50 most influential individuals in business in Gloucestershire in 2023

Gloucestershire's thriving business community is full of inspirational and influential individuals. SoGlos teams up with WSP Solicitors and Hartpury University and Hartpury College to compile a list to showcase 50 people who's influence in 2023 made them standout names.

By Kaleigh Pritchard Emma Luther  |  Published
A team effort, and in no particular order, SoGlos lists 50 individuals who have had a significant influence on the Gloucestershire business community in 2023.

SoGlos strives to celebrate Gloucestershire's thriving business sector. With such a wealth of talent and passion, the harder we looked across the county, the greater the number of individuals we found whose actions make a positive impact.

Aiming to demonstrate the spread of talent of all ages, the diversity of sectors and types of influence, our 2023 hot list celebrates a range of inspiring individuals, in no particular order.

Leading hard-working teams; collectively they all help make Gloucestershire a fantastic place to live, work and play. 

In partnership with:

Offering A Levels, T Levels, diplomas, undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses, Hartpury University and Hartpury College's specialist 360-hectare campus is designed to equip students with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to move into a dream career. The Gloucestershire institution is among the UK's leading specialist education providers in animal, agriculture, sports, business, equine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.

Hartpury University and Hartpury College hartpury.ac.uk

WSP Solicitors is an independent legal practice, with offices in Stroud and Gloucester. The firm has been offering straightforward legal advice and support for over 260 years and provides a wide range of legal services for personal and business matters – from family law to residential and commercial conveyancing.

WSP Solicitors wspsolicitors.com

Sir David McMurtry

A globally recognised innovator in aerospace and the wider engineering field, billionaire Sir David McMurtry has a number of patents for inventions in his name — running to at least 200.

One need only look at the county-based global engineering giant that is Renishaw to see his biggest legacy (he co-invented more than 150 of the firm's products alone). McMurtry is executive chairman of the Wotton-under-Edge engineering business he co-founded with Renishaw deputy chairman, John Deer.

This year he was recognised at an international awards ceremony for his outstanding contributions to the manufacturing industry. The I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Excellence Award 2023 recognises his impact across decades of innovation and research in advanced manufacturing. 

Daniel O'Neill

When Daniel O'Neill founded kitchenware retailer ProCook as a mail order business in 1996, little did he know he would create the UK's leading direct-to-consumer specialist kitchenware brand, but he clearly saw potential and continues to realise it.

At the tail end of 2021, the business floated onto the London Stock Market and it opened its 60th UK store in November 2023.

With a turnover of £62.3 million in 2023, O’Neill’s firm flourishes from its new Gloucester headquarters which opened in 2022 as well as proudly calling itself a B Corp business. O'Neill was also on stage twice at the 2022 Gloucestershire Business Awards, winning Business Leader of the Year and Large Business of the Year.

Ruth Dooley

Ruth Dooley, a partner at leading accountants and business advisors Hazlewoods, also chaired GFirst LEP — a business-led venture created to transform Gloucestershire's local enterprise through partnerships and investment, attracting more than £113 million in funding for the county.

It's been confirmed the majority of GFirst's current staff and its initiatives and activities will transfer to Gloucestershire County Council in April 2024, after it was announced government core funding for LEPs will come to an end in March 2024.

The organisation has assisted in making significant schemes possible such as the Golden Valley Development; the creation of the super-cycleway from Cheltenham to Staverton; the opening of the Minster Exchange centre in Cheltenham and a new business park at Staverton Airport as well as a new digital skills centre at Cirencester College.

David Owen

As the long-standing chief executive officer of GFirst LEP, alongside its chairwoman Ruth Dooley, David Owen has helped galvanise both business acumen and support from some of the county’s most dynamic individuals, its local authorities and colleges.

He continues to front a team made up of mostly volunteer individuals that are members of the business community committed to and invested in helping their county thrive.

The team also helped inform the business plans written by GFirst LEP that represented a united voice, won investment cash and the ear of central government for projects transformational to Gloucestershire.

Nicola Bird

AccXel Construction Skills Accelerator Centre founder and managing director Nicola Bird is an incredibly notable figure in Gloucestershire's construction industry — no mean feat for a woman in a male-dominated sector.

