Yeovil Chamber News Articles Copyright 04th Apr 2020 - 15:27 by Yeovil Chamber <![CDATA[20th Birthday Press Release]]> On 27th April 2000 Blueloop Limited was incorporated by Jon Gerdes, Managing Director; Tony Haines, Technical Director; and Robin Barker, Finance Director.  Initially the business operated from converted barns in North Perrott, Nr Crewkerne and later relocated to our current Datacentre in Yeovil.          

Blueloop’s service offering includes IT Consultancy & Infrastructure, Software, Networks and Cyber Security. Blueloop provides support to businesses in the South West and beyond.  The IT support offered is tailored to the specific business requirements of each organisation. Some may have an existing IT team or person on-site and simply need an additional pair of hands for project work or during busy holiday periods.  For some other organisations, Blueloop provides a complete managed, cost effective IT service allowing the business to concentrate on their own core services. Blueloop can be flexible positioning a service to match the business need.

The team grew rapidly in the first 5 years employing eight staff.  The business has expanded during the last twenty years and in April 2013 purchased Blueloop House in Yeovil and established a fully-fledged Datacentre. From here Blueloop can provide the faster internet services that businesses require today as well as providing resilience and a Disaster Recovery suite for customers.

Blueloop are delighted to be celebrating twenty years of trading this month, currently employing 22 staff.  Some of the team are based in Swindon and London but the large proportion of the team are in the South West looking after local businesses.  Blueloop have also helped support many local and UK charities over the years including local youth football teams, the ambulance services, local hospices, BBC Children in Need and Great Ormond Street.

“Blueloop has made great progress in our first 20 years” comments Robin Barker, Financial Director. “It’s not easy building a business and we are very proud of what has been achieved. There have been many hurdles to cross not least of which we find ourselves in the midst of perhaps our biggest challenge, but we are determined to prevail and build upon our strong foundations and look forward to a bright future and another enjoyable 20 years servicing the needs of our customers and their IT requirements.”

Technology has changed significantly in the last 20 years. In 2000 the internet was still a new concept.  Getting online involved using dial up which was normally used for school or work purposes and certainly not for entertainment or connecting with people.  Families had to visit Blockbusters to hire a movie or TV show ensuring it was returned timely to avoid the late fees.  Now if you want to watch something, you can reach it on demand anywhere through the growing number of streaming services. 

Today there are more than 4 billion people who have access to the internet.  The workplace has never been quite so competitive, yet flexible and accommodating and the dynamics have changed immeasurably.  While email is still primarily used for business communications, video chat, instant messaging, internet telephony, are all part of our daily regime.

Tony Haines, Technical Director on behalf of the Board, wanted to “Thank the staff for all their hard work and to all our customers who have contributed during our 20 years.

So, what happens in the future?

Increasing demands for a more automated workplace are starting to show.  Business leaders must investigate how the use of AI, smart software and robots can drive efficiencies and advance new solutions.  The push for competitive advantage and high performing staff will encourage the creation of shared AI tools and personalised portfolio apps, and smart technology to raise the bar for extreme digital dexterity.

The future of digital for Blueloop and everyone in the next 20 years is going to be very exciting. Despite the current crisis we will be there to see and drive it,” remarked Jon Gerdes, Managing Director.

<![CDATA[Free Legal Clinic]]> Pardoes are offering free legal clinics at various locations accross Somerset. 

The Clinics in Yeovil will be held in The Church of St John the Baptist from 10am-1pm on the following Saturdays: 28 March, 25 April and 30 May 2020.

If we can help you with a legal question, pop into one of our Legal Clinics to receive some free expert legal advice! There is no need make an appointment - simply walk in on the day for a chat and we'll help you find the best way forward.  There is no obligation.

For a list of the other Clincs in Somerset go to


<![CDATA[President's Heartbeat – w/c 27th February]]> President's Heartbeat - 27th February 2020

Yeovil Chamber Celebrates 100 Years

On Thursday 27th February 2020 Yeovil Chamber celebrated our first 100 years at a sold-out Centenary AGM, at the Yeovil home of Chamber member business Leonardo Helicopters.  Over 100 people booked their seats at this very special event, with guest speaker Ben McGrail of ITV West Country News, a signing ceremony for the Armed Forces Covenant, and a guided tour of Leonardo’s very impressive assembly and flight hangars.  For those who were there, and for those wanting to know what Chamber delivers for our members, here’s a transcript (edited) of my keynote speech, delivered on the day by Vice President Jo Reynolds, which detailed where we’ve been, where we are now, our current activities, and a flavour of what is in the pipeline.  I am extremely proud of what the Yeovil Chamber team delivers on such a small budget, and our latest activities are detailed in the middle section of the speech:

The financial headline is that we made a profit.  Turnover increased by 27% over the twelve months up to December 2019, to a record £15,645, and we made a profit of £1,358.  The increase in turnover was due to an increase in membership from ninety to 105, our expanding sponsorship and patronage package, and a continuing drive to deliver our events on at least a break-even basis.  We also invested over £5,000 in a new website, scheduled for launch during Q2 2020, and we ended the year with £3,597 in the bank.  If current activity is maintained throughout 2020, I’ll stick my neck out and predict an income figure in the region of £20,000 by the end of 2020.

