There are not many times a WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) meeting is awed into silence, but that is exactly what happened at last week’s Leicestershire and Rutland meeting.
The group met at The Cambridge Satchel Company’s factory and shop in Syston, Leicestershire, and were honoured to meet founder Julie Deane OBE, who is the first woman to have been awarded International Entrepreneur of the Year at the European Business Awards in 2013, among many other accolades.
WiRE is a national organisation that supports rural businesswomen, many of whom started at a kitchen table like Julie, so the group were captivated by her stories of ups and downs and pearls of wisdom.
Among them was WiRE Business Manager, Fiona Davies, who is a self-professed fan of Julie’s and presented her with an honorary WiRE membership.
Fiona said: “Julie encompasses everything that WiRE stands for and has been an inspiration to so many of our members who come from all walks of life.
“Her story is incredible and yet she’s still such a humble woman to talk to and learn from.”
Julie added: “I’m truly honoured to have been welcomed to the WiRE community and network of wonderful women doing what they love so well.”
WiRE was founded in 1996 and is based at Harper Adams University in Shropshire to support rural businesses women who wanted to network and grow their businesses, as well as offer support in a sector that can often be lonely. It is made up of a patchwork of smaller groups all over the country but members are welcome to visit any group they would like to.
The meeting was organised by Leicestershire and Rutland WiRE leader Claire McFadden who owns printing firm Full Square Ltd in Leicester. She said: “The Leicestershire and Rutland group has been running for 18 months and Julie is definitely the most inspiring speaker we have had to date. It was wonderful to see women from other groups joining us for the first time.
“Each month we try to visit a different rural business to hear their story and support the rural economy and we’d like to thank General Manager Mark Fitzpatrick who kindly showed us around the site.
“It was a great insight into one of Britain’s household name brands.”
The meeting was also Fiona’s last as she is leaving WiRE after 20 years to join pastures new and the group presented her with a card and flowers to thank her for all her hard work.
The next WiRE Leicestershire and Rutland meeting with availability will be held at Bawdon Lodge Farm near Loughborough on 6th September and hosted by Megan Allen of Rural Roots Media who will be running a workshop on creating a PR strategy to increase sales for Christmas.
For more information about WiRE or to book an event visit


Notes to editors:
Photo caption: From left WiRE Leics and Rutland leaders Claire McFadden and Jane Batty, Julie Deane OBE and Fiona Davies
About WiRE
WiRE is a national business support network; promoting, supporting and developing its membership of rural businesswomen from Harper Adams University in Shropshire. WiRE offers a package of practical business support which includes access to the 50 WiRE networks across the UK where women in business share expertise and knowledge, build new skills, help boost confidence and support each other to build better businesses.

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About Rural Roots Media

Rural Roots is a media agency based in the beautiful county of Rutland and founded with a passion for and specialism in rural tourism and visitor experience.
Founder, Megan, has more than 10 years media experience, both as an NCTJ qualified senior journalist and a CIPR accredited PR practitioner, working across the tourism sector, from castles to campsites and farm to fork.
Her bespoke hands-on campaigns are centred around growing your reputation as an expert in your field, to capture and entice your target audience across multiple platforms and ensure visitor experience is at the heart of everything you do.
Megan has worked in tourism since she was 16, is a keen traveller herself and enjoys writing about the rural tourism industry in the national and local press and through her own media platform, The Rural Travel Guide - whether it's a new campsite launch or how the British vodka industry is driving tourism to the countryside.
She wants visitors to the Great British countryside to be inspired and take great memories, stories and a few souvenirs home with them through engaging PR and creative journalism.
As a regional award-winning and nationally highly commended rural business, our aim is to provide SMEs with the skills they need to tell their stories, compete with changing trends and engage with tech-savvy audiences and can consult with or mentor you to steer you in the right direction when it comes to telling your story.