What magic can happen when local people who are invested in their community get together to exchange ideas, create new schemes and offer tangible help to new,  and up- and-coming businesses.

On Friday 7 June 2019, the Lucky 7 Club in central Paignton welcomed entrepreneurs, local business leaders, community groups and members of the public to two amazing events aimed at boosting the local economy and making Torbay a better place to live.

You can watch the video of the open space event here

Out in the Open 

In the afternoon we held an Open Space, where anyone could propose an idea that would improve life in Torbay. People then formed groups around each suggestion and got creative.

How could we make this happen?

Who would need to get involved?

What practical steps could be agreed there and then to turn this idea into a reality.

After this dynamic brainstorming session, the results were shared and practical actions were agreed. Everyone was buzzing. 

Before the evening session got going, a wonderful buffet dinner was served and the Lucky 7 bar opened, so everyone could relax, chat and even indulge in a specially created Friendly Dragon Cocktail!

Watch the evening event video here

The Evening Event

The evening event was the Community of Dragons – now in it’s 8th successful year in Totnes and spreading around the globe.

Three local businesses – in various stages of development took to the Lucky 7 stage to outline what they were about and to tell the audience what they needed in practical terms to help them move on to the next level

Pledges of Support

The audience, making up the Community of Dragons, then asked questions and made pledges of support. More than 70 pledges were made, including money, free branding and marketing, social media support, paying-it-forward, advice sessions and even cake!

During the course of the day and evening, several invited speakers, including Tony Greenham from South West Mutual Bank, gave presentations about their businesses and were on hand to offer advice and guidance to those who needed it.

When the official events were over, many people stayed on, enjoying more cocktails and continuing their conversations until the early hours.

It was such a fabulous day and we can’t wait to do it all again in 2020. We hope you’ll join us.


Interested in hosting an LEF event in you area? We can help contact us



where friendly dragons help local businesses fly…

Meet the entrepreneurs pitching to the friendly dragons

On Friday 7th June 2019, these six local entrepreneurs will be on stage, pitching three exciting new business ideas which will benefit the Torbay community.

We have a few remaining tickets for this event book here.


Lyndon Forster


Pankind aims to create experience workshops and corporate team building sessions. Lyndon plays the Handpan (pictured above) in hospices, hospitals, care homes and teaches children to play them in local primary schools. Lyndon will be demonstrating the therapeutic value of this beautiful instrument at the event.

Tim Lloyd, Micheal Harrison-Hastings

Mindmaps for Wellbeing

Tim and Micheal provide a range of mental health related training and consultancy services to ensure employers are mental health aware in every aspect of their business.

Ceri Ashford, Adrian Lloyd & Jordan Pierson

Gaia Coffee

Gaia coffee plans to create an environment where customers can network, be creative and feel inspired in a relaxed environment. It hopes to create a social hub for the community and provide individuals with the opportunity to work within the coffee shop and to learn hospitality and barista skills.


 For times and full details see the: LEF page


Venue: The Lucky 7 Club Dendy Road Paignton TQ4 5DB


Issue 1 includes:

Find out how you could win £500 to test your new business idea with the INSPIRE AWARDS.

Learn how South West Mutual is changing the face of banking in the South West.

5 Top Tips on how to effectively market your new business.

Discover how the Local Entrepreneurs Forum can invest more than money in your business.

If you have an idea for an interesting article for our next issue, let us know.

Click to view the magazine.

“We are excited to launch the first issue of our new fully interactive magazine. Packed with interesting articles and advice.”

James Bachelier- Moore



WORKSHOPS: Get your Local Business Started. 

Join Jay Tompt in Paignton, Brixham or Torquay for a two-hour workshop  where he will cover:

How to develop your idea.

Understanding your customer.

Creating your ‘unique selling proposition’.

What’s in a business plan.

Where to find funding.

Jay Tompt MBA, has start-up and consulting experience spanning more than 25 years and is an associate lecturer in Economics at Plymouth University. 

Workshops run from 6pm – 8pm. 

Cost £5 – £10 – £15 Pay what you can afford

Refreshments included


“Ever thought of starting a local business? One that will benefit the community in some way? Local Spark can help you turn your business dream into a reality.”

Jay Tompt


The Torbay Foyer 

6.00 – 8.00pm

Jay and I hope you’ll join us to identify the range of interests and expertise that we have between us all. We’ll also be discussing and agreeing guidelines that we’ll all be working to, and making sure that you’re up to date with Local Spark’s aims, objectives, and future plans. This is going to be a chance to find out much more about each other – so that we can work together to help our Spark entrepreneurs, and enjoy ourselves!

venue: Teignmouth Road, Torquay, TQ1 4DB, 


“You want to know more about becoming a Local Spark Coach? Join us on Wednesday, Mar 20th, 2019 at 6:00 PM”

Chris Gunson



Looking forward to meeting you… 

Held every first Monday of the month. The first of our informal meet-ups will be on Monday 4th March from 6.00pm to 8.00pm.

Venue: The Weary Ploughman Inn, Dartmouth Road, Brixham TQ5 OLL

Contact: chris@localsparktorbay.org 

“Our monthly meet-ups are a great way to network, discuss your business and share your ideas for the future of Torbay”

James Bachelier-Moore



Get Together with Local Spark

Here’s something we can all agree on: “BRINGING TOGETHER THE ENERGY OF YOUTH WITH THE WISDOM OF AGE TO GROW GOOD BUSINESSES IS GREAT FOR TORBAY.” Join Local Spark next Wednesday to create some People Powered Change.
6 – 8.00 pm at the stylish Paignton Theatre Bar.
Sign up on our Facebook Event page Get Together with Local Spark Torbay

“Join us in the stylish and cosy Palace Theatre Bar for networking and nibbles.
We’ve got a fun event to help you meet each other. We’ll also be discussing how we can help the younger people in Torbay who want to start a socially useful business.
Plus an introduction to a different type of entrepreneur model.
Please join us, let us know you’re coming, and share widely!”

