Waffling Designer helps budding creatives

Waffling Designer helps budding creatives

Entrepreneur and graphic designer Danny Matthews is supporting budding creatives by supporting a popular podcast. Hence a waffling designer helps budding creatives.

Danny, who runs content, graphic design and branding studio Danny&co. based near Cricklade, wants to encourage people into the industry. He’s already offered to take on young apprentices, to nurture their design career.

At the moment, Danny is mentoring a student from the University of the West of England. This is a bid to support her plans to turn her talent for textiles into a business.

Creative waffle – waffling designer helps budding creatives

Now Danny has teamed up with Mark Hirons. Mr Hirons founded the podcast Creative Waffle, which explores the world of graphic design. It busts a few myths and is particularly aimed at graphic designers new to the sector, or who are thinking of design as a career.

Danny is appearing in a fortnightly spinoff, called Creative Waffle Call-in. On that he chats to young designers, answering their questions about a career in graphics, and giving them tips on how to progress.

Danny & Co

Danny set up Danny&co. after a long career in financial services. He’d always wanted to be a designer, and design was his passion, but lack of encouragement at school meant he chose the ‘safer’ option of finance.

“It’s so important to nurture new talent and to let people know that they can have a great career in graphic design and branding. If I’d had that sort of encouragement I would have followed my dream a lot sooner,” said Danny. “I love Mark’s podcast, it’s informative and helpful. I got such a thrill when he asked me to take part.”

Creative Waffle helped Mark land his own dream job. He’s now a designer at Arsenal FC and it was launching the podcast that impressed the football club.

Mark said: “Danny is a great guy and it’s so helpful to have him take part in the Creative Waffle Call-in. We’ve recorded one so far and it went well. For each episode, we have myself, Danny and a different young creative, to talk through different issues. That way there’ll be plenty of variety.”

42 under 42

Later this year, Danny hopes to take on his first apprentice. Having already approached and asked young creatives to write their own job description for their dream job.

He’s named as one of the 42 Under 42. This is a prestigious accolade from Insider magazine.

Each year it identifies 42 up and coming entrepreneurs, all under the age of 42, as future business stars.

Waffling Designer helps budding creatives - Danny Matthews of Danny & Co

For more information about Danny&co. visit https://dannyand.co/

Or email hello@dannyand.co.

To listen to Creative Waffle, download the podcast.

IT Firm Helps Bridge Digital Divide

IT Firm Helps Bridge Digital Divide


IT firm helps bridge digital divide. Wiltshire company, Piority IT, have presented Dorcan Academy Head, Sherryl Bareham, with five free laptops. The gift will support students lacking access to suitable IT at home.

Ms Bareham expressed her joy at the donation. Itself a result of the school’s new head of music, Mrs Matthews, who saw that Priority IT were donating laptops to schools across the county.

Many students at Dorcan Academy come from a lower income background. This means that there’s often no access to a laptop at home. Or, if there is one, then it’s shared. The upshot is that online learning gets compromised.

Dorcan Academy headteacher Sherrly Bareham with Kieran Thomas, MD of Priority IT.  IT Firm Helps Bridge Digital Divide
Dorcan Academy headteacher Sherrly Bareham with Kieran Thomas, MD of Priority IT. 

Headteacher of the Covingham school, Mrs Bareham said:

“We have received 57 new laptops from the Government for our most disadvantaged students. Yet we have other students who didn’t meet the criteria but were also in need. This donation will enable us to support them too. We want all our students to be able to access online learning.”

Priority IT

Based in Westbury, Priority IT, supports small and medium businesses with their IT systems. Kieran Thomas is the managing director.

He said:  “We’ve been running a laptop refurbishment initiative for home schooling during this time.  We asked local businesses and individuals to donate any unloved laptops to us.  We then wiped the data on them, test, upgrade before donating to any individual, school, charity or organisation to help with home schooling.”

