2016 - thank you for the business

This year has been a phenomenally successful one for my business with the highlight most definitely jointly winning the Sole Trader of the Year Award at Rossendale Business Awards in November.alt

I am known for words, but I also take the odd photograph including two that have appeared on the BBC weather broadcasts including this one taken when the snow unexpectedly arrived in Weir in April.

This year I have retained all five of my contracted clients. Both Fearns Community Sports College and Haslingden High School have employed me since 2009 and Whitworth Community High School since 2015. Charity Veterans In Communities has employed me since its inception in 2012, to report news and produce monthly newsletters, and Rossendale's largest employer J & J Ormerod contracted me to work for them in January 2015, and to date I have produced numerous press stories and eight newsy JJO Journals.

Since April 2016, I have worked for 25 ad hoc clients, 14 were existing clients and I have worked for several over many years. In 2014 I began helping M3 Project to raise its profile and since then I have produced 10 newsletters to encourage support for the charity. A further 11 customers were new clients and I hope to be able to assist them again in the future. I have written more than 200 press articles, have had 272 printed in various media and online, have arranged for several to be interviewed on the radio and my stories followed up by TV news.

In January I will be starting two newspaper clubs at different schools to produce termly newspapers. I am delighted to be returning to Northern Primary School, where my School News programme has its roots, and I will also be at Britannia Primary School.

I have taken on a regular contract to produce an end of half-term paper in a day six times a year at Coal Clough Primary School working with the students to report the half-term's news.

The relaunch of my book The Sophie Lancaster Story has been a huge success with 800 copies being sold in a single month.

Rossendale Business Awards and now the Hyndburn Business Awards both employ me to produce a series of articles to promote the businesses, the sponsors, the awards and the presentation.

From incredibly humble beginnings in 2009 when I opted for redundancy and left my full time job with just two contracts to my name, but an ambition to succeed, I have come a long way. Thank you everyone who has employed me over the years. Here's to 2017.

OTHER NEWS

December, a time of Christmas events and reflection, Well the reflection piece has already been covered, so now it is time for the news. Never has a December been so busy.

First off I had two jobs to finish off the work from last year's promotal work for Community First Responders, the first about a new CFR who is also a firefighter and the second to promote the new community paramedic in Rossendale. This has led to an exciting freelance opportunity for the Big Issue In The North, but more about that in January.

As well as promoting the incredible 256 mile run that Project Manager Alan Dorrington from homeless charity M3 Project was undertaking in December, I wrote about Pauline, a caring grandmother who retired at 70 after opening her home for 13 years to help single homeless young people.

Christmas is always a time for school news and this year has been no exception, 16 stories later. Not surprising really with three contract school clients. Of particular note is the young star from Haslingden High School Harry who is one of four who play Michael in the acclaimed touring musical of Billy Elliot, I saw it in London and Manchester. Another is the exams debacle where AQA apologised to Fearns for giving pupils lower grades than they deserved, and another bashful rising star Amy from Whitworth Community High School who becomes a different person once on the stage.

A new client Beta Group generously helped the much loved Royal Court Theatre to save more than ten thousand pounds on a new heating system to ensure the pantomime goers are warm next month. My story made page leads in the Free Press and Lancashire Telegraph.

Tony Winder, director of Antony and Patricia and the new Bosun's Barbers, upstairs at the salon has created a tribute to his nautical barbering career. The story was in the Free Press and a further piece will be in Lancashire Life.

While carrying out interviews for Rossendale Business Awards, I met up with James Stroud of Rossendale Bespoke Timber, who was sponsoring the Apprentice category his buusiness won in 2015. He subsequently employed me to write about the success of his stall at the popular Manchester Christmas Markets, this was featured on Page 3 of the Free Press.

To view cuttings of these and many more CSM articles like my Facebook business page Catherine Smyth Media.

If you've something to tell, give me a bell.