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.

Hugh Thompson DipPFS - Treasurer

Thompson Financial Planning has shown its commitment to Tiverton and the surrounding area by opening an office in Fore Street, Tiverton. Having a presence in town is the natural progression for the business. Hugh has been helping families and businesses secure their futures with valued financial planning for 20 years. The key to financial planning is to understand what is important to the client, what his or her priorities are, while having the experience and knowledge to build a financial structure which supports the client; and then review the structure and adjust it as the client’s needs evolve over the years.

Hugh is well known in the town having been in financial planning in Tiverton for 20 years and brought up his family in the Tiverton area.

The Partner Practice is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website The title ‘Partner Practice’ is the marketing term used to describe St. James’s Place representatives.

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

Mayor of Tiverton 2019-20.

After a long and successful career in radio, Colin is now officially retired, which means he works harder than ever!

He is still to be heard on local radio station Radio Exe and is also a part time Business Advisor for software company Foresite SPA. He has developed a second career in local government as a Town , District and County Councillor. At Mid Devon District Council, he is chairman of the Community Policy Development Group, and at Devon County Council chair of the Devon Pension Board and Grand Western canal Joint Advisory Committee, as well as sitting on several other committees.

Colin is a trustee of three local charities, Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life, Tiverton Community Arts Theatre and Tiverton Adventure Play Association. He is also a primary school governor.

He is a regular attendee at several local business networking groups and is a great believer in networking as a valuable tool for business growth, which is why he urges all local business to support and get involved with Business Forum Mid Devon.

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.

Kevin Kelway

Award winning campaigner, Journalist, PR and International Marketing expert

Kevin is a born and bred Devonian with over 25 years in media experience.

He was the news editor of B2B business magazine Business i Devon, before going on to be PR and Marketing Manager for A4e South West for 3 years.

Kevin was the Marketing Manager for Outset Plymouth that worked with new SMEs, and coordinated the programme’s submission in winning the UK’s national BIS Enterprising Award for Promoting Enterprise, and a Euro Award, during Global Entrepreneurship Week in Cyprus, at the first ever assembly by the EU Commission.

Kevin won the Sheila McKechnie Foundation – Campaigner of the Year, for People & Place Award for his PR campaign in saving Plymouth’s iconic Tinside Lido, and was presented the honour at the House of Lords in 2016.

Kevin is the Managing Director of Dorcas Media Limited, which he set up 5 years ago. The independent PR agency works across the globe.

Dorcas Media specialises in reputation management, an EXPORT ADVOCATE, advising in crisis management, PR, media engagement, social media, and well known in both protecting and enhancing businesses he works with.

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.