Home > Blog

August 2014

Posts on August 2014

Deuce, Wickets & Coffee

Sam Bertram

25 August 2014

If you live near Marlborough you’re bound to know The Food Gallery and its great coffee and cuisine.  The high standard of coffee is no surprise when you hear how 6 months of development went into getting the winning blend.  And if you pop in for a coffee you get a refill for just £1! But what you might not know is that The Food Gallery harbours a former rising sports star. Bob and Nikki Holman set-up The Food Gallery in 2006 after owning, running and being involved in various other businesses, none of which were retail or food related. They’d done well in their past business ventures, loved eating and drinking so setting up a coffee shop seemed a perfect solution.  And it wasn’t just a spur of the moment decision.  They spent a long time going round Wiltshire towns and seeing where shopkeepers and office staff went for lunch.  They liked Marlborough and when they suggested bringing lunch to them the response was great. So they rented a shop and Bob spent his days on his bicycle going up and down the high street with lunch in tow.  And for those who’ve met Bob you’ll know he’s a sociable man.  He soon knew the names of all his customers and their kids, even where they went on holiday.   When Bob didn’t turn up on their doorstep during the day they were disappointed not to see him. But as with all growing businesses it was getting busy back at the shop so Bob couldn’t go out as much, so when he stopped going to his customers they came to him.  But that brought new challenges - there was no room to house all their customers and people couldn’t get in, so when 47-48 High Street came available they bit the bullet and moved into it, where they are today.  And the rest is history.  The Food Gallery is incredibly popular with locals. They cook all meals on the premises and make their own gluten free rolls, cakes and brownies.  But if someone does something better they buy it in. So their bread is from Hobbs House and their incredible tasting scotch eggs are sourced locally.  And their shop sells stuff that tastes good from the dressing they use in their salads to the honey used on their toast.  They provide sandwich platters, cake platters and fresh fruit kebabs for business lunches and have a dedicated mobile number where orders can be placed by text and then picked up.  And if you’re stuck for a gift they offer vouchers that can be used on a meal or to buy some of their delicious deli items. So who is this sporting hero?  It’s Bob and it all began when he won a sporting scholarship to Millfield in Somerset.  He loves sport and originally set his heart on becoming a tennis pro, qualifying for Junior Wimbledon but never getting there due to illness.  He also found himself faced with a quandary – make life all about sport or drink beer and meet girls.  He chose the latter and eventually met Nikki over sport (cricket!).  Despite this pledge to himself he took up playing hockey for Marlborough where they were National Club Champions for many years, and just missed the cut to get into the team that won the gold medal in Seoul Olympics! He then took up cricket and after many years coaching the game to youngsters, became chairman of the Wiltshire cricket board.   Despite recently becoming a grandfather, to beautiful Keira, sport is still his thing and on his days off he plays golf off a 5 handicap and represents the county seniors. Bob was born in Bury St Edmunds but his father was in the forces so he lived in Cyprus, Ghana, New Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Angola! His life in Wiltshire began when his father bought a home in Chitterne and then the family moved to Great Cheverill. Bob and Nikki now live in All Cannings, although ultimately they would like to live in Marlborough.  They have three children Richard, Andrew (the father of Keira) and Katharine, who they hope will take over the helm at the shop so Bob and Nikki can take a step back and be more involved in the strategic side of things! Spare time isn’t something they have much of but Bob is a community man and is a Director of the Marlborough Area Development Trust and a founding trustee of a fabulous local charity Swift Medics.  He will always make time for sport (and doing it better!).  Tennis anyone?  www.thefoodgallery.co.uk 

Continue reading...

