Stratford Business Forum ‘Big Breakfast’ at the gorgeous Billesley Manor Hotel

Billesley Manor Hotel near Stratford upon Avon with its gorges grounds by The Tall Photographer
The beautiful Billesley Manor hotel near Stratford upon Avon is under new management and they’re doing some lovely refurbs, the grounds are fabulous too.

What a venue for an early breakfast, even the weather played ball with a glorious June morning.

Gallons of fresh coffee and a good cooked breakfast gave the 60 attendees a good kick start.

And I got a nice surprise as a charity video I’d made with film maker Ben Atkinson got played too! More on that later.

A cooked English Breakfast at the Billesley Manor Hotel, Warwickshire by The Tall Photographer
I chose the veggie option, with free range eggs, but apparently the sausages were particularly good.
Coffee on tap  by The Tall Photographer
I might have had 3 coffees, I was there from 7am after all.

Who was there?

What I like about the Stratford Business Forum is that not only is there a huge range of business sizes and types, but also several voluntary organisations, the local council, local educational establishments – all coming together to talk about how they can help each other. It’s a very warm and convivial atmosphere.

Laurence Jones, Jack Marshall, Annette Gann  by The Tall Photographer
Brilliant people-photographer and friend Laurence Jones quaffs his first coffee & listens to Jack Marshall from Network Ltd & Annette Gann from Feel Good Do Good Work.
Daniel Feher, Carol Pratt, Anne Solomon  by The Tall Photographer
Businesses, charities and local authorities get to talk to each other: Daniel Feher from Sport IT, Carol Pratt from the Acorn’s Children’s Hospice & Anne Solomon from the council’s superb Venture House (love the new haircut Anne).

As well as the mingling and chatting, coffee and breakfast, there are also a few good talks from local people making a difference. All kicked off by the Forum’s cheerful and hugely connected organiser Jonathan Smith, and his makeshift bell.

Jonathan Smith  by The Tall Photographer
Order, orrrrrdeeerrrr! Jonathan Smith would make a great Speaker of the House.
Stephen Fearnley  by The Tall Photographer
Billesley Manor general manager Stephen Fearnley gave us a quick update about recent big changes in how the hotel is run.
Jo Reeves, Joanne Reeves  by The Tall Photographer
Billesley Manor sales director Jo Reeves gave us a blow by blow account of recent renovations, from building site to the fantastic room we were in… in just a few weeks. They really pulled out the stops.
Sara Aspley  by The Tall Photographer
Sara Aspley, chief executive of the Stratford Town Trust gave us a quick journey through her career from Harrods, Ikea, the RSC and now the Town Trust. She outlined the Trust’s priorities and spending, which amount to £2m of grants per year. And finished off with a surprise video…!

A surprise!

When I showed up at 7am I had no idea that a piece of my work would be shown on screen, get several laughs and a huge round of applause.

At the end of Sara Aspley’s talk about the Town Trust, she showed my and Ben Atkinson’s short film about The Men’s Shed, supported by the Trust.

There was laughter, perhaps the odd tear and all rounded off by applause – what a lovely recognition of our film, and the work the Men’s Shed, Foundation House and the Town Trust.

You can watch the film here:

We had a number of other quick talks:

Rosemary Henderson  by The Tall Photographer
Rosemary Henderson from The Business & Innovation Magazine will be focusing on Stratford upon Avon in the next issue, so get in touch with her if you want to feature.
Joe Baconett  by The Tall Photographer
Joe Baconett from StratForward told a few jokes and gave us some information (his words… and don’t worry Joe, you’re not the new Bernard Manning, thankfully!)
Beth Nicolson  by The Tall Photographer
Beth Nicolson from Citizen’s Advice in Stratford gave us a roundup of the hugely important work they do and appealed for any help businesses can give, whether financial or practical.
Elaine Griffin  by The Tall Photographer
Elaine Griffin from Clic Sargent gave a hugely passionate talk about the work they do with young people who have cancer, and their families.
Heads or Tails  by The Tall Photographer
Don’t worry, we weren’t invaded by terrorists, it was a fun fundraising game Jonathan held called ‘Heads or Tails’ which everyone enjoyed, and raised a whole chunk of money for Clic Sargent. I think Tor from StratForward might understand the rules next time…
Peter Monks  by The Tall Photographer
Peter Monks from Shakespeare Gin told us all about the Topiary Garden Gin Festival at Billesley Manor on the 7th of July, as well as all the other ways and places we could drink (and even make) gin. I think we ‘might’ have had several very enthusiastic responses… the Forum has gin fans!
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
All in all a great way to spend the morning, catching up with friends, making new contacts in business, charities and other organisations, noshing up a good breakfast, and raising money for a good cause – all by 9am! Bloody hell, that’s not bad going. Huge thanks to Jonathan, Cathryn and all at Billesley Manor for putting on such a welcoming event.

The next Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast is on the 17th of July, but there are more events organised by the Forum and the neighbouring Leamington Business Forum and Cheltenham Business Forum. For details look here: http://www.stratford-business-forum.co.uk/index.php

I’ll definitely be at the next event, so if you’re there come and say hello. And if you need photography or video for your business, drop me a line here.

So until then, here are a few more pics..

Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Danish pastries for Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Electric Zoo at Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer
Stratford Business Forum Big Breakfast at Billesley Manor Hotel by The Tall Photographer

I may be videoing the next event… so make sure you brush your hair if you’re coming.

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