Catherine Jay: artisan jewellery

21st February 2015

Greetings listeners. Here we are with another Swindon in Business post. We recently had one from Carol Alpin, founder and owner of the Pink & Green range of organic skin care products. Now, in a natural link to that post, we have a post about Catherine Attewell and her business brand Catherine Jay.

Like me, Catherine is a product of Outset Swindon but we actually met independently of Outset at another business networking group. Catherine made for me a pair of fab earrings to go with a necklace I already had. And I truly absolutely love them and wear them loads so I can well believe that when she was making and selling earrings in her student days they proved to be popular. Catherine is co-operating with Carol Alpin of Pink & Green  to showcase their products together at The Works hair salon in Redhouse. Like Catherine, I too am a delighted user of the Pink & Green organic skin care products.

Catherine Jay was created in 2014 by designer/owner Catherine who, having made and sold jewellery locally for several years, had a desire to create a beautiful, quality handmade jewellery brand.

Back in 2011 and feeling the need to make some life changes, Catherine worked with a life coach – a process that was instrumental in helping her to identify those aspects that she most connected with – one of which was her passion for jewellery making.

 “I had successfully made and sold earrings when I was a student back in the early 90s. I didn’t realise back then that my love of that activity would end up being my self-employment! I recall people loving the earrings I made and being keen to buy them. The buzz I got from this lay dormant until I recently re-discovered it.”

In recent years Catherine made and sold her jewellery in and around Swindon at craft fairs, local events, the Outlet Centre and the West Swindon shopping centre. Her designs were popular and she recognised that there was a market for elegant, well made jewellery for ladies who appreciate something unique and the polar opposite of mass-produced high street products – something made by hand with loving care and attention.

In November 2014, Catherine committed herself to building her Catherine Jay jewellery brand by holding a formal launch event at Stanton House Hotel. Catherine worked hard to make the event special. It certainly showcased her work beautifully as these photographs show I think.

As well as some very nice canapés and a glass of fizz we were treated to luscious jewellery themed cupcakes – or buns as I prefer to call them –  from the kitchen of Little Miss Cakemaker.

Catherine Jay makes one-off pieces and limited editions. When you buy a piece of her jewellery you are buying something special, something made with her passion for design. Catherine says “it is the gorgeous look and texture of the beads and the infinite possibilities for unique designs that inspires me. Quality beads and materials are fundamental to my work. I use freshwater pearl, crystal, gemstones and quality glass beads because these natural products have a luxurious texture and look that is an essential part of every Catherine Jay piece.”

The Catherine Jay range includes bridal, everyday and gift pieces, and she is going to expand to offer further designs and ranges during 2015.

In December 2014 Catherine Jay was delighted to receive approval from The White Wed Directory, “the ultimate directory for savvy Wiltshire brides”. Catherine’s first choice for a copy expert to help her with the directory entry was me – AA Editorial Services! A savvy choice though I say it myself. 😉

Catherine goes on to say that: ‘One of the amazing things about being self-employed is the other interesting people you meet who also have a passion and have taken that big step to make it their livelihood. For instance, I really admire Carol Alpin and her Pink&Green brand for wonderful, ethical, skincare products. I am personally a customer for her facial oil for sensitive skin and am feeling the benefits of moisturised skin. So it was an absolute pleasure to find that Carol and I were given the opportunity to showcase our products alongside each other at The Works. We are looking at further opportunities to work together to offer some truly special quality gift products!’

Catherine on Facebook: – and her website:


Pink & Green

Pink & Green

14th February 2015

Hello listeners and welcome to the latest post in this Swindon in Business section of Born again Swindonian. As is my wont, since entering the world of self-employment with my own business AA Editorial Services: via the support of Outset Swindon, I like to give a shout-out to some of the businesses I’ve come across via Outset Swindon. So this post then is about Carol Alpin – the founder and owner of Pink & Green – creator and purveyor of delicious organic skin care for women. If reading this makes you want to know more about Carol’s lovely products you can do so in these ways:

The Pink & Green website:


Twitter: @AplinCarol

Pink & Green: affordable, ethical, natural

Pink & Green products

Pink & Green products

Pink & Green came into being in April 2014 when holistic therapist Carol Aplin, from Swindon in Wiltshire, UK, decided to create a range of natural, organic oil-based skin care products.

