Mark Illsley who has been named Motor Technician of the Year by SuzukiMechanic extraordinaire Mark Illsley has been crowned Motor Technician of the Year by Suzuki - adding another award to an already-bulging trophy cabinet.
In an eight-year career, the 27-year-old from College Fields, Marlborough has been named Apprentice of the Year no fewer than three times, and was the fastest in the Suzuki dealership network's history to rise to the ranks of Master Technician.
Mark works at Swindon Suzuki and Hyundai dealer Pebley Beach - which was last month named Apprenticeship Employer of the Year at the Wiltshire Business Awards - where MD Dominic Threlfall took him on as a 19-year-old apprentice after GCSEs at St John’s School.
He was trained by Pebley master technician Martin Owen - himself a four-times winner of the Technician of the Year title - who went on to represent Great Britain at Suzuki’s Worldwide Technical Skills Contest in Japan.
"Mark's knowledge of motor cars is almost encyclopaedic," said Dom. “Give him any make and model of car and he'll be able to tell you when various components were introduced. He's a walking Haynes Manual."
There was little surprise when Mark flew through the regional heats to reach the final in Slovenia.
"Mark had to sit four exams, and finished the last one early, so we submitted his entry before the deadline," said Dom.
"Suzuki came back to us and said that Mark had achieved an unbeatable score. No matter how well anyone else did, he was guaranteed a place in the finals."
During those finals, Mark went head-to-head with four of the UK's best Suzuki technicians.
"They presented us with four cars, each of which had a specific problem - a warning light on the dashboard, poor running going up a hill, that kind of thing," said Mark.
"We had thirty minutes to work on each problem. The final one was insolvable in the time, so I gave my diagnosis and recommendations - they just wanted to see your thought process."
Mark now has his sights set on representing the UK at Suzuki's Worldwide Technical Skills Contest.
And he hopes to repeat his success with Hyundai, after becoming the first technician ever to score 100 percent in the manufacturer's Expert Assessment.
Martin WyseDelegates at a networking lunch in Marlborough next week will be told not to talk about a blue tree… prompting them to do just the opposite.
In an interactive introduction to his field, Martin Wyse - an expert of hidden messages in language - will show networkers at the Wessex Chamber networking lunch in Marlborough how simple changes to the words we use can effect the message we are trying to convey.
“Tell people not to think of a blue tree and they immediately think of a blue tree,” said Martin, whose business - Another Point of View - is based in Calne.
“You can use that in a sales call. You don’t want to criticise your competitor - that would reflect badly on you - so tell the person you’re talking to “I’m not here to tell you how my product is better than the other guy’s.”
Understanding the rules of language can also be employed - in speech, and in the written word - to make recipients think about the positive, rather than the negative.
“It’s sunny this morning, but it will be raining this afternoon,” makes you think about the rain, said Martin.
“It’s sunny this morning, even though it will be raining this afternoon,” makes you think about the sun.
“I’ll be helping people to understand these rules of language, and how they can apply them in a business context.”
The Marlborough networking lunch will be held on Wednesday, May 7 at Marlborough Golf Club, from 12.30pm until 2pm. Attendance costs £20 for members and £41 for non-members. To book a place log on to www.wessexchambers.org.uk/events
Iain and Liz Watson of The Bear MarlboroughNew faces have appeared behind the bar at Marlborough’s The Bear public house following the retirement of the previous landlord after eight years.
It is Iain and Liz Watson’s first pub tenancy, but Liz has had plenty of experience, assistant-managing pubs in the Reading area before finally coming home to Wiltshire, where she grew up.
The Bear is owned by Wiltshire brewery, Arkell’s, and the brewery has been working with Iain and Liz refurbishing the pub, including the lounge area, as well as opening up a new games room at the back of the pub.
“We’re not just putting in the ‘Bear’ essentials,” insisted Liz. “We wanted to freshen up the pub completely, and we’ve not finished yet.
“We’ve got more new carpet to go in, the function room to redecorate and over the next few months we will be working our way through the nine letting rooms.”
Iain is equally delighted to be able to indulge himself in one of his passions – serving top quality real ale. “I love my beer and I’m really enjoying learning how to serve the best quality and taste from this side of the bar,” he revealed.
This is a second career for both Iain and Liz. For many years Iain ran a successful advertising company, and a computer sale and repair business.
