Girls’ Work Experience News

Girls’ Work Experience News

Female pupils experience working at one of Swindon’s biggest medical device companies 

Girl’s’ Work Experience News. Seventeen female, year 10 pupils from Swindon Academy School got a special visit to Beckton Dickinson. There they met inspiring women working in science and engineering. Beckton Dickson is one of Swindon’s largest medical device manufacturers.

Partnership: Girls’ Work Experience News

The partnership between Swindon Academy and Beckton Dickinson is an example of an initiative called the ‘Enterprise Adviser Network’. The Swindon and Wiltshire Careers Hub run this network. It’s partnership between the Careers and Enterprise Company, Swindon and Wiltshire LEP, Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council.  

The Careers Hub recruits leaders in business. It then matches those leaders with a local school or college. Together they provide a long-term relationship between education and the business world. These Enterprise Advisers (EAs) work alongside the school to develop everything from pupils’ interview skills to experience days.

For Swindon Academy, the careers Officer Jessica Cook and Helen Hewlett, Beckton Dickinson’s HR manager, foster the partnership. 

Jessica said: “Having Helen means we’ve got someone to turn to for advice on how we should steer our careers programme. That’s how we make it the best it can be. This applies both to employers and to the young people that we’re supporting.”

“It’s been great that the pupils had female leadership in each activity. That means they can see female role models, within science and within tech.  Having a female role model, working within a STEM subject is inspirational for young girls aspiring to work in these industries.”

Helen Hewlett has been the EA for Beckton Dickinson for 18 months and has built the relationship with the school. She said: “What we are doing with these students is giving them the full experience of different areas within our business. They are seeing engineering services, microbiology and also going into production.  It’s the most rewarding experience seeing students get excited about our business. 

Auriel Chandarana of Swindon Borough Council runs the Enterprise Advisor Network.

Still from a video produced by graduates from CREATE studios in Swindon - Girls' Work Experience News
This video is the work of new graduates from Create Studios:

Important understanding

“It’s important that pupils understand what employers need, while they develop their skills. We want them to learn and understand the journey to what they’d like to do in the future,” explained Auriel. 

In Swindon there are now 21 Enterprise Advisors working with 23 schools and colleges in the area. In an ideal world, each school or college will have two EAs that help them build better links with business. 

Chair of Switch on to Swindon Jenny Groves added: “The scheme is a fantastic example of:

  1.  how schools can help inspire young people into working in Swindon based businesses 
  2. And how business can think about how it can attract future pupils to work for them.  

Switch on to Swindon fully supports the EA programme and I hope more businesses get involved in it.” 

To become an EA head to or email

For more Switch on to Swindon posts go here. And for more Swindon in Business posts go here.

Switch on to Swindon Communication Strategy

Switch on to Swindon Communication Strategy

Media experts help form Switch on to Swindon communication strategy

Local media representatives, journalists and online bloggers (like Born again Swindonian) helped shape the aims and objectives of a special network, striving to improve perceptions of Swindon. In January 2020 came together to help form a Switch on to Swindon Communication strategy.

The Switch on To Swindon (SOTS) business ambassador network is now in its third year. At this stage it’s refreshing its strategy and using the expertise of the town’s local media and PR professionals to develop its forthcoming communications plan. They kicked off the process of at a recent workshop in Swindon’s Carriage Works – housing Workshed.

The SOTS network, which has grown to over 850 ambassadors, came into being to harness the positive attitude of the local community. The Switch on to Swindon brand is now synonymous with local civic pride. Swindon has a strong and varied business cluster and the ambassadors work together to talk up the town.

Images from Fiona Scott.

A Refreshed SOTS Vision

Business Ambassadors working together to promote Swindon as a thriving community in which to live, work and invest. The core values behind messaging and activity are: 

  • Ambition
  • Community
  • Honesty
  • Innovation
  •  Positivity.

Three Key Aims

The Switch On board also agreed three key aims:

1. Live:    To promote the positive perception of Swindon as an ambitious growing town of the future to internal and external audiences.

2. Work:  To inspire and support the development of talented people to enable growth and innovation.

3.  Invest: To work with partners to attract inward investment to grow the economy.

Over the coming months, several themes will support these three aims featuring business and ambassador case studies; press releases and editorials; social media and online content.

