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Brilliant Businesses is here to showcase the amazing people that create businesses in the UK.

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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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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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Charity & Social

Olga Johnson

Nourish Community Foodbank

“When my husband retired from the BBC, he always wanted to live in an oast house, so we bought one, which was in an interesting position, as it was in the middle of a huge council estate. Some people considered it to be a disadvantage, but we loved it! We could really see the life around us and I became very much aware of the large families passing our gate that we would also see and talk to in the local shops. Sadly they were buying cheap very unhealthy fast food. The headmaster of the local primary school was a friend of ours and I learnt from him, that they had some serious issues with the kids going out at lunch time and queuing up at the chip shop – their diets were not good.

At the same time, Jamie Oliver was doing his ‘grow your own school dinner’ programme so I suggested to the headmaster that we should look at doing that. He thought it was a great idea, so did the kids! Most of them had never seen a potato before, they thought they came chipped in bags! It was a real eye opener to them. Through all this, I got to know some of the families, and they were having a really hard time making ends meet. Fortunately, I also knew a senior manager in the local housing association responsible for all the property in the area so asked her if they were going to set up a foodbank. She said they might and then suggested I might like to do it and we called it Nourish Foodbank. They donated £10,000 to start it up! They funded us for a few years and we also did a deal with the local big yellow storage space and Nourish grew from there. We started off with a lot of volunteers, mainly neighbours and people that we knew who had never done anything like it before. We distributed about 100 food bags in our first few months. It then quadrupled very quickly, so we really had to start running it as a business. We hired an operations director, who lives locally, on the housing estate and knew a lot of the people that were in trouble, so she was able to build really good relationships with them. She was also well connected and knew all the charities in the area who would refer people to us. This was really important because you can’t just rock up to a foodbank and ask for a bag, you have to be genuinely in need so, people from Citizens Advice, Gateway and DAVVS who work with people suffering domestic violence and were known to our operations director offered support. She is a real asset to us, and also has a good business sense. If you want to do something, she’s the person to make it happen! We now have five storage areas in the big yellow storage space. We also decided that we would not have a central area for collection so we have volunteer drivers who use their own cars to take food to those who need it. We just pay their petrol. We didn’t want a central area for collection because some people are embarrassed to be seen in a queue for food bags. Because of my experience at Sherwood Park School with the dietary issues, we also felt that it was really important to help people to eat a balanced diet with fresh food so, we enclose vouchers for £5 so that people can exchange them with a local butcher for fresh meat and a local fruit and vegetable shop for fresh fruit and vegetables. Five years ago a local legal practice who chose Nourish to be heir charity of the year worked with us for 12 months and a small group of their senior advisors suggested that they did recipe cards for our food bags using the contents of a food bag. It was great and they were really, really successful. I think it’s really important to eat a balanced diet, and no other foodbanks do this. It’s what sets apart and we are really proud of it! It’s a really rewarding role, we have an excellent board with senior professional people to do marketing, fundraising and finance and have expertise in social services. It’s run as a values led business.”

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Human Resources

Wendy Read

HR Revolution

“I’ve always wanted to have my own business, I even did a ‘start your own business’ course when I was at school, I always wanted to do it, but didn’t know what to do. I’ve always been focused on building something different; I had a stall at Greenwich market where I would sell all my up-cycled rubbish, very trendy now, but back then, not so much. I then went into interior design as I thought that was what I wanted to do, loved it, but wanted to do my own designs, so that didn’t work when working in other people’s houses. I eventually managed to fall into HR - I worked for Harrods with a management role within HR and really enjoyed it, it sparked my curiosity in people, but I always felt I could do things differently.

