Nearly 100 business and community leaders gathered this week at Wyke Farms 100% Green Sustainable Energy Visitor Centre, at Wyke Champflower in the heart of Somerset, for a business led ‘Summit for Somerset’ to unite in a common passion for the county and learn more about plans for this year’s celebration – Somerset Day – of all that is best about Somerset, the 7th largest county in the UK.
Somerset Day, which takes place annually on 11th May is a growing force in the promotion of Somerset across the region and in its promotion to national, and increasingly international audiences. The Summit had a clear aim of exploring how the corporate and civil communities could work together to drive further engagement, collaboration and awareness over the coming months.
Speaking from the Summit, Chairman of Passion for Somerset (the not-for-profit organisation that is behind Somerset Day), Nigel Muers-Raby from Pardoes Solicitors in Taunton, made a rallying call for support for the broader promotion of Somerset across the business community, and shared some of the county’s vital statistics:
Emphasising that the county has more to offer than potentially any other in the UK he reinforced why Somerset is deserving of greater national, and indeed international, recognition:
“With an economy and manufacturing base that is predicted to generate £11bn by 2021 and showcasing the best of British in industries ranging from farming to aerodynamics and not forgetting tourism, Somerset is incredibly special. Yet it is still one of the best kept secrets in the UK. Take tourism and leisure alone, this generates over £1.3 billion a year to Somerset, along with 25 million visits annually to the county’s beautiful sites, including Cheddar Gorge, the Quantocks, the Mendips, not forgetting the cities of Wells and Bath – which remains the UK’s only UNESCO World Heritage City.
“And whilst those of us who live, work and play here already know how special the county is – we need to tell the world what Somerset has to offer and invite broader communities to share in the celebrations with us. Somerset Day is just one annual day in a much bigger journey of promotion and celebration of what the county has to offer”.
Speaking to an audience made up of a wide cross-section of the local community ranging from manufacturing industries through to farming, tourism & leisure, education and members of the WI, Michael Eavis of Worthy Farm Somerset, known to millions worldwide as the man behind Glastonbury Festival and for his unconventional entrepreneurial approach, joined the call for support for Somerset Day citing that the county breeds original thinking and fresh innovation:
“Somerset is full of non-conformists and original thinkers, it’s very anti-establishment. It has been since my family moved here over 150 years ago, has been for hundreds of years before that. There is nowhere else I could have created The Glastonbury Festival”.
Also taking to the stage was Richard Clothier, Managing Director of Wyke Farms, Hotelier Kit Chapman from the Castle Hotel at Taunton and John Turner of Visit Somerset.
Everyone present was in unanimous agreement that there was a real need for action to unite this large and disparate county and recognised the importance of civil and corporate responsibility to ensure the effective delivery of common goals for the benefit of all. Future plans include collaboration across social media campaigns, marketing output and co-ordination around celebratory events, information and publicity.
Yesterday also saw the launch of the new web site – check out www.somersetday.com or follow the hashtag on social media: #LoveSomerset. For those who like to become more directly involved, email [email protected] for further information.