Blackdown Hills

About us

The Blackdown Hills Business Association (BHBA) is a not-for-profit membership based organisation supporting the fantastic array of businesses that operate within the Blackdown Hills and the surrounding market towns and villages of East Devon, Mid Devon, West Dorset, South Somerset and Taunton Deane.

The Blackdown Hills has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for over 25 years and is proud to celebrate the diversity of local services and skills provided, from micro business to small, medium and larger enterprises.

The vision of the BHBA has always been to help achieve a vital, vibrant, successful and sustainable economy within the Blackdown Hills, with the purpose to provide a relaxed and supportive environment in which businesses serving the Blackdown Hills can learn, connect and grow together.

 

The Blackdown Hills Business Association aims to:

  • Promote the skills and expertise of all businesses in the Blackdown Hills
  • Support the development and needs of businesses that contribute so much to the prosperity of the area
  • Engage with the local communities and visitors in the area
  • Connect and build partnerships with organisations outside the Blackdown Hills
  • Members to have exclusive access to networking and social events, industry news, funding and growth support, member-to-member offers, access to local training workshops and an array of marketing opportunities.

Meet the board members


 

Heather Stallard MBE

Heather Stallard MBE

Chairman & Founder

Heather has lived...

Heather has lived in the area for over 61 years farming with her husband and family. Heather’s skills and expertise are the result of very many years experience in a family business, community and county based organisations, charities, committees and boards.

Heather is currently Chairman and founder of the BHBA, as well as Chairman of the Dunkeswell Eco Park, the Hemyock Parish Council, the Blackdown Hills Parish Network, the Upper Culm Community Land Trust, the Garages Youth Centre and a member of the A.O.N.B. Management Group.  She was co-founder and remains a Trustee of the Blackdown Support Group. Heather was made an M.B.E. in 2006.

Duncan Gray

Duncan Gray

Board Member

Prior to Twistgates...

Prior to Twistgates Farm Cottages in Upottery, Duncan’s experience was marketing and managing companies in the logistics industry from start up to divisions of large corporations. Having travelled the UK extensively he is passionate about the Blackdown Hills, its history and the mix of artisan businesses that give the area such a depth of interest.

Steve Whitley

Steve Whitley

Board Member

Steve is a...

Steve is a Devon angora goat farmer, and owns Corrymoor, the original mohair socks for every walk of life.  Today the business offers so much more than socks including scarfs, throws, gloves and other gift items.  Steve is a hands-on farmer and well respected in the community, his knowledge and expertise is invaluable on the board of the BHBA.

David Ball

David Ball

Board Member

David has lived...

David has lived in the Blackdown hills since 2000. A family man with three daughters and seven grandchildren. David is a restorer of antique furniture, a director of the BHBA and the Dunkeswell Eco-Business Park. He set up his furniture restoration business from scratch in April 2005 and has undertaken restoration work on over 1300 pieces of furniture for more than 600 customers.

This followed a career in the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and responsibility for developing the SW Region’s Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food in 2004. During that career he undertook a secondment for three years (1995 -1998) as Chief Executive of the UK’s Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group with 130 staff and 300 volunteers. In 2001 he was seconded to run the foot and mouth operation in Somerset from Culmhead.

David brings recruitment, staff management and organisational skills to the BHBA as well as copy editing and proof reading capability. His practical skills were put to good use in preparing some of the workshop and office space for letting at Dunkeswell Eco-Business Park

Sarah Machin

Sarah Machin

Board Member

Sarah is the proud...

Sarah is the proud owner of Windover Farm Cottage in Madford on the outskirts of Hemyock with her family. The cottage offers true countryside accommodation for long and short breaks and welcomes visitors all year round.  Sarah has been a member of the BHBA for many years and now plays an active role on the board.  She also plays a key role in leading the BHBA Tourism Group open to all accommodation providers within the Blackdown Hills, meeting regularly over tea and cake sharing best practice and advice.

Sarah is involved in many groups and clubs in Hemyock and always has her hands busy looking after her family and their small holding.

Rebecca Bond

Rebecca Bond

Board Member

Rebecca and her family...

Rebecca and her family have been at Aplins Farm (Monkton) for three generations, where they are lucky to be surrounded by the beautiful Blackdown Hills, and overlook Dumpdon Hill.

Seven years ago Rebecca set up a small diversification business on her parents dairy farm, to help stabilise the volatile milk price; Otter Valley Dairy was born – it has been hugely successful and they attract both local customers and holiday customers from all over the world. These holiday customers are always in awe of the beautiful surroundings and they do their best to inform them about the Blackdown Hills and the wonderful businesses within it.

Before setting up the company 7 years ago – Rebecca worked for 6 years in Marketing, gaining her qualifications through the Chartered Institute of Marketing -she is pleased to bring these skills to the BHBA. You can follow her on Twitter @ottervalleydairy.

Adrian Stallard

Adrian Stallard

Board Member

Adrian trained...

Adrian trained and qualified with one of the major international accountancy firms in the late 1980’s, Adrian joined Lentells in 1996. With a focus on specialist audits and corporate work Adrian deals with many of Lentells larger clients as well as a broad range of individuals and partnerships. Adrian believes in providing a hands-on personal service to all clients regardless of their size and complexity. He has a good knowledge of IT applications, including Sage. Adrian is married with a young family and lives on the edge of Hemyock.

Emma Finch

Emma Finch

Board Member

Emma grew up...

Emma grew up in South West London and moved to the west country, where her paternal family stem from, in 2004. Emma lives in Dunkeswell now and since 2012 she has been a self-employed Devon and Somerset reflexologist. Her passion is the body/mind connection and how our thoughts and patterns of behaviour can affect the body positively and negatively. She very much enjoys helping people find a more meaningful place in their lives leaving them better able to deal with the everyday.

The BHBA has been incredibly supportive to Emma and her business since 2013 and in 2016, she volunteered to become a BHBA Board Member. Knowing how challenging and isolating self‑employment can be at times, as a ‘peoples person’ she hopes to bring a heart and soul element to the table encouraging entrepreneurs not to lose sight of their overall well-being, and also encourage inter-business connectedness and support.

Claire Stepney

Claire Stepney

Co-ordinator

Claire grew-up in...

Claire grew-up in the Blackdown Hills from the age of 10 and then worked throughout the South West building a career in Hospitality & Event Management for 20 years.  Returning to the Blackdown Hills in 2011 Claire launched her own Wedding and Event Consultancy; providing event management for local businesses and bride and grooms to be.

Claire’s father was one of the founder members of the Business Association in the late 1980’s so she is  delighted to continue the community association almost 30 years on.  Claire has been a member of the BHBA herself for many years and recently took-up the role of co-ordinator for the BHBA in 2016.  Claire proudly organises the BHBA events, meetings, workshops and directory and of course the flagship event, the Blackdown Hills Marquee at the Honiton Show.