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Carola Colson Horse Training Spotlight

Carola Colson Horse Training

March 16, 2022

Carola Colson Horse Training Spotlight

This month we speak to Carola Colson, horse trainer, instructor and coach. Carola helps owners feel more connected with their horses through live sessions, coaching and clinics.

Tell us about more about what you do…

In a nutshell, I train horses with a holistic approach. When I’m looking at a horse that comes in for training, I’m picking up clues about everything from their energy to their body language and how they are moving. For instance, you could find something physically wrong with a horse by looking at the wear patterns in the hooves, but horses can be emotionally unfit, not just physically. I’ve developed my methods in a way that’s grounded in skills and training but ultimately, it’s also kind and intuitive.

Were you always destined to work with horses?

I grew up in the Netherlands surrounded by horses. My childhood was pony clubs, traditional riding and then dressage. Although I always loved horses, I went off to study History and Italian In Amsterdam and then in Italy. I started studying for a PHD in Rome, but decided to go back to Amsterdam and ended up working with Dutch film crews as a location scout for film and TV. That journey led me to London and I’ve been in the UK ever since. When I was pregnant, I met two amazing Australian horsemen, who taught me a unique and different way of training horses altogether. Finally, I was able to fulfil my desire to truly understand, connect and communicate with these beautiful creatures!

What is it about horses that you love so much?

They are such intuitive animals with a very special, tuned-in energy field. When I’m around horses, I feel part of the earth – connected to nature and true to who I am myself.

You talk about the living conditions of a horse being key. What are the factors to consider when setting up home with a horse?

What you have to remember is that a horse is not worked by humans for around 23 hours a day, therefore you need to give them a herd environment in which they can feel happy, confident and healthy. Ideally, I like horses to be barefoot and able to roam. They’re used to foraging so they thrive on different types of ground and vegetation. Horses prefer being part of a herd because it offers them stability but at the same time you have to get the mix right and make sure your horses are content and relaxed in each other’s company.

What’s the best tip you could give to anyone wanting to improve their connection with their horse?

Look at your own energy first. Make sure you’re calm and relaxed and that will rub off. When you connect to them with calmness, you’ll see an instant change. If they’re slightly nervous, let them feed off your energy and not the other way around.

Tell us about your favourite off-the-beaten track location for a horse ride in Surrey.

I currently live on Thursley Common, which could not be more ideal for riding. It’s a really special place and offers everything a horse needs. I’m out on the Common most days. I’ve just written a guide to ‘Going Beyond The Arena’ about developing relaxation, softness and fitness out on the trail. There is nothing like the feeling you’ll find when out on a hack with just you and your horse.

Can you share your favourite local place where you would source horse supplies?

I don’t use normal tack, instead I import it from Australia. But I do get most of my other supplies from the wonderful AnA’s Pet ‘N’ Tack on Tilford Road, in Rushmoor. It’s a tiny little place with super-friendly, knowledgeable staff. I have special horse feed, which they order in for me. They couldn’t be more helpful.

And the best place for a cosy pub lunch after a long ride….?

It has to be The Three Horseshoes, just off Thursley Common. It’s a traditional pub that hasn’t given in to the standard ‘gastro grey’ makeover. I love its friendly atmosphere and the food is fantastic quality.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Carola and her services on Facebook @CarolaColsonHorsetrainingCoaching.

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Mitchell Evans Spotlight

Mitchell Evans Architects

March 16, 2022

Mitchell Evans Spotlight

Founded 30 years ago in Surrey, Mitchell Evans is a medium sized architectural practice, specialising in managing a diverse range of architectural projects including design, planning permissions and Listed building  consents, through to working drawing packages for contractor procurement and construction.

Toby Howell joined the company 20 years ago as a graduate and together with business partner Darren Grist, now heads up the company’s three offices in Godalming, Isle of Wight and Wales.

Here Toby talks about the history of the business, what architectural trends are emerging and offers some tips if you’re planning an extension to your home.

How has the Mitchell Evans brand grown over the past three decades?

