CBeebies Presenter, Katy Ashworth, becomes ambassador to Bristol business, Freelance Mum

Cbeebies presenter, Katy Ashworth, has become ambassador to the Bristol networking group, Freelance Mum.

The ‘I Can Cook’ presenter and children’s entertainer, joined Freelance Mum earlier this year, when she guest spoke at their Brave, Bold and Bonkers event in March on International Women’s Day.

A freelancer and mum to Charlie (3) Katy is no stranger to the world of freelancing and motherhood,

It’s a real honour to be ambassador for Freelance Mum. As a busy freelance mum, I know how bonkers it is, juggling your career around children. Freelance Mum gives people a chance to connect with others in the same boat. It’s a real lifeline and great to be part of.”

Founder of Freelance Mum and voiceover artist, Faye Dicker said,

“I’m delighted Katy is joining us. From the moment we first spoke, we just clicked –  we shared the same understanding of freelancing and motherhood. When Katy guest spoke in March, she instantly connected with the group. She might be a celebrity, but she ‘gets it’, people relate to her world and her to ours. The mums and little ones all love her”.

Freelance Mum runs networking events in Bristol, which allow parents in business to network and crucially, bring their children. Born of Faye Dicker’s own need, after having children, Freelance Mum started as a blog and podcast in 2013, to help freelance parents connect. The networking events launched in July 2014, after realising there was a need for parents to meet face to face.

The group now meets twice a month at Windmill Hill City Farm and St Paul’s Church in Southville. Attracting up to 40 mums and their children, to each meeting.

Katy will be speaking at their third birthday party, on July 13th on ‘Why 3 is the magic number’.

  • Location: St Paul’s Church, Coronation Road, Southville, Bristol, BS3 1DG
  • Date: Tuesday 13th July, 10am – 12 noon
  • Tickets £7.50 + booking fee
  • Book on Eventbrite 

For more details, contact Faye Dicker on 07967 135163 or email faye@freelancemum.co.uk

View the event details on the Freelance Mum website.

The Master Fixer

“It started at brownies at a very young age. I was always the one that got things done – I was always the one organising, say a little girls disco, or selling home made perfume in little jam jars. I was always the one that got people galvanised into action. I got so many badges! I’m not really competitive, but helping is something that drives me a lot. The fact that I had an armful of badges was lovely, but the fact that my mates did too, was even better”.

Linda Davies- Carr, The Master Fixer

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Brave, Bold and Bonkers – Freelance Mum reflects

Brave, Bold and Bonkers – Freelance Mum reflects on International Women’s Day

It’s hard to believe that Brave, Bold and Bonkers was a week ago. The annual Freelance Mum celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) and showcase event, went with a bang! Every last minute of planning and preparation was worth it, to see the sense of unity and magic in the room, throughout the day.

It was the third year of Brave, Bold and Bonkers and it’s grown increasingly bigger every year. A little feature added here, a tweak there – until this year we took to a new venue, in the form of the previous HTV Television Studio, now known as Bath Road Studios.

Just changing the venue alone, gave it a sense of excitement – there’s something about holding a networking event in a broadcasting studio, which had an added twist. And from a personal point of view, felt like I was going 360 degrees, returning to the place I started out with HTV Drama Workshop at the age of 14.

With it, of course, came a few constraints – with no kitchen facilities, catering needed to be brought in. It was The Chocolate Bear Kitchen – a dab hand at pop up events, who rose to challenge of feeding 50 mums and children, keeping them fed and watered. And while HTV really was a bare studio and gave us a blank canvas to work with -it also required ‘dressing’ for the day.

Fortunately, we were armed! With March 8th firmly in the diary every year, ideas had been bubbling for some time. Including, getting a piece of graffiti commissioned especially for the day, but freelance parents, Graft. Between them they provided two pieces, which added colour and style to the venue – as well as reflecting the Freelance Mum values and Bristol vibe.

And while the event was called Brave, Bold and Bonkers – it turned out to be Brave, Bonkers and Bold with a last minute change to the running order. Just what every event organiser needs! Though, like all these things – it very much worked out for the best.  Three guest speakers, each one speaking on their given topic of Brave, Bold or Bonkers – and what it means to them in their chosen business.

