Zapp Active bringing festival alive

Zapp Active bringing festival alive

Award-winning app developer Paul Harding uses tech to bring Lechlade Festival alive. 

Zapp Active: Latest news from Cotswold Apps 

A Gloucestershire father of two is using his new tech platform, Zapp Active, to live stream activities and behind the scenes moments from the popular Lechlade festival. The festival runs from Friday May 24 to Sunday May 26.

Paul Harding lives in Lechlade yet runs his apps business from Swindon. He has already won a major award for Kids Covered, his innovative app for childminders and parents.

He’s now developing, with designer Matt Tyson, Zapp Active. Zapp Active is a platform for communities to promote local events, activities, points of interest, the High Street and independent traders.

Zapp active developer paul harding and the lechlade festival team

Paul is supporting Lechlade Festival for free this year because of his love of live music, his home town and the surrounding area. 

“I’m doing this for 2019 to test the platform and see how it works at a live event, to record what’s behind the scenes as it happens. Any band, trader or individual or activity associated with the event can feature on it and can even have its own page on the platform. I’m hoping this will significantly raise the festival’s profile.”

Jennie Rainsford, festival director, said: “We’re thrilled to support Paul with his new idea and it will be interesting to see how people engage with the live festival news as it happens. 

“We’re conscious of the fact many of our audience use apps and get their information on the move through smartphones. As a small team we haven’t got the capacity to manage this ourselves. Thus it was obvious that working with Paul would help us start engaging in that modern manner.”

At the event, Paul and his team will take drone footage, interview performers, meet traders, activity organisers and give people a feel for what’s happening as it’s happens.

Paul’s innovative apps have already won him attention. His app Kids Covered, which provides a news and booking system for childminders, was recently named the Most Innovative Tech Solution at the Swindon & Wiltshire Techies 2019 (May 9 2019). 

Anyone interested in keeping up to date with what’s going at the Lechlade Festival this year can visit

See also:

Optimum hosts its first Swindon business breakfast

Optimum hosts its first Swindon business breakfast

Optimum hosts its first Swindon business breakfast.

Swindon-based Optimum Professional Services are throwing open its doors next month, for its first networking event in its new headquarters: a free breakfast for local businesses.

The firm, which provides accountancy and legal services, relocated in March from serviced offices to far larger and newly renovated premises in Stratton. 

On Wednesday June 5, the team will host the free networking breakfast, from 7.30-9am.

All local business people are welcome but you must book!

For more information or to book to attend the networking event on June 5, email, phone 01793 538 198 or visit

‘When we were looking for new offices, one of the criteria was to have a large enough space to host free events so we could add value to the service we offer to our clients and the local business community,’ said Richard Mathews, CEO of Optimum.

‘This first event is a general networking breakfast. We also plan to run themed events with presentations which will benefit businesses across various sectors. For example, we hope to run an event for landlords to update them on various legislative changes.’

Optimum combines, under one roof, a range of professional services.

The accountancy team offer business planning, personal and business tax planning, audit, bookkeeping, and payroll. While the legal team offer wills and probate, commercial and residential conveyancing and associated services. Things such as such as equity release, powers of attorney, remortgaging, land acquisition and sale.

optimum hosts business breakfast - the optimum team

For more information or to book to attend the networking event on June 5, email, phone 01793 538 198 or visit

See also:

And – Swindon Business Village –

Local company helps Abby get to South Africa for the U21 Indoor Netball World Cup

Local company helps Abby get to South Africa for the U21 Indoor Netball World Cup

Latest news from Smarter Media: Smarter Media supporting Swindon athlete.

Elite athlete Abby Miles from Swindon has spent months training and trialling. Her hard work has paid off and the England Netball U21 team have selected her for the team. And digital marketing agency Smarter Media are helping her get there. 

Abby is taking part in the World Cup championship in Cape Town, South Africa in August. She will play a defensive positionin the tournament between Sunday August 4 and Saturday August 10. 

But to get to South Africa Abby needs to raise £3,000 to fund her ticket and her stay. She contacted local Swindon companies asking for sponsorship and Smarter Media decided to help.

Robert Curtis, operations director of Smarter Media, said: “We admire Abby’s achievement– we are all quite sporty in our office and she impressed us with her persistence and passion for her sport. We’ve donated £500 towards her trip and we will be keeping in touch to see how it goes. We’re proud to support someone who is out there putting Swindon on the sporting map.” 

Abby, aged 20, said: “I’m delighted and honoured to be selected as one of 13 girls to represent England U21 in the Indoor Netball World Cup in my chosen sport. It’s an achievement. It’s been a lot of hard work but I am thankful to all those who’ve supported me along the way, especially Smarter Media – this company didn’t know me yet have not hesitated in taking me under their wing.”

