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Recruitment

Neil Simmons

TN Recruits

“I left school with very few qualifications and initially coached Football and Gymnastics but fancied doing something a little bit different, so I worked in entertainment. I was a Blue Coat for Pontins and then became an Entertainments Manager for Airtours overseas. Towards my late 20’s, my wife and I decided we wanted to move back to the UK and settle down. I was originally from North West London, my wife and her family were from Tunbridge Wells and the surroundings. Having visited a number of times, we fell in love with Kent and Tunbridge Wells quite quickly and realised it was the right place for us.

When we arrived here I didn’t really know what I was going to do. I sold advertising for the Courier for three years, which gave me a grounding in sales whilst finding my way around Kent and Sussex. I then discovered recruitment and quickly realised it was something I really enjoyed as it combined all the people skills gained during my ‘university of life’ along with the opportunity to be directly rewarded for working hard. After eight years in recruitment, my Dad passed away, he was only 66 and at the time I was 38, based upon those ages I had 28 years left. This experience gave me the kick up the backside I needed to start my own business. I believed I had some good ideas that I could put into practice and wanted to put my own spin on things and so TN Recruits was born. Because of my love of Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas, I was motivated to help local companies and candidates fulfil their potential. Along the way I joined BNI, Tunbridge Wells which helped me to meet a number of local suppliers who are now my support network. TN Recruits now has ten members of staff to date and will continue to expand in the coming years.”

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Health & Lifestyle

Elaine Flook

Elaine Flook, Performance Therapy and Personal Branding

"I started training to be a kinesiologist when I was working at an investment bank in London – I was working really long hours in branding, design and corporate identity. I suffered from chronic eczema on my hands, I had it periodically in my life, it usually came every seven years, which is what often happens with eczema. At that time, I was working probably harder than I had ever worked – also studying psychotherapy, I had come to that as I wanted to do some personal work. That was quite challenging. I then met a lady called Sandy Gannon, I did an eight-week taster course with her on kinesiology – it was amazing and I just wanted to do more!

Then, through the sessions I was doing, I discovered that it was what I really wanted to do and that I didn’t want to work in corporate anymore, it was also a way of healing my eczema. So, I took the plunge and moved out of the corporate world. I did both for a while, for a couple of years I did freelance design management whilst I built my practice. My practice started off being quite general until I started working more with eczema, in particular with children for a few years. I had eczema as a child and I thought if I could make a difference to a child, then I could help somebody for their whole life. After a while, I missed corporate, I’m a complementary health specialist but I have my foot very firmly in the business world as well. So, a couple of years ago I met some people through the networking group I belong to and one of them said to me – “Do you know there’s a value to this with working with people in business? Your personal environment can very much affect how you perform at work.” It was really interesting! As a Performance Therapist, I stand between a business coach and a therapist bringing together corporate experience and therapeutic training. I help people deal with the stuff that affects them in their working life so that they can perform better in their workplace. I also work with business owners to help them present themselves authentically. I’ve kind of come full circle – personal branding is a bit like corporate branding, but you do it for yourself."

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Health & Lifestyle

Julia Maitland

The Yoga House

"I started Yoga when I was really small, about 5 years old in the local community hall. My grandmother got me into yoga, she must have been one of the first western ladies to study yoga, as yoga only came to the Western world really in the 1960’s. I always loved it. Then, when I was about 13, I was diagnosed type 1 diabetic, I also had really bad asthma. You lose control of your body when you are diagnosed with lifelong chronic conditions like these, it was awful! I subsequently developed panic attacks and claustrophobia as a teenager and at the same time my Dad was working in the City and after the Black Friday stock market crash around about the same time, he was under immense pressure and became physically ill through stress, so much so that his blood chemistry changed which was due to the stress.