As the day began, every one was given Freelance Mum tote goody bags, stuffed with goodies from sponsors IPSE and Redmaids High School, plus all sorts of lovelies from fellow freelance mums. Not to mention, cut out paper hot air balloons – a key part of the day.

The Icebreaker

Like all Freelance Mum events, the day began with an icebreaker – a chance to mix the group up and get chatting instantly. As the event was held in a Television Studio, it seemed only fitting for the theme to be headlines, with the group divided into 4 smaller groups and each given an envelope of real headlines. One brave, one bold and one bonkers (are you spotting a theme yet?) the task was to ditch one of the headlines, then write their own to read as a newsreader – complete with wig and glasses! The rest of us had to guess the fake headline.

Brave – Jacki Hill-Murphy

From there to the opening guest speaker – Brave, aka Adventuress, Jacki Hill-Murphy. I first met Jacki several years ago, when working at Radio Bristol. She stayed in my mind – with her incredible tales of retracing females explorers footsteps and film making/documenting their journeys. Well, it was hardly a tale that was going to blend into the background! From the off, Jacki’s story was brave – from making the decision to retrace the footsteps, to going out there and doing it, nothing has stopped her. Yet -like many inspirational speakers, modest with it. She brought her book with her to sign and a piranha fish – as every Brave guest speaker does.

Bonkers – Katy Ashworth

As Jacki reached the end of her talk, cbeebies Katy Ashworth casually walked into the studio, ready to begin her Bonkers talk. Every inch as lovely in real life as she on the television, Katy was totally at home at Freelance Mum. You almost had to pinch yourself to when you stopped and thought, it REALLY was a CBeebies presenter, joining us for the day. Well, I did anyway!

Katy came on my radar, in a Freelance Mum way, a couple of years ago at the opening of a local Play Barn. She’d only given birth a week or so prior to the event and was juggling those early days of motherhood, with a personal appearance. I can remember looking at her and thinking ‘I get it, I know your bonkers world’. So when a mutual friend of mine, said I must introduce you, I jumped at the chance. In fact, I’ll never forget when we first spoke and I asked her if she’d like to speak as ‘Bonkers’. We both had goose bumps as Katy explained she has wanted to tell her story of life as a freelance single mum, for some time and just how bonkers it is, juggling the pains of one thing, while putting on a huge smile and entertaining children.

Freelance Mum seemed like the perfect place for that story, with Katy’s incredibly honest, comical and down to earth style – she wore her heart on her sleeve and had us both laughing and crying. She was amazing.

Bold pledges

We were particularly blessed this year, as the IWD theme for the year was BeBoldForChange – echoing our own theme of Brave, Bold and Bonkers, it was easy to weave in. As Katy wrapped her talk, she held up her paper hot air balloon and wrote down her bold pledge ‘Create More Space’. Every one was asked to write down their bold pledge on their hot air balloon (we chose the hot air balloon, as something which can be seen from a great height and show the world your message. Also, in keeping with the Bold challenge, led by Artist Emmie Simpson).

The pledges were then pegged to the pink noticeboard, for every one to see – ready for our secret surprise at the end of day. Now, in the interests of transparency, I was approached by Teacher Boards to blog about their rainbow board prior to the event. When I think of all the products I’ve been asked to blog about over the years, it might seem an unusual one to feature – but I could see it would get used. Not just at home, where it could hung on the wall – but also at outside events. It seemed only fitting to use it at Brave, Bold and Bonkers – where the Freelance Mum trademark pink, stood bright for all to see and really lit up the studio. Not to mention, did a brilliant job of displaying a beautiful array of bold pledges. I was so pleased I was able to use as part of the event, every inch in keeping with the Freelance Mum impromptu style and fun way of approaching things.

Netwalking

Any regular attendee of Freelance Mum, will know every meeting has a signature netwalk. It’s a key part of every minute. There’s something about fresh air, that gives fresh thinking. Not to mention, it’s a darn sight easier to talk with children in their pushchair or scooter! We were blessed with the setting, right next to Arnos Vale Cemetery – a beautiful setting. As usual, the walk was divided into three sections, with the opportunity to talk to a new ‘buddy’ at each section and be given a new focus question. A great way to get conversation started.

 

 

Bold – Emmie Simpson

And while we were netwalking, there was a whole team of people beavering away – resetting the studio, ready for Emma’s Bold workshop and turning the hot air balloon bold pledges into carefully handwritten bold key rings. An important keepsake and reminder of the day.

