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15 Cotswold companies and charities celebrating milestones in 2017

PUBLISHED: 11:32 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:40 05 December 2017

(c) RuthBlack / Thinkstock

(c) RuthBlack / Thinkstock


This year has a particular significance for many companies in the region which are toasting milestone anniversaries. From charities to private firms, their strengths and vision over the years have helped them thrive in a competitive market and continue to grow. The future couldn’t look brighter

National Star

National Star has seen considerable changes and enormous growth since it started 50 years ago with just ten students.

Every year the national charity, which is based in Cheltenham, works with 1,500 young people and adults with disabilities and learning difficulties from across the country.

It was the brainchild of a group of visionaries who wanted to educate children whose lives had been affected by thalidomide, a drug used to prevent morning sickness that resulted in thousands of babies being born with severe malformations.

They soon realised that post-school education and vocational opportunities simply didn’t exist for young people with disabilities and set about changing that.

Now the national centre of excellence prepares young people for adulthood and supports them through that transition. It provides support internships, personalised learning, long-term accommodation, respite care and specialist assessment, to name but a few of its services.

National Star’s growth is down to its endlessly positive attitude of finding ways to do the seemingly impossible and pushing the boundaries, never accepting the limitations of disability.

Now the charity has education centres in Mamhilad, Wales, and Hereford, as well as training programmes in East Sussex, Derbyshire, Lewisham, Worcestershire and London, and students learn work skills at two award-winning StarBistros.

David Ellis, Chief Executive of National Star, said: “From the beginning, National Star’s belief has been that, with high quality and specialist support, people with disabilities can realise their aspirations. We believe it’s about what people can do, not what they can’t.”

The Countess of Wessex met students and staff at National Star in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, during a royal visit to mark the charity's 50th anniversary (c) Thousand Word MediaThe Countess of Wessex met students and staff at National Star in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, during a royal visit to mark the charity's 50th anniversary (c) Thousand Word Media


Gloucestershire law firm Willans LLP is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

Originally established in 1947 and now a blend of eight firms today, Willans occupies four buildings across Cheltenham’s iconic Imperial Square, and counts a number of leading lawyers amongst its 75 staff.

Defending a trademark in a David and Goliath-style case and making legal history with a frozen embryo dispute are two of the high-profile successes that have earned the firm international headlines over the years.

Lauded for its friendly and high-calibre lawyers, Willans packs a punch with trusted national legal directories Chambers and The Legal 500 ranking it as a ‘leading firm’.

Of the milestone, managing partner Bridget Redmond, said: “Willans has evolved over the years to meet the changing business needs of our clients, but we have stayed true to our core values - client service, integrity and of course, legal advice of the highest quality.

“We’ve invested in attracting and retaining the brightest and best lawyers and we help to nurture their talent so that they can achieve their full potential.”

The ways in which the firm has marked its special year have included teaming up with the University of Gloucestershire’s law school to provide mentoring and coaching to the lawyers of tomorrow, organising a series of charity fundraisers and sponsoring a range of county events including with Cheltenham Festivals.

Willans partners blow out the birthday cake (c) Clint Randall / Pixel PR PhotographyWillans partners blow out the birthday cake (c) Clint Randall / Pixel PR Photography

Target PR

Target is an award-winning agency in Cheltenham that helps businesses communicate purposefully with people inside and outside their organisation.

The team, based in Bath Road, provides strategic counsel and hands-on help to businesses of all sizes and many sectors, building reputations through brand messaging, specialist media, mainstream news, social media or creative copywriting.

Chief executive Sarah Bryars says: “We’re really proud to be celebrating our 40th anniversary; a milestone which has prompted us to reflect on the changing business, marketing and PR landscapes in that time.

“While there have certainly been challenges along the way, Target has been quick to adapt, evolving our services and developing the team so that we’re best-placed to help clients.”