The joy of a card

Sam Bertram

15 August 2014

Despite the evolution of technology and the convenience that brings, there is still nothing better than receiving a good old fashioned card.  It’s amazing how just a few hand written words can make your day.  Great Wishford resident Tracy Burge is a real believer in the simple gesture of sending a card and thus why she began Simply Bluebell – greeting cards designed by rural artists.  ‘Simply’ because it was her first foray into business on her own, and 'Bluebell' because it’s her favourite flower and perfume from Penhaligons. But although this is her first time flying solo, her background is printing.  Tracy grew up in Poole, where her parents had Dolphin Printers, and had always helped her parents on the logistical side so it seemed a natural progression to start something of her own.  Dolphin Printers printed Christmas cards and correspondence packs for businesses, and devised all the templates for RNLI that are still used today.  With her knowledge of suppliers and customers Simply Bluebell was born providing a range of greeting cards catering to all ages.  If you ask Tracy to describe them she’ll say ‘They’re gentle and humorous while not being insulting’.  Tracy has lived with her scientist husband Nigel in Great Wishford for 5 years.  When Nigel was posted to a new job nearby a move to Wiltshire was on the cards.   They originally wanted to live in Salisbury so they could walk out the door to shops and restaurants, but when a house came up in Great Wishford they had to investigate.  The moment they drove over the old bridge and saw the river and church Tracy was sold.   They love the slower pace of life, have made some wonderful friends and village life really suits Tracy.  And with their favourite hobby being walking and hiking, stepping out of their front door and going on lovely walks in the beautiful Wylye Valley really appeals.  Tracy’s highlight of the year is the annual Chalke Valley History Festival, the largest festival dedicated entirely to history in the UK.  What’s more Tracy’s past is more tied up with Wiltshire than she originally realised.  Shortly after moving she discovered that her great grandfather had lived in Broadchalke, their neighbouring valley, before moving to Poole in the 1920s.  When not walking close to home, Nigel and Tracy can be found scaling higher peaks further afield. They are regular visitors to Mont Blanc and constantly plotting their next hike.  Simply Bluebell has been a fantastic experience for Tracy.  Like all new businesses she took a couple of wrong turns but now is in a really good place.  Tracy works by herself but her printing is done in Sherborne by a family business with good old fashioned values but state of the art printing. They also offer a first class pick, pack and dispatch operation so Tracy now feels she has the solid foundations on which to grow.  Tracy sells online but you can also find her range in some lovely country shops such as Britford Farm Shop and she also stocks in Tourism Information in Warminster amongst other. Apart from wanting to let everybody know about her wonderful range of cards, Tracy is constantly on the lookout for new artists and new retail outlets.    By selling direct Tracy keeps her costs very affordable.  And with 12 new designs for August, Simply Bluebell is the place to go when you’re next looking to buy some new cards. www.simplybluebell.co.uk   

Continue reading...

Special memories for ill children

Sam Bertram

6 August 2014

Lucy must have been an incredible little girl. Losing a child must be the hardest thing on earth, my heart aches just thinking about it, but when you hear Lucy’s story you feel a great sadness mixed with pride that Lucy was so strong in her last few months.   Lucy fell ill when she was just six years old while living in Salisbury.  She had an inoperable mass in her cheek and neck but after almost a year of treatment it was diagnosed that the tumor had been killed off.  Lucy’s mother Julie Page always felt it would regenerate, so from that moment on she vowed to cram as much fun and adventure as she could into Lucy’s life.  So that they did along with her two brothers, Charlie and Warren, sharing some amazing times together – from swimming with dolphins in America and Euro Disney to caravan holidays. Unfortunately Julie’s worst fears were realised when Lucy’s tumour came back in March 2009.  Lucy was upbeat to the end – never down or crying, making the best of every opportunity and insisting on going to school whenever possible. So accepting was Lucy of her fate, that in August 2010 she asked her mother to set-up a charity in her memory. Lucy wanted families living with serious illnesses to enjoy special outings like the ones she had enjoyed. She designed the logo and was involved in the website which went online before she tragically passed away in the September. But despite being heartbroken Julie had made a promise to her daughter so, with the help of neighbour Maria Horsfall, Lucy’s Days Out was borne.  Maria’s son Alex had been at school with Lucy and their mothers had met at the school gates so they had been friends for years.  Maria remembers fondly how Lucy always bossed Alex around and sorted him out! Setting-up a charity was incredibly daunting and they mostly made it up as they went along.  They were lucky in that Julie had a few friends with local businesses in Salisbury who helped with Keith Harland of Hart Financial and Adrian Sainsbury of Value Cars being especially supportive.  The local community were so behind them that in their first year they raised over 100k with 14 beneficiaries. They were overwhelmed by the support and in year 2 fund raising was equally as successful.  However, they realised they needed to find more beneficiaries.  Lucy was treated at Southampton Hospital so they approached Clic Sargent, social workers supporting families in hospital, who connected them with families and in their second year they helped 50+ families. They also hooked up with Clic Sargent in Devon, Bristol and Cambridge and in year 3 they were overwhelmed with applications. Now they have a more even balance with fundraising and beneficiaries although they do have a waiting list.  They’ve helped over 280 families, originally just those with children with cancer but laterally to any family with a child with a serious life limiting illness.   Families enjoy trips to London taking in a show, visiting Madame Tussauds and the London Eye, and an overnight stay at the Marriott in Regents Park. Two days with overnight stay in Legoland is also popular as well as other theme parks such as Lapland UK.  Trips are mainly in the UK but families come with requests about what they’d like to do.  One family wanted to fly in a helicopter, have lunch and come back.  Lucy’s Days Out also organises 3 trips a year for the children in The Piam Brown Unit in Southampton Hospital.  They most recently went to see The Lion King in London. Now their fundraising events include a fashion show in June, an annual race night, golf day and quiz and cabaret nights.   They want to be able to help as many families as possible create special memories.  Knowing that they can make a difference is incredibly rewarding. Most importantly helping children smile!  As Julie has been through it she is able to support families experiencing the same. Both Julie and Maria have always lived in Salisbury and think it’s a wonderful place to be.  It’s safe, has loads to offer and is central to so many places. They are always looking for fundraisers so if anyone is able to help with this amazing charity please get in touch.   www.lucysdaysout.org      

Continue reading...