Photographers invited to snap Swindon’s heritage

Photographers invited to snap Swindon’s heritage

August 2020

Photographers invited to snap Swindon’s heritage in all its glory

Photographers invited to snap Swindon’s heritage to contribute to a ‘virtual history book’ about the town. With prizes on offer for the best shot.

Photographers invited to snap Swindon's heritage  - the art deco diving platform at Coate Water
The Art Deco diving platform at Coate Water

Photo opportunities abound

Swindon abounds with photo opportunities. Consider the English Heritage listed GWR Railway Village. Or the Art Deco diving platform at Coate Water. Then there’s heritage buildings like the Mechanics’ Institution or The Locarno and Swindon boasts picturesque canals steeped in industrial history. And the old GWR works reimagined as the Designer Outlet.

Whatever it is, if you’re a photographer you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to fascinating and beautiful buildings to snap.

Visit Swindon, the organisation formed to showcase the best the town has to offer, has launched the Heritage Photo Challenge. And there’s terrific prizes on offer. 

They’re urging everyone from serious amateurs with professional camera kit to Instagrammers armed with mobile phones to get snapping. 

And what do photos make? Prizes!

The winning photographer will receive a prize package of a £100 voucher from independent photographic retailer T4 Cameras, plus an A3 print of their work.

“Swindon is steeped in history. And that history is a photographer’s dream said Julia Stuckey, business and economy manager at Swindon Borough Council. 

“To give yourself the best chance of winning your photo should capture something special about Swindon’s heritage. Or something eye-catching with a historical backdrop. 

“We’re looking for great buildings. Be they beautifully preserved or with an air of fading grandeur. Or wildlife engaging with architecture. Or scenes of photogenic people with heritage backdrops. We’re looking for beautiful but quirky, pseudo abstract or laugh out loud. Any of that could put you in the running.”

What the organisers are looking for

For a chance to win one of the prizes this what you have to do:

1. Follow Visit Swindon’s Instagram page at @visit_swindon.
2. share your photographs on the platform using the hashtag #SwindonHeritage2020

The competition runs until October 16, 2020 and a panel of judges will choose the winners. The best entries will appear on the Visit Swindon website and social media platforms.

You’ll find a full list of terms and conditions, as well as some handy photography hints from Visit Swindon’s in-house photographers at:

Swindon Entrepreneur finalist in Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2020

Swindon Entrepreneur finalist in Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2020

Swindon Entrepreneur and Author Sadie Sharp named as finalist in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2020

August 2020

Swindon Entrepreneur finalist in Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2020

Swindon based entrepreneur and author Sadie Sharp is a regional finalist in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2020. In the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award category. 

These regional awards support, connect and encourage entrepreneurial minds in the UK.  They’ve become well known in the business calendar.

The regional, virtual, awards ceremony is on Wednesday September 23. And, if Sadie wins, she’ll go forward for the national title. 

Sadie Sharp

Swindon Entrepreneur finalist in Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2020 - Sadie Sharp

Sadie is the founder of The Platform Project CIC (community interest company) which runs from an office in the Dorcan area of Swindon. The project helps young people develop entrepreneurial skills through real-life youth led businesses and projects. Often these young people will not have thrived within mainstream education. So learning how to work for themselves broadens their life options as well as developing differentiated employability skills.

Sadie said: “It surprised me that I’d made the shorlist for one of these prestigious awards. And to be one of a mere four finalists in the region is astonishing. For me, helping young people achieve is a passion and purpose I feel born for – it’s what I do. To receive this recognition is amazing and reminds me how special what we are creating is.

“Young people have so much to give. Yet many never reach their full potential. Sometimes this is becuase they haven’t found a way to fit into the education and employment options put in front of them. It’s my firm belief that ‘not fitting the mould’ presents potential, not a problem. And it’s my job to find a pathway that fits who they are, what they’re interested in, and what they could actually achieve if they can craft their own pathway. The aim of the Platform Project is to show success comes in so many forms and they have choices over how they want their life to look.”

A product of the project

Lucas Gleed is one of the young people from Swindon that the project has supported. He said: “I started out as a participant in the project’s youth magazine. Then, after three months the project offered me an apprenticeship in digital marketing. Now I’m coming to the end of my apprenticeship. Sadie has also helped me set up my own social media marketing business where I’ll advise small businesses as a freelancer. I’ve seen firsthand what the project can do for young people like me.

“Without the project,  I wouldn’t have learnt the skills to earn self-employed income or be the confident person I am today. The academic part of school was difficult for me. I struggled with it and felt disadvantaged by that.

The Platform Project

Said Lucas, ‘The Platform Project has opened up an exciting opportunity where I’ve learnt so many new skills. What’s more I’ve gained valuable youth enterprise and self-employment experience. Not many young people my age get such a chance.’

