Heather Thomas moved with her family from the Midlands to Sedbergh nearly four years ago.
Said Heather: “We had always talked about moving to the country and when our son was coming up to finishing primary school we decided it was now or never. I was pregnant with my second child and didn’t want to go back to working in a standard corporate 9-5. So, inspired by our recent move and our lovely pet Ollie, I decided to be brave and work for myself. I remember having the idea for Ollie Collie while driving up Black Horse Hill out of Sedbergh and telling it to my husband, expecting him to laugh. He didn’t, and the rest is history as they say. We’re now in our third year of business and our products are stocked in the YDNP shops, local shops in Sedbergh, and more recently several other independent outlets in the Lakes and Dales.”
Ollie Collie design and create distinctive homeware and clothing combining the Thomas’s love of dogs with an iconic brand image inspired by their own pet border collie.
Heather continued: “Since becoming part of the business community here, and really the community in general, I have become passionate about helping small business and our rural community to survive and thrive.”
Heather is now also project manager for the Sedbergh Chamber of Trade and Business, a role joint funded by the chamber, Community Interest Company, Community Trust, Sedbergh Parish Council and the Dulverton Trust. She is also seeing the effects at first hand of a generally ageing population.
She said: “Sedbergh is full of wonderful groups, clubs and organisations run by volunteers but the majority of them are beginning to struggle as the older generations are less able to participate and there are not enough ‘youngsters’ here to take it all on. In fact, those who are taking part, often have several roles within the community and it’s a huge load to carry! I’d love to help attract new people here who can bring some enthusiasm and energy to keep it all going for the next generations.”