Friday, September 20, 2013

An Invitation to 10 Downing Street for Fancy Dress Fanatics

In early September we received a most unusual invitation - to go the 10 Downing Street for a reception with Prime Minister David Cameron to celebrate the success of the Government's Start Up Loans scheme and showcase some of the recipients of the loan and what they have achieved with it.

Out of over 8,000 loan recipients through the Start Up Loans Company (plus others who have received funding through other routes, such as the NEA (New Enterprise Allowance), 70 of us were picked to attend the reception, hosted at No 10. Other faces making an appearance included Dragon's Den star James Caan (who is Chairman of the start Up Loans company) and Dragon's Den success story Levi Roots. Plus some others I probably didn't recognise.

The best way I can describe the event was 'Surreal'. Walking through the gates to Downing Street past the tourists clicking their cameras at the famous landmark was bizarre to start with, but when it got really strange was at the front door! Stood with others who were on the invite list, we asked the Policeman (who is probably the happiest Policeman I've ever met!) what we do. Do we wait outside to meet someone? Is there anywhere special we should wait? The answer.... just knock at the door. As though it was the most normal thing in the world to knock at the iconic 10 Downing Street door and walk in. and it really was that simple.

We were made to check in our phones and any camera equipment (although I later saw many hadn't and were using iPads to take pictures. At times like this I regret always doing what I'm told!). The reception was held in a room upstairs with canapes and drinks. We all had an opportunity to chat to each other about what we did with the loans and how our businesses were going and it was great to speak to others who had done the same as I had, and find out about their challenges in getting started. I got talking to a guy called Frazer who had started a business called 'Mirrors By Design', and his business sounded fantastic.

When David Cameron came in, he greeted a few of us on his way through, then stood on a stage to make a speech about how young entrepreneurs are the future. It was a really good speech and came across very heartfelt and genuine. During the speech, I realised I was stood just behind James Caan (who actually accidentally stepped on the tip of my shoe - bit exciting!). After the speech Frazer and I spoke to James Caan for a few minutes. Definitely a high point for me as an avid viewer of Dragon's Den (and he was a firm favourite of mine).

It was such an amazing experience, and so interesting to meet some of the other loan recipients there and find out what they had done with their loans. There are some seriously talented young people in our country and this scheme is brilliant for harnessing that skill, enthusiasm and potential. 

Even better, the event was also to celebrate the funding having an additional £34m added to it, and opening it up to over 30's. Initially the schemes were for young entrepreneurs aged 18-24, and then up to 30, but now it's being extended to all ages which is brilliant (I was only just young enough when it was 18-30!).

We were also very pleased to have an article published in the Bristol Post about this, which can be viewed here:

Come and have a look at what it's all about! Pop into our Fancy Dress shop in Bristol, at the top of Cheltenham Road just by The Arches, or contact us:

Fancy Dress Fanatics 
212 Cheltenham Road

Tel 0117 329 0093

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