Our main office is in Godalming, where our founder, David Mitchell, started the company in 1991. I joined 10 years later, after graduating from university and took over the company with my former partner Ian when David retired in 2017/18. Darren joined the company in 2016 as a project architect and is now my business partner. My brother Tim joined the company a few years back. We were brought up on the Isle of Wight and he wanted to return there so we decided to open an office on the island, which has been a great success. The model worked so well there that when a member of our team was making a move to Wales, we decided to open an office there too. We however collectively work as a team across the offices with Island and Wales members coming to our Godalming office on a
weekly basis.

Who are your clients and what sort of projects do you work on?

Ninety per cent of our clients are individuals who want us to help them realise their dreams, whether that’s creating a high-end contemporary home or making a more traditional property better fit their current lifestyle. I think one of the reasons people come to us is that we work on all different styles of architecture. Here in Surrey there’s a lot of historical architecture and some people want to keep that character as much as possible while adapting it to suit their current needs. Others want a more contemporary look, driven by programmes like Grand Designs, and are much bolder with their ideas. However, we are happy to work in any style and our design process will explore a number of options for our clients.

How has the pandemic changed the way people view their homes?

In our opinion, and from what we have experienced it’s led to a mass exodus of Londoners who no longer want a two or three-bedroom house in the city but somewhere larger where they can work from home and have lots of outdoor space. However, they don’t want to compromise on style – they often want to  recreate what they had in London out here in the country.

What trends have you seen emerging in domestic architectural design in recent years?

The way people live has completely changed over the past few years, for example very rarely do we see people wanting a formal dining room anymore. Family life is much more sociable than it once was and so people want open plan kitchen family room living. The shift to working from home has also driven a desire for his and hers offices but one of the biggest trends is undoubtedly how people are incorporating outdoor living into their homes. We get a lot of requests for outdoor kitchens, swimming pools and outdoor entertaining space that is connecting, seamlessly, with the interior of the home.

What key things should people consider before embarking on an extension or renovation?

Ask us to check the local planning laws: Each borough will have different planning policies so just because you might have seen something done elsewhere in Surrey, doesn’t automatically mean it will be possible in your part of the county. Also houses in the countryside and greenbelt land can only be extended so much so it depends on the planning history of the property and how much it may have been extended in the past. I have on occasion had to shatter people’s initial dreams with that news. However, there’s a lot you can alter internally in a property to achieve what you’re looking for so don’t be disheartened if your initial ideas aren’t possible.

Live in a property before you make any big structural changes: Many people we work with who have moved to their new home, want their property changed to a new specification before they move in (depends on the condition of the house) but sometimes it’s worth living in a home and experiencing day-to-day life their first before you start knocking down walls. You may find you don’t live in the house the way you thought you might and this will change priorities for any building work.

Don’t rush the design process: Take your time with the design. It’s so easy to get excited about getting the build underway but you need a solid foundation. It’s important to get the design right first to avoid what could be expensive changes further down the line.

What local companies do you work with and would recommend?

Find out more:

You can find out more about Mitchell Evans and their services at or by following them on Instagram @mitchell_evans_architecture.

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Mark Hardy Spotlight

mark hardy

March 16, 2022

Mark Hardy Spotlight

Here at Grantley, we’re particularly proud of the way we showcase our clients’ homes. This month we speak with one of the people behind our marketing photos and videos, award-winning architectural and interiors photographer and videographer, Mark Hardy.

How did you become a photographer?
It wasn’t always my plan. I went to ACM (The Academy of Contemporary Music) in Guildford to study music production initially. I loved music but I found I preferred designing graphics and websites for various music groups there. So, I went to Winchester School of Art to do an art foundation course specialising in graphics. While I was there, one of my tutors saw a photo I had taken for a project and basically told me that I should do photography. I didn’t have (and couldn’t afford) any equipment though, so he gave me some film, photography paper each week and use of the dark room 24 hours a day for the year and I just went for it. I ended up getting a distinction. I later studied for a degree in photography as a mature student at Portsmouth University.

Why did you decide to specialise in interiors and architectural photography?
Quite by accident in all honesty. I was doing portrait and wedding photography when a photographer in Guildford appointed me to do some work for his estate agent clients photographing some houses for sale from 1 bedroom flats to the exclusive St George’s Hill estate in Weybridge, which really threw me in the deep end. I later helped set up an agency specialising in property photography but now work on my own doing both interior and architectural photography and videography.