Switch on To Swindon Chair, Jenny Groves, said: Following the TechSwindon campaign at the successful Switch on To Swindon event at Nationwide Building Society in June 2019, the Board has worked on refreshing and defining its core values and themes for the year ahead.

Ambassador numbers are now over 850, yet there’s an even greater need for the business community to pull together and promote Swindon’s strengths to the outside world. So this was the right time to reflect on what has worked well and the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The media and online bloggers workshop proved insightful. It strengthened our resolve to challenge perceptions and promote some of the fantastic qualities of Swindon. Qualities that have attracted companies and people from all over the world.

The Borough, like anywhere else, has its challenges, yet Swindon’s resilience and community spirit is one of its greatest assets and we look forward to working together for another year. 

The next piece of work is to refresh the marketing collateral and develop content under the themes, so we will be reaching out to ambassadors again to help us.”

Swindon Festival of Science

Swindon Festival of Science

All eyes on ‘Tomorrow’, Swindon’s first festival of science, technology and engineering – 21-22 February 2020.

Swindon Festival of Science

Families from Swindon and beyond can explore the latest in science, engineering and technology at the Tomorrow Festival at STEAM museum, next month – 21-22nd February 2020.

A host of top universities and high-tech companies will join the Science Museum, the UK Space Agency and UK Research and Innovation. Together they are presenting Swindon’s first festival of science and technology.

Events Listings and Ticket Booking

See listing of events here: and to book tickets follow the link here.

The Tomorrow Festival

The ‘Tomorrow’ festival is the brainchild of Science Swindon. This collaboration between local company, New Elements, and STEAM Museum of the Great Western Railway, brings together the latest scientific discoveries and cutting-edge technologies in this two-day event.  

The festival features a range of ticketed science shows, talks and panel debates with government and industry. There’ll also be a free-to-enter interactive zone. In the interactive zone visitors can meet real scientists and engineers working at the cutting edge of research and try out some of the latest technologies for themselves.

Set against the backdrop of Brunel’s railway engineering legacy, the event will explore:

  • The future of health & medicine
  • Energy & environment
  • Gaming & VR
  • Space & astronomy and the future of travel.  

Space shows and workshops from the Science Museum

Recognising Swindon as home of the UK Space Agency, London’s Science Museum is sending their popular space shows and workshops to run on both days of the festival.

The action-packed show, called Out of this World, will take visitors to the festival, at STEAM museum in February, on a journey into space.  Led by the nationally recognised Science Museum outreach team, they’ll discover what it takes to become an astronaut, launch a rocket, explore the Solar System and look for alien life. The show promises explosions, super-cool liquid nitrogen, eye-popping vacuums and even wee drinking!

This festival is shaping up to be a fantastic celebration of the innovation in Swindon and the region,” said Ian Larrard, Director of the Business West Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative.  ‘Swindon is at the forefront of tackling our greatest challenges and opportunities, from climate change and vehicles of the future. Encouraging young people in Swindon to enjoy STEM subjects is critical to Swindon’s future.’

Swindon Festival of Science - science swindon logo

We’ve had a great response to the festival idea. We’re delighted that Business West have decided to support the event,” said Rod Hebden, from Science Swindon.

Science Swindon is a collaboration between New Elements and STEAM museum, in Swindon, who are running the festival.

‘We’ve got an incredible line-up of events and activities. I urge people to follow Science Swindon on social media, book tickets to the talks as soon as possible, and come along to the festival next month.’

For more information, contact Rod Hebden on 07410113966 or, or visit

On Twitter:
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Deacon’s Jewellers

Deacon’s Jewellers

September 2018

Deacon’s Jewellers

Well listeners, you can hardly have failed to notice that this summer saw the publication of my first book, Secret Swindon.  So now it’s onto the next project: Swindon in 50 Buildings. To that end I’ve compiled a list of suggested buildings for the edification of the publisher, Amberley Books.

The buildings I’ve selected for my next project aren’t necessarily there because they’re fabulous architecture, or old or listed – though sometimes that’s part of it – but because they have a part in Swindon’s story. Many, many buildings do that of course – and far more than fifty of them too.