Carol had been an holistic therapist for seven years when she identified that many of her clients were becoming increasingly stress. A stress which led to a physical effect on their skin. Some years earlier she’d learned how to formulate skin care products when she completed a course on using natural ingredients for the skin and body. At that time she toyed with the idea of creating her own skin care brand but didn’t take it any further at that stage.

At the beginning of 2014 she began running workshops showing people how to enjoy the benefits of essential oils and carrier oils. She identified the fact that many people simply didn’t know plants had benefits for the skin – something Carol had known and taken for granted throughout her life.

Carol also realised that people didn’t understand that oils can be used to clean your face nor that there are lots of chemicals and alcohols in facial cleansing which strips the skin and can actually lead to more skin problems. Natural oils cleanse the skin and provide balance. So, in 2014, she came up with the idea of providing high quality, ethical, natural and organic skin care products by post. Overnight the idea for Pink & Green came into being. Pink was chosen to represent women and green for the environment.

Carol then conducted extensive market research including surveying women, creating focus groups and sending out samples for people to try the products and test the look and feel of the brand Pink & Green. It was officially launched in November 2014.

Today, the products on offer include a range of five facial oils suitable for most skin types, a rose floral water for toning and refreshing the skin and the hair, and a peach kernel oil cleanser. Currently Carol is researching and preparing new body elixirs and bath oils for launch in March 2015. Later in the year she will be launching an eye serum and hand and foot oils.

Listen to Carol talking about her products:

The current best seller is the peach kernel oil cleanser. Many customers have found that this oil quickly makes their skin feel smoother, more plumped and radiant. It removes the tightness which can occur when using chemicals on a daily basis.

The raw ingredients for Pink & Green’s product range come from UK-based wholesalers certified by the Soil Association as being organic in their practices. The ethics of the supply chain is important to this brand – suppliers must care about the environment, their people and their products.

Behind the business today are Carol Aplin and her partner Steve Wells. Carol is the creator and founder of the business concentrating on the marketing and development of the products. Steve manages the day-to-day production and IT support.


Carol has recently collaborated with another Outset Swindon client, Catherine Attewell who is the power behind the Catherine Jay brand of artisanal jewellery – and there will be a blog post about her business soon. They’ve been working together to increase awareness of their brands locally and to support each other as budding entrepreneurs. They currently have a display of some of their products in The Works hair salon at Redhouse in Swindon.

I’m currently trying Carol’s products and can happily vouch for them. And I’m the proud owner of a fab pair of bespoke earrings designed and made by Catherine that I totally love and wear loads.

Catherine Jay:





International Women’s Day: global and local

29th January 2015

Hello listeners. This post is by way of a  guest post from Francis Barrone about International Women’s Day and how it is marked here in Swindon. You can read more about the movement itself on the IWD website here: Follow @womensday on Twitter using #womensday

Frances and Karen are looking for volunteers so if you’d like to get involved then get in touch! Contact details at the bottom of the post.

“International Women’s Day Swindon 2015

International Women’s Day is celebrated globally on 8th March. This year we will hold the event on Saturday 7th March at Central Library from 10am until 4pm. In addition to Central Library we will encourage you to visit a pop up arts and culture café at the Post Modern Gallery – affectionately known as the Pomo.

International Women’s Day, (IWD for short) has been running for a number of years in Swindon and originally started in the Broadgreen area due to its diverse multi-cultural population.  The event is growing year on year and is supported by various charitable, philanthropic, business, arts, community, voluntary and support agencies including Swindon Borough Council. Last year the event was organised by Rosa Matheson, a local author and charity fundraiser from Highworth.

 The planning of this year’s event was kick-started at a meeting in early January. Rosa requested volunteers to take on the further planning and coordination of the event in her place due to writing and charity commitments, these will take her away from the country on the day of the celebrations.

 Rosa handed over the coordination of the event to the two who offered to take on this task, namely Karen Roswell and myself, Frances Barrone. Karen and I met only once before, a year ago at the previous year’s planning meeting but I knew I wanted to work with her and it seems we are united in raising the notion of sisterhood.

The theme last year “Respect not Violence” helped to raise the profile of men’s voices in saying no to violence in support of Women’s Aid. This year the theme is Equality for Women is Equality for All. According to some world leaders equality is deemed to be the most defining challenge of our time. Many believe that women who support other women have a far- reaching influence in shaping world ideologies and how we live for the betterment of all and also affect how we care for our planet.