Whatever the size and sector of your business, you are welcome at Yeovil Chamber, and to be part of the big voice for our business community. Yeovil Chamber is now widely regarded as the representative body for the business sector across our corner of South Somerset, representing your interests, driving change and economic prosperity. 

We are living in an age of change – globally, nationally, regionally and locally.  We are in the middle of what future generations will look back on as the second industrial revolution.  Technology, automation, the internet and artificial intelligence are creating new and better ways of doing business and making things.  But we must not fear change.  Yeovil Chamber embraces change as part of the natural cycle of progress, and we encourage our members to also embrace and be part of, that change which helps to create and release the potential for Yeovil, and your business interests.

The late, great Paddy Ashdown once called me an “unbridled optimist.”  That may be true, but I always have one eye on the tasks which need attention, and I’m never afraid of being challenged.  I’m passionate about Yeovil, but my views of the town are never my own personal views.  Sure; I have an opinion, but whenever you hear me talk about Yeovil, my words simply reflect the sum parts of the views I collect through listening to what local business people tell me.

Most people talk the town up.  Despite huge challenges faced by the retail sector; and the recent news about Beales; for every shop we’ve lost in Yeovil since 2015, just under two have arrived.  I meet regularly with James and Aimee the managers of the Quedam, and incidentally, the recent news about Beales swamped the news that two new operators have opened in the Quedam, and I heard yesterday there is a third on the way; a Diving Academy – hardly retail, BUT that is the way the town centre is evolving, creating an experience; independent niche operators, all of whom embrace the internet and social media as part of their proposition, offering something you cannot buy on the internet.

Despite the down-at-heel appearance of small pockets of the town centre, Yeovil continues to create and realise potential, and there is more, much more to come.  As I mentioned, for every shop lost since 2015 we’ve gained nearly two.  £25m were recently invested on road upgrades and infrastructure projects.  The SSDC town centre redevelopment programme is underway.  Private investment in town centre residential property is underway to meet the demand.  Yeovil continues to develop as a hub for aerospace, hi-tech and innovation, and SSDC and County Council have recognised this with financial support.  The SSDC innovation centre has doubled in size, and construction of the iAero aerospace hub, funded by the Somerset County Council, the LEP and Leonardo, that purple thing you can see as you drive past the end of the airfield, is well underway.

Jo Reynolds, Richard Howes and Ben Malik of our Executive team continue to develop our networking events.  Our Breakfast Circle expanded during 2019 from bi-monthly to monthly, and the twenty seats at each of these popular breakfast events are usually sold out.  Our quarterly Business Leaders Breakfasts, devised in response to the constant member demand for bigger picture insight features key figures and personalities from Yeovil and beyond, briefing our members on their role and how it influences the business sector.

We also network with other Chambers:  The annual Breakfast with the Neighbours regularly attracts nearly 100 attendees, and connects Yeovil with Dorchester and Sherborne Chamber members.  We are affiliate members of Somerset Chamber, and our representation at board level, plugs Yeovil into the regional scene, and gives us a route to the British Chamber of Commerce.

One area of our work I’m especially proud of is that with the education sector. Our work with the secondary academies, and in particular, Veeda Crichton and Mark Bolton at Yeovil College, is bringing education and industry together, to influence, and align the curriculum with local and regional employment requirements.  Giving our young people good reasons to want to make Yeovil their home.  To create the potential for careers and employment for our most precious resource; who will ultimately become our leaders and create the future.

Our relationship with South Somerset District Council continues to develop.  I meet regularly with CEO Alex Parmley, and since November 2019, Chamber has the presence of an Economic Development Officer, Joe Walsh on our Executive Team.  I also chair the Refresh Stakeholder Group at SSDC, and these positions create a two-way conduit for insight and cooperation between the private and public sectors.

Our most recent initiative; M-Hub, launched in November 2019, following a request from Neil Discombe MD Garador, and has quickly developed with the assistance of SSDC, Leonardo and Porter Dodson Solicitors into a growing network of manufacturers from in and around Yeovil, sharing best practice, ideas, challenges and creating supply chain opportunities.

I sit on the multi-agency Night-Time Economy Steering Group, and the group estimate that we are close to being ready to make a successful application for the UK-Wide Purple Flag accreditation for night time economy.  Whether we get the accreditation or not, the group is chaired by Chief Inspector Sharon Baker and focused long-term on developing the night-time economy offerings in Yeovil, and connects Chamber with senior officers at Avon & Somerset Police, Devon & Somerset Fire Service, the Ambulance Services, licencing authorities, Pubwatch, Crime & Safety team and Yeovil Hospital.