After setting up and running a couple of tech-people businesses I eventually realised what was important to me. I wanted to put something together that would really work for businesses and look after people. My passion is the people and my driver is, life’s too short, you might as well enjoy what you do and look after those that do it with you. Businesses always seem to put their top focus on money, they forget that without people, there is no money. That was the driver for all of it. I’m an ideas generator, I like the creative side of things within what we do at HR Revolution, it’s about taking what’s out there and looking how we can make it easier, adding value, helping people enjoy what they do and supporting them to do it. I’m born and bred Tunbridge Wells, I love it here, there’s a real mash up of people and businesses in Tunbridge Wells, there’s a lot more creativity in the town and a lot of inspirational people here. Although 75% of our clients are London based, we have around 30 clients in Tunbridge Wells, which has grown significantly in the last few years. It’s just down to grit and determination I’ve always been a grafter, it’s in my family, my parents would always say keep working hard and you will get there, and they were right. Being a business owner is hard, it’s lonely at times but you’re always learning and if you keep that entrepreneurial spirit going you will succeed.”

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Plumbing

Tony Field

Field Plumbing

I left school at 16 and went straight into full time college for the first year, then for the second year, I found a plumbing company to work for, they let me go to college for one day a week and after three years I achieved my City and Guilds in plumbing. However, I wasn’t earning enough money, so I went and worked on building sites in London and my income pretty much doubled overnight. I was doing site work, so I gained a lot of experience with various plumbing work from working with councils and then in maintenance, which is where I spent five years at Downing Street and at the Foreign Office and government buildings.

I learned a lot as it was on a much larger scale, still with basic plumbing with radiators and heating etc but also with large cylinders and boilers. I then got into insurance work and moved to Tunbridge Wells in 2003 and that’s when I started my own business, advertising in the yellow pages and using my own website, but the more that time passed, the less I had to advertise. Everyone in the area was recommending me and I didn’t need to go back to London to earn the bigger money, I had enough work in Tunbridge Wells. I also started a copper bath business and a property business with my Dad, picking up some buy to lets, but it was in the financial crisis in 2008, so we had to keep some of the properties that we renovated as they weren’t selling and we still have them today. It turned out really well in the end and I’m glad we still have them. I love the plumbing so I went back to it and over the last few years the properties have calmed down and now look after themselves. I now want to just concentrate on the Plumbing business, build that up and generate a nice income from it. I have some nice ongoing contracts with some large local businesses that generate a steady amount of work each month and it’s nice good work. I still have the same enthusiasm for plumbing now, that I had when I first started, I’m really lucky to still have that energy, I feel blessed that I’m doing something that I love.

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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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IT & Technology

Andrew Jarret and Sarah Richardson

SARJ Group Limited

“From a young age, I have had a love for computers, and a passion to discover how they functioned. Due to this, I continued my passion to complete a Computer Science BSc. After university, I started working in IT, for a small mobile application development company that was strictly run. I learned a lot, it was my first job and I was really thrown in at the deep end,