What’s your USP?
I used to work for a portrait photography company. Studio portraits can become quite monotonous so there was a lot of pressure to ensure that every single shoot was different. It was pretty hardcore, but it did force me to be creative and think outside the box, which is something I am known for now. The style of wedding photography I did was also less portraiture and more lifestyle-focused in order to tell the story of the day. This translates well to selling houses, as you’re building a storyboard of the lifestyle that each home represents. My signature technique is giving the appearance of something moving in what is actually a still photo. I like experimenting with movement in photography and the possibilities with advances in digital of bringing an image to life, for example steam rising out of a coffee cup. It’s always important to keep on challenging myself – I’d much rather innovate than imitate.

Have you always done video too?
No, but because I studied at ACM and part of my course was music production, I had a lot of the sound engineering skills that are helpful when producing and editing video. I also did some work experience with a BBC South cameraman while studying and he taught me a lot.Video wasn’t as big a decade ago but over the past five or so years it’s being used more and more and in the right way rather than just for the sake of it.

Have you photographed any particular houses of note or celebrity houses?
Lots but I can’t really name them! One of the challenges of my job is to really understand the lives of the people who live at the property that I’m photographing (perhaps they are an artist or a songwriter for example) and how their house might lend itself to that particular lifestyle. Depicting that in photos or video is what helps potential buyers picture themselves there too. But at the end of the day, it’s about the house, not the person who lives there. One of the reasons I like working with Grantley so much is that their houses are really quite unique, they usually have lots of history and therefore plenty of stories to tell!

Who do you gain inspiration from or think might be inspirational to our clients and readers?
For kitchen inspiration, I tend to turn to Instagram as there are so many great accounts to draw from. Oliver Pohlmann, Ar Her Kuo, Barry Grossman and Oliver Purvis are other architectural photographers I particularly admire.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Mark and view more of his work at or by following him on Instagram @markhardycreative.

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Leading independent estate agent, Grantley, unveils dynamic new website

March 16, 2022

Leading independent estate agent, Grantley, unveils dynamic new website

The stylish portal is the latest development in this prestige property group’s rebrand as it continues its expansion across Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire.

Grantley estate agents has launched a stylish new website to reflect its position as one of the area’s leading luxury property and lifestyle brands operating in Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire.

The launch, which coincides with the opening of a new office situated in a beautifully renovated listed building in Church Street, Godalming, is the latest development in the company’s rebrand as it continues its expansion plans in the area.

The sophisticated website, designed and built by local Surrey digital marketing agency Air Social, is a step away from the firm’s previous site, which had a corporate feel and instead focuses on the lifestyle aspect of moving home.

"Buying and selling a home is about so much more than a business transaction. We believe that specific and individual marketing is paramount when showcasing our clients' homes and we tailor everything we do to suit our  clients’ needs to promote their homes in the most effective and inspirational way that we can," explains Grantley Director David Williams.

"The Grantley team has an exceptional depth of knowledge and experience in the marketing of country properties, listed buildings and premium town centre family homes, as well as the lifestyle that goes along with that and we wanted to reflect that in this new website."

Instead of a purely generic catalogue of properties listed for sale and to let, the new easy-to-navigate website adopts an editorial-style creative concept offering users a similar experience to what you might get from the pages of a magazine.

The Community Hub page provides a little black book of useful information and interviews with local independent companies that Grantley supports and recommends, offering users a unique insight into the local communities in which they might be looking to live.

The Let Us Move You page shines a light on the Grantley approach to marketing a  property, while the Showreel page features a selection of stunning bespoke videos by local videographer Mark Hardy that Grantley has commissioned and expertly showcase the level of detail put into their property marketing services.


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Clare Watson, Turmeric House

Local Inspiration - Tumeric House

March 16, 2022

Local Inspiration - Clare Watson, Turmeric House

This month we speak to Clare Watson from Turmeric House, a Surrey-based concept and creative studio specialising in the styling and design of beautiful spaces.

What exactly is Turmeric House?

We are an independent creative studio that creates stand-out spaces, shoots and builds that are founded on a culture of collaboration. We offer everything from styling of events and environments, to commercial photo shoots, art direction, private/commercial fit outs and brand storytelling. We work with retail and hospitality outlets, private clients, photographers and magazine editors to create spaces with soul that take users on a journey.
A space that tells a story, but also functions with beautiful design.