My Dad found us this old guy, who was a Doctor, but he called himself a hypnotherapist and he worked with breathing – he completely cured both of us! I had a real link with him, he was much older, a bit like a grandfather figure, unfortunately he died when I was pregnant with my son. The strange story is that – one night I woke up after having a nightmare where I couldn’t breathe, I thought I was going to die! The next morning, I thought about him, I gave my Dad a call and asked if he had heard from him, my Dad told me he had a phone call from his wife, and he had died that night! What he hadn’t told us was that as a youth, he suffered from TB and as a result, only had the use of half a lung, so he survived to the age of 85 – simply by mastering his breath. He was my first yoga guru (although he would have laughed at the idea of being called that). I studied philosophy at university, I’ve always been interested in it and I’ve always wanted to help people. After that I started a degree in psychotherapy – it really wasn’t for me, not hands on enough. Then after having two children, I realised – actually I love yoga, I had always done it, but only for myself, so I thought it would be a perfect combination. It combats stress, it works a lot with breathing, it has a vast body of philosophy and wisdom and at a basic level it just helps people. I did my teacher training and as we were building our house, I thought; you know what, if I build a studio, people will come – so that’s what I did! I have a USP where I have a collection of teachers that use the studio, they take their own bookings and I don’t take any money from them apart from the room hire. It makes it really nice here, with a great atmosphere that helps the teachers and makes it extra nice for their clients"

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Interiors

Ella Driscoll

Shere Kitchens

"The essence of Shere Kitchens is the art of local craftsmanship, made to our clients unique designs. Mike, Andy and I are all passionate about solid cabinetry, design details, offering something truly unique and making the experience of commissioning a kitchen a joy from start to finish.

It all started when Mike was managing an extension project and his client wanted a handmade kitchen with a 'wow' factor for their forever family home. Andy and Mike have been friends since they were next door neighbours as kids, and andy and I owned a Joinery company - so we made the kitchen together. It was a classic Shaker style design, combined with unique wall-to-wall cabinetry with hand-made patterned doors. The combination of skills worked so well that we started Shere Kitchens. We love incorporating artistic twists to classic beautifully made solid cabinetry. As we make our kitchens, customers can have whatever they like ... any size, colour, style, patterns & materials. The kitchen is the heart of the home and it’s such a beautiful process to make pieces of furniture that will be used for years and their families will grow up with, crafted out of wood and with passion, here in Shere. Andy is head of cabinetry, a traditionally trained joiner with 20 years of experience. Mike is head of design, he’s really good with the CAD plans, and uses his building experience to help our clients make the most of their space and create their dream. I manage the office, marketing and the conservation projects.”

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Health & Lifestyle

Amber Parker

Mojove Introductions

“I am a true believer in love and that there’s someone out there for everyone, I’ve now made it my business to do my best to prove this theory. I didn’t want other local people to endure the same challenges, disasters, dramas and disillusions that I had with dating sites and apps so I set up Mojove Introductions to help other professionals find that someone special.

Finding someone special can literally transform your life, those butterflies you get, those shared memories, the laughter and intimacy, there is nothing like it and it is one of the biggest decisions anyone could ever make, yet many people may leave it to chance, or hope that by playing the numbers game on numerous dating sites, that eventually they will find ‘the one’! In a world of social media, winks, swipes and likes, I want to bring things back to basics by helping real people make real and meaningful connections face to face. My discreet, friendly and professional matchmaking service will not only provide you with matches, we will obtain feedback after your date to see how it went and will work together to ensure we find the perfect match for you.”

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Legal

Hugo Goodale

Casey & Associates

"I have worked at Casey & Associates, a family run legal services firm specialising in Will Writing, Estate Planning and Trusts for homeowners, since 2009. My Father is the Practice Director. I spent the majority of my school holidays as a teenager helping with administrative tasks and most importantly of all…making the tea!

Working with family is challenging, but is just as equally rewarding and I would not change it at all. I have undertaken virtually every role within the company which provides me with firm foundations when looking to the future and the continuation of the company. We have over 20,000 Clients throughout the South East of England and are absolutely committed to delivering high levels of satisfaction and service to our Clients."

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Branded Products

Hugh O'Neill

Branded Products

I was a senior manager for the largest contract caterer in the UK. It got to the stage where everything I was doing was behind a computer and it wasn’t why I joined the catering industry. It was at the time of the recession and I’d had enough, timely I got a nice redundancy package and so I thought, what do I do with my life now? I came away and really didn’t know what to do, I thought of going back into contract catering, but I always had a desire to work for myself. I looked around at starting a business, went to a business show and saw in a magazine an advert for Recognition Express. I knew of them because they supplied the name badges for my previous company, but I didn’t realise the extent of the services they provided.

