FIONA SCOTT meets a mum-of-two who is using her online business skills for the benefit of her new adopted county of Wiltshire

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Online skills can make a difference in the real world too Online skills can make a difference in the real world too

MUM-of-two Sam Bertram is using the skills she acquired during her career in digital marketing to celebrate the creativity of the community in Wiltshire.

The 40-year-old, who lives near Marlborough, is soon to launch a new online digital community, www.localuncovered. com, dedicated to celebrating any independent business, local charity, events or sole trader who makes products in the county.

The site will also give details of days out for families around the county as well as reviews of those facilities.

Sam, who grew up in Kenya and who lived with her family in London until 2012, was amazed at the variety and talent which abounds in her new home county.

“When our son came close to going to school, we wanted to move out of the city,” she said. “My husband John and I had been brought up in the countryside, in wide open spaces – me in Kenya and John in Scotland – and we wanted the same for our children.

“When we came here and we visited our preferred primary school, we fell in love with the area.

“I’ve done a lot of travelling and I’ve always embraced the authentic travel experience, trying local food and drink, buying local products and staying in local accommodation to suit my budget.

“As I looked around in Wiltshire to find these things for myself, I found online research difficult.

“It soon became clear to me that Wiltshire lacks a high quality, virtual space, to bring all of those things together. There’s plenty about service-based companies but little about people who actually make things.”

After months of painstaking research and many presentations, Sam has come up with her site which will go live in April, initially with 50 businesses having their own page. Helping her develop the project has been local photographer Rose Somerset of Snowball Works.

Sam said: “In my job previously I was a digital marketing strategist working with companies including Audi, Waitrose and Danone.

“I have the skills to do this and really want to do it well at a local level in my new community. There are, of course, other listing sites out there but often they’re difficult to read, and they’re often not updated and kept fresh.

“I used to work in an agency and corporate environment where I learned all about new technologies and I know what’s possible but because you are working for a big brand you could often find your own creativity cannot reach its full potential.

“This site has allowed me the time to do this in my way – and I’ve done many presentations to get feedback on its look and content.

“One thing which inspired me to undertake this project is the fact that I love local produce but there’s so much about produce coming from Dorset, Devon and Somerset.

“Wiltshire isn’t so obvious – and yet it’s an amazing destination. From Swindon to Salisbury, Marlborough to Melksham, it’s a large, vibrant county full of variety.

“This has been such a voyage of discovery for me. I’ve met amazing people, found fabulous products and just the fact that I know where all of the local markets are is just one thing which has helped me as a mum.”

Sam, who has a son Oliver, aged five and daughter Iona, aged three, believes in connecting with others.

She’s one of two mums who created the Wiltshire Mums Network on Facebook last year which already has almost 600 members.

Sam said: “It’s a place for local mums to exchange information about the things that matter to them and help make life in their area easier. This is a closed group so although anyone on Facebook can see the group and who’s in it, only members will be able to see posts.”

Examples of posts include:

  • Forthcoming events
  • Advice on tradespeople
  • childcare options
  • local classes for children
  • Selling items such as car seats and bicycles
  • Babysitters
  • Local job opportunities
  • Houses/flats to rent
  • Advice on childhood illness or behaviour issues
  • Making people aware of local issues such as criminal activities (eg burglaries).

Sam said: “I created the site with a friend, Tanya Lawson, and it’s grown very quickly. Tanya has lived in the area for a long time and we both felt a group would help other mums by sharing information, experiences and news. What’s surprised us is the speed at which it’s been embraced within the county and around its borders.”

 

Fact file

  • Sam can be contacted at sam@localuncovered.com or on Twitter @localuncovwilts
  • Other useful sites which cover the whole of the county include: www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk; www. visitwiltshire.co.uk; www.wiltshire-web.co.uk

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