The company started doing this after requests for laptops started to come in when lockdown came into force. In particular they came from those who were having to home school and couldn’t afford new or even secondhand laptops. 

This really showed me and my team the extent of the digital divide,” Kieran said.

Seeing a way to help to bridge the digital divide

“We came up with an idea to help out.  We didn’t have any laptops ourselves as we had sent all our spare kit to clients to help out with remote working.  The solution was to ask for any old laptops from contacts and local business owners. We would do what we could to get them up and running and then donate them to students without access to tech at home.”  

To date Priority IT has donated 100 laptops, to schools in the county, Wiltshire Social Services, some charities and also to nominated individuals in need.

To find out more about the company visit https://www.priority-it.co.uk

See more Swindon in Business posts here: https://swindonian.me/category/swindon-in-business/

Swindon Business Men on the Run!

Swindon Business Men on the Run!


Latest news from Karl & Charlotte Paul, Oscar’s 10 for 10

Swindon Business Men on the Run! Lockdown almost ended a carefully laid plan by Swindon couple Karl and Charlotte Paul to raise £10,000 this year. The couple hoped to raise the funds in memory of their son Oscar, who died ten years ago. 

The Swindon couple, who live in Rodbourne Cheney, planned to fund raise for the Ronald McDonald House in Bristol. That charity gave them support at the worst time in their lives when Oscar was born prematurely. 

Lockdown put the stop on their plans until now.

Karl and Charlotte Paul - Swindon Business Men on the Run!

Dad Karl is well known in Swindon’s business community as the founder of SEO & lead generation agency Smarter Media.

Charlotte also works in the business. 

Karl said: “To my amazement one of my business buddies, Andy Rohrer, suggested that we run every day in July to raise funds. He suggested we start at 1km on July 1 and ramp it up each day to 31km at the end of the month. Then other business friends joined in and now we have six more people who have taken up our July charity challenge.” 

Those joining Karl and Andy to date are:

  • Ashley Cain – founder of Moovahome
  • Lee Flanagan – founder of Centraheat & CAL Solutions
  • Marc Stephens – team leader at Honda 
  • Graeme Leighfield – founder of GEL Studios
  • Matt Johnson – IT manager in the energy industry 
  • James Linley – railway manager for Crossrail

They will run to support Karl and Charlotte and move them closer to their £10,000 goal. Currently they’ve raised a little over £4,100. 


Oscar was born at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon on June 7 2010, at a little over 25 weeks’ gestation. At the time Karl and Charlotte were in their 20s.

Oscar was so small he needed transferring to St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol for care in their specialist neo natal unit. During his life, Karl and Charlotte stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Bristol. This charity relies on donations to help families of critically ill children stay nearby free of charge. 

“Being able to stay at the house at such an awful time really helped us. Not having to travel up and down the M4 and being close to Oscar for those precious days meant everything to us. And we want to offer that same opportunity to others,” Charlotte said. 

Since Oscar died, the couple have already raised more than £30,000 in his memory. Both for the House and also enough to buy an incubator for the special care baby unit where Oscar spent his short life.

Anyone who wants to support the Paul family  – or who wants to take on the July charity challenge – can do so by donating here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oscars10for10

Sharp Vlog from Business Consultant

Sharp Vlog from Business Consultant


29 May 2020

Sharp Vlog from Business Consultant - Sadie Sharp

Sharp Vlog from Business Consultant

BUSINESS consultant and author Sadie Sharp has launched a weekly video blog to discuss issues holding people back in life and business. 

Her first vlog, live today, will discuss ‘Post Traumatic Growth’ with special guest psychotherapist Julie Mattinson. Julie is director of the Swindon-based mental health charity Ipsum. 

“This weekly free vlog, ‘Sharp Shares’ will not shy away from discussing matters that many ignore or simply refuse to acknowledge,” Sadie said. 