I went up to see the franchisor and liked the idea of running my own business but with a supportive franchisor behind me. I wanted to offer quality products, give excellent service and use my business skills to run my own business. So, because of the redundancy pay, I was able to buy the franchise. It was a tough time because it was the start of the recession, however we grew quite quickly, mainly in the branded clothing sector due to the recession. Budgets were tight and customers still purchased uniforms but held back on promotional products. We came out of the other end of the recession and as times went on, we’ve managed to get clients that are more interested in marketing their businesses with the use of promotional products. We’ve moved on now where 60% of our business is promotional products, 30% is clothing and the rest is name badges and banners. We’ve been going 9 years and have grown really well with more growth forecasted this year. We were delighted this year to have been rewarded with Franchisee of the Year. The best bit of working for myself is the reward of personal satisfaction, where everything I do I achieve for myself, rather than doing it for someone else.

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Photography

Georgina Edwards

Georgina Edwards Photography

“I was given my first camera when I was about 12 years old and I just loved taking pictures of my friends and family. My Mum had always had a good old fashioned manual camera and she documented my brother and my childhoods. I love looking through the pictures. My previous career was in TV as a production manager; I started out in sports production with cricket, I travelled a lot and got to go to Sri Lanka and Antigua, it was pretty cool. I then side stepped into drama reconstruction and I did some really fun things. It was great, but not practical when I had my children. A few years went by and at some point after my kids were born, I was given a DSLR camera because I wanted to have some decent pictures of my children. So I picked up the camera again

and started off taking pictures of my children and friends’ families. That is what I love the most (as well as babies, events, pets and headshots) it’s brilliant! It works around the children and I’m always learning, whether it’s with online courses or doing workshops. I love wildlife photography, I’ve recently invested in a giant lens and enjoy doing dawn landscape photography. Penshurst Place is one of my favourite sites to visit, I went regularly throughout my childhood, so I recently asked them if I could visit and do some sunrise and sunset photography which they said was fine, it meant being up at 4.20am, but it was worth it and I was so pleased with the way it turned out, you can read about it on my blog. However, the family photography is what I love the most, It’s really rewarding, especially when the customers come back every few years and see how the children are growing. I know how much I adore looking back on the pictures that my Mum took of our family, but of course she’s never in the photos! So one of my big things is to encourage people to get someone else behind the camera, even if you hate having your photo taken, it’s not necessarily about you, it’s about your children, it’s about the memories for them, and them being able to look back on their childhoods, with pictures of their parents.” Georgina is offering a special discount to followers of Brilliant Businesses: 10% off your headshot session (for weekday sessions between 23rd September – 18th October 2019).

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Food & Drink

Steve and Sophie

Surrey Hills Beer and Gin Company

“Ten years ago, we were both working up at the William Bray pub, Steve was running it and I was the restaurant manager, we ran the pub together and became good friends, we had a real laugh and we both had a bit of a passion for the alcohol, but never thought we’d run a business together.

I then went to work for a wine company and studied wine, that was for about 4 years and that’s where the wine knowledge comes into this business, Steve started his sandwich shop 5 years ago and we always kept in touch. The idea came to Steve when someone came to him and said they wanted a bottle of Silent Pool but the distillery was closed, why isn’t there an off licence in Shere? So the seed was sown. Then just through searching on Google for breweries and wine distilleries in The Surrey Hills Steve found it amazing as to just how many there are in this area. This place had been empty for 6 weeks so he put the idea to the landlord who thought it was a good idea and he said, yes, go for it, so he did! We’ve now been open for 18 months, Steve approached me to see if I would like to help out and invest in the business and that happened last April so it’s been nearly a year that we’ve been doing it together. Since then we’ve made it a lot bigger, we go to regular farmers markets, we’ve got ideas to do tastings and have expanded the stock hugely. Our next step is to get online, get bigger, better and more out there! We stock some continental wines, which are sourced locally, every single thing that we sell is local and that is our biggest ethos! We call ourselves a specialist boutique, off licence.”

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Personal Training

Felix Leech

Superflex Coaching

“When I was a kid, I was never very good at sport or any kind of fitness, I was always the last to be picked for the football team, I didn’t really enjoy PE that much, I got shoved to the back a lot and got less attention. Therefore, I didn’t really have a very good relationship with physical exercise back then. When I was about 12 years old, I got into skateboarding, I had quite an obsessive personality, so I did it a lot, quite religiously, also watching it on TV. I then saw something called Free Running, which I had never seen before – they were jumping over fences, doing somersaults on the pavement, I thought it wasn’t possible, the sort of stuff you only get in video games or movies.

