The inaugural TEDxBollington event, led by Sara Knowles, took place on the 16th of June at Bollington Arts Centre. With a theme of ‘The Art of Connection’ it brought the community together, including local businesses, both on the day and in the lead up to the event. Collaboration between some of the area’s creative industries led to co-creation of a unique, inspiring event and continues to have positive impact for local businesses and the wider community. The following businesses came together in order to create awareness, provide support and cover the event: Visual Sense, Stein IAS, Embrace Marketing, Commercial Photography North West and Andrew Thorp (Speaker, Coach and Consultant).

Why is your business based in Bollington?
Andrew Greenwood (Founder and Creative Director, Visual Sense): We chose Bollington as the location for Visual Sense because it provides a wonderful balance between the wilds of the Peak District and an urban, community-focused environment. The village is a highly-creative and inspirational location, and its people are naturally positive. All these ingredients feed the studio’s success and creativity. As we say to our clients, we swapped concrete for the countryside – and it works!

Becky Reardon (Managing Director, Embrace Marketing): I’d originally worked in Bollington for three years prior to starting a business here. Bollington has an incredibly unique charm. The community feel is amazing and everyone is incredibly friendly and welcoming. It’s also a beautiful setting with stone buildings and the canal and countryside is our doorstep.

Reuben Webb (Chief Creative and Values Officer at Stein IAS): Founded in the living room of Tim and Pat Hazlehurst in Bollington in 1973, IAS (Industrial Arts Services) as it then was, has kept to its industrial roots, and now bases itself in the town’s Clarence Mill.

Why did you support TEDx?
Martin Hambleton (Commercial Photography North West): I’ve watched TED and TEDx talks online many times. You learn so much and are constantly challenged to think about subjects in a fresh and different way, that’s completely inspiring. When the opportunity arose to become involved in a live TEDx event, I was keen to join in. 

Becky Reardon (Embrace Marketing): I’m part of the Bollington Business Forum with Sara Knowles and when she asked Embrace to be the main partner for TEDxBollington we were delighted. I had seen Sara’s TEDx Talk before and I knew that she’d do a brilliant job of engaging interesting speakers and that it would bring the community together.

Andrew Thorp (Speaker, Coach and Consultant): TED has played a big part in my life for over 10 years, helping me get through a major mid-life crisis and providing a personal goal (to speak at the main TED conference by the time I was 50). I didn’t manage that but did do 3 TEDx talks, so maybe 3 small ones makes a big one!

What did you do for TEDx?
Reuben Webb (Stein IAS): Our in-house Visual Production team were onsite throughout to video the entire event and provide post-event production and editing.

Andrew Thorp (Speaker, Coach and Consultant): Starting several months before the event, I helped the speakers get ready for their big day. That was 70% working on their story and 30% their actual performance.

Martin Hambleton (Commercial Photography North West): As I said, one of the things I do well is photograph people. I’ve plenty of experience photographing events – I shoot a lot of business and educational presentations – so knew that I’d be able to create a great record of the day. Basically, I created an archive of photos of the day, from the early morning build up through to the very end. Plenty of shots of the speakers doing their thing (and they all did it so well), along with some promo stuff, shots of the local businesses that were involved on the day.

Andrew Greenwood (Visual Sense): The opportunity to create a hard-working design concept within the TED corporate framework was too good to turn down. I relished the self-imposed confines of working in purely black and red. The theme of the conference was the Art of Connection. This was the perfect starting point – ‘X marks the spot’ as the saying goes. Whilst I was a speaker, I also played a key part in branding the TEDx event – the programme, banners and animated screens.

Why is being connected to the local area important to you and your business?
Reuben Webb (Stein IAS): We believe every business, big or small, has a responsibility to play a positive, active role in its local community.

Becky Reardon (Embrace Marketing): I love our local area and the positive feel that I get from living and working here. I think it’s really important for local businesses and people to support each other. Individually and as businesses we all have different experiences and skills and it’s great to share this with each other.

Andrew Thorp (Speaker, Coach and Consultant): It always surprises people how many businesses there are in a small community like Bollington, but I do think we can do more to connect them. I support the Bollington Business Forum and run regular events to bring businesses people together in a learning forum.

What would you like to see more of in the local area to develop creativity?
Andrew Thorp (Speaker, Coach and Consultant): More ‘big ideas’ like TEDx coming to the town. And more meaningful collaboration between businesses, large and small.

