YTKO wins Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2022

YTKO has been honoured with a 2022 Queen’s Award for Enterprise, one of only 226 organisations to be recognised nationally.

The awards celebrate the success of exciting, innovative businesses which are leading the way with pioneering products or services, delivering impressive social mobility programmes or showing their commitment to excellent sustainable development practices. 

Announced today (Thursday 21 April), YTKO has been recognised for its excellence in promoting opportunity through social mobility, winning one of only nine awards in this category for 2022.

YTKO’s 100+ team is led by CEO, Bev Hurley, CBE, who has previously won the Queen’s Individual Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2010, and is the current Chair of the Institute of Economic Development.

“Being honoured with the Queen’s Award is a wonderful recognition of the work and the impact that the whole team has achieved,” says Bev. “Everything we do is all about making a tangible, positive impact, changing the life chances of individuals, measurably transforming and accelerating business success, and contributing to the economy and the communities in which our business operates”. 

YTKO has helped entrepreneurs start, sustain and scale their businesses for over 40 years, through both strategic consultancy and hands-on operational support over the full lifecycle.  A relentless focus on creating measurable results has contributed to economic and social prosperity by generating wealth and jobs.

An independent evaluation of YTKO’s Social Mission concluded that over a 15 year period, covering recession, austerity, Brexit and Covid, YTKO helped nearly 31,000 entrepreneurs, and over 22,500 growing businesses.  This work, including the raising of £73m in finance, enabled the creation of over 10,300 new jobs and a conservative estimate of £691 million GVA for the economy. 

For new entrepreneurs, YTKO’s Outset service combines personal and business skills development, and focuses on the critical success factors for sustainable enterprise. Many of the entrepreneurs supported are from deprived areas and disadvantaged backgrounds – those most in need of effective support under the Levelling Up agenda.

YTKO are delivering the three of the UK Governments’ new Community Renewal Fund pilot programmes working with the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority, Devon County Council and Portsmouth City Council, in their respective regions.  These “Start and Grow” programmes help new entrepreneurs and early-stage small businesses get on track for success.

Bev says Economic growth must be really inclusive, otherwise the Levelling Up agenda will fail to make a difference to our left behind or underperforming communities.  Our track record proves that financial and social exclusion can be overcome.  We’re so proud that not only does the 3-year survival rate of our clients’ businesses outstrip the UK average, but that over half of them are women – and we support BaME businesses at 4x the average.”

For YTKO, it’s not just about starting and sustaining, but ensuring that existing companies achieve their full growth potential, which is why they deploy a suite of services tailored for every stage of the business lifecycle.  YTKO’s GetSet for Growth and GetSet Accelerate services are designed specifically to help small SMEs grow, and high growth scale-ups to accelerate their growth.  Through GetSet, we provide SMEs with professional 1:1 coaching and consultancy to help them overcome their growth challenges, masterclasses, mentoring, peer support, connections, grants and equity.   We provide high growth businesses what they need in order to scale and create sustainable, high quality jobs for their local economies.

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Nina Squire – The Pastel Artist

When the pandemic hit, pastel artist Nina Squire, from Blandford, knew she’d have to change her way of working and fast – suddenly the professional artist of 20 years couldn’t go to the shows she loved so much, meaning less commission work, so she pivoted her business to go online.

She said: “Suddenly everything changed, and I had to quickly learn lots of new technology fast. Luckily, I think we were all learning at that point, so everyone understood if there was a technical issue.”

Nina was accepted as an Associate Artist with Unison Colour, a UK-based handmade pastel producer, during Lockdown One. This led to her workshops being given a global platform. She will soon be travelling to London to represent Unison Colour as part of a series of videos on art techniques for a series of ‘in conversation with’ workshops with Jackson’s Art.

Stuck inside during Lockdown One, Nina started streaming live draw-alongs, where she would draw her favourite views, so that people could join her and draw with her. The idea was so popular that Nina has been able to pivot her business and now has a thriving community of budding artists from across the world.

She said: “It’s been wonderful to see this community develop and watch their amazing art works come to life. It has been brilliant to bring a bit of joy to people’s lives throughout the past year. Lots of people have said how much they enjoy my workshops each week. It’s given people a bit of escapism – it’s a lovely activity to get lost in for a few hours”

With all the new skills she had to learn and needing to suddenly restructure her work and have a shop on her website, Nina reached out to Get Set for Growth East Dorset for help and advice. Through one-to-one mentoring Nina was able to get help and advice about how best to change her website so that she could use it to sell her art courses through.