I really wanted to be able to do it myself, and at that stage I had just started some personal responsibility with my own fitness, so I put more of a focus in being able to do it. I started to learn some gymnastics, I taught myself how to do cartwheels and handstands, I did some martial arts too and really rode that for a few years. I grew up with that into my late teenage life and the more and more I got into it, the more I learnt. I learned about the stunt register, which is a guild of stuntmen, it handles the insurance side and the credibility etc, so I started to pursue that. They have six skills you have to achieve, out of about twelve; things like rock climbing, horse riding and scuba diving. Once you achieve those skills and they trust you, they put you on the board and you get recognized for some big jobs. I started working more towards that and originally was just working on gymnastics and martial arts, I thought - it’s all you need to do, be like Jackie Chan! Several years later, I realised I had been wasting my time, so I picked up things like rock climbing and scuba diving to build up my portfolio, spent more time with people who were also trying to become a stuntman and really pursued that goal. One of the reasons why I liked the idea was because it brought real structure to my physical training, having a clear pattern for fighting and gymnastics gave me a real structure. In 2014, I became officially accredited and I started working on some movies – my first movie was Dracula, I also did the Star Wars movie. I had a bucket list of three things – work on Star Wars, work on a Marvel film and work with Jackie Chan and I achieved one of those within two months of being a stuntman. I was very pleased with that! I also worked on Game of Thrones, so it was a good start. My most memorable stunt was doing the splits between two trains in the new Paddington film, just like Jean Claude-Van Damme! But it was tough, hard to build your income and your sustainability, so I re-opened the business side of things. My biggest asset was my flexibility, so it seemed like the obvious direction to take – I got asked a lot, how I did the splits, how did I get so flexible and how I could help others get flexible too, so I’d give them tips and after a while, I decided to make it more of a business. I Pursued some business coaching and learned how to coach people face to face, so the business and the stunts grew themselves organically and now it’s like a tango between two different passions. I used the things that I learnt in being an elite athlete and a stuntman to pass on to others. Now that the stunts are going so well, I can run my business in a very relaxed way, I can coach people that I love coaching and do things I really enjoy, like helping people. At the same time, I can completely leave all of that, go into a different world by being a Zombie in a movie, which is completely different. I really enjoy it.”

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IT & Technology

Ben Leach

BL IT Solutions Limited

“I’ve had a passion for computers from a very young age, perhaps 8 or 9 years old. It started off when my Dad bought a Commodore 64, back in the early 80’s, I learnt how to programme that and then went up to other Commodores and Amigas and then on to my first PC’s in the early 90’s. I was always tinkering, taking them apart and putting them back together, as well as things like radios etc. I took an iron apart once and put it back together, I was about 6 years old when I did that.

So, I’ve always had a brain that was intrigued how electronic things worked. When I was 11 old I was sent to a boarding school, that was the biggest challenge of my life, being taken away from home. I wasn’t a very sociable child and going to a school, miles away from home and not seeing my parents for fortnightly periods was really hard going. It strengthened me up. I set the business up seven years ago, after being employed in the IT industry for about ten years. I got to a point where I had enough working for a big corporate company, the job was getting more and more stressful and I needed a way out and the best way was to work for myself! The problem for me, working for a bigger organisation was, they didn’t understand people with disabilities and my boss never understood or acknowledged that I had a disability, which made it really difficult for me. Having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t run your own business, I do a lot of networking and stand up speaking, to show other businesses, that I can succeed with my business with a disability. I love meeting people, getting to know them and seeing how I can help them with their business or their home computing etc, many people who use me, continue to do so because they like the personal service I give.”

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Health & Lifestyle

Bruno Dalledone

Bruno Dalledone - The Health Coach

“I began my career in the fitness industry 7 years ago teaching Kung Fu/Self-Defence. Martial Arts has always been an integral part of my life and educating became my passion, so it seemed like a natural progression to become a Personal Trainer. I qualified just over 3 years ago and, in that time, have been privileged to guide some incredible people on life changing journeys. Personal training is an exciting career where you’re constantly learning and developing yourself as a coach. Last year I became a Certified Mac-Nutritionist and with this in-depth knowledge of Nutrition, Exercise and a Martial Arts Mindset I have naturally progressed into Health Coaching.

