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Begbroke celebrates success

9:00am Thursday 26th June 2014

Britain is good at science, but rubbish at turning bright ideas into commercial reality. That has been our history since Oxford researchers had to travel to the USA to produce the first antibiotics in the Second World War.

Aiming for excellence

9:00am Thursday 26th June 2014

Osteopath Jamie Dearing answers our questions about his journey from a New Zealand amusement park to running his own osteopathy clinic in Oxford

Natural solution to pests

9:00am Thursday 26th June 2014

Eden Research, employing only five people in a former vicarage in the tiny village of South Leigh, near Witney — the home of deputy chairman Ken Brooks, one of the founders of Witney law firm Brook Street Des Roches — is pioneering technology that exploits naturally occurring defence mechanisms found in plants.

Man with bright ideas

The Oxford Times: Paul Humphreys, founder of Frittter

9:00am Thursday 26th June 2014

At 65, software whizz Paul Humphreys says he should be putting his feet up at the seaside — but he is still as enthusiastic about computing as he was at 18.

Flower power

The Oxford Times: Katie Griffiths

8:00am Thursday 19th June 2014

When Katie Griffiths left Oxford Brookes University, she knew she wanted to do 'something creative', but at first she did not think of drawing on the skills she had learned in her holiday job, nor of the joy she had experienced in her grandmother's flower garden.

In the frame

The Oxford Times: In the frame

12:00am Thursday 22nd May 2014

It was a chance conversation during a routine day that led Ian Jenkins to establish a business that has been flourishing for more than 35 years. He was out on a buying trip for a previous company when his supplier asked him: “Do you want to buy a business?” Mr Jenkins said that he was not really interested but recalls thinking to himself later: “That is probably one of the silliest things I have said.” He explained: “In the early 1970s, three of us had an antiques business at Drayton St Leonard, near Dorchester. “But as time went on we were finding it less and less profitable and we were having to travel more and more miles.” So the opening was timely. The opportunity was to take over a picture-framing enterprise which a young man had been running before going to university. All his equipment was for sale and he had an already established market in Abingdon, through various shops which took in pictures for framing and which he delivered back again. “Within a couple of weeks I had thought about it, bought it and brought everything to my home in north Abingdon,” said Mr Jenkins. “Some went in the garage and some in the spare room. I operated from home, cutting out the glass on the dining-room table and making the frames in the spare bedroom. “I continued in this way for a couple of years and then another opportunity arose. “I was working for an estate agent who had an idea to stand out from the crowd — by displaying pictures of properties in frames on the office walls. “He told me about a shop, The Old Bakery in Bath Street, Abingdon, which was on his books. It was in a very good location, slightly off the beaten track but just the right size. It was being sold by a builder and at the time had just soil for the floor. I had to have it rewired and heating installed. “At the time I had no idea where the money was coming from but then my grandmother said she would like to invest.” She was doing so because of what had happened to my grandfather’s business as a result of the slump in 1928. His pattern-making business with a staff of 15 failed but it could have survived if he had held the freehold of the premises. She wanted to make sure that I would not be at risk of being evicted by a landlord.” As a result, Surroundings took shape and has continued to this day thanks to Mr Jenkins’ combination of personal service and attention to detail. He said: “I am one of the few craftsman framers. Although I work with machinery I create individual designs for my customers. I can always tell the difference between those done by computer and those done by hand. All my work is bespoke, I don’t sell ready-made frames. “I stock a wide range of framing materials. I use mainly wood, which can be just plain or in gold, silver or other colours and with various stains and finishes. Frames can be flat, ornate or embossed. I create a frame appropriate for the picture. “The cost of a frame will vary according to the customer’s choice of materials — whether they want a moulding handmade in Italy, or one mass-produced.” Other requirements for the frame are the backing-board, for which Mr Jenkins uses mainly two millimetre MDF and acid-free barrier paper for the mounting of original art-work and everything of special value. Acid-free materials also protect older tapestry work. For the mounts he can offer a choice of more than 40 different shades, some of which can be used to highlight particular colours in a painting. And then there is the glass, for which the right type has to be chosen and is available with different coatings. At the Bath Street shop Mr Jenkins has an assistant, Jane Gallagher, who discusses customers’ requirements and also frames some of the smaller works herself. The shop is open on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Mr Jenkins still works from home at other times. In the downstairs showroom sample materials are on display and the shop has two workrooms on the first floor. Among its customers are artists. “Quite a few come in when Oxfordshire Artweeks is approaching,” said Mr Jenkins. “They have suddenly remembered how near it is to the time of their exhibitions.” He sometimes has requests for pictures to be restored but does not deal with this. “I am not a restorer or a conservator but I have experts to whom I can refer customers. I pass them on directly, I don’t act as a middle-man. They bring the picture back for framing when the restoration has been done,” he said. When photographs of a great age are brought in, Mr Jenkins is prompt to ask whether they have been digitally scanned, advising that this is essential to ensure they will not eventually fade completely. “Once they have been scanned, either the original or the scanned version can be framed,” he added. “I have also advised people not to have some items framed.. “I ask them if they are sure they want to see it hanging on a wall, or would they be just as happy with taking it out of a folder or elsewhere from time to time and looking at it. “I don’t believe in the hard sell. I want to make sure my customer is happy.” Surroundings has carried out a number of prestigious commissions involving the framing of historic documents, for which Mr Jenkins obtained advice from the Ashmolean Museum and Bodleian Library in Oxford. An unusual commission was to frame a teddy bear. This was a surprise gift for a female army officer from her staff. The bear was framed in a replica of a fire-alarm display unit, with the inscription ‘In case of emergency break glass.’” Ultimately Mr Jenkins’ enthusiasm for his business shines through and ensures a healthy trade. “We get a lot of repeat orders. I am never going to be a millionaire but I am never short of work. People are often thrilled with the results of their framing.”             