She said: “It was really helpful, having someone else to listen, bounce ideas off and get advice from has been brilliant. It gives you a different perspective and that’s what you need.”

Whereas before Nina would teach 15 people in a village hall in Wimborne, now she regularly teaches hundreds online from as far away as New Zealand, California and Australia. She also has regulars from Dorset joining in or watching back later. She said: “I think people love the convenience of being able to do art from the comfort of their home at a time that suits them. I love to see everyone’s work in the community group.”

For more information about Nina’s workshops visit For more information, free mentoring, workshops and events, visit

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Julia Sheppard – Jazz Jurassica

Jazz Jurassica founder Julie Sheppard. Please credit: Julie Sheppard and Jazz Jurassica.

Mentoring through GetSet for Growth helped festival organiser Julie Sheppard to find clarity and see her business from a fresh perspective.

Julie, is the founder of Jazz Jurassica in Lyme Regis. This year’s event was the first music festival in front of a live audience to be put on in the UK following Covid. An incredible feat that Julie puts down to not having big financial investments to pay. Even as she had to cancel 2020’s festival, Julie was thinking about how to make 2021 socially distanced and Covid secure.

Julie worked with mentor Sarah Veakins from the GetSet for Growth East Dorset programme, which offers businesses looking to grow, 12 hours of free 1:1 mentoring and advice, as well as workshops and events. The programme is part of the Dorset Growth Partnership and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Julie said: “I work on my own, and I work well on my own, but actually as the festival got bigger and with Covid to deal with I thought; ‘It is a lot of responsibility for one unpaid volunteer to take on – I could do with a bit of support.’ I think it’s important to have someone to bounce ideas off and provide perspective. Mentoring helped me see through the other end of the telescope – it gave me another perspective.”

This is just one example of over 22,500 businesses that have been assisted by YTKO’s services since 2006.  According to an independent impact assessment commissioned in 2020, YTKO’s support has enabled the creation of 6,574 businesses, over 10,500 sustainable new jobs and an estimated £2.61bn in sales income.  The businesses that have received support in that time, have also been proved to be fitter and better funded with over 76% of new firms surviving more than three years and having raised around £71.3m of growth finance.

For free help to grow your business, visit  For more information about Jazz Jurassica visit

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Tom Kennedy – The Crop

When Tom Kennedy and his family moved to Bournemouth last year, they didn’t know anyone. Thanks to GetSet for Growth East Dorset Tom was able to meet other business owners and entrepreneurs.

He said the support from the business development service had been invaluable when relocating his business. Tom, 36, owns and runs The Crop, a collective of talented freelancers and creatives who come together, like “The A Team”, to take on a variety of projects. Their projects have included work for Adidas, Nintendo and Bombay Sapphire. Tom originally set up the company in London about four years ago. Last November he moved with his wife and daughter to Pokesdown in Bournemouth.

Tom Kennedy

Tom connected with GetSet East Dorset to find out more about the business community. He said: “Sarah and the team have given me a great grounding in the area and helped me meet people in the business community through their workshops and events. They have given me solid advice and it’s great to be able to talk through ideas face-to-face. They are a great sounding board and a fantastic resource.”

The GetSet for Growth East Dorset programme offers businesses looking to grow, 12 hours of free 1:1 mentoring and advice, as well as workshops and events. The programme is part of the Dorset Growth Partnership and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Tom added that Bournemouth was a great location for creatives. He said: “I see Bournemouth as a really exciting place to be over the next 20 years – it’s going to be really interesting to see how the town develops. There are so many opportunities for people to be out of London but still doing really interesting projects.”

Originally from Bristol, Tom moved to Australia at 11 – as his parents are both Australian. He then returned to the UK for university, before moving back to Sydney for five years. He said his plan had always been to live outside London with his family and they had fallen in love with Dorset.

This is just one example of over 22,500 businesses that have been assisted by YTKO’s services since 2006.  According to an independent impact assessment commissioned in 2020, YTKO’s support has enabled the creation of 6,574 businesses, over 10,500 sustainable new jobs and an estimated £2.61bn in sales income.  The businesses that have received support in that time, have also been proved to be fitter and better funded with over 76% of new firms surviving more than three years and having raised around £71.3m of growth finance.