And Liz, who was born and brought up in Swindon, worked for Honda for 15 years, taking redundancy in 2009 when the car manufacturer cut its workforce. Since then she has been building her experience in the pub trade.
“For those worried about the recent announcement of a reduction in the workforce, I’m proof that there is life after Honda,” declared Liz. “In fact this is my dream job.
“Before working at Honda, I’d worked in other Arkell’s pubs around the area so being able to run one of their pubs myself is like joining a big family. I know a lot of the landlords and they’re great.”
Marlborough has welcomed Liz and Iain with open arms. “We’ve had a lovely welcome to the town,” said Liz. “Other town landlords have also been in to wish us luck and the regulars are all great.”
Jon Culshaw with Angela Davey Thomas Pears Leo MacCanna from award sponsor Ocuco and Chris Bennett editor of Optician magazinePewsey-based optical group Haine & Smith has been named Software Practice of the Year at the prestigious 2014 Optician Awards.
The award was presented to partner Angela Davey and IT manager Thomas Pears by impressionist and comedian Jon Culshaw at a glittering ceremony at London’s Hilton Park Lane on Saturday, April 12.
“In our category we were up against four other excellent finalists including the Aston University Optometry Clinic, so it came as a real surprise when Haine & Smith’s name was read out,” said Angela.
“In our category we were up against 4 other excellent finalists including the Aston University Optometry Clinic, so it came as a real surprise when Haine & Smith’s name was read out,” said Angela.
This award followed many months of hard work upgrading the patient management system used within the firm’s 19 practices, alongside integrating the software with new lens ordering and reporting systems at its head office and at Kennet Optical, its own glazing laboratory in Pewsey.
Andrew CoombesTax advisor Andrew Coombes is ac-counting on the generosity of friends and colleagues to boost the bottom line of a Wiltshire charity during this Sunday’s London Marathon.
Andrew will be running his first marathon in aid of Devizes Opportunity Centre, the nursery for babies and toddlers with a wide range of learning difficulties, which lost £10,000 of government funding.
“I was lucky enough to get a place on the general ballot,” said Andrew, a partner at David Owen & Co in Devizes and Marlborough.
“The marathon gives me an opportunity to raise money for a very worthwhile local case.”
Andrew, a former Devizes Town centre forward from 1993 to 2005, has completed four half marathons - Reading twice, Bristol, and Devizes.
The 26 mile, 385 yard London race - which takes place on Sunday - will be his first full marathon, and he’s looking to finish in under four hours.
But he’s already smashed one personal best - doubling his £500 fundraising target to £1,100 so far.
To sponsor Andrew, log on to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=andrewcoombeslondon2014
Easter egg hunters Finn McCracken Dunn (7) and sister Abby (10)Twenty of Marlborough’s independent shoppers have come up with an egg-cellent way to boost trade this Easter.
An town-wide Easter egg hunt send children on a trail around Marlborough’s independent retailers.
By collecting a sticker from each participating outlet, children can collect a free Easter egg from Ducklings toy shop. And will be entered into a prize draw to win a special chocolate egg.
Toy shop owner Colin Pattison said: “It’s a great way to encourage children - and their parents - to visit Marlborough’s independent retails.
“They don’t have to spend any money to get their sticker, but for some people it’s a first introduction to a shop they might want to spend some money in - now or in the future.”
The initiative is supported by the Support for Independent Retail Campaign and Action for Market Towns.
The printing of the trail maps, which have been delivered to St Peter’s School and are also available at Ducklings and the library, was supported by Marlborough Chamber of Commerce and estate agent Smiths Gore.
The promotion runs until Monday, April 21.
The participating retailers are:
- Mustard Seed
- Kit Stone
- Youngs of Marlborough
- Mercer’s of Marlborough
- Cosy Bean Coffee Lounge
- The India Shop
- Fair Isle
- The Food Gallery
- Crosby & Lawrence
- Cook Marlborough
- Marlborough Library
- Heart’s Desire
- Valentiner Designs
- Susie Watson Designs
- The Merchant’s House
- White Horse Bookshop
- Lighting of Distinction
- Marlborough Tiles
Kim and Stewart Joyce of Antique Bathrooms of Ivybridge MarlboroughStewart and Kim Joyce have taken the plunge, and opened an antique bath business in Marlborough.
Antique Bathrooms of Ivybridge & Marlborough buys and refurbishes cast iron roll top bathtubs before selling them on to plumbers, interior designers, hoteliers, Lords and Ladies, and regular homeowners looking for an authentic tub for an older home.