Chris Gunson



A workshop to spark fair, inclusive and sustainable opportunity for everyone.

In this workshop we’ll learn:

  • How to build local support for positive economic change
  • How to run the Local Entrepreneur Forum+, a transformative one-day event that assembles community members of all kinds to support local entrepreneurs
  • Essential practical methods and tools, as well as key concepts and ideas that make the process easy to understand and communicate

How to Transform the Local Torbay Economy

The Local Entrepreneur Forum is working in other places in the UK and USA – it can work here too!

8th September 2018, 10.00 – 4.00

Coverdale Centre, Church Path, Palace Place, Paignton TQ3 3AQ


Workshop leaders –
Chris Gunson – founder of Local Spark and social enterprise veteran
Jay Tompt – over 5 years leading workshops on community-led local economics and regeneration

Tickets: £20 to £5 Pay what you can afford. We have some funding but also need you to contribute to the costs. No one will be turned away because of lack of funds. There are just 25 places, so email chrisgunson37@gmail.com to reserve yours and get directions & parking advice. A light lunch will be included. Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements.


The blog I was asked to write for the Design Council is now live!

Friday 1st June was a big day for me. I pitched my idea for a Social Enterprise to a local panel of Transform Ageing assessors. Now all I can do is wait, until I hear the outcome towards the end of June 2018. By the time you read this I will know if I have been successful. I have been a Social Entrepreneur before, but at my age (65) I thought that was behind me.

The story of how I came to this point starts back in the early months of 2017. I received two interesting invitations. One was to the Devon Convergence, a chance to spend a day with people from across the county who want to make things better. Too good to miss, I thought, and it was. I met 5 people whose idea of making things better in Torbay chimed with mine. Across March and early April, we met, and began to form an idea of what we might do — set up a Torbay Enterprise Hub, based on a model already developed in neighbouring Totnes.

“Friday 1st June was a big day for me. I pitched my idea for a Social Enterprise to a local panel of Transform Ageing assessors. Now all I can do is wait, until I hear the outcome towards the end of June 2018. By the time you read this I will know if I have been successful. I have been a Social Entrepreneur before, but at my age (65) I thought that was behind me.”

Chris Gunson



The second invitation was to the launch of Transform Ageing in Torbay. I had seen a brilliant illustrated process diagram which told me this was an innovative and exciting project — I wanted to be part of it. The workshops ran over the next three months. They were designed to be seriously inclusive, and I found myself working with a Public Health Consultant, the Strategic Partnership Manager — Joint Commissioning, a successful Social Entrepreneur, an older person who supported carers, and a person in later life. Across the 3 workshops we learned more about our topic — Caring for Carers. It became clear that social isolation was a major problem, as was the lack of a purpose in life when the caring role ended. We worked to identify and validate the things we thought would help. We were contributing to the design briefs which would be the basis for social entrepreneurs to put forward their ideas. They could then apply for Transform Ageing Awards which would help them deliver their projects.

Meanwhile, I was learning more about the REconomy (project in Totnes from the co-founder Jay Tompt) and the idea of an Enterprise Hub had grown into a fully-fledged Community Supported Enterprise initiative. I had seen how we might be able to adapt the original model to suit Torbay. It would need to be intergenerational, so that the vast experience of the older people could support the enthusiasm and energy of aspiring social entrepreneurs. It would also begin to address both social isolation and income inequality.

After a short summer break Transform Ageing was back in action and was focussing on finding potential entrepreneurs. Unltd, one of the programme partners, ran an excellent workshop which helped them to refine their ideas. I took the opportunity to refine mine, and 3 days later at a Transform Ageing follow-up event I announced that I was going to set up a social enterprise.

By Christmas I had a name — Local Spark: Torbay Community Supported Enterprise, a superb logo, and a domain name ready for the website. Since then I have been gathering support from a wide range of Torbay organisations and individuals. In April I decided to apply for a Transform Ageing Do-it Award which would help me develop a website and marketing materials and start running events so that Local Spark can start to make a real difference.

So that brings me back to making my pitch on the 1st of June. I think it went well, but the final decision will be made up country, in London — wish me luck.

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Dear REconomistas! ♥

This is going to be final in our Exploring REconomy Ecosystem workshop series – please do join if you have attended any of previous sessions or if you have not – no previous experience required! 🙂

Questions we are going to explore together this time are: How would you begin implementing REconomy approach in your locality or region? How would you prepare “the soil”? How would you map your social network and why? Can you outline a simple action plan?

Join us if you are interested – as practitioner – in these questions and more. Let’s explore it together in our interactive workshop co-facilitated by Jay Tompt, REconomy Project: Totnes coordinator, Pedro Miguel Portela, REconomy practitioners community of practice member from Portugal, and Nenad Maljković, REconomy CoP coordinator.

Video call will be on Zoom and joining instructions will be shared with all that register for a FREE ticket here (you can use your social media profile of choice): https://www.conferize.com/exploring-reconomy-ecosystem-4

Please note that our video calls are meant to be shared experience and video will not be recorded. Event time is Tuesday, 19 June 2018 from 17:00 to 19:00 in CEST time zone (UTC+02).

“This is going to be final in our Exploring REconomy Ecosystem workshop series – please do join if you have attended any of previous sessions or if you have not – no previous experience required! :)”

Jay Tompt