at one point I had to stand in a room of thirty people to do a presentation – it was for an app that I had to demonstrate which took about 30 minutes, however, the questions after lasted about an hour and a half; I definitely learned a lot from that! I then went to work for Thomson Reuters, where I supported their legacy systems. It was a big transition to a big company, working with quite a large team. Unfortunately, most of the team left, so it was just me on my own supporting the systems to the point where I was taking on a larger workload. During this time, I had to learn to work a lot more independently, and gained so much experience from supporting the websites. Gaining more confidence in myself, some time later, I realised, maybe I could give it a go myself. There’s a lot of website companies out there that build great website’s but then, that’s it - they leave the customer to get on with it. Customers, often with very little IT knowledge. I could see there was a niche, where we could build websites but also offer the support. I love the engineering side of things and giving the support. I’d been offering that for many years; it was where I wanted to be and that’s how the SARJ Group came about, so I teamed up with my business partner, Sarah. SARJ is a combination of our initials and we’ve since found out that it’s a Hungarian word meaning ‘growth’ which fits really well for our ever-growing company.” Andrew Jarrett, SARJ Group ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “From childhood, I decided that I wanted to become a teacher. I was an avid reader, and took my role models from the stories that I read. When one of my favourite childhood story characters became a teacher, and loved it; I decided that I wanted to follow in her footsteps and do just the same! I followed through with my love of literature all the way to university and beyond. After receiving my degree, I completed my teacher training, and then spent a decade in the profession. I learned a lot from my role as a secondary school English Teacher; you very quickly learn how to read your audience, and adapt what you are presenting, when you are reading Shakespeare with thirty 15 year olds! If you wish to gain practice being able to work on your own, as well as part of a team (often simultaneously!), then teaching is the best practice you will ever get! After five years in a classroom role, I got my first promotion into school leadership, and for the final five years of my career, I held various leadership and managerial role. These helped me learn how to lead a team effectively; how to successfully hit targets, how to resolve issues within the team, how to train and mentor staff, and how to manage a department’s budget. My students often joked, “Miss, why don’t you just become a Head, and be the boss of everything?” Despite the humour of their questions, I soon realised that this is what I wanted to do; I wanted to lead and build up a team from scratch; I wanted to create something that had longevity; I wanted to lead and inspire from the very top, but not in teaching. Teaching is truly a wonderful job, but you can never be at the very top of the profession; you will always have a government, and school governors, to answer to, and try to appease. I also wanted to build something from its very foundations, and let my own vision and creativity grow with the company. Andrew and I worked on a plan, and combined my leadership skills, with his IT skills, to create SARJ Group. ‘SARJ’ is not only a combination of our initials, it is also the Hungarian word, meaning ‘growth’, and ‘offspring’. This fits in very nicely with what we are building up the company to be. We created the company ourselves, from the smallest of seeds, and are watching it grow and develop every day. SARJ Group is also teaching me to grow and develop as a person, and a business woman.” Sarah Richardson, SARJ Group

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Insurance

Pierre Roche

Aardvark Automotive Solutions

I left University with an HND in rural estate management, it was in the 80’s when the first property crash occurred. I wrote to about 50 estate agents and property management companies and got 50 thanks, but no thanks. So, I ended up in insurance, a friend of mine asked for help with some part time work, and 25 years later, I found myself still in the Insurance Industry. I worked for several blue chip companies, Direct Line, Churchill, RBS and AXA, I’ve learnt my trade through motor claims and I’ve seen some very good, but also not so good practices, some excellent customer service and also some very bad. I eventually found myself on the non-fault side of motor claims, there are two sides, the claimant side and the defendant side, one is at fault and one is not. After a period of time I wanted to learn more about the accident management side - credit hire side.

It’s potentially looked on quite dimly by some of the insurers, but ironically they actually use those companies as a revenue stream, it’s a bit of a strange situation. In 2017, a fellow employee and myself, felt we could inhance the customer journey even further. All insurers and accident management companies deal with their own niches, some deal with prestige vehicles, some with taxis, or buses or lorries, whatever it might be, but no one deals with all of them. I wanted to provide that, as well as a bespoke customer service and a customer journey, so that’s what we’ve done in setting up Aardvark Automotive Solutions. We’re a one stop shop for all non-fault claims, whatever your vehicle, providing like for like replacement vehicles, a repairer of your choice, with legal cover and all the trimmings an insurer would give, however you’ll be speaking to either myself or my business partner, not a number behind an insurance policy. Our unique selling point and the difference in what we provide within our service promise, compared to other claims providers, is that every claimant receives an inconvenience payment of £150 per claim when we deal with a claim for them. I’m really passionate about providing a first class service, we like to support people in any way we can, my son plays cricket at his University, Canterbury Christchurch, which we proudly sponsor and my daughter has just turned two so I’m looking to build a legacy for my children. Looking back on things, my father unfortunately passed away last year, he was an inspiration to me and he taught me a lot about family values. I promised him I would create my own business one day, it’s weird because I can still feel him around me, certain things happen that make me aware that he’s watching over and looking out for me.