We are also in the early stages of discussions with RNAS Yeovilton aimed at re-engaging the airbase and the town.  These discussions are part of a broader aim which includes the airbase, the Fleet Air Arm Museum, South Somerset District Council and  Leonardo Helicopters to culturally promote the unique and rich aerospace and aviation heritage around the Yeovil area, encouraging tourism and employment.

During 2019 we presented to Leonardo employees on the benefits of internal staff networking within large organisations, and working on repeating the presentation as well as replicating and offering this to other large employers with similar challenges.

We are also embarking on a project to create mini-business communities on the five trading estates located around the edge of the town.  Again, with the aim of bringing people in the business community together.

We are busy planning a Business Awards Lunch on 26th June, to be held at Yeovil Town Football Club.  Full details to be announced, and thank you to all those of you in the room who have sponsored the event so far.  Entries open next week.

Creating and maintaining all these activities, and representing your interests ultimately boils down to our resources, the people we work with, and the amount of time I and the Executive Team are voluntarily able to offer, but I do hope that what I have said has given you a flavour of what we have been up to at Yeovil Chamber, where we are headed and how we go about supporting our members, and Yeovil as a town.

I’d like to thank our admin manager Gina Farnborough and the Executive Team, for their passion for all things Yeovil, giving freely of their time to help drive Yeovil Chamber forward.  Everybody who sits around the Executive table leaves their business interests by the door, understanding that if the town flourishes, so does their business.  Additionally, each member of the team carries special responsibility for a Chamber activity, usually with their specialist skillset.  And we are definitely not a talk shop; if an Executive team member flags up an issue, they are aware that they must usually see it through.  Please can the Executive members in attendance stand up so we can see them.

I’d like to thank Leonardo Helicopters for coordinating everything today, and for the venue.  I’d also like to thank our patrons: Yeovil College and Albert Goodman, for their ongoing support.  If you’re interested in sponsoring or becoming a patron of Yeovil Chamber, to help raise the profile of your business and make a difference to what Chamber can offer, please ask these businesses why they became Patrons.

It never ceases to amaze me how much Chamber actually achieves on such a small budget.  In the allotted time today I could only give a flavour of what we are up to and what is in the pipeline.  If you want to know more about Chamber, to take part, or to join as a new member, please speak to me or any of the members of the Executive team.

For me, it is always about people.  People do business with people.  To me, it matters not the size of your organisation, it is about whether you engage openly with others around you.  Yourselves, and those in strategic roles around Yeovil are working together like never before, and that can only go one way.  Yeovil Chamber simply joins the dots. . .and this is proving to be key to success in Yeovil – if people engage, and talk with an open agenda, stuff happens.  Thank you.”

<![CDATA[Old Mill named one of the best employers in UK by prestigious industry awards]]> Yeovil financial experts, Old Mill, has been named as one of the Best Financial Advisers to Work For by the Professional Adviser Awards. The Best Financial Advisers to Work For is a survey and awards programme dedicated to identifying and recognising the best employers in the UK.

Old Mill, which has 74 employees in their Wealth Management team, across its four offices in Yeovil, Wells, Exeter and Melksham, was one of just 13 firms to make the grade and the only South West-based company to win the award. The award process is managed by Best Companies Group - an independent research firm specialising in identifying and recognising great places to work.

The judges gather detailed information about financial firms including a thorough company assessment and honest and in-depth feedback from employees. They looked at all areas of the business from work environment, leadership and planning, to training and development, pay and benefits, work satisfaction and corporate culture.

Paula Hodge, Head of Wealth Management at Old Mill said: “We pride ourselves on creating an inclusive and engaging working environment, always encouraging the development of our people and giving them every opportunity to progress. We are a people business and, as such, we put both our clients and our staff at the centre of everything we do. We are incredibly proud to win this award which we feel is a much-valued external endorsement to the focus we place on creating an enjoyable and fulfilling working environment for everyone at Old Mill. We are extremely fortunate to employ individuals who live and breathe our values and who work immensely hard, day in and day out, to deliver great client service. It is very much our people who make Old Mill a great place to work, or should I now say, an award-winning place to work.”

Chartered Financial Planner, Carolyn Matravers, and Paraplanner Jane Beauchamp of Old Mill attended the awards evening. Carolyn adds “It was a real honour for Jane and I to be asked to attend the dinner and collect this award on behalf of the team.  It was a very enjoyable evening and great to be recognised in this way, providing a real opportunity to raise Old Mill’s profile.”

Professional Adviser editor Tom Ellis said: "It's fantastic we are able to put on these awards to identify, honour and celebrate all the very best from our readers, the financial adviser community.”


