Current positions: Board member of Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tourism (Director) and co-chair.
Brief experience: I grew up on a country estate learning first-hand from game keepers how land should be managed, equilibrium achieved and how the land and its food can have a place in the world of business.
I worked in horticulture for 16 years gaining extensive plant knowledge and their associations with food and applied my knowledge within the corporate world. I secured the contract for supply of floral decorations to Number 10 Downing Street, Houses of Parliament and all the major UK airports with a portfolio value of £1.2million. I have run market stalls, sold top quality coffee, owned my own crew catering business for festivals and have run an award-winning Organic Farm shop with cafe and deli.
I have supported adults and young people with learning difficulties and, to date, run a popular activity-based group on a Thursday evening for adults with learning disabilities in my local community
I am an active and founding partner in the award-winning Sixteen Community Café in Coleford. I am very proud of the café’s achievements in working with and for vulnerable individuals and assisting with finding paid work placements. The café has been running as a Social Enterprise since May 2015 and all profit is used for providing work placements for people with learning disabilities, mental health issues, excluded and isolated individuals.
I opened Harts Barn Cookery School in 2011 and have, through recession, developed a thriving business offering cookery and dining experiences and developed ‘A Taste of the Forest’ – a cuisine based on ingredients from local suppliers and natural products (wild boar, wild garlic and more).
I am particularly proud of rescuing ‘Speech House Pudding’ from obscurity and presenting it on main stream ITV Countrywise programme (see our website for a video).
I have assisted in putting the Forest of Dean on a national and international food map bringing groups, families, TV/film crews, chefs and individuals to the Forest for the first time.
Key skills: I have developed many skills on my journey including marketing, finance, branding, business improvement, product development and innovation as well as an extensive knowledge of food and drink.
I also have a working knowledge of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn).
Recognised as Forester Business Person of the Year 2015 with Harts Barn Cookery School winning Small Business of the Year in 2016, Finalist in 2015 Woman of the Year (Gloucestershire Women in Business Awards), South West Rural Enterprise Finalist in 2018.
Reasons for being a board member: I have been an active member of Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tourism for 8 years and as a Board member for 3 years and have enjoyed being part of a vibrant, active organisation that has bought benefit to me personally, my business and the area.
In that time, I have witnessed the area becoming internationally recognised and its enhanced importance in the tourism world which has led to an increase of tourists visiting the area. The Forest of Dean and Wye Valley has so much to offer the tourist trade.
As I have experienced first-hand the benefit, collaboration amongst members can bring, as a board member I would support and encourage greater interaction between members and actively encourage new members to join.
I am already a passionate ambassador for the region, not just for its food but also the history, nature (I am also a trained horticulturist) and its geography. I am very proud that the Cookery School is part of the Uncover the Cotswold project providing experiences to the Travel Trade.
I have been a good representative on the board for the region’s increasing profile and have many years of experience with the board, bringing new ideas, events and initiatives. I would like to continue to be an influencer for the good of the organisation and have an opportunity to continue the membership role I have just taken on at board level.