News & Features

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Today marks International Women’s Day. The event is held on 8th March every year to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

To commemorate this special day, we are celebrating some of the inspiring women at TDA and the work that they are doing to improve the lives and opportunities of women across the South West.

Kim Thornton, Business Advisor

Kim is one of our two TDA Business Advisors and dedicates her time to supporting Torbay businessowners or those looking to start a business in the area. A former business owner herself who ran successful pubs in both Spain and the UK, Kim knows first-hand the challenges and opportunities facing small businesses.

As a mother to four children, she also understands the challenges of balancing family life and childcare with running a business and is keen to support female business owners (who make up 65% of her clients) in ways that work for them.

Kim says: ‘‘A key element of what I do is to be accessible and many women I support have families and the childcare falls to them. My clients can bring their children to appointments if needed and I know that this has greatly helped many women in business that I have worked with.’’

An advocate for small business, Kim offers practical advice, skills training and support via 1:1 sessions and workshops. This support gives people the skills, expertise and confidence to turn their business ideas into reality and to help their businesses thrive.

Kim says: ‘‘I’ve supported so many amazing female entrepreneurs over the years. One business that I am currently supporting is run by a single mum to four children. She was a teacher who wanted to set up a new business offering alternative provision for schoolchildren. Together, we worked through a business plan so she could get financial support and her business Maker Arts CIC was born. I continued to support her as she looked for and secured premises, and I continue to support her now as her business grows from strength to strength.’’

Helena Davison, Build Torbay Skills Coordinator

Helena spearheads TDA’s Build Torbay programme which was established in 2021 to inspire young people to take up rewarding careers in construction; and maximise the benefits of Torbay’s transformational regeneration projects for the local community. With salaries 15% higher than the UK average, construction is the second highest paid sector in the UK after financial services, offering a promising and lucrative career.

As part of her role, Helena speaks regularly to young people and schools across Torbay through a range of different engagement events and activities. While her activities are aimed at all young people in the area, Helena is particularly passionate about encouraging girls and young women to consider a career in construction.

Women are significantly underrepresented within the UK construction industry; something Helena is hoping to change through Build Torbay. Currently women make up just 3% of workers on site and only 15% of the industry as a whole. But there is appetite for change and companies across the built environment are keen to attract women into this high-opportunity sector.

One of the highlights of Build Torbay so far was an event Helena organised with world-famous engineer Ailie MacAdam and Torquay Girls Grammar School. Allie gave a motivating talk about her career in one of the biggest construction companies in the world which was live streamed from Pittsburgh, USA to the pupils in Torbay. The talk was very well received and inspired the pupils to consider a career within the Built Environment Sector.

Watch Ailie MacAdam’s talk:

Rebecca Davies, Economic Development Team Leader

Becky leads our Economic Development Team, supporting, motivating, conducting one to ones, team meetings, appraisals and reviewing training needs. Since joining TDA seven years ago, Becky has been the driving force behind several projects and initiatives designed to strengthen the economic prosperity of Torbay and improve the lives of local people and businesses.

Passionate about Torbay and the South West, Becky has worked tirelessly to support and boost the tourism sector, including supporting businesses through the COVID-19 crisis, developing the English Riviera Destination Management Plan, and securing funding for marketing campaigns and sector initiatives. Becky also played a key role in supporting the Great South West Tourism Partnership which won the ‘Outstanding Contribution to South West Tourism’ Award in the 2021/22 Tourism Excellence Awards. In addition, Becky successfully delivered Torbay’s ‘Opportunities through Apprenticeships’ Pilot, which established our Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and the Torbay Apprenticeships Fair.

As a successful woman in her field, Becky believes in championing and celebrating women in business and in TDA. Her hard work and commitment were recognised by her peers and last year at the Devon Women in Business Awards 2022 she was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Employee of the Year Category.

Becky says: ‘‘I’m very proud of my achievements. I’m focussed on positivity and wellbeing, I have a passion to help people, to be their best and to live their best lives. I’m driven by wanting to make a difference to others. I have high standards with an eye for an opportunity!’’