All sponsorship and donations will pay towards the costs of flights, accommodation and travel, as well supporting Abby’s many preparation training sessions and weekend camps leading up to the event.

 “I’m very thankful to be receiving financial support from local businesses to help with this tour. Without their support it would be a struggle to find the money myself.”  

Abby started playing netball aged eight. She then joined a club when she started at Lydiard Park Academy. The club didn’t have a child section so Abby played and trained with the senior team. 

 “I love playing competitively and I love the teamwork aspect of the game.  I’ve never been to South Africa and I believe that Cape Town is a lovely place, this is a lifetime opportunity. I will continue to work hard in trying to achieve gold for England.”

To find out more about Abby visit:

Simon Webb: Hand-turned Pens and Cufflinks

Simon Webb: Hand-turned Pens and Cufflinks

Penning Personal and Historical Stories

Swindon born and Swindon-based Simon Web is carving out a pen-shaped niche for himself creating beautiful, hand turned writing instruments from timbers with historical and/or personal resonances.

To demonstrate the historical:

Back in 2017, Swindon’s Christ Church in Old Town, as part of a renewal project, needed to get rid of some pews. On hearing the news Simon was swift in joining the pew to get hold of one to make pens from it. The pens he made proved popular – many couples that had married in Christ Church contacted Simon to get one of these pens.

Old Technology Makes a Comeback

Those of us of a certain age that remember scratchy nib pens and inkwells in desks and then the later cartridge pens, are forgiven for thinking that the Biro and indeed the text message and e-mail had rendered fountain pens obsolete. But not a bit of it. Back in 2012, the BBC published an article about why fountain pen sales are rising.

‘Sales of ballpoint pens are stable but the fountain pen is a classic story of how an object’s status is affected by waves of new technology.’

bark with pens on it

‘Somehow, the fountain pen became a luxury item and found a niche.

If a president signs a treaty, they don’t do it with a Bic Cristal. ‘

The hand-turned pens with historical resonances began with wood from an ancient walnut tree in Swindon’s Lydiard Park that blew down in the storms of 2013. From there, Simon branched out (see what I did there?) to making pens from the mulberry tree at the Richard Jefferies museum and from wood unearthed at the GWR Works that are sold at STEAM museum.

Bespoke Products

Continuing the theme of using historic – and famous – timbers, Simon’s lathe has been well-exercised making pens and cufflinks out of an oak plinth from Bath Abbey. Those products are available both in the Bath Abbey Shop and from Simon himself.

There are cufflinks too from HMS Victory – only small pieces of wood are available so Simon has only been able to make cufflinks.

And now we come to apples. Or to a vary famous apple tree to be precise.

the notion of gravitation… was occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood.”
– William Stukeley

I’m of course talking about Isaac Newton and the infamous apple tree at the National Trust property, Woolsthorpe Manor.

Simon is working with them to make pens, cufflinks, and sterling silver pendants and lapel pins with wood from this world famous apple tree. It’s now over 400 years old and still fruiting.

The rhodium plated fountain pen is finished with a gold plated, sterling silver finial with a unique Newton logo. The pen comes in a presentation case with leather carrying case, Diamine ink cartridges, piston adaptor and certificate of authenticity. This will also be available in a rollerball version.

The pen will only be available from Woolsthorpe Manor. They’ll announce price and availability shortly. Says Simon ‘I have been privileged to work with Woolsthorpe Manor on this project. This has to be my “holy grail” of wood.’

Gifts with a difference

Simon has crafted with care, pens from beams in houses, trees from people’s gardens, the staves of a whisky barrel (complete with certificate of authenticity from the distillery) and from old tools. A wonderful example of the latter being the pen you see in the images below.

Simon made this pen made from an old woodworking plane that belonged to the customer’s grandfather. A nice feature is the stamping o the plane with the owner’s name. Simon incorporated that piece in with the presentation box, giving the new owner of the pen a useful and lasting reminder of his grandfather.

How to find Simon and write your own history

On Facebook:

On his website:

And at Bath Artisan market:


Tel: 07834 375628

Additive Manufacturing: 3D Printing – How it all Began

Additive Manufacturing: 3D Printing – How it all Began

The amazing world of 3D Printing is all around us, and its growing. Fast. Over the last year, (2018-19), the Additive Manufacturing Market (that’s the proper name for 3D printing), grew by 21%, as companies and individuals embrace the competitive advantages that 3D Printing gives them.

Yet, 3D Printing isn’t as new as you think – being first developed in 1983, when Charles Hullcreated the first printer capable of printing an actual part. Back then, they called it ‘Rapid Prototyping’ -catchy huh? Rapid prototyping was a machine used to create prototypes of tools for machines used in manufacturing. Rapid Prototyping sped up the prototype process, taking it from 6-8 weeks to mere hours. Inspired, Charles set about marketing and selling his Rapid Prototyping machines. And today? 3D printers are becoming more commonplace. If you can buy one in Argos, then it’s a sure sign that 3D printers will become an essential bit of domestic kit.

