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Llangennech bee farm wins sustainability award

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Cilgwenyn Bee Farm in Carmarthenshire was recently announced as the winner of the Speciality & Fine Food Fair Rising Sustainability Star Award due to its holistic approach to business after transforming a disused coal mine into a brand new bee farm offering carbon neutral honey.

Based in Llangennech, Rhodri Owen and Richard Jones began their commercial business back in 2010 after keeping bees for many years beforehand. They now produce award-winning, great tasting Welsh raw artisan honey from different parts of Wales available to buy online.

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However, at the heart of their business are their ethical and sustainability values to combat climate change. Over the years they have implemented a number of initiatives to produce carbon neutral honey that include creating their own electricity through solar power and planting enough trees to offset 30 years of production of jars and lids. They also give back to their community by training veterans for free to help combat PTSD.

Talking about the award, Rhodri said: “We are delighted to be recognised for our work in helping to save our planet. Sustainability and the environment is key to our business plan. It was never and still is not about money, but a steadfast belief in helping the environment and providing the public with honest and unadulterated high quality raw Welsh Honey from beekeepers.

“For some time we have been concerned about the impact we have as a species on this planet which affects biodiversity, ecology and the climate. We are all intertwined yet we, as humans, are creating the biggest affect, and not always in a good way.

“We ensure we reduce our emissions by using only parts which are sustainable, we produce our own electricity and when we need to purchase electricity we only buy green energy.

“Whilst being sustainable in energy terms we also ensure all of our products are supplied in recyclable materials. Our glass jars are made from 88% recycled material, our steel lids are recyclable, while also made from some recycled material and our labels and boxes are made to be recycled again with a proportion of recycled material. So we are plastic free but there is energy used in their manufacture. To mitigate these we are planting trees on our own land to capture CO₂ over a 100 year lifespan. We are planting many trees to make sure we cover the needs of the business for many years to come.

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“In addition by buying our Welsh honey everyone is supporting not just agriculture and farming but helping to reduce the risk of climate change. This is helped by ensuring pollination happens as the diversity of plants ensures that they survive. And the more of our raw artisan honey is consumed, the more everyone is helping to reduce CO₂, reduce plastics, reduce the effect of businesses on the climate and create more natural pollinators.”

Cilgwenyn Bee Farm in Llangennech, Carmarthenshire

Cilgwenyn Bee Farm is part of the Welsh Government’s Sustainability Cluster. The Sustainability Cluster supports and develop sustainable business practices across Wales’ agri-food industry. This will be delivered by utilising the successful triple helix approach, with Welsh Government, industry and academia, working hand in hand to tackle common industry problems.

Earlier this year, the Welsh Government launched its future strategic sustainability vision for the Welsh food and drink industry.

Commenting on Cilgwenyn winning this award, the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths said: “A huge congratulations to Rhodri, Richard and everyone at Cilgwenyn Bee Farm on their success. The Speciality & Fine Food Fair Awards champion all that make our food and drink industry so remarkable and inspiring. Cilgwenyn is an excellent example to others on what can be achieved in our efforts to tackle climate change.

“The Welsh Government is committed to helping Welsh food and drink businesses focus on sustainable growth and productivity, their climate and ecological impact as well as fair work and raising standards throughout the industry. We want Wales to be one of the most environmentally and socially responsible supply chains in the world as well as continuing to have a global reputation for excellence.”

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Education

The Secret Hospitality Group provides enterprise education programme to three Swansea schools

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The Secret Hospitality Group is thanking the local community for its support during COVID by providing the Bumbles of Honeywood enterprise education programme to three local primary schools – The Grange Primary School, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llwynderw and Brynmill Primary School.

Created by Swansea-based 2B Enterprising Ltd, The Bumbles of Honeywood is a suite of bilingual resources mapped to the national curriculum to help primary schools embed enterprise skills into their day-to-day learning. It’s delivered in schools via the 2B Enterprising Corporate Engagement Partner programme, which pairs businesses with local schools.

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As Corporate Engagement Partners, members of The Secret Hospitality Group have been visiting The Grange, Llwynderw and Brynmill primary schools to introduce the Bumbles of Honeywood programme and talk to pupils about what it’s like to run a business.