Designers to the stars

The Oxford Times: Camilla Leech

3:30pm Thursday 15th May 2014

Fashion bible Vogue and the Daily Telegraph are among those raving about a new interior design duo based in St Clements. Trunk Creative, made up of architect Camilla Leech and Sarah Ellison, have turned shabby chic into what they describe as “shabby urban”. There is nothing twee or cutesy about the looks they have created for a top hair salon, the complete gutting, extension and re-build of a listed town-house town and makeover of a warehouse apartment. Rather, their style has an edgy urban chic feel, helped by the fact Ms Ellison lives in fashionable east London. Projects range from those with a budget of £10,000 to £250,000 and everything in between. A couple of months ago they finished designing the interior of celebrity crimper George Northwood’s new salon in London’s west end. He looks after the hair of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Transformers star and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and TV presenter Alexa Chung and so the finished result was much lauded in the Daily Telegraph’s beauty section and Vogue. Another project included refurbishing a loft apartment in east London, including a new stainless-steel kitchen, zoning and making the most of the natural light. Ms Leech, who lives in Oxford’s Marston Ferry Road, studied architecture at what was Oxford Polytechnic, including a year working in Washington DC as part of her course. Once qualified, she worked for a number of practices in Oxford including ADP and Berman Guedes Stretton.  Early on, she specialised in restoration and was involved in a number of schemes for period or listed houses, colleges and schools in Oxford, including St Edward’s and St John’s College. After taking time out to have children, now teenagers, and following a divorce, she decided to refresh her skills and focus on her real passion for interiors by signing up for a two-year course at an interior design college in London. That was where she met Ms Ellison, whose previous career in events and big corporate organisations, including Virgin and The Guardian, give her expertise in project management, budgeting and client liaison. She was already interested in interior design and had used her skills to refurbish her own homes over the years, before going on the course. They began by designing for friends, then friends of friends and before they knew it, the business had taken off. Ms Leech said: “There are only two of us in Trunk Creative but we have complementary skills. “Sarah is incredible at what she does and I am very good at what I do.” Switching from architecture to interior design has been a smooth transition, she explained. “I changed camps. A lot of architects look down on interior designers but it is an incredibly difficult discipline. “And if we meet an architect on a job who is bolshie, I can discuss plans with them at their level and they suddenly change attitude. “My architectural training also means I can talk to builders on site about materials they are using and sketch drawings in front of clients.” Both are keen to use reclaimed wood, other materials and ‘upcycled’ furniture wherever possible, both for eco-reasons but also because it can give a strikingly individual look. They spend hours sourcing fabrics, materials, furniture and other items from flea markets, auctions and young, unknown designers, to dress a room. In one recent project, they used an ordinary £25 Ikea table but gave it a makeover to give it a designer look. But they do encourage clients to splash out sometimes, such as on one beautiful designer lighting fixture, or exquisite handmade kitchen worktop to make a stunning centrepiece. The two women Skype on a daily basis and meet up to three times a week to discuss projects and Ms Leech believes working from Oxford and London keeps them fresh. She says she is spending more hours working on Trunk than she did when she was employed. But she added: “I decided to take on the interior design diploma because it was something I had always wanted to do. “The children were older and I thought ‘this is my chance’. It turned out to be one of the hardest things I have ever done but love that the business is taking off and am prepared to put the hours in.”