<![CDATA[Fire Health and Safety advisor]]> Ian Smith of Hallmarque Associates recently moved to the area bringing with him a wealth of professional advice and experience and can offer a consultancy service for both Fire Safety and Health and Safety.

A personal approach, Ian provides bespoke work and Training for all size of Organisations.

Over the 15yrs Ian’s clients include Bluechip, SME, Start-up, Charities, Gov departments taking him across the Globe, a 21yr career in the Fire Service and 10yrs RN qualified to Degree level .

Ian can help with Risk Assessment, NEBOSH and IOSH courses in association with South West Training ltd.

Contact for an initial FREE consultancy and see how Ian can make a difference   Email


<![CDATA[New Year, new promotion for family specialist at Battens Solicitors]]> Battens Solicitors are praising the work and devotion of family law specialist, Gareth Bishop. In recognition of his dedication to his clients and to Battens, Gareth has been promoted from Associate to Senior Associate.

Gareth joined Battens as a trainee Solicitor in 2010 and qualified with Battens in September 2012, working in the family department for 8 years. In his years of working in the family team, Gareth became a member of the Law Society Children Panel in 2015. The accreditation is a nationally recognised hallmark of quality that Guardians and other professionals can seek out when specialist representation is needed for children in difficult private disputes or care proceedings. Gareth’s focus is working with families where the local authority has become involved and provide advice and assistance where social services have issued, or are going to issue, court proceedings. Since becoming a member of the Law Society Children Panel Gareth has specialised in representing children in court proceedings, with a particular focus on cases involving serious harm caused.

Gareth said: “It is an absolute honour to have received this promotion as recognition of my hard work and commitment to Battens and the clients I work with. As a firm, Battens has a very supportive and nurturing approach to those starting out their legal career. Working in the family team comes with its challenges given the work we undertake, but as the leading lawyers in the area it is a pleasure to carry on with the excellent work we do.”

<![CDATA[December edition of Yeovil Press OUT NOW!]]> THE December 2019 edition of the FREE Yeovil Press community newspaper is available NOW for people to pick-up from various outlets in and around Yeovil.

The independent monthly publication – produced by Steve Sowden – is packed with LOCAL news, features and photos. Steve is now already looking ahead to 2019 and if any business would like to get involved with Yeovil Press with regards advertising and possible related editorial, please get in touch with him at . He offers very competitive prices when it comes to advertising and has recently increased his monthly print-run from 3,000 copies to 5,000 copies.

The Yeovil Press is available to be picked-up for FREE from the main Tesco store in Yeovil town centre (downstairs by the community noticeboard next to the entrance/exit and upstairs by the Hospital Charity stand on the entrance/exit at the top of the escalators); Morrisons store (by the exit); Octagon Theatre (reception area); Westlands Entertainment Venue (reception area); Yeovil Library; Jupiter Moon; Symonds & Sampson; Palmers Garden Centre; A Touch of Glass; No5 Café/Diner; Quicksilver Mail pub, Tesco Express on Abbey Manor; Tesco Express in Cavalier Way; Co-op store on Westfield estate; Co-op store/garage in Sherborne Road; A Touch of Glass; Yeovil Town Council offices; South Somerset District Council offices; St Margaret’s Hospice Furniture Store; Montacute Garage; Co-op store near Stanchester Academy at Stoke-sub-Hamdon; West Coker Garage.

The future is LOCAL printed news – you heard it here first!

<![CDATA[Battens Solicitors’ Residential Specialist receives key promotion]]> Battens Solicitors, one of the South West’s largest law firms, is celebrating the achievements of one of its Residential Property Specialists, Ross Siviter.

In recognition of his dedication to his clients and to Battens, Ross has been promoted from Associate to Senior Associate. Ross joined Battens’ Residential Property Team in July 2017, quickly becoming a popular and valuable member of staff. Ross deals with all types of property transactions including buying and selling freehold and leasehold properties, newbuild and shared ownership transactions, transfers of equity and remortgages plus more complex matters involving parcels of land in the Yeovil office.

David Stephens, Chairman at Battens Solicitors said: “Ross has been a great asset to the Residential Property Team and I am delighted to announce his promotion.” Ross said: "I am really thrilled to have been promoted to the position of Senior Associate since taking over the running of the Yeovil Residential Team. Battens is a firm that really supports and promotes career progression and looks to achieve the best from its staff. I feel very honoured to have been given this opportunity and look forward to the future success of our well established Residential Team."

<![CDATA[Local business sponsors emergency defibrillator after IT Manager’s cardiac arrest]]> A local company has decided to mark their 10th anniversary of trading with the sponsorship of a communal emergency defibrillator which will be accessible 24/7. With help from other companies on the Woodlands Court Business Park and from friends and families, the company, Scan Film or Store, hope to raise £2,000 for the provision of this life saving equipment.