Retail and hospitality spaces have had to change a lot over the past couple of years, how have you helped businesses adapt?

I’ve been so impressed by how open businesses have been to change actually, but sometimes, when you’re working in an environment every day, operating in a certain way for so long, it’s difficult to identify ways you can adapt to different circumstances.

Turmeric House is all about how you don’t need four walls to create a space. One of the local marquee companies I work with understandably took a huge hit with events and weddings being cancelled so I suggested to a restaurant client that they convert their carpark into a gorgeous urban pop-up. That meant they could operate when only public outdoor dining was allowed and it gave the marquee company some ongoing business. The cross over between industries has been remarkable.

I’ve also helped businesses to incorporate all the changes and new health & safety guidelines but in line with their own branding, so it doesn’t take away from the essence of their space. We’ve been forced so far out the box that it makes everything even more possible.

And what about in people’s homes?

We’ve all had to reassess how we feel about and use our own spaces. Our homes have had to evolve to make space for working from home, schooling from home, exercising from home etc. and this can really change the dynamic and flow of how we live in, and use our space.

While some of these activities have, and will continue to, return to areas outside our home environments, many will remain. Moving forward, this will change the way we interact with our spaces and how we welcome people into our homes, so it’s about helping people figure out how best to do that.

You’ve styled shoots and celebrity homes for features in magazines like Vogue, Ok!, NME and Surrey Life, what’s that like?

I love all shoots, it’s exciting and a privilege to get a sneak peek into the home lives of celebrities & interesting inspiring individuals and because they’re usually in their own homes, they’re really relaxed and welcoming. But it is work at the end of the day so it’s not like we can just sit around chatting (although we do have a natter here and there) Shoots are full on and can spread over a few days with set up and take down, but they are great fun
and I love sourcing props and being able to include amazing finds from local independent businesses that I love.

What things should people be thinking about when it comes to interior styling of their own homes?

There is no right or wrong to how you choose to live in your home, it’s about emotions and  how you’re home makes you feel. People can get in such a funk about interior styling and layout but there’s no need. My advice is to just try things in different places, if you don’t like something somewhere, then move it. And above all, surround yourself with things you love and bring you joy. People can get bogged down with clutter but I live amongst a lot of my props and things I have sourced for events and shoots (such as a fairground horse we had built for a shoot) but the important thing is that it all makes me feel great & surrounds me with great memories and stories.

What top tips would you give people on home styling?

  • Don’t forget your entry hallway. It’s often dismissed as somewhere you simply walk through to get into the main living areas of your home but it is the first place you come to and you can often spend time there greeting guests as they take off their shoes and coats etc. Therefore, it’s important to make it a welcoming space. Candles and room sprays can help create a nice aroma, while a piece of much-loved artwork will give a lovely hint at your style personality, as well as a talking point for guests as they arrive.
  • Layering is key. Creating layers of interest within a home is a good way of incorporating all your favourite things without it looking cluttered. Use shelves and places like the coffee table to display some of your favourite things. For example, on a coffee table you might place a couple of your favourite books on a tray and then an ornament or a vase with your favourite flowers on top of the books.
  • Think about all the senses. The feeling a space creates isn’t just about what you can see. It’s about the smell, touch and sound too. So, play music softly, light a candle or have a diffuser on display and fill your space with gorgeous fabrics and tactile objects that mean something to you and tell a story.

As we enter the festive season how should we be looking to create a fabulous space in which to dine with guests?

Christmas really lends itself to great styling. Layer fruits and nuts or items you’ve foraged from the garden or on walks on the table, dip the rims of your glasses with icing sugar to give them that festive glint, layered candles are a must and when it comes to glassware and
cutlery, don’t panic if you’ve not got enough that matches, mix your finest with your everyday – you’re with friends and family after all.

What local companies do you enjoy working with and/or recommend?