"The baths all date from the late 19th or early 20th century," explained Stewart, and are English or French in origin.
"The baths are re-enamelled, primed, and polished. The finish colour is the customer's choice."
It’s a lengthy process: the 12 steps take around four weeks to complete.
The firm, which also sells antique and reproduction bathroom accessories, has been trading since 1991 and is well established in the South West. Stewart and Kim, who live in Swindon, moved the business to Marlborough after they bought the company from friends earlier this year.
Marlborough was chosen as a location because of the number of period properties in the area, and to benefit from easy access to London, where many of the finished baths go.
Around 15 to 20 baths pass through the firm's hands every month, and they aren't always in the best condition when they arrive.
"Recently we had a French double-ended bath which had been in a barn for 25 years. We've found baths used as planters in gardens and cattle feeders in fields, but it's not often we can't restore these working antiques."
The showroom can be found at the Elcot Lane Trading Estate in Marlborough. For full details, log on to www.antiquebaths.com
Rowlands, looking very closedCountry fashions chain Rowland’s has gone into administration, just two years after it was saved from closure.
Rowland’s operated a mail order company in Trowbridge, and had shops in Marlborough, Salisbury and, until last year, Bradford on Avon.
There was also an outlet in Bath, where the firm started as a country gents’ outfitters in 1983.
Insolvency firm KCBS has confirmed it is acting as administrator for the business.
In February 2012 the company was bought by Rosemex Trading, a subsidiary of New World Private Equity, just two days after it went into administration for the first time.
At the time the firm employed around 60 people.
There was no word from the Rowland’s branches or head office this week, and the website had been closed.
A post on the firm’s Facebook page said: “Unfortunately Rowland's Clothing has ceased trading due to administration.
“A new buyer of the business is being sought and if successful the business will re-open.”
The news was received with sadness at Marlborough Chamber of Commerce. President Alex Minoudis said: "We're very sorry to lose this independent and long-established ladies fashion shop.
"Rowland's has played an important part of Marlborough's retail mix for many years and, like us, its loyal customers will be sad to see it go."
Edward Hall of Smiths Gore, presenting Marlborough Rugby Club Junior Section with training equipmentWhen you hear rural estate agent Edward Hall talking about a ‘nice conversion’ he’s not necessarily admiring a barn turned into a luxury dwelling.
The agent - who heads the office at Smiths Gore in Marlborough - has just signed a sponsorship deal with the junior rugby team.
The squad hope to emulate the success of the first XV, who this weekend walloped Bath Saracens 95-5 in the Dorset & Wilts 2 North league.
Edward said: “The enthusiasm and level of skill of the youngsters is inspiring and Smiths Gore is delighted to be able to contribute in a small way to the continued success of all the teams.”
Peter Woods, chairman of the junior and mini section said: “Marlborough RFC are delighted to welcome Smiths Gore as a sponsor, which adds considerably to the level of training we can offer our players.”
MRFC have recently agreed use of the astro turf at Marlborough College and to expand the number of training pitches on Marlborough Common with the Town Council.
Mike Hill and Alan Pardoe with Dr Gary MantleFarming and conservation works at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserves in the north of the county will be back to normal following the delivery of a New Holland T6-160 tractor.
The keys to the spanking new piece of equipment were handed to Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s head of adaptation, John Rattray, by Alan Pardoe, chairman of Marlborough-based The Hills Group.
The Hills Group provided £57,500 of funding through the Landfill Communities Fund and the tractor was purchased from TH White in Marlborough.
A welcome replacement for the now worn-out Massey Ferguson, the New Holland T6 will be used seven days a week to undertake every manner of agricultural work such as moving feedstuff for the livestock to cutting hay in the fields.
John Rattray said: “Tractors are used on a daily basis by the Trust, doing everything from feeding our livestock to cutting conservation hay. It is a vital piece of equipment that our farming and conservation work cannot be done without.
“We are very grateful to The Hills Group for the funding.”
Alan Pardoe said: “Our support for the Trust goes back well over 22 years and being able to provide them with this vital piece of equipment will ensure that they can continue with their good work in protecting wildlife and important natural habitats for future generations.”
The tractor will be used across the Trust’s northern reserves including Blakehill, and the reserves that make up the Lower Moor Farm complex.