“It’s going to be a ‘warts and all’ weekly discussion on subjects relevant to anyone who runs or works within a micro, small or larger business. Now seemed the right time to do this as change is coming in a way no one could have anticipated. And, if my consultancy background has taught me anything, it’s that business owners need a new perspective on their businesses. And looking after themselves during the process. 

A flexible friend

“Businesses need to embrace flexible working, redesign their cultures, and restructure their resources in a way they never have before. And that’s hard if you only have yourself to turn to.” 

The vlog is one of a series of activities planned by Sadie, who runs a successful training consultancy Sharp Transformations. Her company has seen her work with the likes of HSBC, Primark, the University of Bath, and many more. She’s helped them embrace transformational change and organisation redesign. 

One of the reasons behind her vlog series is the recent publication of her first book ‘Breakthrough’. In it, Sadie shares the lessons she learnt on her self-employed journey in business, and the life events behind her entrepreneurial successes and struggles. 

Hard hitting

Sadie pulls no punches in the events she discusses. These include:

1. Two occasions where she suffered serious sexual assaults
2. How she coped when she lost her mum from cancer
3. And how she suffered a mental breakdown aged 31 after severe burnout. 

“In this first blog, we’ll be talking about how bad things happen in life at different times and the challenge then is how we face that difficulty. For some, they may travel a destructive path. For others they may try to ignore it.That can lead to a crisis later (as in my case), and then for others they may be able to be more resilient from the beginning. 

“There’s no right or wrong. But for me it was about coming through those challenges and developing greater self-awareness and about how I react when life gives me lemons. And how those experiences became part of who I am today.”

Coming up on Sharp Shares – Sharp Vlog from Business Consultant

In future weeks, Sharp Shares…will talk about issues including organisational change, having difficult conversations, recognising mental health issues, bullying and much more.

For more information or to register to see the vlog visit www.facebook.com/SharpShares/

For other Swindon in Business posts go here.

Drumstick Pens Beat It

Drumstick Pens Beat It

Simon Webb Artisan pen maker

Simon Webb, is well-known as a maker of beautiful hand-turned writing implements that tell stories. He’s crafted pens from woods that include church pews, Isaac Newton’s apple tree, the mulberry tree at the Richard Jefferies museum, HMS Victory and more.

But it’s arguable that his drumstick pens beat it all.

Visit Simon’s website to find our more:

Beat Out That Rhythm on a Drum

In 2019, Simon had the great good fortune to get an invite to a charity event at Middlewick House – erstwhile home of Camilla Parker-Bowles – and now the home of Nick Mason of Pink Floyd fame.

Selling his fine pens at the charity event, Simon sold one to Nick himself. An email exchange followed as Nick needed a fine nib fitting to his pen. A service Simon happily provided.

Said Simon: ‘During our email conservation I offered to make something for his charity auction – perhaps from one his drumsticks.

At length, to my great delight, I received a pair of his drumsticks signed by the man himself.’

Drumsticks signed by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd.
Drumsticks owned by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd
Some of Nick Mason's car collection

Nick holds the charity event every year.

He puts his car collection on show and raises money for Wilts Air Ambulance and the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust.

‘I’ve been working this project and am now proud to reveal the result’ added Simon. ‘I’ve made a rhodium and gold fountain pen and included the signed section of the drumstick in the presentation box with the pen.’

Drumstick Pens Beat It - Nick Mason drumstick and pen set by Simon Webb
Drumstick Pens Beat It

It’s been a real thrill to do this and Nick has said he’s happy for me to use whatever is left of the wood for what I want. So I’m planning some cufflinks.

They’ll be available from me soon, complete with a certificate of authentication. See picture below showing a prototype where the hickory wood of the drumstick is surrounded by ebony in a sterling silver setting.

Prototype cufflink

An anecdote

Said Simon: I’d heard Nick on the radio early before I set up at the event. The presenter asked if he did any gardening. He replied that it was a standing joke that he was a ‘zero hours’ gardener.