The solar revolution

The Oxford Times: Professor Henry Snaith

3:00pm Thursday 15th May 2014

With energy prices set to soar and subsidies for clean energy tumbling, driving down the cost of the best sustainable technology has become essential for widespread adoption. It is against this backdrop that Professor Henry Snaith has been awarded the Outstanding Young Investigator Award for his work generating ever cheaper and more efficient solar energy. Professor Snaith, 36, from Abingdon, plans to revolutionise the solar industry with an ultra-thin layer of solar cells that can be printed onto glass. Speaking about the award, Professor Snaith said: “It is a great honour to receive the award and recognition such as this really helps to raise the profile of the exciting developments we are making in solar technology, which we believe will result in a transformational change across the world.” Professor Snaith is chief scientific officer at Oxford PV, a spin-out from Oxford University, and has exclusively licensed solar technology that he and his team are developing out of their Begbroke Science Park premises. He co-founded the company in 2010 with chief executive Kevin Arthur and the team has now grown to 24. PV, meaning Photovoltaic, is the process of converting solar radiation into electrical power, now the third most important renewable energy source in terms of global usage, after hydro and wind power. Chief technology officer Dr Chris Case said: “Everything you can generate through renewable resources offsets the carbon footprint, which is important to regulators and also to ordinary people.” Professor Snaith has licensed and is developing cells made from ‘perovskites’, which use abundant, environmentally friendly materials that are cost-effective to produce. Conventional solar panels are made from crystalline silicon originating from abundantly available sand, but use more energy to make and are therefore more expensive. Dr Case explained: “A huge amount of electrical and thermal energy goes into the production of silicon solar panels.” They achieve around 18-20 per cent efficiency, which means 20 per cent of the light falling on the cells is converted into electricity. “The perovskite cells use much less energy to produce,” Dr Case added. In just four years the perovskite cells have improved from five per cent to 17 per cent efficiency. The technology behind silicon solar panels has taken decades to reach this level. Professor Snaith’s perovskite cells are made from a crystal structure only one or two thousandths of a millimetre thick and can be printed onto glass to produce a transparent, coloured coating. Now, Oxford PV aims to create larger modules that meet international standards and can be applied as a thin film to building facades. This would cost much less than the equivalent power generated through conventional silicon panels. It is estimated installation of the perovskite technology will pay for itself within ten years. Mr Arthur worked on a business plan for Professor Snaith’s inventions for 11 months after founding the company, but funding was initially hard to find. Then, Mr Arthur heard about a competition held by the Technology Strategy Board. There was one problem: the deadline for submissions was at noon the next day. Mr Arthur swiftly perfected a two-minute pitch and, much to their delight, won the £100,000 prize. The pair started the licensing process for patents and hit the road pitching to investors, soon receiving an extra £700,000. Under the leadership of Mr Arthur, Oxford PV is expanding rapidly and now has £7m of equity and grant funding. The Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Materials Research society is not the first time Professor Snaith’s work has been recognized. In 2012, he was awarded the Institute of Physics’ Patterson Medal and in 2013 Nature magazine included him in its prestigious annual list of people who have made a difference to science — he was the only UK scientist to be included. However, safety is just as important to the team as energy efficiency. One part of the materials widely used to make peroskvites is lead. A drawback to using lead is that it is toxic, which can make disposing of it difficult. Oxford PV published research at the beginning of May showing that a lead-free perovskite made using tin has achieved around six per cent efficiency. Although this is lower than lead-based perovskites, it is the level of efficiency they were showing three years ago. Professor Snaith and the team are hopeful the efficiency can grow at a similar rate. Dr Case said: “In the future Oxford PV will be endeavouring to use lead-free perovskites and we see no reason why it won’t perform as well or even better.” Oxford PV is now expecting its first revenues by 2016 and the first office blocks that generate electricity from solar-power generating windows could follow the next year. This is a window of opportunity for a solar energy revolution.          ib