Winning the Gloucestershire Business Award for New Business of the Year 2023 at a glittering ceremony in Gloucester, AccXel only officially opened in Cinderford in the Forest of Dean in 2022, but has gone from strength to strength, with its priority being the training of the county's next generation of construction talent.

Bird is part of a multi-generational construction company worth £80 million, she's also heavily involved in the Gloucestershire business community as a board member for GFirst LEP, and a committee member for the Forest Economic Partnership.

Laura Steward

Laura Steward is the executive director and part of the husband and wife team behind the fast-growing global success story that is county-based engineering firm ALS Mechatronic.

A key architect at the firm, which specialises in creating bespoke factory automation and control systems, from design to installation, she has helped oversee a business that has its sights set on reaching a £25 million turnover in the next five years. 

In October 2022, Laura and her husband Andrew took to the stage to collect the Gloucestershire Business Award for International Business of the Year 2022.

Julian Dunkerton

It’s hard to ignore the name when it comes to influential businesspeople from Gloucestershire, on the contrary, Julian Dunkerton does not feature here because of past triumphs — which include starting umpteen businesses, not least co-founding a major fashion brand, Superdry, an internationally renowned business headquartered in Cheltenham.

Rather, he features due to his re-joining of the brand's board of executives in 2019, to lead in turning the company around. It was a brave move from a man with nothing to prove, but the SuperGroup PLC’s figures for 2023 show he is winning — with The Guardian reporting latest sales of £620 million per year.

Then there is the sale of much of the Lucky Onion portfolio to pub chain Young’s, the success of No.131, Japanese-style restaurant YOKU, and the incredible Dunkertons Organic Cider Shop site, just to name a few.

Mark Hews

If we listed every Gloucestershire business that influenced its community through charitable deeds and governance, you could be reading for some time — there are so many generous firms of all sizes out there giving back.

Mark Hews is group CEO of Ecclesiastical Insurance, a Brockworth-headquartered business that does all of the above, but on a quite incredible scale.

Ecclesiastical is an insurance firm aiming to not just deliver for customers, but as a charitable trust ploughing any profit it makes into good causes in the UK and beyond. Each year, it aims to give £1 million away to a number of charities as part of its Movement for Good Awards — with the Hollie Gazzard Trust, The Orchard Trust and The Friends of Gloucestershire Cathedral all past recipients.

Dr Polly Pick

The success of the University of Gloucestershire is down to leadership — case in point, the ongoing rise of its business school, home not just of a flourishing university programme of courses, but to The Growth Hub, GFirst LEP and the incredible Start and Grow Enterprise.

Dr Polly Pick, director of business engagement for the University of Gloucestershire, has been a key figure in establishing one of the prides of the county, a business school seated within an academic institution that is effecting positive change in county firms and achieving that Holy Grail of developing talent that remains in Gloucestershire and makes the county better and stronger economically.

This is being achieved through Dr Pick's work in driving business engagement between the university and local businesses as well as building relationships with public sector organisations.

Bridget Redmond

Managing partner at Cheltenham law firm Willans, Bridget Redmond joined the team 15 years ago, now leading it in its 76th year.

From its headquarters in Imperial Square, the firm sets the bar high, but otherwise modestly and quietly goes about its business working with clients from across the globe (including international household names and Fortune 500 businesses), as well as supporting causes across Gloucestershire.

Redmond became a partner at the firm in 2004 and climbed the ladder to be appointed as a managing partner in 2016, taking over from Margaret Austen at the Legal 500 and Chambers-rated firm. This year, it partnered with Hazlewoods to make the Gloucestershire Business Awards 2023 possible.

Dale Vince

It’s hard to ignore Dale Vince; the high-profile founder of Stroud electricity company Ecotricity has made an asset of his ability to garner publicity to spread a message in favour of green power, grown a significant business, and transformed from New Age traveller to high-profile business leader.

Vince's green plans are reaching new heights, with the launch of Ecojet in July 2023 — a world-leading brand-new venture working towards zero emission flying. Hopes soared for this eco-friendly project, as Vince signed a deal for 70 hydrogen-electric aircraft engines in November 2023.

