Summary of March Meeting – Carlisle Ambassadors
Date: Thursday 26th March Venue: Carlisle Racecourse
Firstly, we would like to thank Carlisle Racecourse for their generosity in sponsoring this event, and providing such a wonderful venue and delicious lunch! We also want to thank every one of you who joined the Carlisle Ambassadors’ meeting in March. We know it was a packed agenda, but we did want to show the step change from goals at first meeting to showing action at this one. It is because of so much energy and support from you that there are so many exciting developments to talk about! It shows just how great the potential is for us collectively to make a real difference to Carlisle and Cumbria. “Positive things happen to positive people!” as Simon Harrison said at our first meeting this year.
If you were unable to attend the meeting but would like to see the agenda, please click the following link Carlisle Ambassadors Final Agenda 26th March Meeting Carlisle Racecourse.
After initial introductions from Kate and Michelle, the shape of the meeting was laid out. The emphasis was on local business and what this does and can bring to Cumbria, and then on to project developments – some in progress already, and some ready for us all to roll our sleeves up and get involved! This was to be followed by an update from Carlisle City Council on public realm developments, and the new “business hotspot”.
Carlisle Ambassadors – Business
First to speak was David Beeby, ex MD of Innovia. David is still adviser to the board, and was at the helm of this Wigton based company through an extraordinary time of growth and globalisation. His passion and pride was evident as he detailed their achievements, including the fact that the site of the new factory will be built at “home” where it all began in Cumbria, generating 70 – 80 jobs and boosting the local economy.
David reminded us that, whilst they have centres all over the world, a significant proportion of their 1600 employees, are based in Wigton, and 18% live in central Carlisle postcodes. The next big news for the Innovia Group, as the pioneer and clear global leader in polymer substrate, is their contract to provide the banknote substrate for £5 and £10 notes over the coming years. All in the room were clearly excited to hear about such developments for the area.
Steve Errington, CEO of Story Homes, presented to us about local spending plans. This is a spot that many requested in the initial feedback forms. We want to be part of raising awareness of opportunities to “keep business local”, and helping companies of all sizes feel equipped to seize openings to work with strong businesses in Cumbria such as Story. Steve took us on a whistlestop tour of their extraordinary growth over the last few years, and their ambitious plans to be a volume UK National house building business.
He outlined their planned developments up to 2018, and the key challenges they face. Quite apart from the issue of finding suitable land to build on and recruiting the right people into the business at the right time, they need a supply chain that can deliver consistently high quality and timely customer service. The message was that there are many opportunities to collaborate with Story Homes providing that you are prepared to invest in your business on a curve with their own, that you can deliver on the same standards of customer care as they do, and primarily that their driver is value more than cost. If anyone would like copies of the detailed slides, let us know and we can point you to them.
Carlisle Ambassadors – Projects
At this point, we moved from business development and opportunities to projects! At the first meeting of 2015, everyone agreed that the aim of the Carlisle Ambassadors was to make the city and wider Cumbria a better place to live, work, invest and visit! What better way to kick this initiative off than with two exciting cycling projects?The first one presented by Richard Wise, has been an idea in his mind for some time. However, it was at the last meeting of Carlisle Ambassadors that he saw the potential to develop it within the Ambassador programme.
Richard felt that there was a need for excellent, professionally promoted, circular cycling routes in this part of Cumbria, and set about creating the network. The result? A well signed and resourced road cycle network with Carlisle at it’s hub, exploring 500 miles of quiet roads & stunning scenery. It also has an “epic” 200 mile cycle route around the perimeter, giving an additional tourist and cycle attraction for the area. Great for locals & tourism! The benefits to the area could be in the millions, and you can find out much more here, including a walk through Richard’s presentation. If you would like to be more involved, and wish to pledge support to the crowdfunder to help move this project forward, we will include you on the website here as project supporters with your name or business logo, and you will also be included on the bespoke CRCN website once it is created! The deadline for the £3000 target is 21st April, and as at 8th April £1705 has been pledged.
After the presentations at the last meeting, someone else in the audience began to think that their dream of bringing a major sporting event to Cumbria seemed more “in reach”. Mike James of Endurance Sports gave a rousing presentation on the possibility of hosting the British National Cycling Championships in Carlisle. “No offence to Lincoln, but if they can do it, so can we – we are Carlisle”.
With existing strong links to the powers that be in the sport (there is already a four year deal to host a stage of the Tour of Britain), and with the potential for collaboration between public and private sector which embodies what the Carlisle Ambassadors is all about, there are less obstacles in the way than might be imagined! So watch this space for developments on both of our fantastic cycling projects, and a big thank you to Richard and Mike for sharing their inspiration with us at the meeting.
