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Shropshire Providers Consortium Dragons’ Den, Oswestry

Shropshire Providers Consortium Dragons’ Den Event in Oswestry was held at the British Ironworks Centre on 19th October 2017.  The dragons were Ian Follington, Business Doctor; John Rainford, Strawberry Fields; Denise McGowan, Evanji; Peter Starbuck of Peter Starbuck Ltd. and Clive Knowles Managing Director of the British Ironworks Centre


The British Ironworks Centre is located at Whitehall, Aston, Oswestry SY11 4JH

Business Judging Panel:


Peter Starbuck, Peter Starbuck Ltd.; Ian Follington, Business Doctor; John Rainford, Strawberry Fields; Denise McGowan, Evanji; Clive Knowles, British Ironworks Centre


Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises (VCSE):

CEDAR Education CIC Judith Wester
Headway Shropshire Debbie Wilcox
Shropshire Disability Network Ruby Hartshorn
Shropshire Youth Association Richard Parkes
Clive Knowles, chairman and founder of the British Ironworks Centre, welcomed everyone. He manages the centre with his family including his two children, they are specialists in metalwork and art and passionate about national issues like knife crime and gun crime.  He has worked with ‘Support after murder and manslaughter’ in Birmingham and the knife initiative and with Derby Police to create an anti-firearms monument – the Dove of Peace sitting in a nest of firearms.

John Rainford, Strawberry fields, teaches entrepreneurship and innovation at corporate level but also helps start-up businesses.

Denise McGowan, Evanji has a creative background in textiles and art, franchises one of her businesses at home and abroad, has a jewellery business and is also a business mentor.

Peter Starbuck, initially worked in the construction business, after National Service in Germany studied Peter Drucker, the father of modern management and teaches his methods.

Ian Follington is a business coach and mentor with Business Doctor

Shropshire Youth Association

Richard Parkes explained that Shropshire Youth Association supports voluntary youth clubs and runs a youth club in all the Market towns in Shropshire (except Shrewsbury which is run by council).  As well as council contracts they have delivered contracts for national organisations such as Action for Children and the Children’s society – see diabetes film and rap on YouTube.  They also run the Crucial Crew project on staying safe with children in their final year at primary school.

What Shropshire Youth Association asked for:

The trustees have lots of academic knowledge and HR skills but not so much business skills – Richard wrote the current business plan which could be better – more robust – and he would welcome help from someone to go through this with him.

Micro-volunteering – youth clubs need activities – Richard would welcome connections to people with skills who could do demonstrations – art and crafts, decorations, needlework, car mechanics, etc.

Shropshire Disability Network

Ruby Hartshorn is the Chairperson of Shropshire Disability Network.  There are over 56,000 people in Shropshire with a disability or long-term condition but Shropshire Disability Network has only has around 1,000 members.  The website is a useful source of information for people with a disability – or people caring for them – including social workers.  They run the Safe Places community initiative in Shropshire (it was started in Worcestershire).

They are organising some joint fundraising events with similar organisations eg Shropshire Seniors

What Shropshire Disability Network offered:
A mention in their website blog about organisations that are disability friendly and offer Safe Places.

What Shropshire Disability Network asked for:
More help with management – help with editing the newsletter and maybe a blog and leaders for fundraising subgroups.  Help with awareness – getting the message out to the other 55,000 people.

CEDAR Education CIC
Judith Wester runs a life lessons programme for young people aged 10 – 24 talking about death, dying, loss.  PCC have funded life lessons and CCG fund programmes for bad behaviour problems.  Judith also teaches adults how to talk to young people about death, courses for doctors and other people in the medical profession.  She offers a certified course of 5 hours for £100.

There are over 5 million mourners in the UK but 80% of the population avoid talking about death.  Avoidance causes isolation, drink problems, stress, health issues – the cost of bereavement is high.  There is no death education in the forces.  Someone dies every minute in the UK.

What CEDAR Education CIC asked for:
More exposure.  They have developed an app, Coventry University have tested it, it still needs beta testing and marketing.

Debbie Wilcox is the Deputy Chief Executive of Headway.  Headway provide 24/7 domiciliary care services for people with an acquired head injury plus outreach support to family and carers.  They get referrals from hospitals, social services, GPs, individuals, and Stoke hospital – as stroke can also be classed as a head injury.  They work closely with the neuro rehab team.

What Headway asked for:
Headway need new purpose-built premises as they have outgrown their current site and would also like to have some residential units for rehabilitation.


Shropshire Youth Association
Peter Drucker
said he realised when he was 8 years old that the voluntary sector was very different to the business sector but it still needs to generate a surplus.  The ethos is different providing volunteers with job satisfaction instead of remuneration.  He offered copies of his book to all the community organisations present.

Ian Follington said he was concerned about the single funding source.  Other applications have been made – a Big Potential application was not successful.  Is there a possibility of sponsorship from organisations that would benefit from consultation with young people.  SYA engage with over 4,000 young people a week and have big events 4 times a year when market research could be organised.  Ian offered to help them look at a future strategy.

Denise McGowan – she gives talks to WI groups and would be happy to ask for volunteers to do workshops.

Shropshire Disability Network
Clive Knowles
said that help with disability awareness was invaluable with planning disability access for the British Ironworks Centre – it might be possible to offer this service to organisations for a fee.  He has many disabled visitors and is keen to make the centre as disability friendly as possible.  He said:  “I am very aware how many people with disabilities visit us here – I will be assisting and helping you.”

Ian Follington asked about meeting room costs – SDA have now been offered a free meeting room.  Ian offered to help with compliance training for volunteers through his contacts.  Also to discuss strategy – sit down and discuss how much is needed – like charity number on banners – and how much is wanted.

CEDAR Education CIC
Ian Follington
said there is definitely a need here as Shropshire is said to be the place to come and die.  Ian can help with introductions to the care home association – Shropshire Partners in Care.

Denise McGowan said it is better to meet through introduction – Denise might be able to help with introductions to some schools.  She also said there might be a way to help the model grow – similar to Evanji.

National Association of Funeral Directors might be a good contact.

Clive Knowles said he has worked with ‘Support after murder and manslaughter’ in Birmingham and the knife initiative.  He said the advice should be more accessible and will support where he can.

John Rainford said he had done a lot of work with Wavelength supporting people in need, helping people take ownership of their own lives, working with young people, changing education.  He will connect Judith up with relevant people.


Ian Follington
said he would find out if there was a possibility of an investor funding a bigger building and providing access for part of it to Headway.

Denise McGowan said she would be happy to help with social media for fundraising.

Clive Knowles said he had experience of how scary it can be dealing with Headway clients – inexperience and misunderstanding make it difficult to know what to do.  He said:  “Now I understand more about what you do, I am happy to support you and will help with things like providing raffle prizes.”



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