Becky Reardon (Embrace Marketing): It’d be great to see TEDx take place again next year! I think any events where people share their experiences and knowledge are extremely valuable. We can learn so much creatively both from our environment and others. From our perspective when we think of creativity, we think of language, design and an approach. All these things are impacted by the environment around us and our interactions with others.

Andrew Greenwood (Visual Sense): Excellence in creative communication is not always seen as being highly-influential. However, our lives (in business and leisure) are very influenced by how things look and ‘feel’. Being aware of the power of design or creativity means that it can positively influence the present and the future. Therefore, this awareness is vital to a creative community. If the notion of ‘good design’ is promoted, then creativity will thrive as a result, and perhaps provide more opportunities for it to flourish.

Why is creative collaboration important to you?
Andrew Greenwood (Visual Sense): Quite simply, creative collaboration can be extremely powerful. With the right people, the right businesses and the right attitude – collectively – anything is possible.

Martin Hambleton (Commercial Photography North West): Because the best projects are the result of collaborative minds, not individuals. Working with other people inspires me to do better.

Reuben Webb (Stein IAS): We are a creative business and communication ideas are our product. We embrace and support creative collaboration wherever we find it, helping to spark new ideas and thinking.

View some of the outputs of the day, including the TEDxBollington gallery, videos via the website To stay informed about TEDxBollington events and news sign up to the newsletter.


Company Information
Embrace Marketing
Embrace is a boutique branding and marketing agency based in Bollington, Cheshire. Established in 2015, Embrace has expanded from its founder Becky Reardon to a team of 7 multiskilled creatives and integrated marketers. Embrace works with medium to large companies across industries and all clients have one thing in common, they want Embrace to add power to their brand and activate successful marketing strategies to support growth. Embrace has had a great start to the year, launching a new RiSE marketing model at the B2B Marketing Expo in London, MD Becky Reardon won Business Woman of the Year at The English Women’s Awards – North and overall the agency is on track to almost double its turnover compared to 2018.

Twitter: @WeAreEmbraceLtd
Facebook: @WeAreEmbraceLtd
Instagram: @weareembraceltd

Stein IAS
Stein IAS is the Post-Modern B2B Marketing Agency. We fuse award-winning creative and content experiences with advanced marketing technology to help make our clients’ brands the most important in their markets. With strategic locations across the Americas, EMEA and APAC, we work with brand leaders including ABB, ETS, HSBC, Ingredion, Marshalls, Merck, Oracle, Quotient Technology, Trelleborg Group, Tetra Pak, UL and WW (formerly Weight Watchers). We were also named 2019 “Agency of the Year” by ANA Business Marketing, as we were in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, 2011 and 2010.

Twitter: @SteinIAS
Facebook: @SteinIAS
Instagram: @steinias

Visual Sense
Visual Sense is a multi-disciplinary design studio with over 40 years’ combined industry expertise. Our considered creativity and inspiring attitude is highly-regarded by clients and colleagues alike. Whilst creating exceptional design solutions for vibrant organisations is what we aspire to, it is nothing without an even greater working partnership. This ethos underpins everything we do. We love to work with clients who embrace vision and have a genuine enthusiasm for what they do. It is fair to say that when we mix all these ingredients together along with our passionate approach to design and infectious enthusiasm, the rest comes naturally. Our considered yet aspirational solutions have successful outcomes that are measurable – online or offline – within sectors such as financial services, recruitment, independent education, healthcare, engineering and consumer retail through to charitable organisations.

Twitter: @VisualSense
Instagram: @visualsense

Martin Hambleton
A professional photographer with 15 years’ experience, Martin runs a company called Commercial Photography North West. Predominantly Martin has a knack for capturing people well – whether in a portrait or catching them ‘in action’, so spends a lot of his time doing exactly that; though he does also shoot some product, interiors and stock photos. 

Twitter: @Martinhambleton
Instagram: @martinhambleton

Andrew Thorp
Andrew Thorp is an award-winning speaker, trainer and consultant in the field of business storytelling. He works with senior leaders, sales people and other professionals to improve their communication and influencing skills. This starts with developing a stronger narrative, a story which does justice to both the individual and the organisation they represent. He helps to humanise and ‘storify’ what can otherwise be a dry, factual message, something he describes as ‘Verbal PR’. Initially working as a speaker and presentation skills trainer, Andrew moved into the storytelling arena to help business people say something more interesting about their organisation! Andrew works internationally with a range of SME’s and global corporations; his client list includes Coca-Cola, Swiss Re, PwC and the European Parliament. He is a 3-time TEDx speaker.

Twitter: @andrewthorp


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