18 July 2016
- Lambeth enterprise organisation Tree Shepherd’s Will Kerr claims Best in Show for astonishing floral arrangement
- 30 local entrepreneurs draw in the crowds with their colourful array of products
Among the Tree Shepherd entrepreneurs featured was former Claridges florist and self-made business man Will Kerr, whose outstanding display ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ claimed Best in Show in the Flower Tent.
In the middle of a blossoming career, Will suddenly found a tumour on his neck, which brought his work to a shuddering halt. After successful treatment, and suddenly finding himself unemployed, Will came across Tree Shepherd and undertook the Start Your Own Enterprise Course under the guidance of CEO Colin Crooks. Within months a pipe dream of starting his own bespoke floristry business became a reality.
On claiming the top prize Will said ‘I am blown away by how things have turned around. Tree Shepherd has supported me in this journey and made the impossible possible. The Forest Network is all about helping each other, it’s so important when you are starting out. I am thrilled to have won top prize, and it’s full steam ahead now to open my business Blooming Brixton.’
Colin Crooks, CEO of Tree Shepherd echoed this, ‘I am delighted that Will Kerr has been recognised for his fantastic talent. 6.5 million people in the UK are workless, and Tree Shepherd is all about giving local people like Will a fighting chance to develop their own businesses. Setting up a business is hard graft, and lots of hiccups are inevitable. But sharing services and mentoring each other is key to getting things off the ground, and it’s wonderful to see all the businesses here today who are doing just that. ‘
Joining Will in the tent was fellow horticulturalist Andy Crabb, whose sustainable herb growing business Rootcraft enables local residents to turn tiny courtyards and window boxes into urban oases. His backyard business has boomed so quickly since joining Tree Shepherd it is now outgrowing his garden and he is looking for rentable space in Streatham.
But it wasn’t just gardeners stealing the show. There was plenty for fashionistas also, childminder Colette Thomas from Tulse Hill discovered a passion for sewing after being bought a book by a friend, and has turned her kitchen-table past-time into viable business ‘Colster’ with the help of Tree Shepherd.
Launching her range of colourful London bags at the fair, she said, ‘With all this bad feeling around Brexit and everything else going on, I wanted to do something which was fun, and represented London. A month ago all I had was an idea. Colin is amazing at giving you the shove and reality check you need – in the nicest way. I now have a brand, a website, and I’ve sold 15 bags today! There’s nothing quite like just doing it to learning how it will turn out. Best day ever!’
Young Brit school student Amaia Naima, 16, joined Colette Thomas in the tent, with her brand Trill Vibes, which sells tie-dye T-Shirts. Tree Shepherd helped her develop a business model enabling her to get the business off the ground.
Colin Crooks said, ‘At Tree Shepherd, we have people from all walks of life, ages and stages, all with different stories and backgrounds. We have now helped over 300 people start their own business and we are very grateful to Lambeth for their continued support in helping us run our courses. Businesses take hard work and time to develop, ask anyone who has tried. The Forest Network, our mentoring and support scheme, is where we see businesses blossom, and we would love to see more investment to help more people’s dreams become a reality.’
Notes to Editors
- For more information please contact Sarah Baldwin, PR Manager for Tree Shepherd on 07776 211518, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Photos attached: Will Kerr taking being presented with prize by the Mayor of Lambeth Saleha Jaffer, Trill Vibes, Colette at her ‘Colster’ stand, the Tree Shepherd marquee. Download from here: http://bit.ly/2a21p7U Credit – Runny Custard. More photos available here:https://runnycustard.smugmug.com/Events/News-other-events/Lambeth-Country-Show-2016/i-DRx4S33/A
- About Tree Shepherd: Unemployment is also a much larger issue than is suggested by official statistics. Out of a total working age population of 40 million, over 6.5 million are workless. This includes 2 million people who want to work but are not registered as unemployed and nearly 1.5 million part-time workers who need more hours. Tree Shepherd is a social enterprise, which promotes grassroots entrepreneurship, to create local employment and tackling worklessness. Formed in 2011 by Colin Crooks, Tree Shepherd support local enterprises through training and continuous development. Its Forest Network offers a mutually beneficial peer-to-peer network for new entrepreneurs, to enable them to develop and grow their businesses. https://treeshepherd.org.uk/
- Businesses featured in the press release: bloomingbrixton.com, www.rootcraft.co.uk, @colster_bags Facebook.com/trillvibeswear