East Lancashire business leaders go full steam ahead for networking event

[caption id="attachment_70925" align="f-align-medium-right f-align-center" width="266"]ALL ABOARD: (left to right) Mike Damms, of East Lancs Chamber of Commerce, with Ian Hewitt of Heritage Painting in Darwen and Les Nutter, Managing Partner of Cassons  ALL ABOARD: (left to right) Mike Damms, of East Lancs Chamber of Commerce, with Ian Hewitt of Heritage Painting in Darwen and Les Nutter, Managing Partner of Cassons[/caption]

More than 60 business leaders from across East Lancashire took part in a networking event with a difference on board a steam locomotive.

The ‘Meet and East in the Valley’ event – thought to be the first of its kind – gave guests the chance to network during a 35 minute outward journey from Rawtenstall to Bolton Street station in Bury.

Ian Hewitt, whose Darwen-based company Heritage Painting won the contract to repaint the world’s most famous steam engine, The Flying Scotsman, then gave a talk.

After grabbing a picnic lunch bag, attendees jumped back on the train for more networking, while enjoying some spectacular Lancashire scenery.

The event coincided with the 170th anniversary year of the first train journey on the historic line.

Les Nutter, managing partner at Cassons and host of ‘Meet and Eat in the Valley’, said: “We like to do things slightly differently when it comes to ‘Meet and Eat in the Valley’ and this was certainly different.

“The East Lancashire Railway is part of the fabric of Rossendale, with a rich history dating back 170 years, so to be able to stage our event on such an historic line was a real privilege.

“We were also treated to a fascinating talk from Ian Hewitt, whose incredible life story inspired us all.”

He added: “Ian used to be a pilot in the RAF until a serious injury meant he had to quit his job.

“It was then that he decided to do some volunteering with the East Lancs Railway, which proved to be the start of a completely new career.

“After teaching himself the art of heritage painting, Ian set up his own business – Heritage Painting in Darwen – and won contracts to re-paint some of the world’s most iconic steam engines, such as The Mallard and The Flying Scotsman.”

‘Meet and Eat in the Valley’ is a quarterly networking event delivered by Cassons, the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and Viva PR.

The next event is on Friday 16 September at Helmshore Textile Museum and tickets cost £15 per person. To book online visit www.chamberelancs.co.uk