The Future with 3D Printing

At the moment, 3D printing is being used to create organic materials. Using cellular material, the first human organs are looking a real possibility. Already, the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, are in the middle of developing a process to 3D print replacement skin for burns patients. 

We can already 3d Print metal, creating 3D printed seats in planes – and that makes a plane up to 50% lighter. And 3D printing a house for a mere £8000 is reality. Which leads one to wonder why it’s not happening?!

In the future customisation will become a key part of 3D printing. Shoes that actually fit you and only you! 3D printing food in your kitchen? The company Chocedgealready 3D print in chocolate, creating unique gifts and solutions to confectioners around the world.

So you’re excited by all this? You’re feeling you want to rush out and buy a 3D printer? Well before you do, space considerations aside, would you know what to do with one if you got it? Do you, for instance, have the CAD skills to create the designs to print? No? Fear not! There’s someone who does.

Meet SED Developments

Swindon based Jo and Richard Rigden, together are SED Developments – and they’re immersed in the adventurous world of 3D Printing, design and baking. Yes, you heard that right – baking!

They created their company in 2017, and since then have printed all manner of stuff. In the main, cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes are what come off their printer. But they’re not limited to that. They also design and print bespoke, individual 3D printed items. To that end they’ve worked with vintage car enthusiasts, ceramic artists, model airplane builders and artists, to name but a few. The range of items they’ve developed includes: miniature Lewis gun cartridge for model airplane, bone zippers for washbags, missing vintage car insignia badges, customised fondant and cookie cutters and jewellery. 

While they don’t 3D print the cookies –  yet – they do have six 3D printers. That gives them the capacity and the knowledge, to design and print, in collaboration with you.

Baked Goods

I mentioned baking earlier? SED Developments hold over 300 cookie cutter designs, and develop new ones every day, because there’s always a new shape to bake! Their range runs from the bog-standard rectangle or heart to the unusual, but top selling, cow face.  Which is moos to me! They also have a great range of icing/coffee stencils with which to lift up your latte or decorate your cake.

They’re a clever pair for sure. Last year, when I released my book Secret Swindon, I set them the task of creating biscuit cutters in the shape of some of Swindon’s iconic buildings. This is what they came up with. Aren’t they great?

Now, I’ve got them at it again. But bookmarks this time to go with my second book, Swindon in 50 Buildings.  

As you can see – if you can imagine it then they can print it. If you’d like a cookie cutter created, email them over a picture and discuss with them what you’re looking for. Or  contact them for a chat about your design.

  Check theirInstagram and Facebook pages, to see what they’re up to. And why not have a root around their E-Bay shop? You don’t know what you might find. 

Expanding Law and accountancy firm Optimum move into new Swindon headquarters

Expanding Law and accountancy firm Optimum move into new Swindon headquarters

Expanding Law and accountancy firm Optimum move into new Swindon headquarters - the optimum team

Groundbreaking law and accountancy firm Optimum Professional Services has relocated to new offices in Swindon as part of ambitious expansion plans.

The company was created in 2017, uniquely combining legal services with accountancy services under one roof. Initially based in serviced offices in Regus, West Swindon, the firm has now moved to its own premises in Stratton.

The team of fifteen have taken on the previously empty Vicarage Court in Ermin Street. They have a three-storey building, offering space to grow, as well as a large boardroom area for hosting networking events, workshops and seminars.

Richard Mathews, CEO of Optimum – a contender in this year’s Wiltshire Business Awards for Start-up Business of the Year – said moving from serviced offices into their own building was a great boost to the team.

‘We are delighted with our new premises which better reflect us as a company,’ he said. ‘They are in a great location, and have the facilities we have been looking for to allow us to expand and also to run events which support the local business community.’

Optimum was the first professional services firm in the Swindon area to break away from the traditional mould by offering a suite of services under one roof

The Legal Team at Optimum

The legal team, headed by Iain Mason, deals in all areas of commercial and domestic property law, wills and probate. The accountancy team’s services include personal and business tax planning, business development and exit planning, as well as bookkeeping and payroll. The team are heavily focused on ensuring their business clients are ready for HMRC’s new Making Tax Digital regime, which is being rolled out from April.

Richard added: ‘We have already run an event here for clients to talk them through the implications of Making Tax Digital. We are also planning to run one for landlords on the changes affecting the lettings sector. Adding value to the service we offer to clients and local businesses is central to the ethos we have here at Optimum.’

For more information about Optimum Professional Services visit, email or call 01793 538 198.

Pleased to note that Optimum have an excellent reading choice in their office! 😉

Secret Swindon of course!