Ilfra-Expo 2013 – a brand new art event that needs your support!

Ilfracombe is holding its own art event this summer.  Running from July into August, Ilfra-Expo will be presenting a selection of emerging and established artists from across the UK.

Artworks are created in response to Ilfracombe and will be displayed in a variety of venues throughout the town, including large-scale public artworks that will remain in place throughout the summer. You can follow the process on twitter @ilfraexpo and on Facebook.

This event is a pilot for future events and is relying on the community’s support.

Could you help by volunteering your time? We need support from people with a good local knowledge to offer guided tours and to act as live guides in some of the venues. You need to be confident talking to other people and have a desire to positively promote the event and Ilfracombe.

Can you be available between 14 July and 11 August 2013?

Please contact Erin Rickard for more details:

Working to support youth employment and enterprise

Youth employment, enterprise and training eventCOMBEbusiness is pleased to be devoting our 6 February event at the Ilfracombe Centre to youth employment, enterprise and training.

Latest figures for Jobseekers Allowance claimants in North Devon show that 31.4% are aged under 24.

While this is falling, the community needs to take more action to support young people into careers, business or training.

We welcome you to our informal event for students, jobseekers, families and employers to share information and experience and ask any questions.

• If you know of young people undecided about their future, please invite them.
• If you have children or relatives needing information, please come along.
• If you want to find out about incentives to employ young people or apprentices, please come along.
• If you want to pass on your knowledge or offer work experience, please come along.
• If you have vacancies, please come along.
• If you have suggestions, please come along.

We won’t have all the answers, but we can try to provide answers.

Please download and display or distribute our event poster and event details to anyone you think will be interested.


Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe are fortunate to have hundreds of good quality independent businesses that are a credit to our community.

Independents’ Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate these assets and demonstrate our appreciation by using them. Let’s use as many of these businesses as possible to secure their future and the well-being of our towns and villages not just on 4 July but every day.

Sadly, the alternative is plain to see in many towns across the UK.

COMBEbusiness submits Portas Pilots application for Ilfracombe

COMBEbusiness in conjunction with Ilfracombe Town Council has submitted an application to the Department for Communities and Local Government for selection as one of the 12 Portas Pilot towns in the UK.

Thanks to all who helped, including those who took part in our supporting video:

Thanks to Peter Cooper of Ilfracombe Arts College for filming and editing the video, a genuine community production.


Parents can ask careers questions at Petroc exhibition on 14 March

Parents’ Hour from 5.30pm to 6.30pm at Petroc’s Careers Exhibition on Wednesday 14 March 2012 gives parents the opportunity to any questions they have about their children’s careers option to a panel of careers professionals.

The main event at the Brannams Campus at Roundswell in Barnstaple runs from 1.00pm to 7.00pm and will focus on education, training, apprenticeships and employment opportunities.

For full details, please visit

Scam warning for shop owners

Below is a message forwarded by Launceston Chamber of Commerce warning about a scam to trick shops out of money. The scam has also been operated in other Cornish and Devon towns, so all shops should be alerted:

There was a big problem in Launceston last week which may be heading your way, and as many people as possible need to be aware of.

A woman has been visiting shops, taking things from shelves unseen, then taking them to the counter and saying she purchased the item(s) some days ago and they are damaged.

Before taking the items to the counter she is damaging the items herself, usually by cutting them with scissors, or simply breaking them in her hand.

Of course she has no receipts, but targets shops which are national chains (and may therefore offer refunds without receipts) or small independents where she tries to intimidate shop staff. If a refund is not offered quickly, she says she is in a hurry with children waiting in the car, in order to try and rush and confuse shop staff.

We know of 11 shops in Lanson where she managed to obtain a refund for her stolen/damaged goods. We know of another 3 who have found damaged (cut with scissors) good on their shelves – obviously from where the woman did not go through with the scam for whatever reason. I suspect more will come to light in the coming days.

She has targeted a range of shops, from pet shops to chemists, newsagents, hardware shops and gift shops, and seems to select goods with a value of £20 or more. Everything from reading glasses, books, pet toys & collars, scarves, gloves and hardware items.

Of course we have been in contact with the police, who initially refused to go round the shops to see who had been victims of this scam.

Thankfully one of our members went round all shops in town and alerted them to the issue. Because of the nature of the scam, many were unaware they had been conned, seeing it as just an individual instance of a customer refund for damaged goods.

Only when we all started to talk together about it have all the instances come to light. It seems the woman made good money in Launceston over the course of last week, taking hundreds of pounds from businesses who not only lost the cash they refunded for a sale that was never made, but are also left with damaged goods which they cannot sell.

