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THANK YOU to the many Guild members, exhibitors and sweeps from other trade associations who have just enjoyed the Guild Trade Exhibition 2019 last weekend!

What an incredible event it was! We’ve never had so many visitors to the annual trade show and gala dinner, held this time at the Chesford Grange Hotel in Kenilworth.

It was a colourful, busy spectacle, from moment that the first exhibitor arrived to set-up on the Thursday, to the hustle and bustle of Guild members and visitors talking shop and enjoying a natter on Friday/Saturday; to the interest in the BurnRight and Chimney Sweeping NVQ seminars; to the strong sense of unity at the AGM; to the last song played by the band Grooveology – it was non-stop fun, banter and friendly business.

“For me, it was the positive atmosphere, which really stood out this year,” said Lawson Wight, Guild chairman. “This year’s event marked a new chapter in the history of the Guild, which is now in its 26th year. And there was a real sense of excitement amongst our Guild members and visitors.

“We’re a band of brothers and sisters, not a machine, and this annual get-together is so important. It really gave us all the opportunity to learn new things, catch up with old friends and make new acquaintances, buy new gear, discuss business and more than anything, have a lot of fun!

“I want to thank all those involved, especially Steven Howard, for their dedication and hard work, which made the trade exhibition such a great success.”

Steven Howard, event organiser, said: “The Guild team appreciate the positive feedback we have received from so many of you. In a few short weeks we will roll up our sleeves and get out the planning charts to organise the next trade exhibition, 2020. If you’d like to get involved on the planning side of things, please do get in touch with me.”

Both chimney sweeps and suppliers heaped praise both during and after the popular two-day event in Kenilworth.

Bob Sizeland, MD of Valiant, had sold out of moisture meters and thermometers by Friday lunchtime. He couldn’t believe it.

“I’m amazed! I underestimated the work that the Guild has been doing and the effect it has had on the sweeps. We brought along products and sold out of stock, and that is amazing. I’m really pleased. Lots of sweeps have signed up to our commission scheme, as well.”

Paul and Tanya Scholfield, from Tamar Specialist Brushes Ltd, were enjoying a brisk trade and interest from customers, adding: “As always such a friendly and well-organised show; one we look forward to attending each year.”

Rod Wildgoose, of Wildgoose Chimney Sweep in Sheffield, has been sweeping since 2011 and he was in outside catering before that. Rob has attended every Guild show except two – once because he was getting married!

“I love meeting other sweeps here and having a chat. Just that feeling you get when you pull into the car park and seeing all the vans. You get a good feeling. In the show you normally get a discount and a hands-on feel in what you’re looking at. I love the show, there’s always a good atmosphere. And lots of fun in the bar!”

Quaerina Chorley, of AMAC Engineering Ltd (chimney inspection cameras), was equally enthused about the event, adding: “There’s a great mix of both current customers and new sweeps”.

Tom Starcevik, MD of Kerstar based in Northamptonshire, said it was nice to meet new faces at the show. His company works internationally but he saw great value in being present at the show, due to the sheer personal engagement, face-to-face, with chimney sweeps.

“It’s great to keep in with the sweeps and get feedback on products and what’s happening on the market.”

James Hughes, aka James the Sweep, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, is a well-known face at the Guild. He loved meeting up with old friends and seeing new products.

“I love looking at the new products from the exhibitors and seeing how the market is changing. It’s sociable at the event too and nice to meet-up with other sweeps. I will definitely be back next year!”

Gavin Cater runs Bryan Cater Ltd in Thetford, started by his dad in 1969. He has been a sweep since 2000 and joined the Guild in 2008. Gavin did not attend shows at first but said ‘I always come now’.

He added: “It’s a big chance to meet up with friends in the trade and socialise with them; and see the types of new equipment and meet the suppliers face-to-face.”

Mark Fisher, of Sootseekers in Poole, Dorset, also loved the chance to meet up with friends in the trade.

“It’s great to take time out to meet friends and look at new gear, and see what’s out there. The gear has changed dramatically over the last 10 years or so. Power sweeping has come into its own and that makes our job easier. I will certainly be back at the exhibition next year.”

Tom Reading, sales and accounts manager for Colt Cowls, was at the show for the first time although the company itself has been attending for years.

“I absolutely feel welcome here and I like the positive atmosphere. It’s been good to put names to faces too. As a company we’ve been to the show quite a few times. Everybody seems happy to be here and there’s been good conversations. A lot of people come not just for the business but the social side.”

Nigel Passmore, a director for Panda Press in Stone, Staffordshire, was very impressed with the event.

“We’ve been coming for as long as we’ve been acquainted with the Guild, in the last five years. We’ve noticed a steady growth in numbers of visitors year-on-year, which is great for the Guild. They’re a really good customer of ours and we value our relationship very highly, and we will do anything we can to support them.”

Martin Lewis, a Guild member and director of Digital Sweeps, had noticed a lot more people at the show this year.

“It’s nice to see people supporting their trade and the Guild, if they are from another association. We’ve had a lot of interest in our app and existing customers have been recommending it to others.”

Bethan Richards, of Calon Lan Ltd in Pencader, Carmarthenshire, is as passionate about Wales as she is about sweeping. Bethan’s been in the trade for just six months after she was made redundant from a career in facilities management. She looked into training to become a sweep and decided the Guild ‘stood out from a training perspective and the professional approach’. Bethan passed the basic Guild course at the Surefire training hub in Derbyshire before she was mentored by Sparkling Flues.

Bethan took her mum with her when she ventured out on her first sweeping appointment. Her Guild training gave her the confidence to spot a dangerous chimney at the customer’s house, where plastic had been burnt. The creosote was ‘horrific’ and Bethan gave out a red card.

As a woman in a currently male-dominated trade, Bethan felt completely comfortable and welcome at the show. She’d been learning ‘best practices’ from other sweeps, picking up tips and felt very excited about the BurnRight campaign.

“It’s important when you are a member of a trade association, to support it. Then you can really inform customers as to what’s happening in the industry as a whole. I will definitely be back next year.”

Emma Roddy, of Sparkling Flues, who mentored Bethan, said it was definitely ‘the best show ever’.

“There’s been the seminar on BurnRight, and there’s more suppliers and stands. It’s important to meet each other and meet face-to-face. As a sweep you go out a lot alone, so the Guild show gives a chance to meet up with colleagues in the trade.”

The Guild will post a number of online articles on aspects of the trade exhibition in the time ahead, about the exhibition itself; the seminars; charity raffle, free prize draw, and other competitions including the popular best van comp; the AGM and Gala dinner.