There was talk of Vince exploring the idea of selling Ecotricity, but it's since been put to rest as he remains wedded to the county, not least through his ownership of Forest Green Rovers Football Club. A club he's helped raise both the league position and profile of, with grand plans for a new all-wooden stadium at Ebley, near the M5.

Jade Holland Cooper

The chic mind behind the eponymous Holland Cooper fashion brand, her confidence in her own ability, vision and ideas saw her leave the Royal Agricultural University to pursue her dreams of owning her own label. It has proved to be the right choice again and again, and Jade Holland Cooper remains inspirational to other aspiring entrepreneurs.

Although Holland Cooper filed a cessation as a person with significant control of the business in March 2023, her influence has continued to grow. With a loyal following garnered through mastering online sales via social media, a recent highlight is securing a deal as the official fashion partner of the esteemed Cheltenham Racecourse for its 2023/24 season.

After investing in a new flagship store in her hometown of Cheltenham in 2021, turnover continues to grow as it reached a milestone of £22 million in 2022.

Matthew Burgess

Those who are familiar only with the modern Gloucestershire College are familiar with the work of principal and chief executive Matthew Burgess and his team, who picked up the baton from Greg Smith in 2013 on a mission to transform an institution crying out for investment and inspiration.

Burgess now steers a business spread over three enviable campuses, which remains ahead of the curve, not just in the county but beyond.

It was Gloucestershire College that was the first to commit attention to Gloucester Docks (then, near derelict), invest heavily in a stunning campus in Cinderford, and facilities including a cyber suite and degree-level courses in the cybersecurity field, cultivating strong links to the powerful threads that lead out of GCHQ into the cyber sector. Most recently, it has unveiled the contractor for its new multi-million-pound construction centre.

Steve Gardner-Collins

Steve Gardner-Collins's extensive CV is as long as it is varied, having held positions as chairman of MeetGloucester, president of Gloucester Chamber of Commerce and chairman of GFirst LEP, as well as group sales director at The Hatton Collection — he's now expanded to becoming a yoga teacher and an indoor cycling instructor.

Gardner-Collins’ legacy and influence stretches further and wider than even the stunning view from the gardens of Hatton Court hotel, found on the Cotswold escarpment.

Hand-picked to achieve what some thought impossible — a united body to represent the county’s mighty tourism and hospitality sector — he managed to achieve that for GFirst LEP, while also toiling through the worst of the pandemic. The birth of Visit Gloucestershire, directed and chaired by Gardner-Collins, ensured that when Covid-19 receded, there was a powerful voice ensuring that sector (worth £1 billion pre-pandemic) was heard loud and clear.

Richard Yorke

Anyone who follows the story of the cyber sector in Gloucestershire will have come across the Cheltenham cyber networking group, CyNam.

It is not just a club, but an extraordinary meeting space for firms from all over the world — more than you might initially think — and a catalyst for growth, as well as a meeting of brilliant minds.

Richard Yorke is the managing director of Cyber Cheltenham (CyNam), a network intrinsically linked to the cyber-focused workspace that is Hub8. Its regular events are informative, ingenious, educational, inspirational in terms of bringing people together, and are putting Gloucestershire well and truly on the cyber map.

Carole Bamford

Carole Bamford started Daylesford Organic more than 20 years ago and has successfully raised the profile of organic farming with the introduction of cafes and spas across London as well as the Cotswolds, where it all began. Last year Daylesford Organic turnover stood at a very healthy £49,153,094, up 15 per cent from £42,733,100 in 2021.

Over the years, she’s created a Bamford range of organic clothing and skincare with a latest turnover of £10,600,845. She also incorporated fitness hotspot, The Club by Bamford, into her lifestyle offering in April 2023 as well as snapping up four Cotswolds pubs and revamping them with her trademark Daylesford styling. The Wild Rabbit in Kingham continues to flourish, alongside the growing popularity of The Fox at Oddington which opened in 2022. The Bell at Charlbury launched in September 2023 and, her latest revamp of newly-named The Three Horseshoes near Burford was revealed in October 2023.