The small, sane voices of big pharma

The Oxford Times: Dr Chris Winchester

12:00am Thursday 15th May 2014

In 1952, a hitherto almost unknown writer of pulp fantasy stories reinvented himself overnight as the most frightening and sophisticated science fiction author of his age. At a time when DNA had still not been discovered, John Wyndham wrote The Day of The Triffids, a nightmare tale where, after an epidemic of global blindness, our place at the pinnacle of evolution is summarily and swiftly supplanted by genetically engineered carnivorous plants. Less than a decade later Wyndham revisited the theme with his book Trouble with Lichen. Here, though, the threat was not from a gene-engineered adversary but rather a gene engineered benefit — the Antigerone — a drug that confers a significantly enhanced (300 years plus) lifespan on its users. Trouble with Lichen remains one of Wyndham's lesser known books but to me it is one of the most thought provoking. The primary issue he highlighted was not so much the discovery of the wonder drug itself but how news of it would be managed. Today, nobody would bat an eyelid at the discovery of a life extending drug — except perhaps one that is so universal in its effects and so easy to take. After all, it is advances in medical science in all areas that results in the aggregate prolongation of life. An entire industry has grown up around the need to communicate information about new medicines and techniques and Oxford is at its epicentre. Indeed, in January this year the Government invested £7m in the Oxford Biosciences Hub based at Milton Park. Why is Oxford a centre for such an esoteric industry? Dr Chris Winchester, a senior executive at Tubney-based Oxford PharmaGenesis, said: “It is the combination of biomedical excellence coupled with a sophisticated publishing industry. Oxford has a long history in both.” Oxford PharmaGenesis has deep roots in the area. Its founder, Dr Graham Shelton, worked with a forerunner firm in the 1980s called The Medicines Group. In 1998 he set up Oxford PharmaGenesis and the company has not looked back. Today it employs 120 staff, has offices in four countries including Switzerland and the United States and a turnover of £12m. Because of the historical association with biosciences and publishing and the fact the city was a locus for companies such as Oxford PharmaGenesis to develop, many others such as Caudex Medical, Darwin Healthcare Communications and Watermeadow Medical Communicationsare also based here. Dr Peter Llewellyn runs the Oxford-based MedComms Networking Community. He explained: “We are an informal community of the various companies that have grown up in the area. “It’s a fact of economic life that people leave companies and set up on their own and that is the reason why Oxford is such a nucleus of MedComms excellence.” But there is another factor, according to Dr Winchester. He said: “The key to medical publishing excellence is the quality of our writers. Most are recruited at post-graduate level from the university and all are supremely talented. “I often think these people should be at the coal face of science, doing fundamental research with genetics and cancer research but the harsh fact is that there are not enough jobs and funding for them. So we have an embarrassment of riches in terms of talent.” Mr Llewellyn added: “And of course the money is good. Entry level salaries are not brilliant but after a couple of years in an agency and having developed as network of contacts the world is your oyster. Many medcomms writers set up as one-man bands and they can make very good money indeed.” As the medcomms market place develops the distribution of companies increases. There has historically been another, smaller nexus of companies around the Cheshire region but this is largely the result of the attraction of a huge AstraZeneca site at Alderley Park. That site is closing and with the continuing uncertainty about the AstraZeneca buyout by American Pharma giant Pfizer, the future for the Cheshire medcomms industry looks less secure than that based around Oxford. But Dr Andy Sheridan, communications director at Oxford PharmaGenesis, points out that the international pharma industry now refers to the region between London, Oxford and Cambridge as the ‘Golden Triangle’ for medcomms. It is clear there is a bright future for the industry. Mr Llewellyn regards a large part of his role as bringing talented bioscience students into the industry. He runs regular workshops for new recruits and organises the publishing of a careers guid for aspiring medcomms writers. Dr Winchester, Dr Sheridan and five other senior managers at Oxford PharmaGenesis bought the company last year from Mr Shelton. There is no question of moving or selling out however. “Our roots are in Oxford and that is where we intend to stay,” he said. In Trouble with Lichen Diana Brackley, the heroine who discovers the wonder drug Antigerone, received her degree from Oxford. In the novel she then devotes her life to the difficult business of making it available for all by subtly communicating its benefits to the wider world. Whoever said truth is stranger than fiction?