Cultivating entrepreneurship and enterprise skills from a young age has been shown to be of huge value in equipping pupils for their future lives and careers – and it’s now required as part of the national curriculum in Wales.

The Secret Hospitality Group is an example of entrepreneurship in action. It started life in 2017 with one venue, The Optimist in Uplands. In 2019 the company won the tender to run The Secret on Swansea seafront, and since then it has also taken on The Green Room next to Swansea Arena and the iconic Castellamare restaurant at Bracelet Bay.

Now the group has sold The Optimist to focus on landmark locations, creating venues that are as memorable as the views. As the company’s strapline says, “the view is just a bonus.”

The company was founded by brother and sister Lucy and Ryan Hole, who have since been joined by their siblings Amy and Tom. During the COVID lockdowns the team ran a coffee kiosk on the seafront in Swansea and the experience made them feel even more connected with the local community. Now they want to give something back by supporting three local schools.

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“Opening the kiosk was a turning point for us during the pandemic,” says Lucy. “We had such a great response from the community, and they rallied round when the kiosk was vandalised. The kiosk became a real hub and the beach just became alive. Now we want to give back to the community as a thank you for what they did for us during that hard time.”

Lucy and her siblings have chosen to support The Grange, Llwynderw and Brynmill primary schools because they are local to them and they have family links with two of them.

All the Hole siblings attended Brynmill Primary School, as did their father Greg Hole, who has run local news agents including Uplands News for decades. His father and grandfather, who ran the businesses before him, also attended Brynmill Primary School.

“We grew up in Uplands and used to walk through Brynmill Park to get to the school,” says Lucy. “We have really fond memories of the school, and all the teachers knew who we were because generations of the family had been there. It was a lovely school.”

Amy’s children attend The Grange Primary School and the family decided to also support Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llwynderw to help bring The Bumbles of Honeywood to a local Welsh medium school too.

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The Hole siblings have gone into each school to meet with the children, talk about their businesses and introduce the Bumbles of Honeywood programme. They have also welcomed children to their businesses so they can learn more about how restaurants are run.

“The children were great,” says Lucy. “They wanted to learn and asked a lot of good questions. They were eager to learn the skills taught by the Bumbles of Honeywood programme: to be confident, brave, kind and strong.”

She and Ryan also enjoyed being able to demonstrate that there are many different paths to forging a successful career: it doesn’t have to include going to university.

“We didn’t excel at school, but I think making pupils aware of the different routes they can take is really important,” says Lucy.

2B Enterprising founder Sue Poole, welcomes their contribution.

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“It’s really important for the children to meet and talk to homegrown talent,” she says. “Lucy and her sister and brothers are local entrepreneurs who show the children what you can achieve if you work hard and support each other.

“It’s about the support you have from your family, your community, with everybody working together, businesses will succeed.

“The Secret Hospitality Group is a young company that started off with one small restaurant in the Uplands and is now opening iconic venues right across Swansea Bay.

“It’s exciting from that perspective, and because of the history of the family, who have been entrepreneurial for probably over 100 years, I think they’re really great role models for young people.”

Lead image: Children from The Grange Primary School visit Castellamare with (L-R) Lucy Hole, The Secret Hospitality Group, Abigail Cooper, Operations Co-ordinator, 2B Enterprising, Mrs Tucker, Teaching Assistant, Ms Suff, Teacher, Mrs Minty, Year 1 & Year 2 Teacher and Mrs Griffiths, Year 1 & Year 2 Teaching Assistant.

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Technology

Duo of award wins for Swansea-headquartered Uplands Communications

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Long-established telephony and IT specialist, Uplands Communications, is celebrating a pair of wins at the prestigious Mobile News Awards 2022, where the firm was recognised in the Customer Service and the Reseller with Under 50 Employees categories. 

The firm, which has a 40-plus year history in Swansea, and opened a second office in Somerset this year, was up against some of the biggest names in the mobile industry, going head-to-head with multi billion pound network, EE, in the 5G Application category.