Not only has the agency survived four decades, but it’s thriving and in a strong position for continued growth. Its four-strong board of directors is supported by a hugely talented team, ready to take Target forward into the next 40 years.

Target PR celebrates its 40th birthdayTarget PR celebrates its 40th birthday

Oxford Innovation

Since 1987, Oxford Innovation has been delivering practical and focussed support to entrepreneurs and innovators.

It has grown from one portakabin in Osney Mead in Oxford into an organisation of 24 innovation centres and over 100 business advisors, while also being a leading provider of early stage finance to entrepreneurs.

Its knowledge of the needs of entrepreneurs and how to help them is now distilled from 30 years of experience of programmes and activity that support this critical group of people.

It is delighted that, from a modest start in Oxfordshire, it has been asked in recent years to apply this experience and knowledge across all the regions of the UK, from areas of rural poverty, to university towns, to sites of exceptional scientific investment, as well as to settings of urban decline and those of startling regeneration.

David Crichton-Miller, CEO of Oxford Innovation, says: “We are a company passionately devoted to helping the entrepreneur, the scientist and the small business owner to succeed.

“Our spaces and buildings are designed to do this; our tools and methods are developed to achieve this; and it is this that our people make happen. We have unquestionably proved that this company, its people and its mission work, and we are already looking forward to the next 30 years.”

Oxford InnovationOxford Innovation

The Honourable Company of Gloucestershire

The brainchild of Sir Henry Elwes, a past Lord-Lieutenant, the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

Its motto, For Gloucestershire, effectively says it all – a fellowship of like-minded individuals dedicated to upholding the county’s traditions and ensuring that its achievements, in particular the excellence of its people and its organisations, are both recognised and celebrated.

With interests in the arts, the Armed Forces, business, education, science and sport, the organisation offers a number of annual awards, notably to youngsters in the sporting arena and also the Armed Forces Cadet organisation.

The Honourable Company encourages philanthropy through its Charitable Trust, established in 2012, and operates in much the same way as London livery companies with a Court presided over by the Warden, currently Air Marshal Sir Dusty Miller.

It was honoured at the turn of the year when HRH The Princess Royal graciously agreed to become its first Patron.

Honorable Company of  GloucestershireHonorable Company of Gloucestershire

Cotswold Life

It was the year after we last won the World Cup. When Milton Keynes was but a twinkle in the government’s eye. When Wimbledon was broadcast in colour for the first time and the UK decided to apply for EEC membership. And most importantly, The Beatles released Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

It was also the year Cotswold Life first hit the shelves - in October 1967.

On the cover was a full-colour photograph of Chipping Campden with St James’ Church just visible in the background.

And it was yours for the princely sum of 3 shillings.

Since then, the brand has gone from strength to strength, and now, owned by Archant, as it celebrates its milestone 50th birthday, counts a plethora of awards - and its own dazzling awards ceremonies - among its myriad achivements.

Cotswold Life - 50th anniversary editionCotswold Life - 50th anniversary edition


Leading security and fire system specialist, Allcooper Group, recently moved to a new head office in the centre of Gloucester as it celebrates 30 years in business.

What was previously a car showroom and workshop is now home to a smart, open-plan office space where teams including installations, customer service, sales, finance and IT work behind the scenes to support the day-to-day running of the security and safety business.

Roman Cooper, Executive Director at Allcooper Group, says: “Everyone at Allcooper is immensely proud to celebrate the company’s 30th year in business.

“Having started off with just my father, Gary Cooper, brother, Gerard Cooper, and myself doing almost everything between us, to now having over 100 employees, thousands of customers and offices in Gloucester, London and Birmingham, it’s amazing to look back on how far we’ve come.

“We’re pleased to be part of Gloucestershire’s vibrant, successful and growing business community, and grateful for the continued support of our customers and staff, who we look forward to keeping safe and secure for years to come.”

Allcooper 30th birthdayAllcooper 30th birthday


KBW Chartered Surveyors celebrated its 10 year anniversary earlier this year with a night of entertainment at Pittville Pump Room in Cheltenham.

