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Helping businesses survive and thrive – Join business leaders’ for a ‘Fireside Chat’

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) has organised a ‘Fireside Chat’ to help businesses survive and thrive in 2021.

2020 was probably the most difficult year in living memory for the economy and businesses. It is already clear that the challenges are continuing into 2021 and as such CLEP is encouraging businesses to get all of the advice and support that they need to help them not only survive but also to thrive in 2021.

The Fireside Chats provide businesses with the opportunity to hear from respected leaders in their field and engage in a wider discussion with a range of businesses. The second in the latest series of these free virtual discussions is taking place on Thursday, January 21, and will focus on getting fit for 2021 and responding to both COVID and introducing new arrangements following the end of the EU Transition period.

Businesses attending will hear from Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, and Maria Whitehead MBE, Director of Hawkshead Relish, Lake District-based producer of award-winning preserves and an accredited Export Champion.

They’ll be in discussion with CLEP Chief Executive Jo Lappin, who also chairs Cumbria’s Business and Economic Recovery and Response Group (BERRG), part of Cumbria’s Local Resilience Forum. BERRG is responsible for identifying the issues affecting businesses and the economy, ensuring mitigations are in place to address these and developing a recovery strategy for implementation post-pandemic.

The discussion, which takes place online on Thursday, January 21 at 2pm, is one of a series of free events organised by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) aimed at supporting businesses through the current pandemic crisis.

Jo Lappin said that although the format of the session will initially involve a discussion between Gill Haigh and Maria Whitehead, the sessions are interactive, and she will be encouraging all businesses to engage in the discussion.

She added: “We’re very grateful to have secured the assistance of Maria and Gill, two of Cumbria’s leading business figures, who are both managing businesses that are positively managing the changes presented by the COVID pandemic and responding to the end of the EU transition period.

“It will be an excellent opportunity to hear about and learn from their experience and to understand how their businesses are preparing for the challenging year ahead. It will be great to hear their insights on what issues and opportunities they see looking ahead. I’m also really looking forward to hearing from the businesses that are joining us.”

Gill said: “Throughout the hurricane of the past year one of the real positives has been the way businesses and individuals have come together to support one another through whatever has been thrown at them. Resilience, adaptation, innovation and generosity have been the sun rays that have shone through. Whilst the storm is far from over and more change will be necessary, it is by continuing to work together and sharing that Cumbrian businesses stand the best chance of mitigating the risks and seizing the opportunities ahead. I look forward to the conversation with Maria and Jo, two women at the heart of Cumbria’s business economy.”

Maria said: “The format will be much more relaxed and more like friends having a chat, which leads to a more honest and candid discussion, there are so many challenges for business at the moment and I’ll be looking to hear what others are experiencing as well, it’s been such a year of isolation in so many ways, and to know others are experiencing and feeling the same as you gives you a huge confidence boost to keep going.”

The ‘Fireside Chats’ are part of a programme of online CLEP events to assist businesses in the county. The series of free events will cover a range of topics of interest to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) over the coming weeks and months.

To register for the event:

For more information, contact Project Manager Helen Atherton on 07791 804031 – e-mail:

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