Don’t make the mistake of thinking talent, creativity, excitement and sex are just in the city. They’re in the Cotswolds too.
In March this year, BBC journalist Evan Davis reported on the growing economic gap between London and the rest of the UK. His programme, ‘Mind the Gap’ reported that London is sucking talent from across the regions and using it to accelerate away from the rest of the country.
However, in the Cotswolds this trend had already been spotted and one man, Oli Christie, founder and owner of Cirencester-based mobile games development business Neon Play, which won a Queen’s Award in 2013, was determined to do something about it.
“Viewed from our towns and cities, this area isn’t exactly known for its technical talent and I was finding it difficult to attract the skilled people I need to maintain the fast growth of my business,” he said.
“The thing is, these urbanites are blinkered. There are some amazing companies, people, venues and events here – it’s just that no one seemed to be coordinating the message and promoting this area’s true personality to the wider world. There is too little joined-up thinking going on.”
Oli found a supporter in Nicky Godding, Business Editor of Cotswold Life who was hearing the same complaint from other senior executives across the region.
“Pretty much every technology, manufacturing and creative company I talk to is worried about a lack of skills,” she said. “However, when skilled staff do relocate, they are blown away by the higher quality of life they can enjoy. Oli, who moved here from London, and his team are the proof and I’ve written about dozens of exciting start-up, small and medium sized businesses, as well as the big boys in Cotswold Life’s business supplement and the message is the same: The Cotswolds is a cool place to live and work.”
And so Rock the Cotswolds was born.
The Rock the Cotswolds campaign is dedicated to challenging conventions, opening eyes and rocking the boat, at home and abroad, that The Cotswolds is a fantastic place to live, work and play, and isn’t populated entirely by the retired wealthy and red-trousered estate agents.
“Yes, the Cotswolds is full of honey-coloured houses sitting in picture-postcard villages, and tourists love our Roman history. We’ve also got the finest racing at Cheltenham Racecourse. We know that, and that’s great,” said Oli. “But there are companies here creating, designing and selling in some of the hottest global industries. There are hotels and restaurants that would make London blush. There are fashion labels that rock the world. And global superstars who call the Cotswolds home.”
Over the last few months The Rock the Cotswolds team has been calling in nominations for companies, people, venues and events that people wouldn’t necessarily think were located in the area.
From over 300 nominations, the Rock the Cotswolds team selected 75 people, businesses, events and venues that show how the Cotswolds rocks.
And on 6 June, at the stunning setting of Blackfriars’ Priory in Gloucester, the team is throwing a huge party to celebrate alongside 250 guests, including celebrities and the 2014 Rockers.
And next year they’ll be doing it all again.
“I passionately believe that if we show what’s really going on here, more skilled people will realise that life doesn’t stop at the M4’s Heston Services,” said Oli. “We want people in London, Birmingham, Bristol, New York, Shanghai.. to hear about Rock the Cotswolds and visit www.rockthecotswolds.com. We want them to realise how much is going on. They can move here, get a fantastic job, start a company,” he added.
Now the Rock the Cotswolds team is calling for wide support. “It will take a groundswell of positive vibes, social networking and word of mouth chit-chat to keep this going,” added Oli.
The three-man team behind Rock the Cotswolds, which includes Oli, Nicky and Melissa Ormiston, are not paid and all have day jobs. “We’re doing this because we’re passionate about the area and its potential over anywhere else in the world,” said Oli. “And we’d love Evan Davis to come down here to prove it to him.”
Visit www.rockthecotswolds.com to discover the 75 Rockers.
Follow the campaign: @rockthecotswold
Talk about the campaign: #cotsrocks
Pictured: Oli Christie Founder of Neon Play.