I source a lot for shoots from Wattle and Daub in Godalming and often fall in love with pieces so end up buying them for myself! I also get visual merchandise and styling ideas from libby at &Hobbs, also Thomas Ford & Sons is a lovely family-run kitchen shop in Ripley and I also love Haus in Haslemere. Sprout Surrey is also a great hub for sustainable businesses with green fingers. There are so many incredible creatives I am inspired by.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Clare and Turmeric House’s services at and you can get style inspiration for your own home by following @turmerichouse on instagram.

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Grantley’s expansion continues with new office opening in Godalming

Grantley Godalming Office

March 16, 2022

Grantley’s expansion continues with new office opening in Godalming

Leading independent country house sales, lettings and management company has created a home-from-home for clients in Church Road.

Grantley, one of the leading country house sales, lettings and management companies operating across Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire, has opened a new office in Godalming.

Situated in a listed building full of character on Church Road, the new branch joins Grantley’s existing Surrey offices in Guildford and Haslemere and showcases the company’s unique approach to property sales and lettings, with a personalised home-from-home feel.

The vision for the newly refurbished office was to create a welcoming environment for clients so that they feel right at home the moment they walk through the door. Areas of the office mirror rooms you might have at home, while the shelves are filled with books and pictures of people rather than property.

"Traditional estate agents offices can often feel intimidating," comments David Williams, Director at Grantley. "Our vision was to create something different, a home-from-home feel with furniture and colour schemes similar to what people might have in their own homes to provide a sense of familiarity."

Local interior designer Sadie Pizzey helped bring the vision to life by sourcing products from local and small independent suppliers and used an on-trend colour palette that also reflects Grantley’s new branding. The result is a relaxed, homely setting that perfectly represents Grantley’s personal approach, which is tailored to each client and their property.

"Traditional estate agents offices can often feel intimidating," comments David Williams, Director at Grantley. "Our vision was to create something different, a home-from-home feel with furniture and colour schemes similar to what people might have in their own homes to provide a sense of familiarity."

Local interior designer Sadie Pizzey helped bring the vision to life by sourcing products from local and small independent suppliers and used an on-trend colour palette that also reflects Grantley’s new branding. The result is a relaxed, homely setting that perfectly represents Grantley’s personal approach, which is tailored to each client and their property.

The Grantley team bring an exceptional depth of knowledge and experience in the marketing of premium properties, including country estates, equestrian properties and listed buildings, as well as contemporary town centre family homes, to Godalming.

The new office will be led by Edward Brett-Field, who lives in Witley and has worked as an estate agent in Godalming, Guildford and the surrounding villages for the past 12 years.

Come and meet Edward and the team over a glass of mulled wine and see the new office for yourself on November 27th when Grantley will be joining in the festivities for the Godalming Christmas Festival and light switch on.

Or, drop in anytime between 9am and 5:30pm Monday to Saturday. We look forward to meeting you.

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Photographers Eddie Judd & Vicki Knights

Local inspiration - Photographers

March 16, 2022

Local Inspiration - Photographers Eddie Judd & Vicki Knights

This month we shine the light on Surrey photographers Eddie Judd and Vicki Knights, who run the award-winning podcast Shoot Edit Chat Repeat.

How did the two of you meet?

EJ: We’re both photographers with over 20 years’ experience between us, and we both live in Surrey. We met chatting on Twitter, where there used to be a big photographer community, and then became great friends - bonding over f-stops, running our businesses and bringing up toddlers!

How did you get into photography?

EJ: Ever since I was about 10 years old, I wanted to be a photographer, but people kept trying to put me off, so I basically did it to prove them wrong! I trained to degree level and then started as a picture researcher on magazines, before becoming a picture editor on a magazine – all the while doing my own photography on the side. When I had children, I needed a job that would fit in around the family so I built my photography businesses around that, initially photographing families and doing lots of weddings but I moved away from larger weddings because I wasn’t able to really engage with people. Now my business has a firm focus on personal brand photography.

VK: I set up my family photography business in 2008 after having my first son, prior to that,
I’d had a career in working in the advertising/marketing/sales industry. Before long, I began tutoring family photographers as well as other parents on how to take better photos of their children. I’ve taught hundreds of people over the years and now run retreats, workshops and online courses.

What are your USPs?

EJ: Personal branding photography is at the core of my businesses. I love getting to know a person and their business and helping to find a setting and style that will suit their brand. It’s not just about shooting a headshot, it’s about capturing the whole ethos and personality of a person and their brand.