 International Women’s Day is intended to be a celebration of all that is great about women in the attempt to empower, inform and inspire other women who may not have the same access, choices, rights or information that many of us enjoy. It is very much a multi-cultural fun family day out which doesn’t exclude men but puts women very much at the forefront and in the driving seat on the day. It will be entertaining, informative, interesting, joyful friendly, healthy and fun for all who attend. It will also provide opportunities for women who want to expand their own sense of belonging, ambition, wellbeing and creativity.

An event like this helps us to see the richness of Swindon’s culture, heritage and pioneering spirit and puts us on the map as somewhere that is a great place to live, love and develop.

My hope is that as many women as possible from all walks of life will join in the celebrations on the day. We aim to have a true representation of all Swindon women and invite you all to participate either in the free talks and workshops, exhibits and stalls or to simply enjoy refreshments in the arts and culture café or library.

The programme is shaping up nicely and includes talks, poetry, performances, crafts, free health and business advice and even a little bit of pampering. We hope that as many women as possible will wear traditional clothing. Guests will also include notable professional, business and community leaders . 

To make the day an amazing success we could also use about 20 volunteers for 2 hours starting at 8 – 10 am, 10am – 12noon, 12noon – 2pm and 2pm – 4pm.

Please visit share and like International Women’s Day Swindon Facebook page and keep checking in to see updates and the programme for the event. Feel free to get in touch with us by email: or call Frances Barrone on 07731 693082 or Karen Rosswell on 07545 243 246.”

Some photographs of IWD Swindon 2014:


Some recollections of an “old” Swindonian

Tuesday 6th January

Happy new year listeners! I hope that the festive season was kind to you and that 2015 will bring you some good things.

So here we are at the start of a new blogging year for Born again Swindonian. Last year was a successful one for this Swindon-centric blog, amassing 30,000 views in 2014 and 40,000 since it began. I’m kicking off this new blogging season with a guest post from Gill Thomas of Contemporary Botanicals. I met Gill at the German style Christmas market at Freshbrook Evangelical church – and a very lovely event it was too. Anyway, I was chatting to Gill at her stall and telling her all about the blog etc and she agreed to do a guest post for me. As an actual Swindonian she has written a delightful ‘memoir’ of some of her recollections of growing up in Swindon. I love the idea of the GWR hooter going off at New Year’s Eve. I’ve long thought it would be wonderful to have that sounded again for special occasions. And how sweet that there used to be illuminations in Queen’s Park – back in the day before fairy lights and garden lights were commonplace. That sounds just so delightful.  I really enjoyed reading this and I’m sure you will too. Thanks Gill.

‘Genuine Cockneys are said to be born within the sound of Bow Bells and I believe that genuine Swindonians are born within the sound of the Great Western hooter! I was. I put in my first appearance in the Kingshill Maternity Home and from the top of that hill you could see the machine sheds of the works all along the far end of Wootton Bassett Road behind the rec’. Every day, over a wide area (even in Lydiard), you could hear the hooter; it summoned men to work in the mornings, declared the dinner break and return, then finally the end of working day at 4:30. At 12:30 my grandfather, who was a boilermaker, walked briskly from the works through the alley from Dean Street and up Kingshill where his cooked dinner was waiting for him. Just before the hooter went again just after 1:00 for the return to work, he’d put on his cap, tuck a mint called a Long Tom in his mouth and walk briskly back to work. He did this without fail every day until he retired at 65.

 The other unique thing about the hooter was that on New Year’s Eve it would sound at midnight and there were detonators placed on the line at the works which would explode. Weather permitting, all the house doors would be opened to hear this – wonderfully exciting big bangs for a child who was allowed to stay up late for that one night! Then Dad would Act as First Foot, letting out the old year and inviting in the New Year.

 As a child growing up in the town in the 50s and early 60s, virtually everyone you knew had a family member “inside”. This didn’t mean that the town was a centre of criminality – “inside” was shorthand for the Great Western works. You kept clear of Sheppard Street, Rodbourne Road and Park Lane when the hooter went otherwise you’d have been mown down by thousands of bikes as the men left work.