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Fencing

Barry Chapman

The Fence Guru

Having worked for large fencing companies for over 20 years I often thought of starting my own fencing company but, like a lot of people, thought it was a pipe dream until a series of events lead me to start up The Fence Guru. My wife was nearing the end of her maternity leave and my son, Freddy, was due to go to nursery. At that time the company I was working for started having financial difficulties and, after not getting paid for three months and with the prospect of having to pay £1000 a month for nursery looming, we took the decision that I would resign and look after our son.

The plan was that once my Dad retired he and my Mum would look after Freddy and I could return to work. Sadly, before my Dad even got to enjoy his retirement, he passed away suddenly and we thought it was too much for my Mum to look after Freddy on her own. So my wife continued to work in London and I became a stay at home husband. Having worked since I was 16 this was a big culture shock but I loved being able to spend time with my son and it worked really well for us as a family. We carried on this way until my son was 6 and my wife was offered the chance to take voluntary redundancy. It seemed the perfect opportunity to change our lives and so The Fence Guru was born. That was nearly four years ago and the company is going from strength to strength, I am meticulous and a perfectionist and my clients can really see the pride I take in my work and I believe this has led to the strong growth in word of mouth business I receive. My wife and son are often taken on detours on days out so I can show them my latest fencing project and I think my passion for fencing really shines through in my work. So remember - any fencing to do call The Fence Guru.

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Graphic Design

David Barden

David Barden Creative Ltd

I always knew that I wanted to work for myself, even whilst still an art & design student - I just didn’t see myself as someone reporting into a line manager every day for the rest of my career. But gaining industry experience was crucial in laying the foundations, so employed graphic design roles in publishing, financial services and for advertising agencies provided that, and paved the way to head off in my own direction.

I certainly didn’t do it the easy way - starting a new business in the middle of a ‘financial crisis’ back in 2008! It was certainly a challenge but the company is now 10 years old, going strong, and many of my current clients have been with me from day one - I’m so grateful for that. Maintaining and developing client relationships has been fundamental, and constantly reminds me that it’s not just about the creative output - people are just as important and I love working closely with my clients. I consider myself lucky to still do something that I love doing after 20 years in the industry, and I firmly believe Tunbridge Wells is the perfect place to continue doing it, with so many other creative professionals in the town. Roll on the next 10 years!

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Hospitality

Ant Scragg

The Spa Hotel

“My father was always in the industry, he built up a chain of hotels called Marston Hotels for which he was chairman and Managing Director, from one hotel to 22 hotels at the most, they sold that in 2006 to Q hotels and then he bought The Spa Hotel in May 2007.

I left school quite early and was playing Pro Tennis until I was 20, I quit that and then naturally had to quickly find an income, I was put in touch with a hotel manager that he knew and I worked on the leisure desk. Obviously I’d been around hotels my whole life, listening to various management conversations in the car when Dad would be on the phone to work, listening to the stories at dinner after he got home from work etc. Apparently the General Manager of this particular hotel saw something in me, then he put me on a management training course which was basically 3 months in every department, housekeeping, reception, kitchen, waiting, just about everything and then I went to work for another hotel in Rochester, earned a couple of promotions and a then had a brief stint abroad. When he, and the Marston Family bought this place he asked me to come and work for him. I worked at duty manager level in 2007 when we started and then made my way up the ranks, in 2013 I was made Deputy General Manager. I took over in January 2016 and then started to build my own team, generation two! From there we’ve just grown and grown, moved with the times, changed the image of the Hotel and the quality of product we are offering has improved a lot also. I’ve started to network a lot more, which I think we’d lacked before and managed to put the right people in the right roles. We have big plans for the future so hopefully we can continue on this path!”