So when my stand caught his eye and he wandered over to me, I shook hands with him and said it was great to meet another zero hours gardener.’🙂

See also:

IT Expert’s Tips on Safe Home Working

IT Expert’s Tips on Safe Home Working

IT Expert’s Tips on Safe Home Working

IT expert Chris Goodchild is offering cyber security support to business owners who have teams working from home.

The consultant offers a full suite of IT support services to SMEs in Swindon and beyond. He’s able to offer remote support to any business concerned about online security during lockdown and beyond. 

IT Expert’s Tips on Safe Home Working

Said Chris:

‘Our lives have all changed over these last months. And, through no choice of their own, companies all around the world have also had to make changes to the way they work. Now their team members are working from home too.’

‘This is a completely new territory for many company directors or owners.  That newness creates issues, particularly around safety and security. Getting this right is important for any business. But in particular if you’re running a business where you think ‘working from home’ may become part of your model as we emerge from lockdown.’

For bigger companies, especially those dealing with very sensitive data, working from multiple home office environments, means staff cannot simply get online and ‘hope for the best’. 

Evidence is showing that, as the pandemic rages, security breaches, hacks, cyber scams are increasing at an alarming rate. And right across the world.

Criminals are grasping the opportunity to infiltrate organisations to steal data, demand ransoms or scam money from unsuspecting company employees. 

To date: 

*Phishing websites have increased by 350% in Q1 this year. 
*36% of organisations have suffered hacking in the same period. 
* 90% of remote workers do not act in a secure manner when working from home.

‘The question is – who handles being security? Is it the employee using their own wi-fi and resources to keep working for their employer? Or is it the employer expecting the employee to work from home and be efficient in doing so?

Many corporate organisations they know it’s their responsibility. But with the SME sector this may be a grey area.’

Some SupportWise top tips IT Expert’s Tips on Safe Home Working

Chris has a few simple tips to help to ensure the wi-fi connection at home is secure. 

  • If you still use ‘admin admin’ as your login, then change it immediately. Without your company network to protect you, make sure you create a strong and completely unique password. Use something that has a variety of characters, including lower and upper close letters and numbers.
  • Never run wi-fi without a password, and when you set up your password, make sure it’s set to WPA2.
  • Check you’ve enabled your router’s built-in firewall.
  • The standard security policies to keep your operating systems plugins and antivirus software up to date will still apply, even when working from home.
  • Bookmark oft visited sites.
  • A secure way to stop criminals intercepting your data is to use a virtual private network or VPN, which provides security for your internet traffic –bigger companies will have already done this. 

Minimising the risk of phishing and spamming attacks:

  • Be aware there are many phishing scams targeting remote workers hoping to play on their emotional state. 
  • If you receive an unexpected email from a colleague, and it’s not their usual writing style, it may well not be them sending it.  Rather than open it or reply, report it.
  • Think twice if, in the main body of an email you’re asked to ‘click here’ or open an attachment. Before doing anything, check in the Sender’s line that the domain is what you would expect to see.  If you’re still unsure; don’t open it. Send a new, separate email to the person you think it is to check, or report it. 
  • Beware of fake and phishing emails asking you to update your credentials. Credible companies do not email you for this information. 


Whilst working from home, resist the tempatation to use data sharing tools that are not:
A. secure, and

B. May also give access to sensitive work documents. Only work with the secure data-sharing suggested and used by the company. 

Your home office:

You should be the only person using your work computer. Ensure no one else has access to it. They could see files to which they shouldn’t have access. Or, without meaning to, download malicious websites. They’re rife at the moment.

  • Don’t print out confidential documents, and if you have to, then shred them immediately.
  • Work in a space where work phone call conversations are private. If possible behind a closed door and out of range of Alexa or Google home devices.

For more information on how Chris can support your company around remote working, please contact him via www.supportwise.co.uk

See also: https://swindonian.me/2020/02/13/new-it-business-supportwise/