One that I might include in my next project is Deacon’s jewellers on Wood Street in Old Town.

The business is still family-owned – now in its sixth generation – that’s rather cool isn’t it? Besides that though, the business has a rich history – one that’s wrapped up in Swindon’s railway past.

Given that his year is their 170th anniversary (Established 1848), it seems fitting to give them a mention on this blog.

Their website has their history on it so here’s a couple of extracts:

‘ … The catalyst for bringing the name of Deacon to Swindon was undoubtedly the arrival of the Great Western Railway. As an ambitious 26 year old George Deacon, having moved from his home town of Westbury, realised the need for time-keeping in a fast growing town of the industrial revolution. The business was able to expand, winning one of the timing contracts for the Great Western Railway on the line between Paddington and Swansea from the early 1850s until 1893 … 

The Regulator clock which stands to this day in the jewellery, clock and watch department was made by Deacon & Son Ltd around 1865 when the company held one of the timing contracts for the Great Western Railway on the line between Paddington and Swansea. Before radio and the telephone gave universally available timing, accurate time keeping had to be maintained locally and this was usually done by the means of the regulator clock.

The dead beat escapement in this movement causes less friction and dampens vibration, giving greater accuracy. The self regulating mercury pendulum, which changes volume equally with the changes in temperature, keeps the clock on a constant steady beat giving better time keeping. This clock was used extensively in our workshops for clock timing and regulation for many years, until its retirement in the 1960s. In 2011 the same task is performed by radio controlled timing from the nuclear caesium clock at the National Physics Laboratory at Rugby.’


Deacons on Wood Street

Find them on Facebook:

These boots are made for walking

Of course, Deacon’s is not the only long-standing, family-owned business in Old Town. I’m really rather fond of Blaylock’s – the shoe shop on the corner of Bath Road and Devizes Rd.

Blaylocks Old Town

Blaylock’s is what I call a ‘proper’ shoe shop – though you’d need to be of a certain again to even know what I mean by that. And what I mean by that, is that the shoes are stacked in boxes on shelves in the shop itself. There’s no going out the back somewhere with an iPad and a headset on. Pfft. It’s friendly service and I love it. Not quite as old as Deacon’s they’ve been around for somewhere in the region of 100 years. Still, to my knowledge, this is a family-run business and an independent shoe shop. Fabulous.


Having bought your super comfy carpet slippers in Blaylocks – where better for your actual carpet than Gilbert’s on Newport Street,  Gilbert’s have been in Old Town since 1866 so must have furnished a few Swindon homes in the intervening 152 years. What an astonishing thought.


Switch on to Swindon stories: a round up

Switch on to Swindon stories: a round up

7th January 2018


Switch on to Swindon stories: a round up

Switch on to Swindon logo - switch on to swindon stories

If you’ve been paying attention at all listeners, you’ll have noticed that, over the last few months I’ve shared stories from friends and clients that I felt fitted with the notion of Switch on to Swindon. I had every intention of doling a round-up at the back end of last year but never got round to it. So, seeing this article from the Swindon Advertiser on social media kicked me into action. Just about a whole year has gone by since the SOT campaign launched. Yikes! Happy anniversary SOT! Pop the corks!

2017 has been a busy old year for me. With personal, blogging and business stuff via AA Editorial Services. The high point for me came late in the year with a contact, via this blog, from a  Glocs based publishing house. The upshot of all that being I now have a commission to write a book about Swindon. Double yikes!

Anyway, simply so they’re all in one place, and starting with my own (and why not?!) are some SOT stories. Some of them, like myself, are SOT ambassadors. But all of them have positive things to say about our fabulous town.

Here then is my own SOT story:

Next up is my friend Catherine Attewell – she who makes the pretty jewellery: – -she writes about finding a sense of self and community in Swindon:

Odile Motte, owner of the Brunel Language Centre, wrote about what she likes about Old Town – or Old Swindon as it should properly be called:

Julie Nicholls who is the fabulous Body Mind Coaching did a great Seven Reasons to be Switched on to Swindon.