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Travel

Chris Scoble

Go Scoble

“I started the company and bought the franchise in April 2016, I’d been working in the city for 30 years and some personal circumstances made me think I had to move out of the city and work locally. I didn’t want to work for anyone else as I always felt I had an entrepreneurial spirit within me but never really had an opportunity to do anything about it, until it was forced upon me. I had a series of life changing events, my Mum died in the March and very strangely from beyond the grave she actually won £14,000 on the lottery! We found it on her bank statement and managed to track it down to 5 numbers and that gave me a nudge to be able to invest in the franchise that we now have with Not Just Travel.

Up until June this year I had been working from home and then this shop unit came up on Camden Road and it’s worked perfectly, enabling me to get out to more people, it’s a shop but it’s an office as well and it’s allowed Hannah to join, which has made a big difference to us. The passion I have is an easy question to answer, I just LOVE travel and the only trouble I have now is I want to go on every holiday! The travel industry is absolutely fantastic, everyone you speak to has always got a smile on their face, everyone is happy and after coming from a corporate background where I was a Lloyds insurance broker where everyone was very miserable, I’m now in such a happier industry. We’re an independent, bespoke and personal company and are always willing to give free advice about any destination and help people plan any type of holiday.”

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Creative & Marketing

Ezio Taranto

Zoom Films

“When I left the military in 1987 in South Africa I had a child and a small family to support, but didn’t really have any job prospects, so I went for an interview at the national broadcaster. I’d applied for a position as an electronic engineer that I didn’t get, but was told that I had a very high aptitude and that they could offer me a job as a video tape technician, which was a good mix of technical and creative, I took to it like a fish to water.

My whole family is quite creative, so I think I just fell into the right career and can honesty say that I’ve hardly ever had a blue Monday, really in my life, because I just absolutely love what I do. I was very fortunate. So, I got BBC training for what they call broadcast standards and quality control which took a year, I then went and did a two year creative video editing apprenticeship and have never looked back! In fact I was freelancing as an editor long before I was qualified! I’ve worked across almost every genre in broadcast and went into continuity directing quite easily and quickly because of my editing background. I then began directing commercials and studied marketing management to better understand my clients needs. I then started my business within an advertising agency in 2005. I built it up, bought my partner out and during the recession I had my best 2 years in business ever! It was phenomenal. I sold the business to move to the UK, here I enrolled to study Internet marketing as I could see the convergence between video and the Internet for quite some time before. Within a short time I’ve managed to reach out and connect with a lot of people through networking, invested a chunk of money on equipment and up skilling to drone operator, and started Zoom films in 2016. The premise of this business is to bring commercial quality production to companies with varying needs and budgets, providing excellent services with extra value.”

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Chartered Surveyor

Amal Uddin

AU Consultancy Commercial Property Services

"I started my property career in my beloved City of London and spent over 10 years in the corporate property world, working for corporate property companies. Magical days. In 2010 I set up AU Consultancy as part of my pre-designed 10 year plan and worked out of the City, similar to the the previous 10 years.

Between 2010 - 2015, AU Consultancy continued to focus on corporate and institutional (nationwide) property portfolio instructions. However, in 2006 after coming to Tunbridge Wells, on a property matter - a new romance began with this lovely town, that ultimately led to the decision to leave London for Tunbridge Wells in 2015 and reassemble my business here. The move completely transformed my work/family life balance, and has been a true delight. Tunbridge Wells is a wonderful pro-business town and over the past few years I have got to know many of the leading business figures, many of whom are now very dear acquaintances, of a wonderful growing list. I look forward to seeing both Tunbridge Wells and my business evolve in the years ahead."

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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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Photography

Dee Airey

Dee Luci Photography

I’ve been taking photos since I was 22 years old, I would jump in the car, drive to the coast and just look at people and take pictures, people watch, no direction, no thought into why or how, I just loved doing it. My husband saw something in me and he knew I was good at this, so he bought me a photography course – much to my disappointment at the time – on basic DSLR training. I wanted perfume, or jewellery or something like that, but looking back I’m glad he did it!