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Food for Thought Cookery School

We spoke to Louise Jones, Founder of ‘Food for Thought’ a home-based cookery school in Dorset. She is on a personal mission to help inspire people to make and eat healthier choices.  A qualified nutritionist, she knows the power of positive food choices particularly given her own personal struggles with anemia. Having previously experienced the pressures of the corporate world too, she decided to pull back and strike out on a different path as the time felt right to build her own business around her passion for food. Her cookery school has been trading for just over a year and she has also created a range of sweet treats including a recipe for healthy chocolate!

Louise says: I can’t speak highly enough of GetSet. Having someone else looking at your business who is not close to you, is fantastic.  Asking the ‘why’, is really powerful”. Regular mentoring with the team helped to accelerate her decision making.   A considered review of The Food for Thought website generated more focused content and tangible results, with class bookings up already this year.  The GetSet workshop support helped build her knowledge and confidence as well, with the suite of training being a valuable resource from which to develop a plan of action for building awareness of the cookery school and an engaged client community.

Working with the GetSet team, Louise now has a clearer idea of her target customers – primarily female foodies with health as their key motivator, they are seeking more confidence in their cooking skills.  This knowledge is helping her to develop new class offerings and generate more repeat business with a healthy pudding club being one of the new tasty offerings for the Autumn.

The future is looking bright at ‘Food for Thought’.  So much so, that Louise has taken the plunge and given up her part time job to be able to focus on the business full time.  She was a finalist in the ‘Successful Women in Business’ awards and is committed to helping and inspiring more people to make healthier cooking choices.   She intends to explore a wider range of formats for delivering her passion and will inevitably be having lots of fun along the way!

Commenting on her journey so far, Louise has some sound advice for other budding entrepreneurs:


Go and see GetSet for Growth”! Find your passion and be fully committed as it will take over your life.  Realise that you will not make much money initially, put the groundwork in by way of personal investment of time and energy and you will reap the rewards in the future


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Faithworks – Help and Hope for those in Need

We spoke to Ruth Argles, Communications Lead at Faithworks in Bournemouth.

Running for 15 years, Faithworks is a not for profit, independent charity solely focused on helping people get out of crisis and isolation, giving them renewed hope for a more positive future.

The small team supports a wide range of initiatives locally and is currently involved in 14 wide-ranging projects across the region, including Food Banks, befriending carers, debt advice, homelessness and helping single parents. Building on their existing links with Christian churches, there is considerable scope to build wider regional awareness and understanding around the charity’s aims and good works.   Having a strong volunteer network and communicating tangible results is also essential for future-proofing their future growth.

Ruth discovered the GetSet service online and was impressed not only by the range of content but by the ease of accessing the quality resources locally.  Keen to build her skills and communications confidence she has taken full advantage of the range of support this year including workshop training and 1:1 mentoring.   As a small charity with minimal marketing investment, she now feels better equipped and ready to explore the potential of social marketing and blog content too in order to build the wider Faithworks community of interest.

She says: It’s a great resource, a blessing that it is funded with mentoring support where needed.  There is a real energy with GetSet and wonderful to be able to absorb it”.

Ruth and the Faithworks team are now looking ahead with a renewed sense of purpose and keen to make further investment in digital channels to help them get their name and work in front of more and more people including funders.

Ruth says to other charities considering the value of the service:

I would definitely encourage them to contact GetSet – it will encourage them that they are not on their own.  It’s fully funded, with in depth training and very flexible to the needs of the individual.”

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Brush-Baby Gets Set for Global Growth


Brush-Baby started out as an idea of founder and mother Dominique Tillen to help address dental decay, one of the world’s most preventable diseases, through enabling parents to help children take care of their teeth – even before they have them!

Over 500 children are hospitalised each week for dental extractions, and a third of primary school children have some form of dental decay. Dominique devised a range of products, including tastebud-friendly toothpastes, easy-grip Silicone Chewable Teether/Toothbrushes and Mini Electric Toothbrushes, helping parents establish a routine for children to transition through, once their behavioural skills and manual dexterity skills have developed sufficiently.

Having grown a very successful UK business, with Brush-Baby products in the major supermarkets, John Lewis, Mothercare, Superdrug and JoJo Maman Bebe, and a trade line through dental surgeries and distributors in 22 countries, Dominique was facing many of the challenges of growth.

Like many manufacturing and distribution businesses, long lead times from manufacture to payment was impacting on cashflow, the lifeblood of any business. And after 8 years, it was also time to take the next big step, with outside, impartial and experienced support to help prepare the business and its founder to grow to international level.

As Dominique says: “as a business owner, you’re not only a manager of products, money, people and ideas, and trying to stay one step ahead of the game, so ambition and ideas can often get lost. I was getting bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae of the running of the business”. 