 Our summer holidays started earlier than most other English schools because of “Trip”. We broke up on the first Friday in July because “Trip” was the annual factory shut down which began then. A lot of works’ employees received free passes or “privs” – rail tickets they used for their holidays. My grandparents went to stay in far off locations (ha!) such as Blackpool and Llandudno and I remember vividly meeting them on the station when they returned when there was always a stick of rock for me. Despite all the changes to the town in the years since then, walking through the tunnel at the station to get up to the platforms remains exactly the same experience – it even smells the same.

 During the summer holidays we played out all day, every day. We had trikes, bikes, roller skates, home-made stilts and lots of trees to climb along the old canal which, of course, is now Fleming Way from Jury’s Hotel to the Magic Roundabout. I once got stuck up a tree and was humiliated when my mother had to come and rescue me. I drove past that tree for many years often thinking of that little six year old tomboy. By the way, there was a small farm where the fire station is now – can you imagine!

I had a wonderfully happy childhood. Marvellous teachers in our local schools gave me a classical academic education that has stood me in good stead ever since. The town itself was bustling with a variety of shops –the old Regent Street was a world away from the current one – such memories! I was an avid member of the Junior Library which was situated at the top of Regent Street behind Martins bank and I have the dubious claim of being asked to leave on one occasion when I was found guilty of having a mouthful of Black Jacks! The Reference Library situated in the Town Hall was highly revered and way beyond a child’s reach. Saturday morning pictures at either the Gaumont or the Savoy were an absolute must, lustily belting out Land of Hope and Glory every week!

 Then there was the Queens Park. Every September, it staged illuminations which were simply lights among the plants, something which a great many have in their gardens these days but back then it was a real event. We would dress smartly – best clothes – and walk around with our parents at dusk, quite entranced by this spectacle.

 In terms of history, these years are merely a heartbeat away but these recollections read like something from the “olden days” and I suppose to the younger generation that’s exactly what they are and long gone. Some things, however, do remain from my childhood and I’m very happy to report that the specimen that was a must-see is still in residence in the Museum – the stuffed crocodile! It’s nice to know he and I are still here.’

ADHD Inspiration Day …

ADHD Inspiration Day …

… Bringing inspiration to families of children with special needs

Hello listeners, you may have got the impression that business, events and the business world are dominating my thoughts at the moment. And you’d be right – with good reason though. I wrote recently about how I came to be venturing into self-employment with my post about AA Editorial Services. And this guest post from Alison Thompson – aka ‘The Proof Fairy’  also has connections with Swindon’s business community in that she has been supported in this event by Ant Hodges of the Business Success Academy and by the Athena Network in Highworth. It’s also by way of a comment on what many of us know – which is just how many great people there are in Swindon. Something I’ve always known but am constantly having reinforced as I attend business networking.

So now to Alison’s words about this special day for the parents of children with ADHD:

“A few months ago, my friend and business mentor Ant Hodges (of the Business Success Academy Swindon) suggested I put on a “little event” to launch my new business. I was about to qualify as a life coach and NLP Practitioner and wanted to work with parents of children who have ADHD. Being the parent of such a child myself, it’s the area I know best, the area I’ve written a book about (The Boy From Hell: Life with a Child with ADHD) and the area I feel passionate about. But put on an event? I wasn’t so sure …

Five days later I’d booked a venue – Lydiard House Conference Centre – and six speakers. This “little event” wasn’t quite so little any more!

Living in Faringdon, I had my pick of major towns to host the event – Oxford, Reading, Newbury … but for some reason Swindon seemed the natural choice. For a start, it’s the town I visit most, whether that’s for shopping, entertainment or business. I’m also a member of several Facebook groups for Swindon parents, so I knew plenty of mums who were likely to attend the event. And then there was the venue itself – I’ve visited Lydiard House on many an occasion and always been impressed by the building, the staff and the catering – mmm yummy! I wanted to give “my” parents a fun day out, a bit of a treat – and Lydiard House seemed to fit the bill.

Plans for my ADHD Inspiration Day (not a conference – that sounds far too boring!) got underway. But ticket sales were slow – non-existent, almost – and I got the feeling the very reasonable price was considered too expensive. And then, all of a sudden, people started whispering about Swindon. “Hmmm, tried to run an event in Swindon last year. Couldn’t get anyone interested,” I heard from more than one person. “I’d never even attempt to do anything in Swindon,” someone else said. “Why don’t you think about moving it to Oxford or Bristol instead?”