This change came with a rebrand from Legendary Fitness to Bruno Dalledone – The Health Coach. People are living much longer but not necessarily staying healthy in their later years. My main aim is to teach people how they can live healthily throughout their lives. I’m currently working on The Health Camp, which is a guaranteed weight loss, science-based education programme, teaching people how they can lose weight sustainably in a way that suits their lifestyle and encourages a healthy life. I love working with people and helping them make positive transformations to their lives. It’s so rewarding when I get texts from people saying “you’ve changed my life”

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Creative & Marketing

Paul Woodger

Mivvy Creative Ltd

I left school at 16, wanting to be a graphic designer. I’d always been interested in art; my earliest childhood memories are of sitting at the dining room table with the crayons out. To this day I still love to draw and most of the work I do begins life as some sort of sketch before I take it to the graphic design stage – it gives me the opportunity to make tiny detail changes before committing it to digital. After 20 years as a graphic designer, 10 of which as a studio manager, the time was right for me to step out and go solo – and so in August 2017, I launched Mivvy Creative Ltd. My previous job saw me work with clients of all sizes and scopes, from local businesses to national and international businesses too, creating branding for marketing campaigns across the globe.

At Mivvy Creative, I create branding and both digital (online) and printed marketing collateral for clients. For me, it’s all about finding out about what drives the business and putting their personality and values across in the design. We’re able to create a wide spectrum of items that a client may require under the branding banner, including marketing literature, event materials, exhibition displays, and visual identity design, which includes logo design as part of your overall branding. We are not limited by industry sector and work with clients who are happy with their existing branding and are seeking continuity in their materials, or, with those who would like us to create something fresh and new for them. Any design is subjective, with many designers out there to choose from. What we strive to offer is unrivaled customer service and attention to detail. We rationalise our decision-making when we present our ideas and work closely with our clients to understand their requirements. By developing close relationships we’re able to look ahead and future-proof the designs we create as well. Currently we have 70 clients on our books, ranging from local to national businesses and for the past 9 months, we’ve been partnering with a PR consultant providing professionally written copy to complement the design work we create. It enables us both the opportunity to offer clients a more complete service with the benefit of being offered ideas outside of our core skillsets to maximise their marketing budget. We’re located at Churchill Square in Kings Hill, the kettle is always hot here so pop in, we’d love to hear how we can help you and your business.

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Travel

Matt Newman

Travel Counsellors

"My inspiration for getting into travel, really, was travelling myself, I’ve always loved going away from an early age with my family etc. I went away on a kind of gap year, except my gap year lasted two and a half years – I went to some amazing places during that period, my favourite was Nepal I had a month there on my own, trekking around and meeting various different people. The culture there was incredible, seeing people who really had no material possessions and very little money, but seemed so happy was very inspirational, it was amazing that people around the globe can have so little, yet be so happy, that really interested me.

I then spent a month in China, which was in the mid 90’s, so it wasn’t really opened up at that time. It was tough travelling around there, and again, seeing some real poverty and things that I had never experienced before, really cemented my love of seeing other cultures and other people, and how they do things and go about their lives. I love sitting around in cities, just watching people, I really do and that to me is the joy of travelling, I could sit by a train station in an Asian country and just take it all in, that atmosphere is really great. When I came back after two and a half years of travelling around, I then worked in different countries, I did a ski season in Canada and New Zealand, I love my Winter sports and when I came back again, I wanted to travel more and inspire others to travel and see these wonderful places. I grew up in London, it's such a multi-cultural society and I’m really proud of how we treat other nationalities, with their cultures and how we embrace it. I want to encourage people to go and visit the roots of the people that we share our neighbourhoods with, that’s a big thing for me, I love what I do and giving people people the opportunities to visit these far flung places like India, China and Nepal etc. I started working for a company called Trailfinders, they were fantastic as far as training me and getting me on some really good trips, I worked for them for seven years. Then I wanted to specialize a bit more so went and worked for a tour operator that specialized in Canada, Alaska and North America, they were a bit more of an adventure brand with trekking, mountain biking and rafting, I liked the adventurous side of that, I had a real passion for it. I was putting people out on a journey, to experience an activity that they would continue and love doing, for the rest of their lives. I did that for twelve years, living the dream! I then decided to start my own travel business and joined the Travel Counsellors franchise, it’s a fantastic set-up, and it's given me the opportunity to do what I really love.”

