Latest News from RIAT

Latest News from RIAT

Latest News from RIAT: UK’s first female fast-jet fighter pilot is keynote speaker at inaugural business event at Europe’s biggest air show 

Latest news from The Royal International Air Tattoo’s Business Club

Jo Salter, the UK’s first female fighter pilot, will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural Business Club event at this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo. 

She was the first female fast-jet pilot flying The Tornado GR1. She admits that her first flight was the high point of her career at that time of her life. Today, Jo is the Chief of Staff to the Head of Technology and Investment at PwC (Price Waterhouse Cooper)

Helen Webb, Head of Marketing for the Royal International Air Tattoo, said: “We are thrilled Jo has agreed to come along and share her inspirational story with us. She is still heavily linked to the RAF, is a trustee of the RAF Club and a member of 601 Squadron RAuxAF. We know our guests will enjoy hearing more of her experiences.”

Jo was inspired to join the RAF after attending several airshows during her childhood in Croydon. After taking A levels in maths, physics and electronics, she applied to join and, aged 18, became an engineering officer in the Comms-Electronic branch. She also knows Wiltshire and the Cotswolds well as she spent three years studying for her undergraduate degree at Shrivenham and lived nearby during those years. 

“I am looking forward to sharing my view that leadership and achievement are about the person rather than the sector someone works in or the size of their business. I ran my own consultancy for some time and I have learned that from personal experience,” Jo said.

“Diversity isn’t just about gender, race or religion, it’s about thinking differently and allowing people to be their true selves in the workplace.”

Jo will be one of a number of speakers at The Air Tattoo Business Club which will be held for the first time at the show where companies can network in one of the Air Tattoo’s premier hospitality suites.

Guests will spend the day with like-minded organisations, enjoy business round-table discussions with pilots and aircrew who will drop in throughout the day for photo opportunities.

The event starts at 9.00am with refreshments and structured networking followed by guest speakers from 10am-11am.  The flying display is from 11am-3pm with lunch served during this time – those who want to stay in the room can take part in facilitated round-table discussions. Afternoon tea will follow at 3.00pm with guests departing from 4.30pm.

The cost is £220 (plus VAT) per person.  Details are available here or email 

Switch on To Swindon: TechSwindon launch event at Nationwide Building Society HQ

Switch on To Swindon: TechSwindon launch event at Nationwide Building Society HQ

7th June 2019

Switch on To Swindon: TechSwindon launch event .

A campaign to support and promote Swindon’s growing digi-tech community launched last night to a packed business networking event at Nationwide Building Society’s Pipers Way headquarters.

And below a few photographs from Elmar Rubio photography:

TechSwindon is a Switch on To Swindon (SOTS) branded project. It will work with organisations and business groups to run a series of meet-up events for start-ups, micros, SMES and larger companies. These companies either provide digi-tech products and services or are reliant on it to do business. 

The year-long campaign will culminate in a two-day summit in spring 2020. The summit will have high-profile speakers from Swindon and around the world. In venues across the town it will welcome up to 1,000 visitors a day.

The aim of the campaign is twofold:

  1. To work with partners to enhance Swindon’s digi-tech cluster 
  2. To showcase its impressive capability to attract inward investment and a pipeline of additional skilled staff to allow business growth.

DigiTech is a strong and growing industry. Swindon boasts the UK’s 3rdmost productive tech sector with over 2,800 companies. In Swindon and Wiltshire there are over 25,000 companies delivering digi-tech products and services. And over 25,000 companies reliant on digi-tech to operate.

Jenny Groves, Chair of Switch on To Swindon said “We use the Switch On brand to promote Swindon as the destination of choice to live, work and do business.

Our 600 plus passionate ambassadors provide their time and support to share these positive messages. Both local businesses and new investors are set to benefit from the TechSwindon focus on attracting and developing additional talent. This alongside the timely recent announcement of Institute of Technology funding for Swindon College and partners”. 

After the last SOTS event, local design company Bravedog won a competition to develop a Big Idea. They have worked in partnership with Ambassadors and Swindon Borough Council to create the concept of TechSwindon.

A number of businesses have already signed up to support the campaign, and lots more opportunities for business engagement and promotion will be announced over the coming weeks. 

Switch On To Swindon is proud to unveil Nationwide Building Society as its first TechSwindon sponsor. Last night, Nationwide confirmed its support and sponsorship of the year-long campaign to build and promote Swindon’s tech capability. 

Also at the Switch On To Swindon event, over 400 delegates heard Nationwide Building Society’s latest news and a business in the community round up from Shirley Ludford of Swindon 105.5.

They were wowed too by demonstrations from some of Swindon’s digi-tech community.

Councillor Oliver Donachie, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Economy and Place, said: “Advances in digi-tech are essential to Swindon’s industrial growth in all of its key sectors, particularly advanced manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, business finance and professional services and logistics.

“I am delighted we have launched the TechSwindon campaign, which will keep Swindon at the forefront of this dynamic sector.”

For more information, visit, email or call 07736 839042.

Outside the Nationwide HQ there was something of a motor show going on. Despite the fact that cars are lost on me – I’m a non-driver – the car that runs on hydrogen is interesting.

See other Switch on to Swindon related posts here:

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

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