Finally it was over to ‘Bold’ – aka, Artist Emmie Simpson. A familiar face at Freelance Mum and some who has really grown in the group. I can remember quite clearly chatting to Emmie for the first time, funnily enough on the netwalk – as we were passing the M-Shed. She told me she was an artist and that I might know her work – in fact, it was in the M-Shed. As I looked through the window and instantly recognised her pictures, I felt slightly star struck that I was actually talking to her!

Three years on and Emmie came to the fore at Brave, Bold and Bonkers – concluding the day with a beautiful interactive giant colouring in of her work. It was the iconic balloons over Bristol image, which was blown up into 6 A1 sheets. In turn, the attendees were divided into 6 groups and had half an hour to colour in their section. No pressure then!

Some chilled out music played in the background, while I surveyed the industriousness going on around me. Groups of women, coming together, cutting out magazines, making collages, borrowing glue, chatting away – united together. It was an incredible moment.

And as Emmie joined the pieces together, the microphone was passed around and for those who were happy to share their bold pledge, announced it to the group. When the final person shared their pledge, I revealed the key ring keepsakes, their pledges had been turned into (which in true Freelance Mum style, Emmie had got her boys making, in ready preparation for the event!).

The final moment of the day came, when the giant picture finally came together. I can’t tell you how nervous I was – waiting to see if it would stand up and actually work! It did – it really did work. The sense of unity in the room was amazing, for a group of people to see the fruits of their labour, many of whom hadn’t even met before. It felt like a fitting end to a perfect day.

To me, Brave, Bold and Bonkers is the showcase event for Freelance Mum. As an organiser, it almost felt like organising my own wedding – the level of detail that went into the day. Yet much like a wedding, it was worth every minute and the love you could feel in room – wow, if only you could bottle that vibe. There is no denying, there were times in the run up, I felt I must be brave, bold and bonkers to organise such an event – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Such a celebration of freelance mums, coming together, in a supportive environment, is an incredible occasion.

Thank you to our amazing supporters

With huge thanks to every one who helped Brave, Bold and Bonkers go smoothly – from putting up the chairs, to helping with parking duty, stuffing goody bags and stamping key rings. I couldn’t have done it without you. To sponsors IPSE and Redmaids High School, for working together to support freelancers and the next generation. To Teacher Boards, for the beautiful board for our bold pledges. Special thanks to freelance mum, Nicola Jane, for providing these lovely photos of the day and every Freelance Mum events.

Freelance Mum is runs networking events, designed to allow parents in business to network AND bring their children.

Olio – The food sharing revolution

Since having children, I can not get over how much of my time is spent planning the next meal. It’s fairly standard to be contemplating what am I going to cook for tea, before I’ve even had breakfast. And while I’m a big believer that food is one of lifes simple pleasures, it’s not quite the same once you’re the one dreaming up all the meal-time ideas. Children (or at least mine) don’t seem to have nearly as much appreciation for tucking in – leaving you with a cupboard of products, a fridge full of vegetables and far too much waste.

As a woman who can’t abide gluttony or waste in equal measures, it frustrates me when I find myself throwing perfectly good food away, just because it didn’t get eaten. It would seem I’m not alone in my thinking.

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Banksy At Bridge Farm

“In this particular instance, we sent a note to Banksy’s PR – saying please doing something with us or for us and this is his response”.

 Geoff Mason, Headmaster of Bridge Farm School

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Tots Up Reward Bus

Like many parents, sleep is a big topic of conversation in our household – namely the lack of it. It would seem we have not one, but two children, who are both programmed to wake at 5.30am every morning. It’s not funny. No matter how many times we explain ‘you have to stay in bed until your clock goes yellow’, up they leap announcing it’s broken and they want to get up.

That is, until we tried the Tots Up Reward Bus. Knowing I’m the mum of two pre schoolers, a good friend put me onto the bus (so to speak) and it’s spot on. A simple reward chart, that celebrates good behavior in a fab & fun way. A tried and tested concept, with a design that is something special.

As the name suggest, the Tots Up Reward Bus, is a 3D magnetic bus – complete with it’s own bus stop of passengers. Every time the child does something that deserves a reward, they’re allowed to put a passenger on the bus – until all 10 passengers are on the bus. I don’t know who was more excited to put the first passenger on the bus – me or Jemima!

