough’s rich heritage and the beautiful old building and location will be key to our design.

“It will be different from our other restaurants, more traditional with warmer colours, but we’ll still have a few subtle nods to our coastal roots. We love this part of the process, seeking inspiration from the local surroundings and selecting all the finishing touches. We’re very excited.”

2015 saw Rick and Jill celebrate the 40th anniversary of the opening of The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. From humble beginnings the business now employs over 450 people and includes ten restaurants, hotel and self-catering accommodation, retail outlets and a cookery school. Rick and Jill are both still at the helm, with all three sons involved in the business.

The self-titled ‘Rick Stein’ restaurant comes as the next stage as part of the group’s business growth with recent openings in Sandbanks, Winchester and also Porthleven and Fistral in Cornwall.

Interested diners can keep up to date with the latest news and developments from the new Marlborough restaurant at or @SteinMarlb on Twitter.


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