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Paul Hooper, Uplands MD, said: “We are delighted to come home from the Mobile News Awards with two awards and we are particularly pleased that one of these categories is for Best Customer Service.

“These past two years of global disruption for business and for consumers has taught us all how vital it is for firms of all kinds and across all sectors to provide the best quality customer care they can, in order to retain valued custom.

“A very large part of our role as telephony and IT providers is to support our customers with their communications systems, so they are easily accessible and so their interface with their customers and clients is as seamless as possible. 

“Our customers have relied particularly heavily upon us in recent years for this. We were pleased that, when awarding us in the Best B2B Reseller, the judges recognised the fact that, as a relatively small firm, we nonetheless have the expertise to serve everything from multi-million pound concerns to thriving small businesses, while maintaining the kind of small-firm ethos that sees us offer a truly tailored service.

“Being commended in the 5G category is pleasing, too, since this is a service that businesses across the board are getting to grips with and are looking to help them future-proof their operations. Again, Uplands is competing with a field of big-hitters in this field and we are proving to be a great choice to provide this service for our customers.” 

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The Mobile News Awards went ahead in London on Thursday 19 May, with 600 mobile industry guests. Uplands Communications is a leading managed services company delivering flexible voice, data and mobile communications.  

The firm specialises in independent network management and providing bespoke, converged solutions that aren’t tied to technology and supplier. 

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Blaen-y-maes

Entrepreneurs urged to attend major Swansea networking breakfast

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Entrepreneurs and budding businesspeople from Blaen-y-maes, Portmead, Penplas, and Cadle are set to get expert advice on securing “professional success and sustainability” at a major Swansea networking event next week.

The Penderi Business Breakfast, which will take place on Wednesday May 25th, is open to small business owners, and those looking to set up a business, from each of these areas collectively known as Penderi.

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Attendees to the event, which will take place at Venue no1 on Carmarthen Road from 8am, will get the opportunity to meet likeminded industry experts and receive vital industry support, information, and funding advice.

The event being run by not-for-profit housing association Pobl’s Penderi Green Regeneration project, will feature speakers from Focus Futures, Room to Grow, and Swansea Environment Centre. The regeneration project is aiming to positively transform the lives of people living in Penderi, with initiatives including regeneration of its green spaces, and supporting environmentally friendly business growth.

Advice and support around growing a more sustainable business will be discussed by speakers at the event.

Lisa Brown, Economy and Enterprise Lead at Pobl, said she was delighted to be bringing together some of Swansea’s most influential business experts with a host of exciting new entrepreneurs for this event.

She said: “We are thrilled to be hosting this major networking event, which will unite likeminded businesspeople and budding entrepreneurs from across the city.

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“We believe the event will be hugely beneficial for start-ups looking for crucial advice and support, and to enable them to make vital professional connections as they begin to navigate the business world.

“Our speakers will also be sharing vital advice on how to make your business more environmentally friendly and sustainable as it grows, which will be particularly exciting and informative for those in attendance.

“We would like to thank Focus Futures, Room to Grow, and Swansea Environment Centre for taking part in the event and for generously lending their support to the regeneration project.

“We would urge anyone who is interested in attending to register as soon as possible.”

Attendees will have access to parking and will also be treated to breakfast while they network.

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Pobl’s Penderi Green Regeneration Project aims to support local people in Penderi and transform their lives by improving green spaces, education, new and existing homes, health and wellbeing, community, economy and enterprise, and energy and decarbonisation. 

Funded by UK Government, under the Community Renewal Fund (CRF), Pobl Group is able to deliver the Project with the help of key partners, Swansea Environment Centre, Room To Grow and the Conservation Team at Swansea Council.

To register your interest in attending email Lisa Brown at lisa.brown@poblgroup.co.uk

Lead image: left to right) Councillor Andrea Lewis, Joint Deputy Leader-Cabinet Member for Climate Change & Service Transformation; Kate Tiernan, Summit Good; Mark Barber, Swansea City Council Biodiversity Officer; Kate Gibbs, Swansea Community Farm; Kate Davies, Orchard Project, Coeden Fach; Kate McCabe, Pobl. (Image: Pobl)

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