Her reach extends internationally with Léoube, an organic wine estate and restaurant in France, on her books as well as an empowering Indian heritage crafts charity. She’s also bought a swathe of Cotswolds cottages for holiday let makeovers and has a new education centre in the pipeline. Heritage House will open at her Kingham farm in 2024, promising a space to 'connect and create'.

Nimesh Patel

Nimesh Patel is taking the reins as group chief executive at global firm, Spirax Sarco Engineering, on Tuesday 16 January 2024, replacing Nicholas Anderson as he retires after 10 successful years in the role.

Spirax Sarco, which is headquartered in Cheltenham, is a leader in steam systems and electric thermal solutions in both commercial and industrial industries. Its last set of published accounts, for 2022, shows a turnover of an exceptionally influential £1.61 billion.

Patel will oversee the daily undertakings of the group that acts as an umbrella firm for three world-leading businesses and multiple brands, including Spirax Sarco, Gestra and Watson-Marlow. Patel brings rich experience at the heart of the organisation from his three-years as chief financial officer and membership of the board.

Professor Andy Collop

Following in the footsteps of Russell Marchant, who retired as vice chancellor and principal of Hartpury University and Hartpury College in September 2022, Professor Andy Collop hit the ground running adding new degree courses and adopting an outward facing and collaborative approach to his leadership.

More than a year on, Professor Andy Collop is continuing to make his mark at one of the county’s key anchor institutions, delivering innovations to ensure Hartpury’s profile and reputation continues to soar. There are further additions and upgrades planned for its world class facilities alongside delivering courses that are as wide ranging as postgraduate degrees to A-Levels and BTECs, in animal, agriculture, sports, business, equine, biological science and veterinary nursing.

It is also home to the outstanding Gloucester-Hartpury RFC — a collaborative venture with Gloucester Rugby, which won its first Allianz Premiere 15s tournament in 2023.

Mark Goucher

It was 2017 when producer Mark Goucher was appointed chief executive of Cheltenham's beloved Everyman Theatre, in a move we were told would lead to more productions opening in the town ahead of the West End — and it has proved the case.

Goucher’s challenge was to keep the Everyman in its position at the heart of Cheltenham and to continue delivering shows that its eclectic and loyal audience, of all ages, can enjoy. An able board of directors helps, as does running his own London-based company.

The latter has helped give him the connections and confidence to bring the likes of SIX the Musical, Leslie Joseph in Sister Act the Musical and The Great British Bake-off Musical's world premiere, to the county — ensuring the very best shows for Gloucestershire theatregoers.

Bruce Gregory

Anyone who has followed the on-going story of the cyber sector in Gloucestershire will know the name Bruce Gregory. Alongside Richard Yorke, Gregory is a co-director of CyNam as well as the managing director of the impressive Hub8 network of cyber business workplaces.

Starting in The Brewery Quarter and now including the Cheltenham campus of Gloucestershire College and the Minster Exchange, the innovative co-working spaces he's had a hand in helping to create are helping to give a platform to a cyber sector that presents as a major economic driver for the county.

In January 2023, Hub8 sold a majority stake to Plexel, an influential London-based investment firm focused on connecting smaller businesses and startups with funding opportunities, allowing for growth in a variety of industries.

Clare Marchant

Clare Marchant was appointed vice chancellor at the University of Gloucestershire in September 2023, with the goal to strengthen every aspect of the institution, placing it not just on a firm footing but on the front foot, giving it direction and purpose to make it stand out to students and businesses in Gloucestershire and beyond.

Succeeding Stephen Marston and taking charge of the projects he brought forward, such as recent steps to transform the old Debenhams in Gloucester into a brand-new campus, Marchant hopes to work to further build the university's reputation in educating students. Her aim is to enable students to pursue excellent careers to further drive skills development in the county, while attracting talent as well.

As proof, 96 per cent of graduates are in employment or further study after leaving the university and the numbers of students staying in the county are also increasing annually.

Lucy Beresford

Miles Dunkley’s Cheltenham design-led international beauty firm SLG Brands seems perpetually ahead of the curve. It was placing products it helped its clientele develop on social media via influencers and big names before it was commonplace to do so.