The project has been inspired by real life drama when Sophie Popplewell, the IT Manager at the company, suffered a cardiac arrest last November whilst at home. She was 28 at the time with a 2 year old daughter. Luckily her husband was at home and gave Sophie CPR for 15 minutes before the ambulance arrived and they used a defibrillator to shock her heart. She was taken to the Bristol Heart Hospital where her family were told that she had a 50% chance of surviving. Sophie was in a coma for 3 days and then spent another two weeks in hospital before being fitted with a permanent implantable defibrillator to prevent another arrest happening. Luckily Sophie made a full recovery but no cause was ever found.

Sophie said “ A cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time, at any age and very often to healthy people with no known heart problems or risk factors. The chance of surviving an out of hospital cardiac arrest are 8%. If defibrillated within the first minute of collapse, the victim’s chances of survival are close to 90% but for every minute defibrillation is delayed survival rates decrease by up to 10%. I was so lucky that my husband was calm enough to take instruction from the 999 operator as he had never done CPR before otherwise I would not be here today” .

Sophie’s company is championing the fund raising for the provision of this life saving equipment which will be available to all of the new and existing businesses on the Woodlands Court Business Park on the Bristol Road 24 hours a day. To date over £500 has been raised for the equipment which will be fitted prominently to the outside of the Scan Film or Store offices (opposite the DPD building).

If you would like to contribute to this life saving equipment please go to the crowdfunding page

Contact Mark Yates @ SFS ltd 01278 450500 or

<![CDATA[President's Heartbeat – w/c 15th November]]>

President's Heartbeat – 15th November 2019

There are a large number of manufacturing & engineering businesses dotted around the four Yeovil Business Parks, quietly creating success stories.  This is the manufacturing and engineering backbone of Yeovil; the 200-year legacy of ‘making things’ in Yeovil, employing 12,000 people, and making up 20% of the Yeovil workforce.  Business success is always to be celebrated, but if any success is coupled with a lack of ‘connection’ to the location of the business, and a primary customer base which has developed away from Yeovil, any success relative to the Yeovil economy can be-short-lived if a decision is made by such a business to relocate closer to its primary customer base.  I have recently met several owners and decision-makers of Yeovil-based manufacturers who know alarmingly little of the economic regeneration projects, joined-up thinking, infrastructure investment, and the rejuvenation of the town centre retail sector.

To encourage these businesses to feel part of a larger success story, and in response to a call from Garador MD Neil Discombe asking: “Garador is looking to network with local manufacturing plants for best practice sharing, would you be able to help?” Yeovil Chamber put together a working party comprising South Somerset District Council, Garador, Leonardo Helicopters and Porter Dodson Solicitors to resolve these two issues.  The appetite for action was clearly demonstrated at the 14th November launch meeting at Leonardo Helicopters (pictured), which saw twenty manufacturing leaders & decision-makers from across Yeovil, Crewkerne and Chard around the table, discussing the way forward.  Also involved at the launch were South Somerset District Council economic regeneration managers, Yeovil College employer engagement officers, and Inspire Biz, a HOTSW LEP-contractor promoting funding streams to scale-up businesses.  This wider representation is offering further support to Chamber and the fledgling group, tentatively labelled M-Hub.

The mood in the room at the 14th November launch, was to create tangible, long-term benefit to the manufacturing sector as soon as possible, and a clear two-point aim has already emerged: (a), to create a network of manufacturing businesses from across the Yeovil area of influence, sharing best practices and experiences, on an open agenda of cooperation, and (b), to create and develop supply-chain opportunities for all.  The initiative will be sector-specific; run by those who engage, for those who engage, but will be open to all businesses who ‘make things’, and form part of Yeovil Chamber’s business support package.  Feedback from break-out sessions at the launch meeting will fuel the agenda for a follow-up meeting at Garador, scheduled for 9th December.

(Image credit: Leonardo Helicopters)

CLICK HERE to discover membership benefits and to join Yeovil Chamber

<![CDATA[HUSBAND AND WIFE DUO GRADUATE TOGETHER AT THE 2019 YEOVIL COLLEGE UNIVERSITY CENTRE GRADUATION]]> Yeovil College celebrated the recent achievements of their University Centre Graduates with a formal ceremony at Westlands Entertainment Venue, Yeovil on Friday 25 October.

This year also saw a husband and wife graduate together, with the same qualification and same employer. Studying the Diploma in Education and Training at the Yeovil College University Centre, Paul and Kerrie Homewood have supported one another through periods of studying, night classes and assignment deadlines. However, they succeeded and last Friday they had that incredible moment of celebrating together in front of their families. Kerrie, who is a Study Programme Manager in Social Work at Yeovil College, said: “The journey has not been an easy one but it has been a unique experience having one another as the perfect study partner. Not many people can say they graduated on the same day as their partner, and for that reason it will always remain an extra special day to us.” Paul, a Lecturer in Motor Vehicle at Yeovil College, said: “It was great to have someone close to me on the very same course as we became study partners and could help each other when it came to assignments and exams. Even if at times we were slightly competitive over who could get the best marks or finish first!”