Blott on the landscape

The Oxford Times: Chris Manson

12:00am Thursday 15th May 2014

Name: Chris Manson Age: 47 Job: Founder, Blott, Oxford Contact: 01892 538597 Time in job: Three years

The green ink brigade

The Oxford Times: Deborah Glass-Woodin and Beth Titchborne

12:00am Thursday 15th May 2014

Next time you spot a leaflet campaigning against the closure of Temple Cowley Pools, or whipping up support for the local branch of the CND or Amnesty International, take a closer look. Chances are it has been produced by Oxford Green Print, an ethical and eco-friendly workers’ cooperative based near Cowley Road. Unlike many commercial printers, who use petroleum-based inks containing solvents and other potentially harmful chemicals, only vegetable-based ink is tolerated here. There is no paper waste, no chemical wash-downs or toxic fumes and everything is printed on recycled paper bought from another workers cooperative. Co-founder Deborah Glass Woodin explained: “It is much nicer to work with vegetable-based ink because you do not have to worry about it being toxic and the waste can go in recycling bins. Our machinery is all second-hand and we make it last forever.” Just as importantly, with no shareholders to please, the members are free to turn down material or organisations they consider unethical. She explained: “Someone came in with artwork for a talk about research into links between neuro science and post-traumatic stress disorder but the speaker was an army doctor and it did not feel right to support it.” The business operates from a corner of a room stuffed with colourful sofas and bookshelves in the East Oxford Community Centre in Princes Street. Working with Ms Glass Woodin is print technician Beth Tichborne who handles the Risograph high-speed ink printer, a model often viewed as ideal for schools, clubs, political campaigns and other short-run print jobs, because it bridges the gap between a photocopier and a commercial printer. Next to it stands a rather battered-looking guillotine which does an excellent job of cutting printed matter down to size. With a £30,000 turnover, Oxford Green Print will not give commercial printers sleepless nights but it does have plenty of satisfied customers and sees itself as fulfilling a community service, printing booklets, leaflets, posters, newsletters, office stationery and business cards for those who cannot afford an alternative. And it never advertises, relying on past and present clients to spread the word. As Ms Glass Woodin pointed out: “We don’t do books but we do pretty much anything else that is printed. “Price-wise, we are pretty competitive for short runs of full colour or big runs of spot colour.” The 52-year-old mother-of-two is a trained occupational therapist and there is a neat twist to the fact she has found herself in the print trade. Her grandfather owned a print works in London’s Brick Lane and she remembers helping him collate pamphlets and calendars when she was a child. The business that became Oxford Green Print was originally set up by the local Green party to produce cheap leaflets, although there is no ownership link now. Once it became apparent there were many community groups interested in producing cheap leaflets in an eco-friendly, sustainable way, it blossomed. At one time it was based in the back office of a business in Magdalen Road, before moving into a shop front, a few doors down the street. That was back in the 1990s, when Ms Glass Woodin’s husband Mike was involved. Mr Woodin, who died of cancer ten years ago aged 38, was national spokesman for the Green party and Oxford’s first Green councillor. As a widow with two children under five, Ms Glass Woodin, who is also a former councillor for the Greens, took over the reins at Oxford Green Print. She said: “The emphasis became to see if there was the market for an efficient, reliable, affordable and sustainable printer. It aims to offer a service that is not being provided elsewhere. “We do printing for student groups who can’t afford to do it unless they come in and do the finishing themselves. It lets them put out some fairly radical publications.” Officially, the work hours are 12-5pm Tuesday to Friday but she stressed there is a huge element of flexibility when it comes to deadlines. “If people need us to come in earlier, or stay later, we are often able to do that,” she added. Ms Tichborne, who started out as a customer before she ended up working there, pointed out: “When I was a customer and ringing up on a Saturday to ask if they could squeeze in 400 leaflets, they always came to the rescue.” Ms Glass Woodin added: “Part of our ethos is we will help you if we can. We really like what we do, so if we can enable people to carry on doing what they do, that is great. “It has always been about making cheap leaflets available for small groups with no money and it’s nice to be still part of that tradition.” Sometimes, to meet those deadlines, Ms Glass Woodin’s children, Talia, 14 and Rafi, 12, help her collate pages and stuff envelopes. Talking of tradition, there is a neat symmetry to the idea of a third generation involved with ink, albeit green now.            