And on to Andy Fearon of Carlisle Vineyard, and his wonderful call to participate in “Give a Day to the City”. He asked us all to “Find your passion, find your project, find your partner!”
The idea is simple. Collectively, we will find ways to make a difference to the city, and the people who live there. This might be through a DIY SOS type project, where we hope businesses might donate their services or products for free, while we chip in to transform a place for those in need. Or it might be a health inspired fun day, an alternative career day or shadowing/mentoring events, brighten up lives in care homes with events, litter picks, brighten up and refurbish playgrounds…… we are just collating the amazing suggestions that came in and working out the best way to connect people to take the ideas forward so watch this space for next steps.
The number and variety of suggestions that were put up on the boards during our interactive session combined with the feedback afterwards, shows that there is the grounds for making this a real flagship event for the city in early October. Perhaps one that other cities may copy in the future?
So these are all exciting plans that are in development. Last spot in the project section was filled brilliantly by Mike Hunt of More Handles. Immediately after the last meeting, Paul and Mike from More Handles got chatting to the team at Carlisle Brass about ways in which they could act on the call to improve life in the city. They came up with Carlisle’s “Best Dressed Front Door” not-for-profit scheme, where they offer a smart door set for under £20 compared to retail of over £50. The synergy between the two companies is clear, and this is also a great way to remind people of the rich heritage in ironmongery.
They thought how they could turn this for the wider benefit, and after discussions with Sara Oldham from Cash for Kids, introduced a scrappage scheme. For any returns of scrap metal, More Handles and Carlisle Brass will donate the money generated from Mountelm to the charity. To add even more weight to this, Story and Simon Harrison stepped forward and confirmed they would donate their scrap in the month of May – this is now turning into a fantastic project to smarten the city and give to charity.
Update since the meeting: Matt of Cito Cleaning is going to throw in cleaning front windows and pressure washing drives for £10, Top Notch Contractors have confirmed they will donate their scrap, and Village Link Magazine are providing free space to advertise the project. Fantastic! Now they need a fabulous company to donate a prize for the winner of the Best Dressed Door Competition! Any volunteers? A meal for two, a weekend stay? A day out somewhere? If you would like to donate a prize, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, this project is still gaining ground, so we’ll keep you updated!
Carlisle Ambassadors – Public Realm
Following on from these excellent projects, there was some great news from Carlisle City Council. Mark Walshe gave a great demonstration of active steps to improve signage in the city. There will be a range of new signs welcoming visitors to Carlisle, and there are sponsorship opportunities for businesses who would like to get involved. The new signs will be complemented by better information points in car parks, and at the railway and bus station. the entrance to the historic quarter and Rickergate.
Car parks will be renamed to be more in keeping with the heritage, and areas that have become disused and unattractive smartened up and made more pedestrian friendly. There is much to feel positive about, and anyone who would like to know more or would like to discuss sponsorship, should contact Mark by email email@example.com
Carlisle Ambassadors – Business Hotspot
Each meeting we pull business cards out of the hat. For this meeting, we were delighted to have showcase stands for H&H Reed Printers and More Handles during lunch. The 2 minute business hotspot went to Six Degrees Recruitment, and Helen Landy gave a great overview of the business, and demonstrated why so many companies choose to use their expertise. Update since meeting: Huge congratulations to Helen and Mark who have won the CN Business Boost 2015. Fantastic achievement!
Carlisle Ambassadors – Member presentations
Last but not least, and we do apologise that the meeting over ran – we know how to shape it more tightly next time – Jason Gooding, Chief Executive of Carlisle City Council, rounded off the meeting by summing up our thanks for the support from businesses,
organisations and individuals for the Carlisle Ambassadors’ programme, and presented new members with their member lanyards and certificates. We are delighted that we have 50 members now, and this is growing all the time. To join please visit this link, and if you have any questions contact Kate or Michelle here.
As Jason said “If Carlisle isn’t on the menu, it can’t be chosen” so join us in making Carlisle and wider Cumbria the best it can be, and a great place to live, work, invest and visit. We look forward to seeing you at the next meeting. To sign up please click here. Thank you again to Carlisle Racecourse for their exceptional hospitality, and to all who attended the meeting and contributed to a really positive event.
A big thank you to John Smale of This Is My Film who is creating a film from this meeting, and also to Brian Sherwen Photography and Linda Bussey for providing such great photos. These will all be available in gallery and on Flickr soon.