Around 150 guests from local and national firms enjoyed drinks and canapes and a casino, which raised money for the firm’s charity partner, Wellchild. Like KBW, Wellchild works nationally but has its head office in Cheltenham.

Richard Knightley, Steven Wood and Stephen Hemmings from KBW also successfully completed Ride London 2017 this summer, cheered on all the way by Wellchild, which had 150 riders taking part to raise sponsorship money for the charity.

Richard, one of the Senior Directors at KBW, said: “We have enjoyed a very successful first 10 years thanks to our valued and loyal clients, hardworking staff and supportive families.

“It is great that so many were able to join us to share in celebrating this milestone.”

Highfield Garden World

Family-owned Highfield Garden World in Whitminster, near Frampton-on-Severn, celebrated 25 years in business this year.

What started as a small nursery has blossomed to become a retail destination with 10,000 customers a week travelling up to 50 miles to get there and a turnover approaching £10m.

When asked what advice he had for other businesses on the up, co-founder and MD Tim Greenway said: “Be adaptable but consistent.

“The way people spend their time and spend their money has changed exponentially in the last 25 years, and as a retail business we’re constantly adapting to reflect those changes.

“For example we’re no longer just a place where someone pops in to buy a plant for the garden, but a place where people come with friends to browse for anything from cushions to craft beers and have lunch with a view while they’re at it.

“But consistency is also key. I would advise any business to take a good, hard look at what their brand is before making big changes. For us, repeat business is our bread and butter, so when changing our offering we tread a fine line between attracting new customers while still delighting those who visit every week.

Members of the Greenway family who own Highfield Garden World, WhitminsterMembers of the Greenway family who own Highfield Garden World, Whitminster

He added: “Another magic ingredient for business success is good old-fashioned determination and staying power. Remember, ‘this isn’t a 100m sprint – it’s a marathon’.”


Founded in 1967 by Thomas B Stamp, Cheltenham-based TBS Engineering began with just two employees.

Today it employs over 170 local people and supports an extensive supply chain of over 100 partners.

With a turnover of £34m, TBS is celebrating 50 years this year and is the world leader in lead acid battery assembly equipment. Every year its machines produce millions of batteries across the world that power the biggest names in automotive engineering and include the likes of VW, Ford, Honda and BMW.

David Longney, TBS Engineering Group Managing Director, said: “Our location has played a big role in our success, the expertise, talent and engineering capabilities available to us in Gloucestershire has been key to our growth.

“Testament to our commitment to the area, we have recently invested £15m in a new purpose-built facility in Gloucester Business Park, which we move into next year. We are very proud of what we do here at TBS and our role in helping to keep British engineering alive.”

Albright IP

Local Intellectual Property (IP) attorney firm, Albright IP, is celebrating its 10th year in business this year.

The firm, founded by Managing Director Robert Games, now employs 23 people and works with over 1,500 companies and entrepreneurs in markets across the globe including Europe, the US and China.

Headquartered in Cheltenham, last year the company took the opportunity to buy the landmark County House in Montpellier and create a centre for innovation.

Robert said: “Ten years is a great milestone to reach as a business and I would like to thank all our clients and our highly-skilled staff for their support in helping us get to where we are today.

“The company was borne out of a desire to have a more creative approach to IP law. I wanted to create a company that didn’t just focus on the protection of IP assets alone.

“Now, we work with companies to understand their business and help them to manage their IP in a way that builds value. We want our clients to be successful, to have a solid IP footing, to understand their IP position, and to be able to leverage the Patent Box tax break.”

Albright IP country houseAlbright IP country house

The Cullimore Group

The Cullimore Group of Companies is a family-owned business which has been serving communities and businesses in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Somerset for 90 years.

Today the group operates a fleet of more than 80 vehicles to cater for almost any load. Its haulage fleet is based at its Netherhills depot, between Whitminster and Frampton-on-Severn.