Modernising the museum

The Oxford Times: Modernising the museum

12:00am Thursday 15th May 2014

How did we get to where we are? Why do things look the way they do? Such historical questions tend to crop up when you take a walk through Banbury's Castle Quay Shopping Centre, with its canal — redolent of the 19th century industrial revolution —- threading its way through the heart of 20th and 21st century shopping malls. Amazingly, answers to such questions are right there — and easily accessible for anyone with the time and inclination to visit Banbury Museum. It stands in the middle of the modern development, together with its shop, canalside cafe and information centre, not far from the still-functioning Tooley’s Boatyard and a mere 100 yards or so away from a multi-million pound hotel of the future — now on the drawing board as part of the next phase of this successful town centre regeneration scheme. But business-minded visitors might ask how the museum is funded? It is free to enter, after all. How can it possibly fit in with the consumer-driven environment of commercial enterprise that is Castle Quay, unambiguously designed to attract top high street retailers and each paying substantial rent? Thereby hangs a heart-warming tale of corporate responsibility, social enterprise, charitable work, call it what you will, which is fast developing into a case study model for others to follow. In 2013 Cherwell District Council divested itself of the responsibility of running the museum and instead appointed a chairman of a new entity called the Banbury Museum Trust to work unpaid to set up something called a Charitable Incorporated Organisation under new legislation introduced by Government specifically to help cut out the red tape which, all too often, ties itself up in knots when local authorities try to run not-for-profit enterprises. That chairman was retired Banbury businessman Bob Langton. He explained: “From the start I worked closely with the museum director Simon Townsend, who had already worked for 11 years as museum manager under Cherwell District Council. “We made a list of the entrepreneurial skills we needed on the board of the trust which was essentially a charity and a company limited by guarantee and then set about finding people in the county who possessed those skills. “We did not just go out to find the great and the good but specifically to find the skills we needed.” Mr Langton added: “It is astonishing how people are willing to give their time if they can see a clear objective.” And the objective here was clear, namely, as Cherwell District Council deputy leader George Reynolds — himself now a board member —- put it at the time of the transfer: to “ensure that it remains a treasure trove of the area's history”. In a short time Mr Langton had put together a board of nine, all experts in their fields, which many a commercial organisation would view as a sort of ‘dream team’. On the board now, besides Mr Langton and Mr Reynolds, are: solicitor John Spratt, accountant Andy Jones and surveyor Andrew Fairbairn. And for specialist skills there are: Helen Forde, chairman of the National Post Office Museum in London, Sara Billins, principal of the North Oxford Academy, Dan Wolfe, director of the Royal Horticultural Society and Stephen Johnston of the Museum of the History of Science in Broad Street, Oxford. All working for nothing. But why did Cherwell decide trust status was the way forward for Banbury Museum? Mr Langton, chatting over a coffee in the museum cafe, enumerated the advantages. “It saves public money — the council does not have the specialist expertise necessary; we can bid for funding in ways Cherwell could not. “It gives us the flexibility to take on volunteers when necessary and it is easier to get donations from private and corporate donors, or from legacies. It makes the decision-taking process far quicker.” Here museum director Simon Townsend, sitting alongside, cut in. “That is certainly true,” he said. And he should know, having managed the museum as both a public and a private amenity. “It broadens our sources of revenue and clearly makes it far easier for us to have the flexibility needed to become a provincial museum offering excellence,” Mr Townsend added. In that last respect Banbury Museum is fortunate to be in Oxfordshire and to be working closely with Oxford University. Recently it staged an exhibition from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History which meant that for insurance purposes there had to be someone on the floor all the time. Volunteers were used. The museum has just taken on a marketing manager and now employs 15 staff. These include managers of conferences, exhibitions, and education, as well as shop staff. Is this the model for provincial museums of the future? Probably yes. Gone, certainly, is any remnant of the dusty old image of museums that some of us remember. Instead, here is a vibrant community project that works and somehow manages to make the past relevant to the present. True, the trust only formally took over management in November 2013 (after the museum had been on its present site for ten years and had welcomed an incredible two million visitors), but already the future is looking rosy. Now the challenge is to become financially self-sufficient in readiness for the day when Cherwell District Council will cease to guarantee basic funding.           

Space to think

10:00am Thursday 17th April 2014

In these times of constant pressure to keep up with the pace of 21st century life, the opportunity to retreat to a place offering calm and tranquility can be precious.

First class travel

The Oxford Times: Martin Cowell

9:00am Thursday 17th April 2014

Martin Cowell has combined a love of travel with a successful business career to find himself running his own niche firm.

Cardboard furniture

The Oxford Times: Time flies clock in cardboard and wood

9:00am Thursday 17th April 2014

If you think cardboard furniture sounds about as much use as a chocolate teapot, then Nicola Russell would urge you to think again.