Lucy Beresford has been crucial in shaping the modern SLG. The University of Gloucestershire business and marketing graduate started working with the firm in 2005, becoming joint managing director in 2019. In October 2023, she was on stage at the Gloucestershire Business Awards with her co-managing director, Richard Buckland, collecting the Business Leader award.

Beresford also recently graduated from Rome Business School with a Global Masters in Business Administration — sure to add another sharp string to her managerial bow.

Sarah Travell

Sarah Travell’s story is still being written, but it's already inspirational and her impact increasingly influential. Homeless at 16, she continued to pursue her studies while working numerous jobs to enhance her skills and get back on her feet.

Today, she is a fully qualified chartered management accountant and founder and chief executive officer of Gloucestershire-based Virgate, described as an innovative ‘plug and play’ digital finance solution for multisite SMEs in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors.

This year, her staff numbers increased from 18 to 24, and turnover has doubled to more than £1.3 million in just two years.

Jason Kalwa

Thriving in the cyber hub of the UK, Jason Kalwa's cyber company Salus Cyber came to be in 2017 — using his 15 years of cyber security experience to drive the company forward, experiencing 427 per cent growth in revenue from 2019 to 2020.

A keen hirer in the cyber sector, Salus Cyber formed a relationship with the University of Gloucestershire to begin recruiting apprentices. Plus, its staff numbers grew from just seven individuals in 2021 to 20 in 2022, with the company currently advertising for new staff as we type.

Kalwa graced the stage at Gloucester Fire Station this year, collecting the Cyber Business of the Year award for Salus Cyber at the 2023 Gloucestershire Business Awards. Further adding to his influence in the town, he also sits on the board of Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce.

Clare Seed

As boss of Tidal Training Direct, Clare Seed's enthusiasm for her own business — teaching individuals, organisations and businesses about health, safety and first aid — has never been in doubt, but it is when she turned that same drive to a special project to help place 24-hour defibrillators for public use across Cheltenham that her star rose even higher.

Public Hearts Cheltenham Defibrillator Campaign was born to raise awareness of the lack of such life-saving equipment in the town. Meaningful relationships were quickly forged with members of the business community, which resulted in defibrillators being placed in 34 spots in the town to date — with the latest installed in the town centre in April 2023.

The company also took home the award for Corporate Social Responsibility at the 2022 Gloucestershire Business Awards.

Neill Ricketts

Neill Ricketts may have stepped down from the influential GFirst LEP in 2022 and resigned as CEO of graphene business Versarian in 2023, but he remains influential in the Gloucestershire community.

Ricketts continues to champion the county, in particular the Forest of Dean, towards even more success within his role as chairman of the Forest Economic Partnership.

The business organisation was launched in January 2018 to connect businesses and organisations within the public sector to the people of the Forest of Dean district, creating a united voice in the economic conversations driving the county forward.

Wayne Organ

Architectural firm Roberts Limbrick continues to change our built environment for the better, both in the county and beyond.

Anyone who saw the Commonwealth Games swimming, for example, in the summer of 2022 will have witnessed a building designed by the Gloucester firm — but its impact in Gloucestershire is striking.

Wayne Organ is the director of its commercial sector operations, mostly working on industrial projects, and has long-running relationships with people across industry, especially in Gloucestershire. Organ has led the firm’s input into projects including St Modwen Business Park (home to ProCook, Gardiner Bros, Downton), Renishaw's headquarters at Wotton-under-Edge, plus his team began work on the highly-anticipated Cotswolds Designer Outlet in October 2023 — ready for a spring 2025 opening.

Anthony Murphy

When it comes to Cheltenham's food and drink sector, a few names pop up, but perhaps none with such national notoriety as The Beefy Boys.

Anthony Murphy, affectionately known as Murf, is the CEO of the independent burger franchise that has taken the culinary world by storm — with appearances on the BBC's Saturday Kitchen, and a special one-hour programme dedicated to delving behind-the-scenes of the opening of its Cheltenham restaurant with celebrity chef, Tom Kerridge in 2023.

