Samphire Club founder, John Harvey reflects on Samphire’s 2018 and offers a sneak preview of what you can expect to see in 2019:
Membership was up by over 55% in 2018 and with this growth spread evenly across the whole of the South West region, the original objective of the Club – to build closer ties between individuals and organisations across county borders, beyond city limits and the constraints of more traditional networking associations – is definitely being realised.
It’s great to see so many members embracing this ethos of collaboration and knowledge sharing by travelling to events across the South West, requesting introductions and referring potential new members who they think could benefit from becoming part of our tribe. We’ve seen members win awards, receive national recognition and come together to do business that has generated significant returns. Many have reported back to me that coming across another Samphire member is a byword for quality – you just know you’re going to get on!
I’m very aware that members in my original ‘stronghold’ and home county of Cornwall, feel that perhaps this year, I haven’t been as active in the shire as they would have liked. This has been because I needed to build and strengthen Samphire ties in Devon and Bristol, all the better to deliver on the Club’s raison d’être.
One of the things I’m really looking forward to in 2019 is being able to take a more balanced approach with events spread evenly across the region.
So what does the 30,000 or so miles I’ve travelled over the past 12 months mean?
We’ve grown – 60 new Individual and 20 new Corporate Members.
We’ve built – strong Samphire communities in Exeter and Bristol while consolidating our bases in and around Plymouth and Cornwall, and making valuable new connections in Taunton and Bath.
We’ve collaborated – establishing links with complementary organisations that share our ethos, including the Exeter PA Group, The Cream Tea Club and The PI Society as well as ATI in Cornwall and the South West Business Council.
We’ve launched – The Samphire Club Property Group which met regularly at lunches held throughout the region, The Samphire Dining Club and The Samphire Golf Day – all of which will be featuring in our 2019 calendar.
We’ve published – the fourth edition of The Samphire Club magazine.
We’ve raised our profile – by taking tables and sponsoring Awards and Charity Dinners throughout the region. Opening up our tables to members and guests has proved very popular and we look forward to doing more of this next year (look out for advance notices in our newsletter). I’ve been featured, talking about the Club, in Exeter’s Grow magazine, been interviewed for Exeter Real (available on YouTube) and nominated for Networker of the Year at the South West Business Awards being held early next year.
We’ve discovered – a host of networking opportunities in Taunton and Bristol and some fabulous new venues to work with in 2019.
And we’ve enjoyed some fabulous hospitality at (in no particular order): The Greenbank and Alverton Hotels, The Headland Hotel, Fig Café, Pentillie Castle, Boringdon Hotel and Gaia Spa, Bovey Castle, Hotel du Vin – Exeter, Deer Park Country House, The Avon Gorge Hotel, The Hyde Group – Bristol and The Albion Pub.
Looking to 2019
Next year promises more events at outstanding venues and many fun shared experiences.
We’re looking forward to wine tastings in collaboration with Exeter’s Brickhouse Vineyard and Padstow-based Cornish Wine Tours, and cooking events with Philleigh Way and Exeter Cookery Schools. The Padstow Sea Safari will return by popular demand this summer and before that of course, there’s all the excitement of a day at the races with the Samphire Race Day in Exeter in February. There are also plans afoot for a special Samphire trip to Roscoff with our pals at Brittany Ferries.
Membership will remain by invitation only and, in revamping the various packages available, we’ll be introducing both Members’ Referral and Members’ Reward schemes. The latter will mean that you get to benefit from special rates at our preferred venues and when working with our Partners.
So, as we wind down for another year, all that remains to be said is, thank you very much for your support and loyalty this year: For travelling, for joining us at our events and for joining in on social media; for commenting and contributing to our continued development and of course, for networking, the Samphire way.
Best wishes for a fabulous Christmas and a very Happy New Year.