Poor old Swindon. What has the town, or its people, done to deserve such a reputation? I have no idea. But I persevered. I was determined my event was going to work, and I booked more speakers, and ran a crowd-funding project to create funds to give away some tickets. That raised over £2000 – helped in no small part by a Swindon business group, the Athena Network at Highworth. Applications poured in for the funded places, word got around that something was going on and slowly but surely ticket sales increased too.

As I write this there ‘s just over a week to go to the big event. I’ve been in the Advertiser and Link magazine, on Jack FM and Swindon 105.5. A dozen expert speakers will be descending on Lydiard House next week to inspire 75 people – mainly parents and carers, but a few teachers too – to support children with ADHD in new and effective ways. And I will be launching my coaching business at the event too, closely followed by a six-week support programme for parents at Sanford House in November. It’s going to be an incredible day, and I’ve already been asked about running similar events in different locations. Who knows, maybe this could become an annual, twice annual, regular event on a national basis!

But it started in Swindon. I made it happen, despite the reputation … and I’ll never regret that.”


ADHD Inspiration Day:

ADHD Kids:

The Boy From Hell book:

Business Success Academy:

Athena Highworth (East Swindon):

Incredible edible Swindon

Incredible edible Swindon

I’ve recently come across some fab new groups on Facebook, that beloved of social media platforms.  As a result we recently had a guest post from Sarah Harris telling us all about the fabulous Free Art Friday movement and now we have Amanda writing about the Incredible Edible movement which has now taken root – geddit?! – in Swindon.

Before we get into the post ‘proper’ here’s some housekeeping:

If you wish to contact the group you can e-mail them on:

Alternatively find the Incredible Edible Swindon on Facebook  or Twitter: @edibleswindon.

The Incredible Edible Network is here:

Mechanics Institution Trust: and @mechanics_trust and and the Central Community Centre: and @Swindon_CCC


Okay listeners – now, as the newspaper sellers used to cry, ‘read all about it’:

“The Incredible Edible movement has arrived in Swindon! But what’s it all about?

 The Incredible Edible Network is now a UK-wide phenomenon, which started in Todmorden. They started a growing revolution that has been so successful and now even has the support of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Prince Charles. We want to replicate in Swindon those positive changes, which are happening in Todmorden and all over the country.

 At its core, Incredible Edible Swindon, is about getting the community involved in planting edibles (veg, fruit trees, herbs etc.) throughout the town centre and surrounding areas. The produce is available for anyone to pick and enjoy. By making healthy food accessible, we also hope to promote healthy eating. As individuals, communities and local businesses come together to plant and maintain the beds we are also collectively revitalising our cherished public spaces.

The group started in June of this year after a conversation with my friend Anna who had listened to Pam Warhurst, a co-founder of the initiative, speak about what had been achieved in Todmorden. Despite my lack of gardening knowledge I just knew I had to get involved – Anna’s enthusiasm is infectious – and after Anna wrote a blog on the Incredible Edible Network’s webpage (while slightly tipsy 🙂 ), there was no going back! Kathryn our mutual friend, who already knew about Incredible Edibles, came back from holiday to find we’d been busy, and was involved immediately as someone with great experience as Vice-chair of The Secret Garden, Swindon and a background in community regeneration. Anna also had a like-minded work colleague, Stan who soon joined and after a small advert in the Swindon Link for new recruits, we were introduced to Lisa, whose enthusiasm for the group matched ours.

As our first project we have been given a great opportunity to team up with the Mechanics Institution Trust at the Central Community Centre, which they run in the Railway Village. With the support from Swindon Borough Council, in particular Frances Barrone and Mark Walker, we have been working with Sean Haines (Community development co-ordinator), to create a vegetable patch that can be used for the residents of the Railway Village, especially at their luncheon club, and hopefully, in time, cookery classes. It really is fitting that we should have our first edible patch at the centre, as this building was the Railway Village hospital and, when in the 1940s, the government needed a model for the founding of the NHS, they turned to the Swindon Works and its pioneering local healthcare.


 We have only been going for three months but already we have met some incredible and passionate people who also care about Swindon and its communities and want to see them thrive. We are keen to get many people from across the town involved and would love anyone who has any ideas or who can help, in whatever form that may be, to get in touch with us. 

What a delight it was to be asked to be a guest blogger here on Born Again Swindonian. Thanks Angela from all at Incredible Edible Swindon!”




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