The Platform Project, created by Sadie four years ago, is a not-for-profit youth scheme. It supports the development of young people’s confidence and employability skills through a range of youth led businesses and enterprise activities. It’s quadrupled in size each year since starting. It now also assists schools and local authorities to target groups of young people learn enterprise skills. 

The project supports around sixty young people each year to either to get into work or start up their own business or side hustle. It’s about to expand into two new towns. 

To find out more about The Platform project visit:

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7. Shaw House – Old Shaw Lane

7. Shaw House – Old Shaw Lane

August 2020

Shaw House – Old Shaw Lane

It’s ever curious is it not – how stuff pops up on social media relevant to somewhere you’ve not long since been to? In this instance the co-incidences relate to Shaw House, on Old Shaw Lane.

I tend to think of Old Shaw Lane as being a bit of bygone Swindon. But of course it’s not – not really. Because this side of town – the western expansion – wasn’t Swindon. Back then Swindon was the settlement on the hill. Old Swindon – Old Town as we call it now.

I wrote about the western expansion where I live, in Secret Swindon. And Frances too has mentioned it in this blog post. ‘Development on the western expansion of Swindon began in the mid 1970s. First came Toothill, then Freshbrook, Grange Park (where I live) and Westlea. Shaw and Middleleaze followed in the 1980s.’

Covid Constitutionals

During this whole lockdown and Covid carry on I’ve taken to meandering around on what I call Covid constitutionals. During lockdown in particular I couldn’t get any further than my bladder would take – so that meant roaming West Swindon. I did feel a bit like I was in the Truman Show…

And one of my recent meanderings took me down Old Shaw Lane past the house that you see below – Shaw House.

Frances Bevan again:

‘The lane that runs between the former Lydiard Millicent parish boundary and the tributary of the River Ray dates back to the Middle Ages.  Building was slow along the thoroughfare known as Shaw Street in 1668 and two hundred years later there were just two farmhouses beside the lane. Shaw Farm, once owned by Viscount Bolingbroke, stood at the south east end and Lower Shaw Farm near the west end.  A further 13 houses and cottages straddled the verges.’

Shaw House, Old Shaw Lane

Social Media Strikes

A mere few days ago, this blog by Frances Bevan appeared on my Twitter stream about one Mary Tuckey. And where did Mary Tuckey live? In none other than Shaw House!

Frances wrote about Mary’s great niece, Jane Helena Tuckey, in her splendid book Struggle and Suffrage in Swindon. It’s a great book – I heartily recommend it to you – and you can find a bit more info on it in this post on Born again Swindonian.

Across the lane from this house is Lower Shaw Farm – another old farmhouse that Frances writes about on her blog.

On and around and about Old Shaw Lane

Remnants of rural life are all around us if we take the time to look. As the photographs above testify.

Indeed, with #LookdownLookaroundLookup that’s the thrust of my new publication, my Born Again Swindonian guide book.

And my last word, and staying on this particular snatch of days gone by and linking to Frances one last more (as my granddaughter says) she has a blog post with the most appropriate name – Rural Remnants

Swindon Business Village in the Frame

Swindon Business Village in the Frame

Presentation on videos is in the frame for Swindon Business Village

Popular networking group Swindon Business Village is in the frame with its first meeting of the autumn season. It’s kicking off its new season of online meetings with a focus on how to use video content to win more clients.

Since lockdown, Swindon Business Village has met online from 8-9am on Thursdays. But, as always, the group took a break for August.

On Thursday September 3, the first meeting back will feature a talk from Holly Wagner, of Swindon-based Green Kiwi Productions. She’ll kick the new season off with: Getting Started with Video Marketing for Your Business.

Holly’s talk will focus on how to create effective and engaging video marketing content, which helps to win new clients.

“I’ll also explain the basics of video production. Things such as where to position the camera, and try to help with any fears or blockages people may have around video,” said Holly.

“I’ll also explain the basics of video production. Things such as where to position the camera, and try to help with any fears or blockages people may have around video,” said Holly.

What the presentation will cover

The presentation will explore different ideas for videos, what to say to get people watching. It will also look at how, using nothing more than a smartphone, you can create engaging video content.

Holly added: “I’ve studied video production for over a decade and this is the only career I’ve had. I set up my video production business straight after university at the age of 21. In the last year I’ve moved over to video coaching, teaching people how they can create their own video content using their smartphone alone.’

The event costs a mere £5 to attend, and attendees also get the chance to network and deliver a one-minute presentation.

Star quality at Swindon Business Village

Swindon Business Village is also looking for other speakers for the forthcoming season.