Moreton Cullimore, Managing Director, says: “Cullimore’s is a family-owned and run group of companies that maintains a consistent identity with a professional but personable feel.

“Some of our strength lies in our traditional values of honesty, integrity and even the way we paint our vehicles.

“Paramount to this consistency of success, through three generations of family members running the business, is the people we employ and the ethos in how business is done. Our people are vital to us and almost all are local and have themselves a local identity and presence, our customers are names and faces to us, not barcodes and account numbers.

“It’s therefore our relationships with everyone we meet, it’s our service and relationship with people that sets us apart which creates the longevity in all aspects of business that we enjoy.”

Cullimore GroupCullimore Group

Acorn Recruitment

A specialist recruitment agency that has helped thousands of local people to find work is celebrating 10 years of success in Gloucestershire.

Acorn, one of the UK’s leading recruitment agencies, opened its doors in Gloucester in 2007 and since then the branch has gone on to build a reputation as one of the most effective recruitment agencies in the area.

The branch, based in Eastgate Street, is staffed by experienced consultants and fills vacancies for permanent and temporary positions across Gloucestershire with well-known local businesses.

Branch Manager Nikki Overbury believes the longevity of Acorn within this area is its ability to offer a highly valuable, honest and face-to-face recruitment service to employers and job seekers.

She said: “We are delighted to be celebrating a decade here in Gloucester.

“A large reason for our success is down to the relationships we’ve developed with great employers and jobseekers in Gloucester and surrounding areas.”

Acorn - Nikki Overbury, Dean Halsall, Maria Larcombe, Caroline Beaton, Megan Davies, Donna Chaney (c) Nicola Penfold Cariad PhotographyAcorn - Nikki Overbury, Dean Halsall, Maria Larcombe, Caroline Beaton, Megan Davies, Donna Chaney (c) Nicola Penfold Cariad Photography

Pied Piper Appeal

Founded in 1992, Pied Piper is the leading children’s charity in Gloucestershire.

Its mission is to make a difference to the lives of sick and disabled children across the county by funding medical and practical equipment that enhances care and treatment for children in hospital and special schools including The Milestone School Gloucester and Heart of the Forest.

It also sends children with life-limiting illnesses and their families on Wish Holidays, supports mental health care and funds £10,000 worth of nursing training every year.

It held its annual fundraising Gloucestershire Motor Show at Highnam Court in June, a Silver Anniversary Ball in September and was also the lead charity for the Royal Three Counties Henson Trail live auction.

Vice-Chairman Julie Kent says: “Every experience a child has at the Children’s Centre at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital is made better by the Pied Piper Appeal.

“This year, for our 25th year, we bought a heart scanner so families don’t have to travel to Bristol but can have it done in Gloucestershire. We have raised £4m in 25 years.

“Every single family in some way has utilised a piece of equipment in A&E or outpatients which has been supplied by Pied Piper. It affects everyone in some way, small or large.”

Pied Piper anniversaryPied Piper anniversary

GB Solutions

GB Solutions recently celebrated 18 years of business under the leadership of owner managers Mike Goode and Paul Blower.

When they created their partnership in 1999, discouraged by their competitors’ approach, Paul and Mike were keen to create a recruitment business that lived by their values - People, Passion and Integrity.

Utilising their own individual styles, blending a passion for people and a focus on long-term business objectives, they set up their own consultancy in Gloucester to offer an independent recruitment service to SMEs and large organisations across Gloucestershire.

The secret to their considerable success is putting people first and forging lasting relationships with clients and candidates alike. They have built a team who share in this philosophy and put staff retention at the top of their priorities.

From these humble beginnings the team has grown and GB Solutions now comprises five separate divisions covering Office, Finance, Marketing, IT and Sales. They have extended their recruitment services to beyond the county and are looking forward to taking on the next chapter of growth.

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