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Creative & Marketing

Becci Andrews

Becci Andrews

“I have been lucky enough to have had two fantastic careers over the past 10 years, both within the Publishing Industry working as a Fashion and Beauty Editor and then a Senior Marketing Executive.

I am now mum to my little boy, Ethan, and wanted a new career where I was able to work from home. I decided to start my own website design company for small businesses, having worked with a wide variety of local companies whilst organising a Vintage and Craft Market for the last 4 years. Many of these small business owners longed for their own website but didn’t have the funds or were totally baffled by creating their own site on-line. I wanted to provide a website design service that was simple to understand (no needless jargon included), affordable for small businesses and start ups and allowed the client to inject their own personality and creativity into their site. I am passionate about working with small businesses and start-up companies. I know what it's like to take that first step into the unknown, but I also know what it's like turning your dreams into reality.”

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Food & Drink

Nick Wenman

Albury Vineyard

Ever since I left school I've had a huge interest in wine. Whilst at my first job, which was at 3M in London, I signed up for a wine course, which I went to every week in the evenings, and even before that, at school, my first recollection of an interest in wine was when I won the school economics prize.

You could choose the book that the head master presented to you at speech day and I chose the World Atlas of Wines and at the age of 17. I have to say, he wasn't very happy about that. So my passion goes back a long time and essentially it's taken me 35 years to achieve my dream in having my own vineyard. Ever since my late teens I was really interested in wine, but then of course career and family took over; I was in the IT industry right to when I was able to retire early just before I was 50. I always had this dream of having my own vineyard but thought it would need to be in mainland Europe, because of the weather. But then I met Stephen Skelton, a master of wine, who persuaded me of two things; firstly that you can produce great wines in England, and secondly that it was financially viable. So I was bitten by the bug of having a vineyard in England. I lived in Albury at the time and, together with the Albury Estate who own the land locally, chose a site suitable for planting vines. English sparkling wine is now achieving huge international acclaim, and the key to success of our wines is the vineyard's commitment to organic and biodynamic principles. I've achieved my dream, which I have to say is a fantastic feeling!

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Health & Lifestyle

Chloe Simmons

Do4Kidz

“My background is in entertainment. I’ve danced all my life, but I was always that child in the dance class that tried their best and wanted to do festivals, but was never ever chosen. There were always people that fitted the mould and I never fitted the mould, I was told I had great facial expressions but rubbish points and I would never be a dancer, so that spurred me to prove them wrong.

So I studied Performing Arts at college and then went on to be a Bluecoat at Pontins and from there I went overseas and became a Hotel Entertainer. I did a lot of kids mini discos and sang and danced in the nightly shows, I did that for 5 years. When I came home, me and my husband decided to create Do4Kidz, which started as a party business. We did themed parties, dance parties and football parties. I then had an opportunity to train as a dance teacher with the IDTA and in 2005 I launched Do4Kidz Danceworks, which started out at Bidborough primary school, as an after school club. I started off doing classes as I remembered them as a child with corner work and lots of basic dance steps. The kids were leaving the class a bit flat and tired so my husband said, why don’t you just do the fun stuff and end on a party dance instead. So I basically took the mini disco idea and put into a class format, so the whole point of the class is that they have fun. It’s open to anybody, all abilities, boys and girls, we’ve had kids that don’t speak English, they come along and their English has improved, kids with no confidence, children that have been selective mutes but by the end of term they’re singing along. For me, it’s all about developing the children’s confidence, there’s so many dance schools in the area but I don’t know of anyone that does what I do, at the end of the day, it's all about kids being kids and just having a good time!”

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Interiors

Rebecca Woodmansee

RMW Services

"I decided to launch my business after years of moving home, living overseas and creating a personal touch to each and every property I have lived in. It’s been a passion of mine since I was young, being a home maker and loving vibrant colours sumptuous fabrics and furniture styles. I get such a buzz creating a totally new look from a blank canvas or helping to advice on existing themes within a home.