PR consultant Jo Smyth, of Word Worker, who helps run Swindon Business Village, said: “We’re always looking out for good speakers for our Thursday meetings. We’ve had some great talks covering a wide range of topics, from marketing to sales, and even had one on how to deliver presentations. Our criteria are that the presentations have to be useful, informative and not promotional. Ours is a very friendly networking group. We’ve been going for at least ten years, and we are always an attentive and appreciative audience.”

Swindon Business Village meetings aren’t limited to speaker-only events. The varying formats include business problem solving sessions, and focused networking sessions.

Find out more

For more information about Swindon Business Village, to book for an event, or explore speaker opportunities, visit
Or email

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Back to School Advice from Revolution Performing Arts Owner

Back to School Advice from Revolution Performing Arts Owner

August 2020


Latest news from Fiona Da Silva Adams of of Revolution Performing Arts

AS PARENTS prepare for their children to return to school parent, here’s some helpful back-to-school advice from Revolution Performing Arts owner, Fiona Da Silva Adams. She shares her top tips for getting back into a school routine. 

Fiona (known as Fi) runs Revolution Performing Arts, which offers after school clubs and classes across Swindon offering drama, dance and singing for children of all abilities. The ethos of RPA is one of inclusion. 

Back to School Advice from Revolution Performing Arts Owner - Fiona Da Silva Adams
Fiona Da Silva-Adams owner of Revolution Performing Arts based in Swindon, Wiltshire.

Fiona (known as Fi) runs Revolution Performing Arts, which offers after school clubs and classes across Swindon offering drama, dance and singing for children of all abilities. The ethos of RPA is one of inclusion. 

“I’m a parent to two children myself,” Fi said. “Although many children are looking forward to going back to school, some may not be and some may worry about what school is now going to look and feel like. It’s my belief that, as parents ,we can support them around this new ‘unknown’.”

Looking forwards

It’s important we start thinking about the future. Our children are living through the same challenges we have. Life isn’t going to return to what it was. Yet with the opening of schools, parents and children alike need to try and get back some structure.

These tips might help some parents to prepare their children for this change,” Fi said. 

Fiona’s Top Tips

Sleep Routine – If your child has been sleeping in or establishing a nocturnal lifestyle it’s time to start restoring a regular sleep pattern.  Start by encouraging them to go to sleep half an hour earlier until they’re into a new healthier sleep pattern.  Returning to school will bring its own challenges – sleep deprivation will make the perspective that more enduring.  It’s proven that a regular sleep pattern is good for your mental health. So it’ll be a great start to the new academic year.

Anxiety/Social Interaction – school will look and feel different and some children may be anxious about this.   There may be one way systems in school, children may not be able to get physically close to teachers and adults may be wearing masks.  Children may even worry about hugging their friends.

Speak to the school and find out what school will now look like.  Depending on the age of your child a Worry Monster can be perfect for ‘eating up’ worries or check out the book “The Huge Bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside. Both are fantastic as a starting point to ease anxieties in children.  

If your child’s a little older, plan a ‘Yes Day’ with one parent/carer, if you can manage it.  This involves you saying yes to everything for a day.  Most young people understand there are financial restrictions to this – no, a new X Box is not part of a ‘yes’ day. You’ll find that most simply want you to share your time and their experiences and favourite hobbies. It’s a  perfect opportunity for a child to open up about any worries while they have your undivided attention. 

Practicalities – Check out that school uniform and shoes as some stocks can get quite low and your child won’t need that extra stress. In particular as they have to be ‘the right shape’ trousers or ‘the correct shade of grey’!  

Getting there – Did you book the school bus?  Are there rules about social distancing on the bus? Is your child aware of them?  Do they need to wear a mask on the bus?


If they have to wear a mask, treat them to one they’ve chosen – from their favourite band or matching head wear – as long as school allows it. Or, if you drive, there are loads of road works currently planned for Swindon.  Make sure you are ready and prepared to take an alternative route or allow extra time.  Your stress levels will thank you for it!

And finally!

Celebrate and re-connect – Finally, no matter how the first days go, celebrate with your child and plan a treat with the family! They did it!  They got through the first day and survived!  You can all breathe a sigh of relief.  

Revolution Performing Arts

Revolution Performing Arts was set up in September 2007. Although Fi has more than 20 years’ experience as a qualified performance artist with a BA Hons in Performing Arts. She is a mum to two children, Zavier, aged 17 and Angel aged 14. 

Fi set the group up in the first instance as Drama Babes (drama for toddlers and preschoolers) in September 2007. A year later the demand was so great the business moved on to offer sessions for primary school age children and Drama Babes was then sold on.  The emphasis for RPA is on fun, confidence building, boosting self esteem and developing individual potential. 

Today Revolution Performing Arts supports 100s of children across Swindon to enjoy the arts and express and embrace who they are and what makes them different. To find out more visit:

For more posts about Swindon arts, culture and heritage go here:

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