Beauty is skin deep

The Oxford Times: Tim Davies of Senzimi

8:00am Thursday 17th April 2014

Allergies and irritations can manifest themselves in all sorts of ways. Skin can be a particularly sensitive organ of the body and the range of diseases and conditions that affect humans seems to grow longer as the years pass by.

Better by design

The Oxford Times: Ripon College, Cuddesdon

8:00am Thursday 17th April 2014

The Oxford Preservation Trust has two major schemes — the highly successful awards now in their 37th year which celebrate conservation projects, new buildings, landscape and community schemes and Oxford Open Doors which take the general public behind the scenes of buildings that are not normally accessible.

Service with a smile

The Oxford Times: Simon Howell, 62, of the British Dental Health Foundation

4:46pm Tuesday 15th April 2014

Simon Howell, 62, of the British Dental Health Foundation, answers our questions

Designs on farming

The Oxford Times: Peter Allen, who designs livestock feeders for farmers

9:00am Thursday 20th March 2014

At 71, Peter Allen says he is “just getting going.” He specialises in the design and manufacture of feeders for all types of farm livestock and can produce bespoke designs to suit the needs of individual clients.

Bread from Poland with love

The Oxford Times: Peter Towpik

8:50am Thursday 20th March 2014

Some of us are old enough to remember visiting Communist countries in eastern Europe before Perestroika in 1989 — the unsmiling service, bread queues, the feeling that as a 'the customer you were always wrong.'

Rural broadband speed

8:00am Thursday 20th March 2014

When the Internet took off in the run-up to the millennium, futurologists were predicting that anyone with an office job would now be able to work from home.

French connection

The Oxford Times: Jane Comyn

10:20am Thursday 20th February 2014

Friends Jane Comyn and Ruthie Watson teamed up more than a decade ago to source antique French furniture and sell it.

Tailored for success

The Oxford Times: Shazad Sheikh

9:20am Thursday 20th February 2014

Independent shops are declining, particularly in Oxford with the rise of the Internet and the dominance of big names on the high street.

Past Perfect for nostalgia

The Oxford Times: Kathy Garner of Past Perfect

9:00am Thursday 20th February 2014

Foot-tapping music from the early 20th century is proving a hit for Past Perfect, an Oxfordshire company specialising in restoring records from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Revamp of Oxford Dictionaries website

The Oxford Times: Judy Pearsall of OUP with Chris Jones of White October

9:00am Thursday 20th February 2014

If you want to know what the word 'lexicography' means, what would you do? If you have a smartphone or computer, these days you ‘Google it’, rather than reaching for the dictionary. So what does that mean for the dictionaries business of Oxford University Press?

Lets Save Some Money

9:00am Thursday 20th February 2014

Sarah Willingham, of Lets Save Some Money, answers our questions

Retirement opens new doors

The Oxford Times: Jane Cranston

9:00am Thursday 20th February 2014

The irony of having failed a French O-Level at school is not lost on Jane Cranston. As financial director of Botley-based wine company Stevens Garnier, she now speaks the language fluently and visits the Loire frequently.

Murder mysteries

9:00am Thursday 20th February 2014

Buckets of blood and a severed head. These are just two of the tools of the trade that actor Alexander Rain keeps in his Witney flat, although he does not consider their presence unusual.

Arms and the Man

The Oxford Times: Fergus Wessel

11:17am Thursday 16th January 2014

Find out what you enjoy doing. Learn how to do it well. Then persuade the world at large to pay you for doing it.

Mumpreneurs start their own businesses

The Oxford Times: Personal trainer Kate Bennett (back) with  Anna de Burca (left with baby Lewis) and Alison Law (with baby  Henry)

11:02am Thursday 16th January 2014

Mother-of-two Kate Bennett swapped a two-hour commute for more time with her family by setting up her own business.

Walking on the wild side

The Oxford Times: Rob Allan and Marcus Waley-Cohen

11:00am Thursday 16th January 2014

Locked in the grip of foul January weather, it is hard to envisage images of flower meadows with wildlife foraging and insects buzzing around in the summer sun.

Shire: driven by nostalgia

The Oxford Times: Shire's Publisher Nick Wright

10:55am Thursday 16th January 2014

Many publishers would sell their grandmothers to be as successful as Shire Books. With titles like Medieval Wall Paintings and Tea and Tea Making, it has proved that people will still buy books, if they are interested enough in the content.