Friends, family and special guests including guest speaker Marcus Fysh MP, the Mayor of Yeovil David Recardo and various other local councillors joined together to watch the students graduate from a wide range of different qualifications including Honours Degrees, Foundation Degrees, Diplomas, Professional Certificates and Postgraduate qualifications. There was an abundance of subjects represented including Media, Business & Management, Health Care and Early Years, English and a variety of branches within Engineering.

The two student speakers Clare Johnston and David Dummackin gave inspirational speeches about their personal journeys throughout their time studying at the Yeovil College University Centre. David Dummackin, graduate in Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Childhood Studies, Care and Education from the University of Gloucestershire (studying locally), and 2019 award winner said: “Due to the outstanding teaching, I now feel confident enough to take on a masters which last year I would never have done! Sometimes personal struggles occur within a year and for me it’s been a really challenging couple of years: mental health problems, illnesses, full-time work being a husband and father and struggling to fit everything in. The thing you realise when you do speak is its very common and the support out there is excellent and people really do help you. This year I had the support of so many people: family, college, peers and professionals because I spoke to someone; it’s ok to not be ok. Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing you will be successful, find what you love, do it every day and make a difference.”

CEO and Principal Mark Bolton said: “We believe that the right university-level education opens doors and changes lives. We work tirelessly with our local business community to ensure what we deliver, and how and when we deliver it, hits the mark to create a more capable and prosperous community for the benefit of all. We see our graduates secure their dream jobs and careers every year, inspiring us and their peers to be the best we can; I love what it does for our learners.”

Peter Thomas, Chair of the Yeovil College Corporation “The stars of the show get the headlines and they deserve to, but they couldn't do it without all the support, knowledge, faith and love of others. Graduates you are the stars of today's show. Yeovil College exists so that students can succeed. That is not only its primary purpose; it is its only purpose.”

The ceremony ended with 4 special awards, these were handed out to 4 individuals who had excelled in their field of study and went above and beyond to achieve their qualification: - The Wayne Minter Award for Excellence: Ashley Crowdie - The Outstanding Trainee Teacher Award: Brian Lee - The Harry Livingstone Award for Management Excellence: Louise Veiga - Yeovil College University Centre Outstanding Achievement Award: David Dummackin

100% of mature students agreed that their course at Yeovil College has challenged them to achieve their best work’ and 99% of students feel that Yeovil College is a safe place to learn.

Full list of Yeovil College University Centre Graduates: Jessica Chamberlain, Harry Hawkins, Ellie Hinds, Clare Johnston, Adam Kember, Robert Lydford, Steven Oliver, Katy Peck, Louise Veiga, Gregory Wright, Merryn Chestney Perkins, Charlotte Cole, Amy Cooper, David Dummackin, Jasmine Forster, Molly Foster-Grellis, Rebecca Garrod, Hannah Jeffery, Sylwia Kersley, Kennedy McCarthy, Jade Sealy, Catherine Whitehead, Laura Yeomans, Matthew Fisher, Antonia Villafane, Caroline Manson, Warren Aplin, Gemma Bonning, Georgina Brooks, Suzanna Coleman, Alison Enticott, Keith Howe, Dawn Howell, Rachael Lark, Gemma Lawrence, Karen Paxton, Catherine Pennells, Susan Read, Jamie Shurmer, Jonathan Staple, Raymond Tostevin, Matthew Wilkinson, Leeza Willcox, Jennie Workman, Danielle Damen, Louise Dowding, Bethany Gore, Amanda Horne, Andrew Morgan, Katelan Hathaway, Charlotte Norton, Emma Swithenbank, Yung Fun Tsang, Sandrine Bennett, Laura Collis, Chloe Griffiths, Paul Homewood, Paula Judge, Brian Lee, Leah O'Brien, Elly Otieno, Kerrie Robertson, Karen Savill, David Smith, Amanda Winnall, Sam Day, Carol Hosking, Paula Golding, Samantha Oak, Jacqueline Wayland, Angela Brooker, Nicky David, Fiona Rigby, Yasmin Denne, Naomi Astington, Charlotte Beale, Georgina-May Boyer, Callum Buckler, Emma Cable, Megan Cass, Charlie Dymock, Ruken Isiktas, Sarah Lebese, Beth Margrett, Holly Meaden, Jane Painter, Ella Pittard, Rochelle Roberts, Emily Rose, Kirsteen Shawdale-Mabon, Naomi Simmons, Sophie Speed, Abigail Strong, Tiffany Thompson, Rhiannon Walls, Danielle White, Curtis Coulson, Krystina Harbor, Sophie Middleditch, Caleb Munks, Jack Surmon, Benjamin Tizzard, Rachel Willcox, Abdullah Alomran, Christopher Gaylard, Victoria Phylosofou, Elle Westwood, Nikita Lester, Emma Stryker, Rhys Tucker, Benjamin Dew, Alan Lovell, Liam Mortimore, Luke Murphy, Jack Naughton, Jacob Ollis, Paul Richardson, Jake Tatchell, Hubert Wisniewski, Lauren Calway, Ben Card, Matthew Johnson, Jake Lamb, Harry Minchington, Savannah Studley, Joe Taylor, Ryan Cox, Charlie Watkins, Henry White, Gabriella Ball, Courtney Appleby, Christopher Garnett, Jessica Jeffery, Joseph Kember, Holly Reeves, Ashley Crowdie, Matthew Baghurst, Sarah Harvey, Jade Legg, Thomas Woods