The Beefy Boys also won big at the National Burger Awards 2023, with Murf scooping the Burger Chef of the Year award, as well as the Burger of the Year award for his signature sandwich, The Old Boy — flipping awesome!

Sam Carter

When talking about hands-on influence in the building sector in Gloucestershire — and there are many with influence — few have quite the profile and history of EG Carter.

The Gloucester-based family business has been part of the transformational city centre The Forum development, delivered the brand-new MKM Building Supplies Gloucester branch in Quedegely, has constructed schools and so much more throughout the county.

Sam Carter and brother Joshua became joint managing directors of the business in January 2022, the fourth generation to lead the successful construction firm. Its published accounts showed a turnover of £69.4 million for the year to the end of June 2023.

Jonathan White

A native of Northern Ireland, Jonathan White came to Gloucestershire to forge a career in architecture, starting with Roberts Limbrick, before moving to Gloucester Quays headquartered Quattro Design Architects in 2019, where he is now an associate director.

Projects at the firm range from education healthcare, housing and later-living care, to defence, leisure and hospitality, commercial, mixed use and heritage.

White is also the chairman of the Constructing Excellence Gloucestershire, the sector body that exists to champion all that is good about the industry in the county, authenticate trainees in the construction sector, and encourage partnership and growth.

Eve Jardine-Young

Cheltenham educational institution, Cheltenham Ladies' College continues to raise the profile of Gloucestershire in the educational sector, with the recent announcement of it being named the Sunday Times' best independent school in the south west for 2024.

Consistently pushing for success, principal Eve Jardine-Young took on the post in September 2011 and in the decade since, has proven herself to be a role model for the young women who attend. She's held in high esteem and is regarded as highly influential to those going on to shape the future of Gloucestershire's business community.

Cheltenham Ladies' College's achievements extend to its Ofsted rating, in which it attained an excellent standard in all areas after its latest inspection in February 2023.

Philip Martin

Philip Martin worked for a number of national surveying practices in both Leeds and Birmingham and has sector-wide experience in commercial asset management, investment and development. In 2010, he jointly founded Martin Commercial Properties with his late father, Bob.

That business manages The Brewery Quarter in Cheltenham, which has transformed the town centre site into a hugely successful leisure, dining and business destination, home also to the likes of cyber-focussed workspace Hub8 and brand specialists SLG.

Martin’s focus is assisting landlords, investors and developers in maximising potential from their real estate.

Stuart Emmerson

Stuart Emmerson, director of business development at Hartpury University and Hartpury College, has forged a reputation for delivering positive partnerships.

During his time in the role, Emmerson led Hartpury's successful bid as part of a £20 million Levelling Up Fund investment, alongside a range of other commercial partnerships. A strong advocate for the county and region, he also sits on the Forest of Dean Economic Partnership board.

Drawing on more than 20 years of public, private and third sector experience, he has built a formidable team who have raised the profile of Hartpury and provide outstanding support to the businesses community — all while fast becoming one of the most connected individuals in the county.

Emily Gibbon

When she first came into the fold of Gloucester BID, the city centre business improvement district organisation, it was in rebuilding and re-shaping.

Gibbon already knew the city well and had worked on a business improvement district, Exeter’s BID, before the Gloucestershire board voted to bring her back to the county full-time and she has never looked back.

Blessed with a lack of ego, obvious passion and expansive knowledge, she has brought an energy and freshness to the role and helped represent an organisation determined to unite businesses across its patch to do only good for the city.

Heath Gunter

It was September 2021 when the board of Cheltenham BID appointed Heath Gunter as its new chief executive. It was a decision that followed the powerful business group’s successful renewal ballot earlier in July 2021, which saw town centre businesses vote for a second five-year term for the BID.

This made Gunter responsible for not just leading the work of the group championing the town centre and its businesses, but in charge of ensuring £2.8 million would be invested well in Cheltenham over the next five years.

He is proving a good fit for the role — as proven with the 2023 reveal of Cheltenham outperforming the national average for town centre occupancy.

Tim Gwilliam

As leader of the Forest of Dean District Council, Tim Gwilliam’s role since 2017 involved overall responsibility for the vision and corporate objectives of the council, a term that ran until May 2023 — he is succeeded by councillor Mark Topping for the Green Party. But Gwilliam was not just its leader, but the principal spokesperson for the local authority and its people.