Shirley Hensher, aka the Change Agent, wrote this on LinkedIn after an SOT ambassador event. She kindly let me share it on the blog:

Sandra Trusty, a relative newcomer to Swindon, and owner of the Fab Gift Boutique gave a me a lovely piece about discovering Swindon:

It came as no surprise that Carol Aplin of Pink&Green Organic skincare (it’s gorgeous stuff) did a piece about the abundance of nature around these parts. 

Likewise the subject matter of Reshma Field, aka Ishbel’s Wardrobe, was similarly predictable with her piece on Swindon Shopping and Seven reasons with it’s rather good!

Jo Rigden, being 4Points Leisure, opted for a post on the Dragon Boat Racing at Coate Water. 

And we return to nature once more with Tim Perkins, of TMP Planning  and his post about Kings Wood Walk. 

And finally a couple from the Switch on to Swindon website. David Bent – because he’s a friend and I can. But also because I like what he says. Below is the strapline from his SOT story. I like that because it is. Swindon IS surprising and has so much going on. He’s not wrong!

David Bent SOT story - Switch on to Swindon stories

And this one from Nicky Pasquier. Nicky has done – does do – such a lot of sharing of SOT ambassador stories, mine included, that I wanted to return the favour:  And I thought this was a fab sentiment too:

NIcky Pasquier SOT story




Community library at Swindon Hindu Temple

Community library at Swindon Hindu Temple

17th December 2017


A Community Library Launches at the Swindon Hindu Temple

Swindon Hindu Temple logo

To be fair, ‘A community library LUNCHES at the Swindon Hindu Temple’ would have been an appropriate heading being as how this event was celebrated with a food festival. Oh such scrummyness. Sadly for me, I’m getting over a virus and my normal appetite for Indian food – well food in general – is not, at the moment, up to scratch,

But that’s all a digression. I’ve been to the temple before so though it was about time it got a mention on this here blog. Because y’know, the overall vibe at the temple is never anything but welcoming and inclusive. It’s just lovely.

The temple came on to my horizon via Carole Bent – the photographs below are hers. Thanks Carole. I do try with photographs but they never come out right. Harrumph!

I had no idea, until Pradeep spoke at the event, that the community library that the temple has set up is part of the town’s library network. I though it was cool anyway. But when I heard that I thought it was even cooler! It was super fab to see Liam with the book bike there reading to the children!

Some pictures from yesterday’s library launch and food festival:

You have to take your hat off to Pradeep Bhardwaj, chaiman of Swindon’s Hindu temple trust, and his associates.  What they’ve achieved with a run-down industrial unit on the Cheney Manor estate can be described as miraculous. And a testament to what can be achieved with will and passion.

As Pradeep told the Swindon Advertiser last year when the Temple celebrated its official opening:

“For many here it is the biggest day of their lives. There have been Hindus in Swindon for 60 years but there hasn’t been a temple or community centre.

“I am very proud, more than proud, I am humbled. To be able to accomplish something like this for the entire community is beyond my wildest dreams.

“Throughout our lives we keep chasing dreams but having seen what it’s like to do this I would be willing to forego any of my personal dreams.”

The temple’s website describes its vision thus:

  • Establish “Cultural Hub & Centre of Excellence” – first of its kind outside India
  • A Social, Cultural and Community Hub accessible to all community groups with an interest in Indian music, dance, arts, culture, religion, cuisine, literature, health & wellbeing
  • Establish Swindon as a Cultural destination, one of the top places to visit in England, promote cultural & religious tourism, attract new businesses & investment
  • Ambitious project – unique in nature, scope, impact & overall vision
  • Contributing significantly to the local area & economy
  • Demonstrate long-term, strategic benefits of community-based enterprise

Amen to all of that is all I have to say!

What a wonderful Switch on to Swindon ambassador Pradeep is.

At this point I feel I should give mention also to SAPAC – another Asian organisation/group that Swindon is blessed to have in its midst. They too open their doors, their activities to anyone that is interested regardless of culture.

There’s lessons for us all from both these groups I feel.

The Hindu temple on the ether:

The website for the Swindon Hindu Temple is here:

They’re on Twitter:

And a public Facebook group: