STORIES of inspirational business success and sustainability were at the centre of a major new event.
The Sustainable Cumbria summit, held at Carlisle Racecourse and featuring business leaders and experts from across the county, has been hailed as a huge success.
It was organised and hosted by Rachael Bell Wealth Management, who are helping clients tackle the climate crisis by investing in sustainable and ethical funds.
Practice Principal Rachael, said: “It was fascinating and inspiring to listen to the panel of speakers describe their amazing business journeys. There is so much talent, innovation and drive in Cumbria and this was laid bare during the summit.
“We were delighted with the number of delegates who took time out of their days to attend and get involved, and we are now very much focused on making this event bigger and better after receiving some amazing feedback.
“For us, it was an opportunity to explain what we do. We are not like normal financial advisers. We do things differently with our community and our clients at the heart of everything we do. The fact we can support and advise with sustainable investing was a great fit for the conference and its themes.”
The seven speakers from a range of sectors were: Darren Johnson, Senior Investment Consultant at St. James’s Place; Emma Porter from social enterprise Rebuild; Will Tuer from AST; Gerald Smith from Netherby Hall and the Pentonbridge Inn; Eddie Black from EcoGoZero; Toby McCartney from MacRebur and John Maddy from Long Valley Yurts.
They each outlined how their businesses are making a positive and real impact on the environment through sustainable and innovative approaches to business.
Darren Johnson told delegates how investing their funds into specially selected portfolios with St. James’s Place – which has a focus on companies with strong environmental and ethical principles – can have an impact 27 times greater than taking steps such as travelling less and having shorter showers.
And Eddie Black from EcoGoZero told delegates we are all on a journey: “You don’t have a choice as businesspeople about whether you start to address your carbon footprint and environmental policies. This is coming – in fact it’s already here and businesses that choose to ignore it simply won’t exist in a few years.”
Innovation linked to energy creation via a process called anaerobic digestion, which converts animal waste into power, was discussed when Will Tuer spoke to delegates.
And the dogged determination of Toby McCartney, who had 844 failed prototypes on the way to inventing a bitumen replacement made from recycled plastic to repair potholes, caused a stir in the audience. His company MacRebur now operates globally across 33 countries.
Emma Porter shared the inspirational story of Rebuild, a project that ensures surplus items from construction sites are put to use and resold, rather than going to landfill or languishing in a builder’s yard.
Meanwhile, Gerald Smith, who has masterminded the rebuild and restoration of the imposing Netherby Hall spoke about the sustainable practices at the heart of the process and now being used as the venue operates as a business conference facility and also a tourist destination. He also shared with delegates how Netherby Hall now works in tandem with the fine dining pub with rooms, the Pentonbridge Inn – which he also owns – supplying fruit vegetables and botanicals to it from its walled garden.
The event concluded with John Maddy who shared the story of Long Valley Yurts and how his business, which has sustainability at its heart, had grown from its initial two yurts into one with multiple locations across Cumbria.
“Giving so many fantastic businesses a platform to share their stories worked so well. The feedback we have had is that this event should definitely return for a second year and we are already thinking about how it can be bigger and better.
“I’d like to thank every speaker and delegate who played a part. Cumbria is a fantastic, innovative county and we should be proud of what we do.”