Under his leadership, the Forest of Dean raised its profile as a business-friendly district. Against sometimes difficult headwinds, Gwilliam stood firm and his approach, together with his team, helped put the Forest on the agenda where decisions affecting the county are concerned and pushed the message that ‘together is stronger’.

He works within the Forest Economic Partnership and is a board member of the Dean Heritage Centre visitor attraction, too.

Ali Mawle

Those who follow the fortunes of Cheltenham Festivals closely will know just how important they are to Gloucestershire, for cultural nourishment, education and as a significant catalyst for the economy too, bringing thousands of visitors annually and inviting scores of headlines nationally and abroad. Not to mention the sheer joy they bring to thousands annually.

Mawle, now co-chief executive officer, has long been part of the management team at the business and registered charity and was part of the team that steered it clear of near financial ruin, courtesy of the Covid-19 pandemic, towards ongoing success.

Together with Ian George (see below), the pair’s experience and continuity in their roles is a huge asset.

Ian George

Ian George’s experience as part of the Cheltenham Festivals team goes back to 2005, when he joined as head of marketing, before becoming a director of its jazz festival in 2009.

He was part of the team that saw the business through the challenges of the pandemic to come out the other side with plaudits and, importantly, the festivals remained intact.

Since December 2021, he has been co-chief executive officer alongside Ali Mawle (see above), also part of the leadership team that not only survived the pandemic, but managed to turn the flagship Literature Festival into an online streaming success. 

Moreton Cullimore

Days were when Moreton Cullimore was spoken of as the successor to his father, who was the successor to his father, at the well-known and proudly Gloucestershire-based haulage and gravel extraction business, the Cullimore Group.

These days, he has as much of his own history laid down for that to be a thing of the past — though he continues a proud family legacy.

In 2021, he became the national chairman and director of the Road Haulage Association and continues to lead a business whose green trucks, each named after a Dickens character, are a regular sight on the county’s roads.

Judi Bonham

Judi Bonham, managing director of WSP Solicitors, qualified as a solicitor in 1996 and her 27 year career has been dedicated to all aspects of family law. As a member of Resolution she helps families and individuals to resolve issues constructively and as a member of the Law Society’s Children Panel she works closely with children, young people and parents. 

As managing director, she encourages everyone at WSP Solicitors to meet and exceed client expectations and deliver a first-class service for clients to best meet their needs by providing the support they need. Bonham advocates for self-development professionally and personally through mentoring, training and coaching; creating a place where colleagues can bring out the very best of themselves.

She's renowned among her clients for delivering clear, pragmatic advice, coupled with an innate ability to understand and prioritise their needs. Drawing on her extensive background in family law, she shapes Gloucestershire's legal landscape, earning respect and trust through her unwavering dedication to her clients and colleagues.

Ian Renton

With New Year's Day racing on the horizon, Ian Renton will be not just his usual busy self, but extra busy. For the last decade, he has been regional director for the south west region of The Jockey Club, which means he’s also the man in charge of the world-famous Cheltenham Racecourse.

The famous Festival in March brings an estimated 250,000 to Cheltenham Racecourse, National Hunt racing of the very highest calibre and prize money second only to the Grand National.

Its impact is felt further afield, of course, with an estimated £100 million boost to the county as a whole.

Greg Pilley

Greg Pilley is an entrepreneur, pioneer and icon for those who believe businesses can actually be kinder to the planet, fun, imaginative, community-focused and successful to boot.

Pilley, who in now distant days worked for the Soil Association, started Stroud Brewery before micro-breweries were considered a sensible career move, stubbornly raising the flag from day one for what he believed was ethical and environmentally sound.

Customer loyalty, community support through the pandemic and respect speak volumes for what his team is achieving — including TV features, an official B Corp certification and the Gloucestershire Business Award for Green Business of the Year 2023.

Martin St Quinton

In an era when the stability of the financial situation at rugby union clubs nationwide is under scrutiny, St Quinton’s commitment and steady hand is reassuring for all who hold the Gloucester club dear.