It was a ten week course in Sevenoaks and it absolutely changed my life. I spent all those years, with no control, just pointing and shooting and I would take a load of photos and every so often I’d get a real great one, but had know idea how I got it. On the training, I learnt how to control my images and how to get the images I wanted, learning about light etc. I moved on from there and went to do a professional photography diploma, it taught me a lot of theory and I decided to take up photography as a business. Aside to that, I’m a real music fan, I go to concerts all the time, I love live music and always go to the VIP area to take amazing shots of the artists and I’ve now got an amazing collection. When I got married, I was itching to see the photos when we got back from our honeymoon, I think most people are and that’s what inspired me to do wedding photography. That was seven years ago and I now mainly do wedding photography, purely because, I was inspired by my own wedding photos. I'm currently on a personal and professional mentoring programme, with a handful of the UK's top award winning photographers. I'm truly honored and it's transforming my photography and business which I'm very excited about. I’ve done lots of other photography, landscape, flowers, animals and nature which is fine but I don’t feel anything, I’m a real people person and I go through this internal process where I really start to feel peoples personalities, I absolutely love it when people love their photos. Whenever I hand the photos over to my clients, I can’t breathe until I get a response back from them, it’s so very important that they love them as much as I do.

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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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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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Musical Industry

Jason How

Rotosound Music Strings

“My Dad was a violinist and he played the Zither, it was after the war and he found it difficult finding strings for them, so he basically started making his own, he was an engineer so it was something that he could do, fairly easy. Previous to that he would go out and buy Zithers, that were incomplete, with missing strings – Zithers have up to 40 strings on them, so the chances of finding one with all the strings on was quite impossible. So, he bought the Zithers, made the strings and would sell them with a complete set of strings. The first company he started was called Orchestral and Jazz strings, that was around 1955 which was pre rock n roll over here in the UK.

He was making double bass strings, Zither strings and Violin strings etc. Then in the early 1960’s John Entwistle of The Who was one of the first customers to come to the factory, he wanted a particular sound and thought the strings were almost right but could tweak them and get them the way he wanted. That was when my Dad and John Entwistle got together and created that first bass string that sounded really good, the Swing Bass 66. The real turning point was when Dad asked John if he could tell people that he was using his strings - John said he would as long as he was kept supplied with stings. So, it was kind of like the first bona fide endorsement in the music industry. That was all around 1965/67 and The Who did the ‘The Who Sell Out’ album in 1967 and they had the Rotosound jingle on there, which preceded ‘I Can See for Miles’ which was one of their biggest hits. So, everybody started hearing that, especially when The Who went to America and started touring, and I’ve spoken to so many endorsees of ours who have all said they started used Rotosound strings because of The Who and that jingle. Players like Geddy Lee, Duff McKagen, Billy Sheehan and the guy from Wishbone Ash, Martin Turner, he told me that story. Martin supported The Who with Wishbone Ash in 1969 in Torquay and said he was chatting with John Entwistle after the gig and asked him how he got his sound, he gave him a set of our bass strings and said use these! And that’s how it all started with the initial flurry of sales coming in to the company.”

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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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Veterinary

Fiona Watkins

The Horse Nutritionist

I have always been passionate about horses, since I was a little girl; and like most little girls, I dreamed of nothing more than looking after them and being around them. After University I pursued a career in Consultancy and Sales in the City of London with a number of large Corporate companies, but I still held on to my dream!

About 8 years ago, I took the plunge and moved away from 'Corporate life’; I went back to studying and successfully achieved my qualifications for setting myself up as an Independent Equine Nutritionist. I am honoured to work with lots of amazing clients and of course, their horses; I write for magazines; I have also written a number of articles for corporate organisations and I regularly deliver lectures and seminars. I absolutely adore my job. I have created my business and my brand from my overriding passion – What’s not to love!

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