Dominique worked with GetSet Solent for three months. During this time, they helped her secure a £1m financing facility, revisited and structured her business plan with dates, responsibilities and measurable outcomes, and assisting her with her new marketing strategy. A monthly coaching session with their marketing advisor designed to stop, step back, and work on the bigger picture helped ensure Brush-Baby stayed on track with its plans for growth.

An additional salesperson was recruited, the business moved from reactive to proactive, together with new marketing activity to achieve the targets in the business plan. A great foundation from which to achieve Brush-Baby’s goal to be the ‘go to’ name in dental care products, and a game changer in dental health.

Dominique concludes: “I would highly recommend any business owner to use GetSet for Growth – it’s one of the best Government initiatives that I have ever found. The business advisers have gained knowledge of various industries and bring a wealth of experience to their roles.” 

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Dorset Marine Training

Speaking with Sarah from Dorset Marine Training (, its clear how passionate she is about boating.

She has always loved being on the water, starting boating when she was just 6 years old. The mantra of the company is that they want to enjoy being out on the water and to enable other people to enjoy being there too.

Sarah and her life and business partner, Dom Coleman, both became watersports instructors working freelance, and then decided to start their own business. They established Dorset Marine Training in Spring 2017.

“Our aim is to make people love being out on the water as much as we do!” said Sarah, Co-founder.

They train people to drive powerboats or motorboats, and they also teach the full range of supporting courses, e.g. navigation, online courses required for licenses or commercial qualifications, marine radio (VHF). Their practical training can take place on their clients’ own boats, or they offer training on Dorset Marine Training boats, and the training is great for complete beginners, those looking to upskill or those just looking to hire in the future.

They already have a wide variety of clients. They include people with their own boat who are new to boating and might need help in first navigating the harbour and learning about boat safety. They will often take out the client’s whole crew or family for this. They may also work with people wishing to work towards becoming instructors or working commercially on the water. Other clients might be people who have had their confidence shaken a little bit, and they need some training and help in getting to love the boat again or those who upsized their boat. Others will train on the centre’s boats and may be new to the water, thinking of buying a boat or want a formal qualification. The majority of their customers are leisure boaters but there is a mix of commercial clients too.

Some want a certificate and some just want to improve their confidence, so before any training starts, they find out the specifics of what the individual wants to achieve and then customise their training to the client’s individual needs.

On the water as well as ashore they offer practical RYA courses so that their clients can achieve a certificate as well as bespoke training. Many people are looking to hire boats abroad and to do so they now need an International Certificate of Competency.

GetSet provided the marketing and business advice that was lacking

Sarah and Dom’s skillsets are in instructing, so they needed some help on the business side of things, e.g. getting the word out there to find new clients, the financial sides of things and generally being disciplined about running a business. That’s where GetSet came in to help.

Sarah first met GetSet at a female networking event (hosted by DWIB) at the Poole Boat show as part of the Maritime Festival. GetSet said they could help even at the beginning stages of their journey. From an initial one to one with GetSet, Sarah says that she gained confidence that their business idea was a good one and also that it was OK to love their business and idea.

“Through initial one to ones with GetSet, they gave me the confidence that my business idea was a good one and to keep going”.

Poole harbour and quay Dorset England UK on a beautiful calm day with boats and blue sky

On the practical side, she went along to a lot of the free GetSet workshops, particularly the ones dealing with social media, in which she had no experience, and was actually suspicious of to start with. Now she is on all the social media platforms and is particularly active on Twitter and Facebook. She thinks that this is helping to drive the traffic to the main website, which is essentially their shop window. Social media also allows people who did not think that they were looking for boating to find them and see that it is accessible to everyone to participate in.

The marketing support and the reassurance and motivation to keep going, and that it is OK to love their business, is what GetSet provided. She says she has gained a great amount of confidence from that. The workshops gave her a regular event to go to and provided her with a constant focus, particularly important in the early stages of starting your business, which can be quite isolating. Going along to workshops also meant that she met other people who were in a similar situation to her. It did not matter that they were in different fields, they were either facing the same challenges or they could trade insight into challenges others had already been through or were facing.

Their vision for the future is for the business to be sustainable as a Training Centre, and to carry on providing quality training and offer professional training in a relaxed and personable environment.

“I would definitely recommend other people to go along to GetSet. Without help from GetSet, I would have struggled more with the confidence to carry on and survive”.

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