<![CDATA[Leading law firm cycles 200km around Somerset and Dorset, raising over £5,000 for RNLI]]> Sometimes a challenge can seem unattainable, but Porter Dodson’s riders were determined not to let this one beat them!  Led by experienced riders, Stephen Wray and Phil Stocker, both of whom have completed Land’s End – John O’ Groats (LEJOG), their team of 11 colleagues – ranging in age from 27 to 60 – were nervously chomping at the bit when they set out from the firm’s Wellington office in the dark at 6:20am on Thursday 5th September.

Their goal? To cycle almost 200 kilometres around Somerset and Dorset in a day, visiting each of the Firm’s nine locations, to raise money for the RNLI. Their target was £3,000, so they were delighted when their final total weighed in at well over £5,000. Apart from the two leaders and one other experienced cyclist, none of the riders had completed more than half of the planned distance in a day before they started training.

Conditions were good and the team arrived at the firm’s Bridport office earlier than expected, where the Bridport News was waiting with local businesses to see them complete the first leg of their ride. After a brief pit-stop to refuel (there was cake aplenty!) the cyclists set off for Poundbury, where friends, family and colleagues were waiting excitedly as if expecting a royal visit! 

Dorchester and Sturminster Newton were quickly crossed off the list, with an on-time arrival of 4:30pm at the Sherborne office, where a welcoming committee waited expectantly in front of the Abbey.  By this time, muscles were aching and a few were questioning the sanity of the team – including some of the riders themselves!  Fortunately, Dave Hooper of Synergy Sport and Remedial Massage Therapy was on hand to give massages and ensure everyone was fit to continue, riding with them to motivate them for the remainder of the route. 

Onwards to Yeovil, where crowds of co-workers stood outside both offices to welcome the riders.  Being one of the larger offices, Yeovil staff had organised a bake-off style cake sale and a static bike ride to show their support. Several of the riders commented that the welcome was like finishing a stage of the Tour de France!

With just the final stage to get under their belts, the riders set off for Taunton, arriving triumphant at 8pm, where several of the firm’s partners served them much-needed refreshments and a glass of sparkling wine to celebrate their accomplishment.

Laura Roper, who only took up riding in 2018, told us “I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to take part in this fundraising ride. It was one of the greatest challenges I have ever undertaken but completing it was incredibly rewarding.  There were times when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it the whole way round, but the amazing support from colleagues at all the Firm’s offices was a great boost for morale”

Finance Partner, Nicholas Clegg, who first suggested the ride and drove the leading support vehicle, said “We are proud to have such dedicated members of staff, who have given up their weekends and evenings to train for this remarkable challenge.  We are very relieved that everyone completed the day and there were no injuries or mechanical failures. The support shown by staff and local businesses at every office was overwhelming.”

Philanthropy Manager at the RNLI, Steve Law, praised the riders for their support: “My sincere thanks to those that rode as part of the charity cycle raising a fantastic amount that will be put to good use on the coasts. The RNLI is made possible thanks to people like the Porter Dodson staff who generously give their time as well as those who kindly give their money to sponsor them. My thanks also to the company for supporting their team with fundraising and thus the vision to end drowning, it means a lot to us and all those who risk their lives at sea.”

Riders will be visiting the RNLI College in Poole on 1st November for a tour of the college and cheque presentation.

For anyone wishing to donate, the team’s fundraising page will be open until the end of the year and can be accessed via Porter Dodson’s website

<![CDATA[YEOVIL COLLEGE ANNOUNCES ITS FIRST INFORMATION EVENING OF THE YEAR]]> Yeovil College announces its first Information Evening of the academic year, which will take place on the Mudford Road campus on Tuesday 8 October between 5pm and 7:30pm.

The evening will offer all the information visitors will need about the college, including what courses are available; ranging from full-time and part-time courses, degree Level qualifications, apprenticeships and night school. The event will be an opportunity to discover the great things the college has achieved last year and their determination to build on these achievements this year. Yeovil College has been ranked the best performing college in Somerset for overall achievement rates. Full-time programmes such as the A Level courses have exceeded expectations, achieving 100% pass rate for the fourth year running. The Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) places the college within the top 10% of the best performing colleges in the country.

