The voice of the business sector in Mid Devon


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Executive Committee

The BFMD was launched in July 2011 to an audience of some 80 local business leaders, councillors and council management. It has been set up as an Unincorporated Association with the full backing of MDDC and is managed by an Executive Committee.

The association and its property is administered and managed in accordance with the provisions of its constitution. Business Forum Mid Devon Constitution.

Andrew Lathwell - Chair

Andrew intimately understands the challenges and excitement of running a small business in Mid Devon. He and his wife Niki formed Lathwell & Associates following a chance encounter in Botswana, and during a subsequent walkabout around Australia. This business venture fused the design talents that Andrew had honed while running Andrew Lathwell Design from bases in London, Cumbria and the Aussie Outback, with the marketing communications skills that Niki had developed as the co-founder of “one of the Top 3 IT PR consultancies” in Sydney. Today, after relocation to Cove, near Tiverton, L&A provides a broad range of strategy-led marketing services which help clients nationwide to create and build profitable brands – on and off line.

Andrew juggles this business with the chairmanship of both BFMD and the fundraising arm of Bolham School, along with the demands of two young sons and a lifelong mission to bag all of the Munros.

Linda Middleton-Jones - Secretary

Linda Middleton-Jones has over 25 years’ experience in international commerce across manufacturing, nuclear and aviation sectors from her base in South West England. She is an accomplished professional with extensive overseas know-how. A graduate of law from the University of Plymouth and Universidad de Barcelona, Linda is the Managing Director of International Trade Matters Ltd, a local independent International consultancy; represents the Institute of Export in the South West and, is a Director at Devon Chamber of Commerce.  She is a regular speaker and judge on international matters and awards.

She currently represents the economic interests of South West Companies globally and has promoted specific sector developments in Europe, Russia, the Mediterranean and Central America. For many years she was the first point of contact for 1000+ local South West companies providing international business support, export awareness and regulatory advice. She has organised, led and participated in successful missions and welcomed delegations to the South West by facilitating introductions and networking opportunities.

Her expertise has allowed her to guide clients on exporting strategy including market research, smart procurement and contract compliance. Adept at recognising and guiding sustainable international growth she can offer business development expertise from market research through to pipeline sales forecasting. Through her time working with the manufacturing sector she brings a personal commitment to continual improvement through lean tools and techniques.

Stuart Carrington - Treasurer

Stuart is a partner with Thomas Westcott, Chartered Accountants and Tax Advisers.

With a general practice portfolio with a wide variety of clients, he is constantly facing new challenges in tax, audit and accountancy both in the UK and abroad.

He is also a specialist within the Not-for-Profit and charity sector, acting for some significant local and national entities. Stuart is particularly interested in issues of governance and accountability and speaks regularly on these subjects.

In his spare time, Stuart loves getting stuck into a good book and taking his bike out to explore the Devon countryside.

David Disney - Business Group Network

David was born at Jersey Farm near Tiverton and started life rearing pigs. He served as the local and county chairman with the National Farmers Union, and had involvement at the national level for some time. Also served with the National Sheep Association, again at national level. Both capacities were voluntary.

Currently his main occupation is as owner / manager of Swallow Court, a small yet very successful family run office complex of 18 Suites at Junction 27 on the M5. Initially the conversion of redundant farm barns, they now also contain new build offices that have been fully occupied since the first offices became available. Considerable experience and knowledge has been gained in Planning (LPA) issues and procedures.

Colin Slade

Colin Slade is the Client Relations Manager and Editor at thebestof Exeter.

He is also the Cabinet Member for Community wellbeing at MDDC.

Colin worked in radio for many years and now puts his wide experience and communication skills to good use , not only as a councillor , but also as a school governor and Trustee of Tiverton Community arts Theatre.

Chris Prentis

One time soldier and helicopter pilot started his first small business on a 3,300 acre ‘block’ of new farmland in Western Australia 40 years ago. Moved to Mid Devon 30 years ago and started a commercial trout farm. In 1986 became a Director of Devon Fare and in the same year created the Super Tramp trampoline brand. Joined the Federation of Small Businesses in 1991 and spent many years on the committee of the Mid Devon Business Club/Association. Branch Chairman of Mid Devon Branch FSB since 2006 and FSB National Councillor for Devon since 2007.

Mark Challacombe - Training & Education

Mark Challacombe is Petroc’s Assistant Principal for Mid Devon.

Petroc is one of the South West’s leading further and higher education colleges, with campuses in both North and Mid Devon, delivering a wide range of qualifications, including apprenticeships, bespoke industry training and degree programmes.

In his role, Mark is responsible for overseeing the curriculum and the quality of teaching and learning in Mid Devon. The college is continually evolving and developing its offering to support the needs of the local community, and works with hundreds of local employers to support successful apprenticeship programmes and build bespoke training packages for their employees.

Mark has worked at Petroc since 2003 in a wide variety of roles. Prior to his current position, Mark was Head of Apprenticeships for the entire organisation. This, combined with the fact that he was a small business owner before joining Petroc, has given Mark a fantastic understanding of the importance of embedding employability skills into all aspects of the curriculum and tailoring the college’s offering to meet the needs of local employers.

Mark is passionate about engaging with the local community and views his role on the committee as an ideal opportunity to listen and respond to exactly what is needed by the BFMD members.

Chris Shears

Chris is Economic Development Officer for Mid Devon District Council.

All of the Executive Committee are giving their time freely to help Mid Devon businesses to grow and prosper which in turn improves the local economy for us all.