Peter Cookson - director of ladies' barbershop choir Harmony Inspires

The Oxford Times: Peter Cookson - director of ladies' barbershop choir Harmony Inspires

3:48pm Thursday 19th December 2013

Nicola Lisle talks to a man who is inspiring a new tradition

Andrzej Mialkowski: A real mover and shaker, Strictly speaking of course

The Oxford Times: CLASS ACT: Andrzej Mialkowski and Tina Tao rehearse for Strictly Oxford

10:00pm Thursday 5th December 2013

As a schoolboy, Andrzej Mialkowski was embarrassed to tell classmates he loved dancing.

All wired up

The Oxford Times: Darren Pond

9:50am Thursday 17th October 2013

He is more familiar to Oxford City fans as a creative spark in midfield, generating goalscoring opportunities for himself and the team.

Literary life

9:40am Thursday 17th October 2013

To authors, a literary agent is many things — adviser on narrative, writing technique and plot, a shoulder to cry on, but above all someone who brings in a living wage.

From Russia with TRIZ

The Oxford Times: Karen Gadd of Oxford Creativity

9:00am Thursday 17th October 2013

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, people flooded from East to West, but ideas mainly travelled in the opposite direction, with the spread of market economics into the former Communist bloc.

Hair style counsellor

The Oxford Times: Russell-John Barker

9:00am Thursday 17th October 2013

Russell-John Barker, of Mahogany Hairdressing, answers our questions about his career

Showcase for art

The Oxford Times: Caroline Marcus in The Oxford Gallery

9:00am Thursday 17th October 2013

Caroline Marcus has been working in the family jewellery business “since I was tall enough to stand behind the counter”, she says.

Celebration of life

The Oxford Times: Lucy Jane

9:00am Thursday 17th October 2013

For many people the idea of running a funeral parlour would not be high on the list of business ideas. But for Lucy Jane it is a dream come true.

Small screen success

The Oxford Times: Charlie Price

9:00am Thursday 17th October 2013

The way we watch television is changing dramatically. A generation ago there were just three channels watched on a wooden-cased set controlled manually with dials.

Making a fresh start

The Oxford Times: From left,Victor Webster, Akin Akinseye, Rod Nixon and Stuart Waddington, Chief Executive Equip  Photograph: David Fleming

9:00am Thursday 17th October 2013

Finding himself unemployed was the catalyst for Stuart Waddington to launch his own social enterprise to help other jobless people. The former charity worker is the inspiration behind Equip, a not-for-profit company offering paid work experience in catering and cleaning.

Career cast in stone

The Oxford Times: Career cast in stone

9:00am Thursday 17th October 2013

Company histories can be clouded by the passage of time and changes of ownership. In fact it was only when a client suggested she did some research on the business that the management of Abingdon Stone and Marble discovered it was far older than originally thought.

The next generation

The Oxford Times: The next generation

9:00am Thursday 17th October 2013

Do people invest in energy saving devices, such as solar panels, to save themselves money in the long run, or are they primarily motivated by 'doing the right thing' by the planet and by future generations?

Making your money do good

The Oxford Times: Jamie Hartzell

9:10am Thursday 18th July 2013

At the age of 54, Jamie Hartzell is on to his third career – and on the face of it, his three jobs could not be more different.

Spreading the word

12:00am Thursday 18th July 2013

Australian Will Caddy came to Britain as a backpacker. Fast forward a few years and he has a British wife and children — and his own business, an independent TV production company called M&Y Media, in Telford Road, Bicester.

Grassroots training

9:00am Thursday 20th June 2013

Suggest doing business in Africa, and people look bewildered. But Bicester-based Peter Wright, who has just joined Government export body UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) South East, believes business people ignore the continent at their peril.

Oxford Brainfoods

9:00am Thursday 20th June 2013

Why hasn't anyone thought of it before? That was the main question in my mind as I cycled to meet the founders of a company called Oxford Brainfood.

Happy Birthday Boswells

The Oxford Times: Happy Birthday Boswells

9:00am Thursday 20th June 2013

Happy birthday Boswells. Oxford’s largest independent department store, standing on the corner of Broad Street and Cornmarket, is celebrating its 275th anniversary this year — and there can be few of us, who grew up in or near the city, who do not have fond memories of the place dating back to our childhoods.

2013 Oxfordshire Business Awards shortlist

9:44am Tuesday 18th June 2013

The Oxfordshire County Council Energy & Environment Award: Nicholsons Nurseries, North Aston; Mapledurham Estates, Mapledurham



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