If there is any way you can make your members aware of this scam then maybe people will be more on their guard than we were in Launceston, and maybe the woman can be caught if someone recognises the scam and calls the police while she is still in town.

The police are currently trying to find a CCTV picture, but it seems she has been dodging them well, despite being in town for several days over the weekend.

I think the main town system will take some trawling through as it is unmanned during the day, Boots CCTV was out of order and the one other shop she went to which had CCTV didn’t have a camera covering the downstairs sales area.

The best description we have is that she is between 35 and 45 with shoulder length dark hair, some have said slightly wavy, some have said it was straight. On Saturday she was wearing a fake fur coat (how people can spot her coat was a fake yet not know what her hair was like I don’t know) and presented herself as quite ‘well to do’, saying she lived in Falmouth and worked in M&S.

On Monday people say she was less well dressed and was wearing a white top and had a bad cold sore on the corner of her mouth, but of course that may have healed by now.The key to her identification is her method. If a refund is not quickly offered or people insist on receipts, she starts to get agitated and gives all sorts of reasons why she can’t return with the receipts. Her husband purchased the items, or she has driven a long way. She also targets items of which there is only one left on the shelf (or takes the remainder if there are a few).

While this is clever, as it means the shop staff cannot offer a straight replacement for the damaged item she is ‘returning’, it could also bring about her downfall. In small shops staff tend to know what stock they hold, and if they have just one or two units of a high value item they are likely to know if they have sold the last one(s). That is what bought this to light, she took an item to the counter in a pet shop and the girl knew they had only had one in stock; she had not sold it and had been working in the shop on the day the woman claims it was purchased. She raised the alarm with me and then went round to other shops and the scale of the scam became apparent.

The stories are still coming out from various shops as we find more who had been conned without even realising it. Today I have just learned that it is thought a woman was doing the same thing in Paignton 2 weeks ago. Most likely the same person, and more likely that she is touring local towns and only staying as long in each as she thinks she can get away with.

Get Started, Keep Going: business support programme wins funding

Awards for All Big Lottery Grant funds business support

Big Lottery FundCOMBEbusiness has obtained a £5,640 Awards for All grant from the Big Lottery Fund to support its ‘Get Started, Keep Going’ training, development and support programme for businesses in the Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe area.

Established as a not-for-private-profit company in April 2011, the voluntary directors of COMBEbusiness are committed to providing relevant practical support that meets the precise needs of the businesses it represents.

“We asked members what training and support they need to grow and the Awards for All grant has enabled us to build Get Started, Keeping Going around these requirements,” said chairman Robert Zarywacz. “The 12-month programme will provide high value, affordable training and mentoring for anyone wanting to start a new business and for owners who want to expand and develop existing businesses. We’re also putting in place business rescue support so we can guide those businesses facing difficulties to find help and advice fast.

COMBEbusiness has received a grant from the Awards for All Big Lottery Fund
(from left) COMBEbusiness directors Sarah Lock, Tim Cox, Paul Yabsley, Clare Flint and Robert Zarywacz celebrating the Awards for All Big Lottery Fund grant

“We’re ensuring that we use local business expertise to deliver the programme wherever possible so that the funding feeds directly into the local economy.

“We’d like to thank director Tim Cox who prepared the successful grant application and the Big Lottery Fund for approving it.”

The Big Lottery Fund distributes half of the National Lottery good cause funding across the UK. The Fund aims to enable others to make real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need.

Further funding boosts programme further

COMBEbusiness is also receiving support from North Devon+, who have offered additional funding for ‘Get Started, Keep Going’ through its Leader 4 Training for Business Excellence scheme.

“This is excellent news,” added Robert. “Working in partnership with North Devon+ enables us to co-ordinate activities and ensure funding is targeted at those businesses who need help most. We’d like to thank Janet Herniman at North Devon+ for obtaining this very welcome additional support for COMBEbusiness.”

A third boost has been received from Ilfracombe Town Council in the form of a £480 grant.

“This third grant will provide valuable help with venue hire and other costs and we thank Ilfracombe Town Council for its support.”

With an emphasis on action, COMBEbusiness has already held its first workshop on selling on eBay and scheduled a social media workshop for February 21. Further training is planned to cover marketing, sales and retailing.

Details of Get Started, Keep Going training, development and support will be added to this web site shortly.



Happy New Year for 2012

There’s no denying that 2011 has been a tough year and that 2012 promises equal, if not greater, challenges. Yet businesses in the area have shown their enterprise, enthusiasm and optimism and we look forward to the year ahead with hope.

However you choose to enjoy the festive period, we hope you enjoy it and we wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!