VK: I am also a family and personal branding photographer but mentoring is a key part of my businesses. I have trained in NLP and success coaching, and run regular business Visibility Retreats for big-hearted entrepreneurs, who want to develop their own personal brand and build confidence in their business. Why did you start the Shoot Edit Chat Repeat podcast?

EJ: Vicki loves listening to podcasts and I remember recording my own pretend radio shows when I was at school (they were terrible!) – back when you’d record on a double tape deck (those were the days!). Although podcasts had been around for some time, we felt there was a real gap in the market for a business podcast for photographers. The idea worked and we managed to land sponsors right from the beginning.

VK: The idea was to speak to really interesting people, not just photographers, but people that both photographers and others could learn from. Creatives tend to have a habit of underselling themselves and it’s a tough market out there so we wanted to help them with tips on how to grow their businesses. The podcast has now had over 200k downloads and is listened to in over 70 countries!

What are your top personal branding tips for independent businesses?

Find a photographer that you feel a connection with – you need to feel comfortable and relaxed when doing a personal branding shoot.

Don’t worry about what you look like or where to position yourself or your hands, that’s the photographer’s job.

You want to feel as confident as possible so invest in getting your hair and make-up done before the shoot and a stylist if you can afford to – we work with some great local businesses.

- Location is really important and often the most difficult thing to get right. You can suggest places that are important to you and your business but your photographer should have experience with different locations too and should get to know your businesses and what would work. For example we use the home of a lovely interior designer in Weybridge if you want a homely environment but would rather not have photos taken in your own home. Or alternatively we also regularly use a hotel in Guildford for colourful and eye-catching portraits.

Be honest with your photographer. The more they know about you and what you like/don’t like, the better they will be able to capture you in the best way. And remember, people buy people!

Find out more:

Find out more about Eddie’s photography services at and Vicki’s at

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The Drunken Jockeys

local inspiration - drunken jokeys

March 16, 2022

Local Inspiration - The Drunken Jockeys

This month we shine the light on a Surrey hospitality business that has gone to new levels during lockdown.

Born from the belief that a bar should be much more than simply a place to get a drink, The Drunken Jockeys launched in 2018 by three best friends, Zack Goodall, Will Burchill and Will Isaacs. Prior to the pandemic their mobile cocktail business was thriving but, when lockdown hit, cancelling weddings and events (their core market), the three business partners were forced to think outside the box. Creative director, Zack Goodall, explains more.

Who are The Drunken Jockeys?

We create mobile bars that transport guests to a world of fun with a great drink in hand.
We provide a full bar for weddings, public events, corporate events and private parties and we make impeccable cocktails for guests to enjoy. My background is in set design and heritage management, Will Burchill is our mixologist extraordinaire and also a great photographer and Will Isaacs basically lives and breathes the business and is a great people person and manager.

How did the company start?

We felt that at every wedding or pop-up event we attended, the bar was basically just a trestle table with bottles on it – there was no imagination there. No one spent time at the bar, it was just a place to grab a drink. So, we built our first bar, Arabella, by converting a dusty old horsebox (hence our name) with the idea being that we’d take it around to different events and cause a bit of a stir. We based ourselves down at Shred & Butta in Cobham, which builds and converts vehicles into creative spaces, and we’re still there. We’ve since converted an old American ambulance and an old American postal van into a self-service pulling station. We build our bar ranges around finds from antiques fairs, such as Ardingly and Kempton. Sticking true to our original concept, our custom designed modular system allows us to create solid looking pieces, that are both flatpack and extendable. It's pretty exciting stuff, keep your eyes peeled for more bar releases in the near future.

How did the business evolve during lockdown

Well, we had a full year of weddings and events planned but, of course, we couldn’t do any of those, so we were fully expecting that our business might collapse overnight. We felt so bad for our wedding clients, many of which not only lost out on their big day but were also left out of pocket by suppliers that went bust because of the pandemic. So, we sent them some cocktails in jam jars to cheer them up, realising that, with pubs and bars shut, it was actually a really good business idea. Soon we were making and delivering 300 cocktails each weekend. We began to collaborate with local businesses and, before long, big brands were interested, which opened the doors to the corporate market. We now deliver our menu of cocktails and mocktails nationwide and even as far as Malta, Germany and Denmark and host virtual and masterclasses too.

