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Dorset Members meet local MP

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Nicky McClure (McClure Photography) Joanne Dewberry, Dorset Business Mum of the Year, Bob Walters MP, Lara Williams (www.larawilliamscoaching.co.uk) Rachel Jeffries (Tots and Tiddlers Toys) and Darren Toms (www.darrentoms.com) 


Member of Parliament for North Dorset


ON FRIDAY 10 SEPTEMBER, Robert Walter MP (North Dorset) met Dorset Business Mum of the Year and founder of Networking Mummies, Joanne Dewberry, at The Old Barn Inn, Three Legged Cross, to talk about the growing role of ‘kitchen tycoons’ in the local economy.

Networking Mummies was set up in 2008 by Joanne Dewberry and Laura Morris to bring like-minded business women together who also happened to be mums that needed to fit work around family life.

Joanne, who was recently voted Dorset Business Mum of the Year for 2010 for her work with Networking Mums and her own party-bag business, Charlie Moo’s, told Bob all about the benefits of Networking Mummies and the growing importance to our local economies of parents creating new businesses in their own back yards.

Bob also had the opportunity to speak at length to Networking Mummies members Darren Toms (of Darren Toms Coaching), Lara Williams (of Lara Williams Coaching), Nicola McClure (of McClure Photography) and Rachel Jeffries (of Tots and Tiddlers Toys) - all business success stories in their own right - to hear their views on the challenges of setting up a new business and what they think could be done to help small businesses and entrepreneurs.

A common concern voiced by the business mums was the struggle to be recognised as an entrepreneur and as a mother when you have a family to bring up, and the problem not being taken seriously by banks in the early stages of setting up a business.

They told Bob that Networking Mummies provided a much-needed, low cost forum where people with a great idea, but inexperienced in business, could find out answers to simple questions without fear of intimidation or the restrictions that can be associated with more traditional business forums.

Since its inception in Dorset , Networking Mummies’ has grown – largely by word of mouth - to over 250 members and has branches in Dorset, Hampshire and Warwickshire. Although originally aimed at so-called ‘mumpreneurs’ the organisation is open to all and now provides community support for mums, dads, grandparents, and any business people wishing to take advantage of the networking opportunities it provides. Advice is shared freely through seminars and speed networking events, as well as on social networking sites like Facebook.

After his visit Bob said:

I was delighted to accept Joanne’s invitation to find out more about Networking Mummies and what the organisation has to offer to people hoping to start their own businesses - but who also have family to run, something that any parent knows can itself be a full-time job. So my thanks to those that attended for taking the time out to share their views with me. The enthusiasm of the Networking Mummies members was evident and their praise for the group couldn’t have been higher.

Joanne was pleased to report continued growth across the board in businesses supported by her organisation, despite the economic recession, showing the real strength and resilience of smaller, more flexible businesses, during difficult economic times.

Catchword terms like ‘mumpreneur’ and ‘kitchen tycoon’ might not be the most accurate description, but they have done an important job in raising awareness of an often ignored section of small businesses that contribute heavily to our economy.

I am optimistic that the new Local Economic Partnerships this Government will introduce in place of unaccountable and physically distance Regional Development Agencies will be better placed to support Dorset ’s small to medium-sized business and entrepreneurs like Joanne and network members.

LEPs will have existing local business and community connections to take advantage of and a much better knowledge of the challenges local businesses will face in terms of transport and communications infrastructure, local geography and demography, and in ‘upskilling’ the local workforce.”

Joanne Dewberry commented:

"Last Year £4.4billion was put into the economy by mums in business and it’s great to have the opportunity to discuss with our local MP that this isn't just a passing fad, but more a new way of life for stay at home mums."


Bob Walter can be contacted on - Office 020 7219 6981 OR Mobile 07721 071 671

Notes to Editors:

  • Photo taken at Old Barn Inn, Ringwood Road , Three Legged Cross, Wimborne , BH21 6RE . From left to right: Nicky McClure, Joanne Dewberry, Robert Walter MP, Lara Williams, Rachel Jeffries and Darren Toms.

  • Networking Mummies will be holding another of their popular Mums in Business Exhibitions as part of National Business Mum Week on 5 October 2010. Further details and information are available at www.networkingmummies.com. To speak to organiser, Joanne Dewberry, please ring 01202 825004.

  • For Bob Walter’s constituency office please contact Caroline Scott on 01258 452585.

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