Anybody that is interested in going will need to secure their place very soon because the information evenings have been growing in popularity over the past couple of academic years. The event will take place on Yeovil College’s campus on Mudford Road to give visitors the chance to explore all of the phenomenal on-site facilities, including Kingston Sixth Form Centre, Nexus Beauty Salon, Da Vinci Restaurant, the Leonardo Creative Industries Centre, Bradford’s Construction Centre, Screwfix Trades Skills Centre and the full-size Lynx helicopter which has been kindly donated to the college back in 2017.

Mark Bolton, CEO & Principal of Yeovil College, said: “Our Information Evening provides our potential students with the perfect opportunity to learn about and understand the options available to them, post year 11. We are focused on each person as an individual, driving and supporting everyone to achieve their maximum potential. It is an incredibly exciting time to take a serious look at Yeovil College as your number one choice. Not only have we achieved impressive results, which places us firmly within the top 10% of Further Education college in the country, we have recently obtained a game-changing amount of money to invest within our campus and IT structure. I urge anyone who is in year 11 to visit us, meet the staff, take a look around and ask us challenging questions – we look forward to inviting you to become part of our future success story.”

For further information and to secure your space at the Yeovil College Information Evening on 8 October, visit our website

<![CDATA[Leading law firm cycles 200km to raise funds for RNLI]]> When finance partner, Nicholas Clegg, first suggested a cycle ride taking in all eight of Porter Dodson’s offices over two days, the idea was met with considerable enthusiasm and a small working committee was formed. The RNLI was identified as a charity the firm wanted to strengthen their relationship with and with the support of their fundraising team, the Porter Dodson Great British Bike Off was born.

Being lawyers, the committee studied insurance implications and risk assessments, deemed the ride achievable and set a date. There was just a minor change to the original plan – the ride would take place in one day, not two! With a core group of ten cyclists agreeing to take part, training sessions began, starting with a relatively short 20 mile ride climbing nearly 2,000ft and testing everyone’s fitness and endurance levels. The cyclists hail from Devon, Somerset and Dorset, so planning training rides that suited everyone was challenging to say the least. With one main ride including all but one of the team to practise riding as a peloton, most weekends (and some evenings after work) a smaller number of the team can be seen training around the Somerset and Dorset countryside in their distinctive yellow jerseys. Dave Hooper of Synergy Sport and Remedial Massage Therapy has helped the team prepare for the ride, hosting a maintenance evening and showing them how to protect themselves from injuries.

Sunday 18th August saw Robyn Greenway, Laura Roper, Anusheh Burcher and Scott Bowley join Stephen Wray in the Porter Dodson 100 mile club, climbing a gruelling 2,461 feet. With this accomplishment under their belts, 121 miles seems less daunting and infinitely achievable.

The Porter Dodson Great British Bike Off takes place on Thursday 5th September, leaving the Wellington office at 6:30am. The first stop is at Porter Dodson’s Bridport office at 10:15am. All being well, the tryhard ten will arrive at Taunton at 8:30pm where staff at that office will be waiting to celebrate their success. Scott Bowley, head of the firm’s Bridport office, said: “I’ve only recently caught the cycling bug, having bought my bike in April after some “encouragement” from colleagues, so this has been an extraordinary challenge for me. After our 100 mile training ride, we think we are all now prepared for the big bike ride”

Steve Law, Philanthropy Manager at the RNLI, works closely with Porter Dodson and commented “We at the RNLI can only continue to save lives with the generous support of the public. My thanks and best wishes to those undertaking the cycle to support our crews and to all those sponsoring them. Behind every life saved on our coasts are those giving their time, energy, and money to enable the RNLI to continue and the team at Porter Dodson are a vital part of this.”


<![CDATA[Battens family law solicitor receives prestigious Children’s Panel accreditation]]> Battens Solicitors Family Law team member Emily Davies, has been awarded a place on the Law Society’s prestigious Children’s Panel. The accreditation is a nationally recognised hallmark of quality that Guardians and other professionals can seek out when specialist representation is needed for children in difficult private disputes or care proceedings.

Gaining the accreditation takes dedication and hard work. Emily, who has been practicing family law for almost 3 years, trained intensively before undergoing a demanding assessment and interview process at Chancery Lane’s renowned Law Society. “I am really pleased to have achieved the accreditation. It is a reflection of all of my hard work and means that I can now represent children through their Guardian in Court proceedings. I can also represent competent children in Court proceedings. This area of law can leave parents and children feeling confused, upset and anxious and I endeavour to advise and assist in an empathetic but professional manner whilst providing realistic and appropriate advice”.

Emily becomes the seventh member of the Battens Family Law team to gain the accreditation making Battens one of the leading family law firms in the South West.