Littlehouse Media

Business Community Programme launched for Lochaber Ideas Week 2018

The 2018 programme for Lochaber Ideas Week, Lochaber Chamber of Commerce’s flagship week of business and community focused events, packed with workshops, stimulating panel discussions, lively networking opportunities and inspiring talks, has been launched. This year’s programme, presented in partnership with Developing the Young Workforce West Highland, runs from Monday 12 to Friday16 November 2018 in various venues in Fort William.


The 2018 line-up features some fascinating people with incredible stories – former Winter Olympian Michael Edwards (Eddie ‘The Eagle’), author and broadcaster, Alastair Campbell, performance coach to Olympians and Paralympians, Don McNaughton, who applies sports psychology to business performance, Dale Murray, tech entrepreneur and angel investor (known to many from The Apprentice – You’re Fired) and round-the-world cyclist Josh Quigley; invaluable business skills training, vital business and community debates, a focus on youth entrepreneurship and life skills, a £10,000 cash prize for best business idea, and a seminar on the crucial topic of mental health and wellbeing in business.


Lochaber Ideas Week celebrates business, education and community in the region and is a catalyst to stimulate fresh initiatives and ventures, creating new connections and points of collaboration designed to enhance Lochaber as a place in which to live, work, study and visit.


Now in its fifth year, it is well established as a favourite fixture in the local business and community calendar. Lochaber Ideas Week 2017 was the busiest yet, with over 850 people from across the region and further afield attending.


Lesley Benfield, CEO of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, said: “Lochaber Ideas Week is all about inspiration and creativity in business. It’s a week to think about the big picture and make connections as well as to learn new business skills. It’s open to the entire community and we’re delighted that so many people come along and get involved. We’re proud to be able to bring such a unique and inspiring range of events to Lochaber.”


The 2018 programme highlights include:


On Monday 12 November ‘ Eddie the Eagle’ Edwards will give a motivational talk based on his experience of fighting to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics as the UK’s unlikely ski jumper. He may not have won (he came last) but he became the stand-out star of the competition and remains a household name thanks to his incredible story of perseverance, courage and humour.


Also on Monday, John Paul Hughes, Group Creative Director at CommunicorpUK, will give a talk entitled: ‘Awaken Possibility’, on the subject of creative sales and marketing and the effectiveness of advertising mediums. John Paul started his career as a professional footballer with Dundee United FC from which he moved to the media industry. A multi-award winning creative advertiser he will offer guidance on the importance of authenticity in advertising and much more.


Tuesday 13 November brings the popular, fast-paced and not to be missed business connections event, ‘Around Lochaber in 80 Tables’, lively speed-networking at its best. The event guarantees new collaborative business ventures as well as direct business promotion. Always a sell-out, this event is great fun for all involved.


Social media expert Rene Looper will lead ‘ Strategically Social: social media for customer care’, a seminar on creative use of social media for business on Wednesday 14 November.


Scotland needs young entrepreneurs and on Wednesday 14 November Lochaber Ideas Week’s Event Partners, Developing the Young Workforce, present ‘Bridge to Business’ to inspire Lochaber’s 16-20 year olds to think about running their own business. Young Enterprise Scotland will partner with Skills Development Scotland to excite pupils to reach their full potential through enterprise. Using a ‘learning by doing format’ young people involved in the event will develop their business knowledge and entrepreneurial skills to become more employable.


On the evening of Wednesday 14 November, six budding entrepreneurs will step into the Dragon’s Glen with 10 minutes to pitch their business ideas to four top entrepreneurs ready to invest £10,000 in the worthy winner. An audience of more than 100 will share the trials and tribulations of the entrepreneurs including previous year’s winners 3 Wise Monkeys, Clanpods, Lorna Gillies and Kinlochlovin who each received a £10k investment from the West Coast Communities Fund, administered by Foundation Scotland.


This year will also see the introduction of the first Junior Dragons’ Glen to inspire entrepreneurship in primary school children. Pupils from p6 and p7 across Lochaber will be invited to submit their business ideas to win a share of the £2,000 prize donated by leading renewables company, HWEnergy.


On Thursday 15 November, renowned sports and business leadership coach Don MacNaughton will lead ‘Unlock Potential: High Performance Seminar’, an inspiring seminar on how to release hidden potential. This will be followed by ‘Shaping Tourism in Lochaber’ where industry experts from organisations including Scottish Tourism Alliance, VisitScotland and Bookings.Com, will debate hot tourism topics of today and future trends for Lochaber and beyond with local business representatives. This event is open to all, but will be key to operators in the hospitality sector.


Alastair Campbell author and broadcaster, best known for his work as Tony Blair’s spokesman and strategist, will deliver the prestigious Charles Kennedy Lecture , the annual lecture in memory of the former Liberal Democrat leader and long-serving Lochaber MP, on Friday November 15. He follows in the distinguished footsteps of Baron Jim Wallace, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Lord Thurso.


As a former ‘Mind Champion of the Year’, Alastair Campbell is an ambassador for the Time to Change campaign to raise awareness of mental illness. The 2018 Charles Kennedy Lecture will address the importance of male friendship in mental health and addiction.


Alastair Campbell, a close friend of the late Charles Kennedy whose father was a Hebridean vet, is a regular visitor to Argyll. His friendship with Charles Kennedy developed when the Campbell family holidayed in the area.


Alastair Campbell said: “Charles was a great MP and a wonderful man. Both Fiona and I miss him hugely, and I am delighted to be able to give this lecture and help keep his memory alive.”


On Friday 16 November, in ‘Mind the Gap: Mental Health in Business’, a panel of experts will consider ways that businesses could better understand and support employees’ mental health as part of their overall health care.


Lochaber Ideas Week comes to a close with the Lochaber Ideas Week Gala Dinner at the Alexandra Hotel, Fort William, on the evening of Friday 16 November. This year’s after-dinner speaker is inspirational tech entrepreneur Dale Murray, who co-founded Omega Logic, the company that launched electronic mobile phone top-ups in Britain. Just six years after it was established, Omega was processing more than £450 million of top-ups per year in the UK and generating £25 million of net revenue in the USA. Since selling the business, Dale has gone on to become an angel investor and to advise government on entrepreneurship. The evening, and the week, will be rounded off in true Highland style with a ceilidh band.


To find out more about all the events taking place during Lochaber Ideas Week, go to; or call 01397 705 765 to chat to a member of the team.




Media contact:

For interviews, images and further information please contact:

Paddy Cuthbert | Littlehouse Media | E: [email protected] |

M: +44 (0)7913 951717

For downloadable Lochaber Ideas Week images go to


Lochaber Chamber of Commerce on Twitter:

Lochaber Chamber of Commerce on Facebook:


Notes to Editors:

Lochaber Ideas Week is owned by Lochaber Chamber of Commerce Ltd


Lochaber Chamber of Commerce is an independent, privately funded organisation that has the interests of Lochaber at its heart. It is an affiliated member of the British Chambers of Commerce and works closely with Scottish Chambers of Commerce.


Lochaber Chamber represents more than 220 businesses in Lochaber collectively employing 3500+ people across all sectors [c60% 15-64 age working population in Lochaber]. They work locally, nationally and internationally to support business from sole traders to international organisations.

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