Derbys Finest is a group which aims to inspire, celebrate and support women across the country - bringing together women of all ages, backgrounds and skills sets at a range of networking, professional development and social events.
Since its formation in March 2017, the group has gone from strength to strength. In May 2019 Derbys Finest merged with local networking group Women in Business, to form 'Derbys Finest - Inspiring Women in Business'.
“In 2014 I started a ‘Women In Business’ group with Tracey Anne Chadwick, Karen McElroy and Victoria Long, over the years that group has developed and changed and is now named Derbys Finest. The committee is now made up of myself, Kim Radley, Karen Cureton, Amanda Strong and Sophie Shapcott. I am so incredibly proud to have worked alongside all of these women and to build a community that encourages, inspires and supports women every day! Thank you to each one of these ladies for your support and hard work in making DF what it is today!” – Claire Twells
A particular focus of Derbys Finest is to inspire and encourage the future generations of females, to show them that they can achieve and thrive as an equal in all areas of society. Derbys Finest also supports a number of local charities who benefit from money raised by the group.
To inspire all to reach their full potential. Showing appreciation and support to others with impact and feeling to make a difference.
To evoke positive emotions in all those we connect with
To support innovation in our communities
To be the vehicle for collaborative behaviour
I was born and bred in Derby so a true Derby Gal! I studied in Sheffield to get my Law Degree and was the first person in my immediate family to attend University, I was regularly told that being a solicitor wasn't easy and that it took a lot of hard work. Hard work did not and does not scare me, so at 23 I qualified as a solicitor. I trained to be a Criminal Solicitor and did that for several years before changing my specialist area to Commercial Litigation and particularly Debt Recovery. I am now a Partner and head up two teams at Smith Partnership, Debt Recovery and Business Development. I love to network and meet new people and I am so very passionate about inspiring women and helping them to be the best that they can be. I founded Derbys Finest to provide a Community which at its heart encourages, inspires and supports women. In 2018, I was blessed with a little girl Alice who is the light of my life and inspires me to try and create a better world.
I founded Derbys Finest in 2017 after reading an article which celebrated the top 250 people in Derby, there was such a small percentage of women acknowledged that I felt compelled to shine a light on the real number of amazing women in Derbyshire. I feel my role in Derbys Finest is to help facilitate a space where anyone can seek help and guidance as well as build up a personal and business network. Derbys Finest has grown a lot and I am proud that we are now seeking to offer professional development courses to our members as well as social events. The out pouring of support from the members to one another during the pandemic has been amazing and I am so proud of what we have achieved together. In the next few years I want to grow the group so that the support we have can be shared and the benefits of being a member can be increased.
I wish I could time travel, I love history but I am also impatient and I want to know what will happen in the future.
At school, I never had dreams of being in Banking! A Redcoat at Butlins, Comedy actress, Entertainer on the cruise ships….. all of these perhaps, but certainly not banking, as my school friends would attest to. However, at the tender age of 16, I got my first job, at Eagle Star Insurance in Cheltenham. It was meant to be a temporary thing whilst I awaited the next batch of Redcoat recruiting! 12 years later, and having progressed within the company, with Financial Planning Exams, I did that silly thing! And met a boy on holiday…. (it didn’t last!) ….he lived in Hatton, Staffordshire, hence my move up North and eventual transition into Banking! I have been married for 21 years (got there in the end), with two wonderful children, a dog and two exotic cats! We are all settled in South Derbyshire, so it all worked out well in the end!
My role within a large corporate centres around the North Midlands. I see myself as a connector, with both internal and external stakeholders, working across our business functions to maximise opportunities for collaboration and growth. I have a real passion for people, I am known for being intuitive (I should do tarot) enthusiastic and supporting. I look to assist individuals and businesses with financial guidance, signposting opportunities, making financial priorities rewarding, whilst demystifying banking and transforming the customer experience.
I have always championed Women in Business, we are of course a force of nature, and over time culturally and democratically have influenced the sea of change. I also believe women can be each other's worse critic, and I believe this can be toxic... Women need to have each other's backs, praise and promote each other... It is only then... that we can truly be respected for the wealth of experience and innovation that we bring to society. Being part of Derby’s Finest is a great way of championing all women, supporting their ambitions. Being a member of the Committee helps me to navigate the needs of our members and align programmes that larger corporates develop, to benefit and inspire the group.
I am a passionate supporter of MENCAP, and believe in a fair and inclusive society, and will continue to champion and challenge. If I could have one wish, apart from inclusion for all…….. It would be X-ray vision through doors!! I have a teenager, who spends his life in his bedroom with a NO ENTRY sign... I lure him out with the promise of roast chicken! But that only gives me the chance to open the windows, collect the debris and smelly socks... I have no time to see what really goes on in there... But then again... maybe that's a good thing!!!
After working in sales and marketing for over 20 years, I embraced social media with open arms as soon as it emerged. I believe that social media is a wonderful, cost-effective way to reach new audiences and build your brand. As a self-confessed social media geek, I love getting results for my clients. I've worked with scores of businesses over the years, as a Social Media Trainer and speaker. I offer practical solutions and tailored support based on what’s right for your business - no waffle or confusing jargon. I was winner of the “Outstanding Woman In Professional Services award “at the East Midlands Women’s Awards (EMWA) 2018 and the Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday #SBS award. Above all I am committed to achieving fantastic results for my clients, my high client retention rates speak for themselves. How do I work with my clients? I am proud to provide different options for my clients, whether its 1:1 tailored training or being part of my successful year long membership programme, I have a training option to fit most budgets! I always offer a free thirty minute chemistry call to my contacts and would love to work with more Derby’s Finest ladies to support their business growth!
As owner/MD of Mercia Image Print for over 31 years managing a team of 15 and as Derby's only commercial Litho and Digital printer, I decided to take a step back and sell the business in OCtober 2020.
This was a very emotional moment, after all those years continually pushing to keep ahead with latest print manufacture and working in an industry, commonly known as a 'man's world'. I am extremely proud of what I have achieved over the years maintaining print and jobs in Derby. I remain in the business as Company Ambassador as the face of the business, which releases me from the day to day stress enabling me to communicate with clients, which is what I love best.
Personally, I have 3 children, all have grown up to be kind, responsible adults and I couldn't be a prouder mum as I see this as the most important job of my life (other than printing!!). My free time is spent walking with my dog and socialising with friends and family.
Derbys Finest was created initially by myself and Claire Twells to create a group of ladies offering support and to give local ladies the recognition they deserve that is sometimes overlooked. Bringing ladies together, exchanging contacts and ideas, to lift spirits and achieve goals whether in business or personally.
If I had one wish, it would be to have more time with my Dad (he passed away at 62). My children didn’t have a grandfather on either side and I know they would have had such fun together!
Being part of Derbys Finest is so rewarding and I cannot wait to see it grow and flourish, we have some amazing ladies on board offering support and encouragement, a great recipe for success.
I'm a marketing professional that joined the Smith Partnership Business Development Group in March 2018 to work alongside the Business Development Partner, Claire Twells. After being with the firm for just over one year, I was promoted to my Marketing Executive role after covering for the BD Partner and Marketing Manager during their coinciding maternity leave. Within the company, I have a particular focus upon Digital Marketing based projects, working alongside all six offices that Smith Partnership have based across the East Midlands. I joined Derbys Finest as a committee member in 2018 at the age of 19.
During my spare time, alongside studying I am also a dance teacher at a local dance school based in Darley Abbey, teaching during the evenings and at weekends, with an Associate qualification. I have taught dance since the age of 16, focusing on the traditional disciplines of ballet and tap.