Reported to have a net worth of around £20 million, his influence also extends to South Africa, where his support for a children’s home gives vulnerable youngsters a solid foundation in education.

Closer to home, he is also chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, which he helped guide through the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic and which, like Gloucester Rugby, lifts the hearts of thousands.

Adam Vines

Adam Vines' day-job is running his business, Lounge Design. A member of the Cirencester Chamber of Commerce committee since 2013, he became its president in 2021 and launched Together Gloucestershire in March 2022.

Together Gloucestershire, is working hard to establish a better awareness of how big companies can do business with the many small and medium-sized firms across Gloucestershire with project partners including St James’s Place, Publica, Renishaw, Spirax Sarco and Gloucestershire Constabulary as well as Gloucestershire County Council, Cheltenham Brough Council and Cotswold District Council.

Vines also prides himself on working as director and trustee of Age UK Gloucestershire as well as chief operating officer of Join in China — a multi-service agency formed to help UK businesses crack the thriving Chinese market.

Roger Workman

Started in 1938 by Harry Workman with a single Morris 8 van, Cotteswold Dairy has been a constant in Tewkesbury ever since and today processes more than 100 million litres of milk each year.

It employs 400-plus staff and is a bastion of a farming and agricultural sector it describes as a community, and one it defends through a passion for what it does.

Joining the business in 1962, and at the helm of the firm started by his father since 1982, Roger Workman has been quietly making sure all of the above continues, driving success.

Mark Price

Many business-related building projects have caught the eye this year, not least the considerable ongoing transformational investment at Hartpury College and Hartpury University, Gloucestershire Airport and Cotteswold Dairy.

Significant for all of them is the need for each to continue to operate in a ‘business as usual’ manner, while the perceived chaos of a major building project continues around them.

Managing that complex game of chess for all of the above with a steady hand, is Mark Price and the team at Vitruvius Management Services.

Sara Jayne-Watkins

Former Newent Community School pupil and a graduate of the University of Gloucestershire in countryside planning, Sara-Jane Watkins was appointed principal of the South Gloucestershire and Stroud College in September 2015.

In that time, the college has continued to go from strength the strength, opening its SGS Berkeley Green UTC in September 2017, part of SGS Academy Trust and specialising in engineering, cybersecurity and digital technologies.

It also majors in apprenticeships, having trained more than 1,000 in 2022, and recently invested £500,000 in a new construction skills centre, too.

Adam Henson

If influential came down to simply how many followers you have on social media and this list was in any kind of order, Adam Henson would be near the top, with 74,600 Instagram followers.

Henson has not sat back and basked in the profile he has developed as a presenter of television’s Countryfile, he has used it to help enhance and drive forward the work started by his father at the Guiting Power Farm.

He is a vocal champion of farming, the countryside and agriculture and its value to Britain, and together with his team has created a family attraction that sets standards, fascinates young and old alike and enhances life in Gloucestershire.

Michael Etheridge

An influential figure in the Forest of Dean community, Michael Etheridge is a name familiar to locals from Newent to Tidenham.

Having founded Mike Etheridge Construction Ltd in 1982 as a sole trader, the company continues to deliver residential, commercial, industrial and educational projects across the Forest of Dean and has gone from strength to strength, turning over £15 million annually according to accounts up to December 2022.

Further strengthening his business portfolio in the district, Etheridge purchased Forest Hills Golf Club in May 2021, hoping to turn the popular club around with a complete refurbishment of the beloved facilities that were in need of some TLC — while also boosting jobs for local people, with staff numbers rising from 24 in 2021 to 31 in 2023.

Warren Thomas

If you work in engineering, especially if you run a business committed to training (think giants like aerospace firm Safran and engineering giant Renishaw, to umpteen SMEs in the county), the name Gloucestershire Engineering Training (GET) will not just mean something, but be on speed dial.

Leading the Gloucester-based centre and its able team is Warren Thomas, operations director for GET from December 2017 to September 2021, when he became chief executive.

It currently has 50 staff and an estimated 128 Level 3 apprentices, almost 40 Level 4 apprentices and 50 to 60 higher education learners who started in September 2023.

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