What are your top tips for anyone booking a bar for an event or wedding?

  • Invest in a look. It doesn’t have to be for the whole party (there’s a certain luxury in subtlety) but for elements, such as the food and drink or décor.
  • Invest in suppliers and trust them.
  • Keep the menu small and high quality.
  • Glassware is key – there’s a big difference between cut glass and other forms of glassware. It can really change everything.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to organise and find the right supplier

So, what’s next for The Drunken Jockeys?

We are so thankful that we have become one of lockdown’s success stories and, because we are all best mates, it really doesn’t feel like we’re going to work (although we do work incredibly hard). Weddings and events are now back on so we are busier than ever with those, but the cocktail delivery service will remain, as will our virtual masterclasses. We’re looking forward to more collaborations and we’re also working on a new project but at the moment it’s top secret, so you’ll have to keep an eye on our social channels to find out more!

Find out more:

Follow The Drunken Jockeys on Instagram @thedrunkenjockeys and you can find out more about their cocktail delivery and mobile bar service at:

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Susie Evans

Local inspiration - Susie Evans

March 16, 2022

Local Inspiration - Susie Evans

It’s been a tough time for the wedding industry of late. As she celebrates her 10th year as a wedding planner in Surrey, Susie Evans discusses the highs and lows of the past year.

How did you become a wedding planner?

I previously worked in investment banking and insurance but knew balancing a career in finance with having a family would not be easy. So, I began looking for something that would enable me to be a mum and still work. When my husband and I got married there were no companies in the Surrey/Sussex area that helped style weddings and so that’s where the story began, wedding styling. Five or so years later, I moved into wedding planning and venue consultation and this year marks the 10th anniversary of Susie Evans Weddings Co.

What makes a good wedding planner?

You need to be organised, of course, you need to have an eye for detail and good contacts –

collaboration is most certainly key. But it’s about much more than that. It’s about really understanding your client and also being open and honest with them and their families, who are usually very involved, particularly in at home marquee weddings, which is what I specialise in. Being able to mitigate when necessary is a good skill – and that’s most definitely been put into effect this past year.

Without dwelling too much, how have you coped this past year?

We are slowly coming out the other side and there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel but it has been the hardest year ever. I have cried so many tears with couples as their hopes and dreams have been crushed multiple times ­– some of my clients have had their weddings postponed five or more times. However, the ups and downs have taught me so much and my business is stronger that it has ever been. I’ve even expanded and taken on a new member of staff, Libby, who has been a god-send plus we’ve had quite a few bookings for post-Covid marquee garden parties this summer!

What makes marquee weddings so special?

They are a completely blank canvas. You can create the day you want and are not restricted by a venue’s specific stipulations, so usual traditions can go out the window (if you want them to). They are also a real family affair. It’s really special getting married at a family home or a location that is particularly special to the couple. A marquee wedding isn’t necessarily cheaper as you are in essence creating a wedding venue from scratch, but it does allow you to have exactly what you want.

What are your top tips for a marquee wedding?

Make use of your garden space and don’t worry about obstacles you think might prevent you from having a marquee wedding at home – marquees can be built over almost anything. We’ve planned weddings where marquees have been built over swimming pools and even a ha-ha. Anything is possible. Marquee weddings are more logistically challenging though, so it’s an idea to get help to avoid extra stress leading up to the big day.

And finally, what local businesses do you like to collaborate with?

Mad Lilies in Banstead [which we showcased last month] has been a huge part of my success and has made me realise how important it is to have a friendship with my suppliers, as well as a business relationship. Other local companies who are amazing and we use time and time again to create amazing weddings for our couples are Inside Outside Marquees, Drunken Jockeys, Two Many Cooks and Caper & Berry.

Find out more:

Find out more about Susie Evans Weddings Co services at and you can follow her on Instagram @susieevans.

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Mad Lilies

Local inspiration - Mad Lilies

March 16, 2022

Local Inspiration - Mad Lilies

A queen of collaboration, Alison Howe, of Mad Lilies in Banstead, loves nothing more than supporting local businesses and was recently awarded for her efforts with a national High Street Hero award. In the latest of our Local Inspiration series we find out how she got into floristry, what it’s been like for the industry over the past year and why flowers are such a wonderful addition to a home.