Developing that stunning look on a budget is also very important to many people these days, so suggesting ways of up cycling favourite pieces with a new paint finish or handles etc...and is always great fun to see the before and after! Many people struggle to imagine the finished effect, so I love putting it together with them to create their dream home. I try to provide a very personal approach, not just decorating but listening to people’s preferred style/suggesting textures and colour."

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Recruitment

Dean Hunton

DSR Global Limited

"I often hear people saying they fell into recruitment. It was never a career choice at school and yet everyone knows somebody who is in this sector. Well, that was definitely the case with me and I guess I have to thank my German teacher at secondary school for that. Mr McDonald also taught rugby and when he asked me to be captain in the 3rd year (today’s year 9), I started showing more interest in his subject! All this fuelled an interest in modern languages and a few years later I found myself studying German at university with a year in Cologne and even managing a ski season in Austria, not knowing then what I really wanted to do.

My working career started temping at a bank in London and when a recruitment agency said we have an interview for you doing IT recruitment I wasn’t sure what I was letting myself in for. It turned out however to be a perfect match; IT Link was a start-up recruitment business specialising in a software called SAP that only happened to have its headquarters in Germany! In 2005, after 9 years within the same organisation, I was starting to get itchy feet and decided to set up my own business. Ideas flew past me from Starbucks to corporate training, but in the end I decided to better the devil I knew and stuck with SAP recruitment. DSR was born! When I look back over the years, business has been solid and steady but it wasn’t easy though at the start. Re-mortgaging in the first year and digging into savings were tough decisions. Six months in I even had to borrow €20k from a couple of friends because one of my suppliers was late paying me. Having worked in big corporate teams, working on my own initially was tough, making all the decisions yourself, with no one else to bounce ideas off. It was the one thing I hadn’t really considered. More than 10 years on, DSR has developed into an £8 million business with 15 staff. Our customers and candidates are from all over the world – from Boston to Beijing. Tunbridge Wells is a great place to run a business from and we have built up an amazing team with most living in the local area. We’ve created a strong work family, looking out for each other’s best interests as we have grown. The opportunities ahead look very promising for all. On the whole, I’d have to say I loved every minute of my career (well, almost!) and have a lot to thank the recruitment industry, and Mr McDonald, for!"

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Tree Surgeons

Bob Noakes

The Original Tree Surgeons Limited

“As a youngster, I really would of have loved to have worked with wildlife in Africa or something similar. I love wildlife, but of course there was no career paths and I wasn’t the sort of youngster that would have just up-sticks and taken a punt on something like that, I didn’t have that in me. So, I took a job in an office and I worked there for a year and a week, I counted every day, as I knew I wanted to be outside. When I saw an advert for an apprentice landscape gardener, I took it and I was there for five and a half years in the City of London, working at St Pauls Cathedral and lots of different famous places, which was great. Early on in that, we had a bunch of volunteers as a tree crew, no ropes or harnesses, it was very primitive and I thought; I like the look of that, I wouldn‘t mind doing that.

I was the boy in the crew, who was scared of heights, I still am, high buildings etc are a nightmare for me, I had to overcome that and ultimately started climbing trees. I knew from then that I wanted to do arboriculture. I’ve never done full time study; I’ve done day release courses and evening courses and other courses along the way achieving the second highest qualification that is available in the UK and I knew I wanted my own business one day. Along the way I worked for some big operations in London, I was an operations manager for City Suburban Tree Surgeons with 120 staff for one firm and I also ran the Kent office for Bartlett Tree experts who are one of the biggest tree experts in the world. I built up loads of experience and have now been in the business for over 30 years, climbing for 20 years and even though I’ve a fear of heights, with ropes and harnesses, I’ve been up some big beasts! I’ve really enjoyed my career, it’s been hard work, but I believe that’s the key to my success, I’ve achieved everything through hard work, with a little bit of luck along the way.”

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Creative & Marketing

Nicholas Bryant

Social Media First

“I started the business in 2012, it was such a good time for me, social media was really taking off and every business wanted to be part of it, it’s grown considerably since then and I’m really pleased with where the business is right now and feel so very excited for what we can offer in the future.

Starting a business is tough and I take my hat off to anyone that starts one, whether it succeeds or not, it’s about getting an idea and running with it, it doesn’t matter if it fails as you’ll learn a massive amount from just trying. The business community in Tunbridge Wells is great! I have made so many great friends who also own businesses in the area and we all look out for each other, it’s a really positive town to work in”

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