21 February 2019

As International Women’s Day approaches, Coast to Capital profiles two women who have gained business investment and success through the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and pays tribute to Amanda Geel, who sadly lost her battle with cancer on New Year’s Eve


Ridgeview Winemakers

Awarded a Coast to Capital Regional Growth Fund grant of £29,089


Tamara Roberts joined Ridgeview, the family’s English sparkling wine making business, as General Manager and became CEO in 2014. Tamara has overseen growth from the original 25k bottles per annum to 300k bottles and is currently managing the next growth phase which will see production reaching 600k by 2020. This expansion at Ridgeview has been supported by two Coast to Capital grants; in 2014 towards the purchase of a new bottling line to increase capacity and in 2016 assisting the renovation of their new Head Office.


2018 has been a fantastic year for Ridgeview as they continue amazing international success, culminating in being awarded “Winemaker of the Year” in the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition 2018. This is on the back of Ridgeview’s biggest and best ever harvest. As a reward for Tamara’s tireless efforts at Ridgeview and the wider business community she was awarded joint winner of ‘International Business Woman of the Year’, at the Sussex Business Women in Excellence Awards.


Janina Cooper - The Base Skate Park

Awarded a Coast to Capital Regional Growth Fund grant of £36,767


“In 2013, I was working for Sussex Police, and after 10 years, was starting to get itchy feet, and starting to feel lost. I had had my two boys and a fabulous husband who had his own career.  My boys had started scooting and I was spending a lot of time at the local outdoor skateparks. I witnessed a number of serious accidents, with no first aid equipment on site, I felt helpless. I soon came to realise that the weather also played a major part in whether children could ride or not.  A spark lit inside me and a vision and dream was born.


After being up most of the night with the thoughts of building my own Skatepark, I presented my revelation to my boys over breakfast. Slightly shell shocked and wondering if mummy had completely lost her mind, it was met with enthusiasm and wonder. A frantic discussion took place, over where, how and more importantly why! I used the boys for inspiration and by the time breakfast was over we had our name and brand colours.


The next 364 days was spent organising the planning application, meeting local councillors, getting 1,000 people to sign a petition, taking a £40,000 loan on my house, raising money, finalising Skatepark designs and most important of all writing funding applications. The biggest one by far was for Coast to Capital. A lovely lady called Amanda Geel, took me through the form, and that constant help and support was invaluable to me as I had never written anything like that before. The £36,000 which we received was amazing and made a huge difference to the start-up of the business.


We opened in 2014 and have had over 100,000 people ride the park. We have won two national awards and three regional awards. We have bred the World Scooter Champion and regularly have world class riders visit us. We have worked with most of the schools in the local area and we are incredibly proud of our facility, community and the team who run it.”


Coast to Capital Board Profile: Julie Kapsalis


The Base and Ridgeview were both awarded their grants at a Coast to Capital Business Grants panel that was chaired by Coast to Capital Board Member, Julie Kapsalis. Julie is passionate about supporting small business growth and championing women’s enterprise. Here we find out a little more about her role at Coast to Capital.


Julie has been a Board Member at Coast to Capital since 2013 and has a portfolio of Board roles including the Institute of Economic Development, Gatwick Diamond Business and is Chair of Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Julie has worked in leadership roles across the public and private sector and is currently Managing Director at Chichester College Group – the largest training provider in Sussex which supports over 25,000 learners each year


1)  Why did you get involved in Coast to Capital?


I spent many years working in economic development and particularly enjoy facilitating opportunities that bring together the public and private sector to enable regeneration and business growth. I had previously worked as a Director at a Regional Development Agency and was keen to support the Local Enterprise Partnership as it took over the strategic leadership for a number of areas I had previously worked on. I also knew a number of the Board Members and was impressed by the calibre and impact that they were having – so I applied and was delighted to be appointed.


2)  What have you enjoyed most during your time as a Board member?


I particularly enjoy chairing the Business Grants panel. We have invested in some amazing companies in the region – like Ridgeview and The Base. It gives me huge satisfaction to see how these grants make a difference in supporting local businesses to grow and create jobs for the local economy. I always smile when I go to my local brewery as their growth has been enabled by the LEP – that feels great – and their beer tastes great too. I am also very proud of our new Strategic Economic Plan (Gatwick 360) – I think this sets out the challenges and opportunities for our region over the next ten years and I am excited about our role in being a catalyst for growth.


3)  Why is diversity so important to deliver Coast to Capital’s vision?


Our region is diverse – so I believe that Coast to Capital must reflect and celebrate this diversity – from the make-up of our Board and staff to our values and the way we engage with businesses and stakeholders. Diversity fosters growth and innovation and is integral to the delivery of our strategy.


Amanda Geel Tribute


"It was with very great sadness that I heard of Amanda's passing on New Year’s Eve. I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Amanda for a number of years. She was passionate about her work and showed extraordinary commitment to supporting businesses. Many, many businesses in the South East have been impacted by Amanda’s advice, guidance and support in accessing funding. She was wise, kind, caring and great fun to work with - I will miss her."Julie Kapsalis, Coast to Capital


"Amanda was a big part of the Sussex business community. She joined the Coast to Capital Growth Hub service in September 2016 initially as a Business Adviser in the West Sussex and rural areas, assisting growing companies access finance and achieve their growth aspirations.

Amanda had a wealth of business support experience and held various senior management and advisory roles. Amanda had previously worked for the Green Growth Platform and also as a Business Development Adviser for the Coast to Capital Growth Grants at the University of Chichester. She built an excellent reputation in business support over the past 15 years and was very well connected and regarded in the South East. Her knowledge and experience of the local business environment was far reaching, having held Senior Management and Business Advisory roles at Business Link, University of Chichester and the Innovation & Growth team, as well as Director positions at Surrey and Adur Enterprise Gateways.


Amanda took on the role of Growth Grants Manager in November 2017 to lead on the development of the grants programme that had been brought back in house to be delivered directly by Coast to Capital. She was a real specialist in helping growth companies access funding to support their innovation and growth, and achieved a 96% success rate helping businesses prepare for grant applications – for which she was rightly proud. Our condolences go out to all of Amanda’s loved ones and those close to her."  - Malcolm Brabon, Coast to Capital

There will be a number of opportunities to join the Coast to Capital Board in 2019 including as our Vice Chairman.  If you are interested in finding out more about getting involved in the work of Coast to Capital as a Board member or supporting the delivery of our strategy please contact Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs Katie.Nurcombe@coast2capital.org.uk.

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