It’s the brainchild of Sally Marks – a graphic designer and lecturer in graphic design. The concept was born 15 years ago when she was working for a spell with children on the autistic spectrum. Any good behavior was celebrated, while trying to ignore negative behavior. Not surprisingly reward charts played a large part in things & she quickly designed a basic paper bus, which allowed them to chart their success.

The bus didn’t make an emergence again until several years later, when she was potty training her own son. She went back into her files and dug out the paper bus, stuck it to the fridge with the passengers, who in turn were stuck on to the bus with blu tack, every time a reward was needed. It was a friend who noticed it & asked if she could have one to use in her house, which sparked the idea – if other people liked the bus, was she onto something?

So last year, Sally began a start-up course for businesses & the Tots Up Reward Bus was born. She’s worked closely with an educational psychologist who agreed the reason the bus is so successful, is because it’s so simple – it’s very easy for the child to understand what they are working for & what they have to do to get it. Speaking as a mum, it looks just striking too & is very engaging for children. Our bus gets several comments as visitors see it sitting on the kitchen worktop. For me, the proof is in the pudding. Not only is it a hit at home, but when Jemima & Suki had a sleepover at Nana & Bap Baps, the bus went with them. I received a very excited phone call from Jemima the next day, to tell me she’d got a passenger on the bus. The day there were all 10, was even more exciting!

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THAT carpark!

“At the time, I thought people locally would probably think ‘he’s a nice chap, that’s a nice thing to do’ and that I’d probably get a few thanks”.

 Rob Braddick, Local businessman, Braddicks Leisure

 

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Andy Day

 “I wouldn’t say I wanted to become a paleontologist but I always had a love of adventure and dinosaurs and mythical creatures and superheroes”

Cbeebies presenter and presenter of Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures, Andy Day

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The Scent Of A City – Bristol Bluebells

As a mum of two young children, my sanity in the midst of the madness, is being able to carve out some ‘me time’ at the end of busy day. When they are both FINALLY down, the dishes are done & I’ve managed to tie up a few loose ends, I like nothing more than to sit down and relax. Or, as my good friend Michael would say – ‘re arrange the lighting’. A few strategically placed lamps, a select well lit candle and suddenly there’s a bit of calm.

So when I was introduced to Scarlet and Nell with their beautiful hand-poured candles, I had to find out more. They’re fragrant candles with a differences, with individual scent designed to capture the personality of British counties and cities – starting with Bristol & Bath.

As a child growing up in Bristol, I think one of the resounding memories of smell, was the brewers yeast, around the centre – a pungent memory, as it filled the air. I was quite convinced that Helen Arthur, the founder of Scarlet and Nell, wasn’t going to reproduce that, as Bristol’s signature scent, but was intrigued to find out what our city’s fragrance would be.

Bluebells – Bristol Bluebells is in fact the name of the candle, designed to capture and reflect the bluebell woods in the midst of our West Country city. There is something about the smell, which instantly takes you back to a time and a place you can almost visualize the bluebells woods as you light it.

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Graft – turning a passion for graffiti into a vibrant venture!

When teachers Sophie and Rob, had their first child in 2012, it ear marked a gear change for them in more ways than one. Not only did they now have to juggle family life around teaching, but for Rob, it prompted him to put some ideas into practice. As a secondary school art teacher and with a love of social history, he had often enjoyed teaching his students graffiti lessons. Not just the practice of it – but part of Bristol’s rich social history. Now was the time, to put those ideas into practice and start teaching them as workshops outside of school.

In September 2012, Graft was born – workshops for budding graffiti artists up to Granny and Grandad grafters. From age 8 upwards – if you’ve got an occasion, or just want to try something different, Graft have got it covered.

Workshops are held in The Island, the former Bridewell Street Police Station. It’s an irony appreciated by both Rob & Sophie, that their students are being taught graffiti, in cells former artists had probably been locked up in! Typically workshops last 3 hours, beginning with a mini tour of some of the graffiti around Bristol, before getting hands on and participants having a go themselves. They start with practicing their tag, before trying spray cans on boards, then finally having a go on walls. There’s a lot of white washing involved when it comes to prepping the classes!

 

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