How did you become a florist?

Flowers are a big part of my heritage – my late mum and grandmother owned a floristry business in Belfast together when I was growing up – but it wasn’t until I was in my mid-forties that I began to wonder if I too had the floristry gene.

I previously worked in sales and marketing for pharmaceutical but after my mother died in 2011, I decided to enrol in a floristry course with Jane Packer, and five minutes in, I knew I too had to forge a career in flowers.

Why Banstead?

Starting from scratch aged 44 was not going to be easy so I decided it was best to find an established business to buy, which I could then take in the direction I wanted. Easier said than done – the search took a long time.

But, then I got a call about a business that was up for sale in Banstead, called Mad Lilies. Living in London, I had no idea where Banstead was but my grandmother’s name was Lily so it felt like a sign and, following a four-month handover, I took the keys in February 2013.

 My husband Darren and I moved into a renovated pub in the Surrey countryside and have never looked back. We love all Surrey has to offer, as do our dogs Duffy and Dougal, and you’ll often find us foraging for foliage, berries and flowers in the countryside.

Tell us about your recent High Street Hero award…

The Small Awards is organised annually by Small Business Britain, which champions, inspires and accelerates small businesses in the UK across all sectors. We found out we’d been shortlisted along with four other businesses for the High Street Hero category in April.  On May 13 there was a virtual ceremony and I was surprised at my door with the award and a delivery of cocktails and nibbles.

We will continue working with our community to build awareness of the high street and showcase the fabulous independent businesses we have in Banstead and Surrey. We love a collaboration and not only do we see the business benefit from them but we enjoy learning and developing from other local businesses as we all evolve to meet consumer needs.

It’s an amazing accolade to have won, particularly in such a tough year…

Thank you. Yes, it’s been an incredibly tough year. The first lockdown was announced the week before Mother’s Day, which is the biggest day in the floristry calendar. Weddings were, of course also off the cards, which is a massive part of the business so we were hit hard.

But the team worked hard to get Mother’s Day deliveries out before we went into lockdown and, while the shop had to close, it soon became apparent we would be able to do deliveries and we became quite busy with orders from people gifting bouquets to loved ones they weren’t able to visit.

Like many other businesses, we diversified and created a flower subscription service, Bare Naked Stems, and we also hid jam jars of flowers across Surrey for people to find and take home as random acts of kindness. As well as flowers, we stock all sorts of lovely homeware and gifts in the shop so lockdown was also a catalyst for getting our Mad Lilies at Home collection online.

You’ve been called the Queen of Collaboration, what businesses do you enjoy partnering with and why? 

There’s something quite exceptional about the High Street’s small and independent shops in how open they are to supporting one another.

Throughout lockdown, we partnered with other Banstead businesses such as Fego, Café Chai and Louisa Grace to cross promote wherever possible. We did a Valentine’s Day meal kit with food supplied by Two Many Cooks and cocktails from the Drunken Jockeys. We also had a Tea Towel designed by Surrey Illustrator Lisa Tolley to promote all that is great about Banstead and then we worked with local illustrator Lewis Woodham, from Wood&Ham to create an illustration of our shop for our gift cards that go out with our bouquets.

We also collaborated with Gayas Cakes and Cai & Kyn on our Here’s to Hugs gift set which included a bouquet, brownies, a gift card and candle.

How do flowers enhance a home and what tips would you give people to enhance their longevity?

There’s a lot of research out there to suggest that flowers and house plants offer health benefits; they relieve stress and lift your mood. Plus, they enhance any form of celebration, however large or small. My top tips are:

  • If budget allows, buy flowers from a florist like Mad Lilies instead of a supermarket. Not only are you supporting small, local businesses but you’ll also find more unusual stems and they will last longer as the flowers will usually have been delivered to the florist that day and so haven’t already sat there for some time.
  • Always change the water (don’t just refill) and re-trim the stems every couple of days.
  • Keep the flowers as cool as possible, so don’t put near radiators or direct sunlight

Where you'll find them

84 High Street, Banstead,
Surrey SM7 2NN