Newcastle Photographer and Content Creator, Mandy Charlton, Always on a quest for adventure, often seen on buses, trains and planes. On a quest to be happier and healthier. Lives in Newcastle with her 3 cats, Iris, Maggie and Arthur. Loves good vibes, musicals and cakes. Full time professional wedding photographer in the north east of england alongside content creator on Tiktok, Instagram and Facebook

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A local business needs your support, here's how you can help...

Fentimans, the Big Cycle for the Rainbow Trust, Mandy Charlton, photographer, writer, blogger

I've always been a huge fan of Fentimans, Looby loves their victorian Lemonade and I'm a huge fan of their pink grapefruit flavour.  What I didn't know was that they're actually a company born in the North East of England, Hexham in fact so when they asked if I would write an article in support of their charity efforts in exchange for some drinks I said yes, Looby wanted the drinks and I wanted to support a local company to do something good.  I won't say too much as I think their press release covers many of the points.  But for the lazy skim readers amongst us, basically, Fentimans are uniting with Hanover Dairies to cycle 300 miles for the Rainbow Trust.  The Big Cycle will see them ride for 7 days over 300 miles, I can barely run for the bus so it's not for the feint of heart!  the charity at the heart of their quest supports families who are going through the trauma of having a seriously ill child, something not many of us have had to experience luckily but even when I spent over a month in hospital with Looby a couple of years ago, I can tell you how traumatic it is to see your child at the worst point of their lives.  I was luckily, after 3 rounds of surgery Looby was finally better and is well today, it's not always the case for other families and my heart goes out to them and thats' why I'm proud to support The Big Cycle.

Here's some things you can do - To support ‘The Big Cycle’ and make an online donation visit  The text message giving code to donate via text is: MILK73 to 70070.

Here's that all important Press Release with all of the official details.

On the 29 th of June, two long-standing friends from North East drinks giants Hanover Dairies and Fentimans, makers of premium mixers and soft drinks are taking part inan ambitious bike ride called ‘The Big Cycle’. It will see them embark on an epic 7 day 300-mile cycle to raise money and awareness for The Rainbow Trust, which supports families with a seriously ill child.  The cycle itself will take on some of the most challenging national parks andcountryside across the UK. Starting at Kielder Forest, the route takes them to Lake Windemere, it then follows Kendal to Preston on Lancaster Canal, the Peak District, Cannock Forest Trails, the Forest of Dean and then it finally finishes at the Rainbow Trust HQ in Surrey. 

The Rainbow Trust is a national charity which offers emotional and practical support for the whole family; from their child’s diagnosis, during treatment and, if needed, through bereavement and beyond. It relies almost entirely on voluntary donations and the money raised from events like this help the charity to continue the support over 2,300 families through its nine care teams in England.  The Big Cycle Team hopes to raise over £20,000 for Rainbow Trust. Trevor, Owner of Hanover Dairies says: “We are passionate about supporting Rainbow Trust so have decided todo a cycle challenge to raise money for this special charity. We will be raising funds through our many doorstep milk customers, family and friends. “Currently our training schedule sees us covering 50 plus miles per day on our bikes to ensure we meet the challenge ahead. It’s exciting to be working alongside Fentimans for this event and we hope to raise awareness and significant funds to help support families who have a seriously ill child.”

Oonagh Goodman, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Rainbow Trust, says:“We are incredibly grateful that Hanover Dairies in association with Fentimans istaking on this enormous challenge to help raise awareness and funds for RainbowTrust. I would like to say a huge thank you to all those involved, and I’m especially excited to welcome the riders to our Head Office in Leatherhead when they arrive in June.”

To support ‘The Big Cycle’ and make an online donation visit
The text message giving code to donate via text is: MILK73 to 70070

I was sent a selection of Fentimans drinks in exchange for some help to publicise this bike ride and though Fentimans won't pay my bills, it's a charity I support, a local business which I want to succeed and really, such an ambitious goal, I couldn't really say no even though I'm working 15 hours a day with The Inspire Network currently!

I will get back to my regular blogging schedule one day....


Monday, June 18, 2018

To all of the haters

Mandy Charlton, CEO of The Inspire Network, To All of the haters, photographer, blogger, writer

When you go into a new business, any business, there's a time of phrenetic change, in your life, and in the lives of the people who surround you, your friends, your family, people affected by that business in so many different ways.  When you are a change maker, a disruptor or a newly appointed CEO, that change is multiplied tenfold.

The truth is you can't make massive change without creating disruption and you can't be a disruptor of industry without making massive changes.

In the six weeks I have been the CEO of The Inspire Industry we have made so many changes, we have leapt over a thousand hurdles, we have instigated so many new policies and we have started to lead an overall change in the mindsets of everyone who knew and loved the company before it was a company.

Not for profit companies have a massive place in society overall, they're often run by great philanthropists and they have to be, they require so much time and dedication that other paid work falls by the wayside. In a business networking organisation not for profit requires time and energy taken away from your business, the one that makes money and that's why it's only tenable whilst a business is tiny.

When I became the CEO, we were already over 10,000 women strong in our group membership, we already had groups all over the region.  But in every single action to sustain the network we were asking women to take time away from their own businesses, the ones which fed and provided for their own families and that felt like it could only continue for a finite amount of time.

We are now The Inspire Network International Limited, we are a fully formed profit making company, we made a profit even in our earliest days, if you discount the fact that all of the money which has come in has gone back into building our new amazing organisation.

We have today, after just 6 short weeks, 26 new groups, all having their meetings right around the region and beyond and in every single circumstance apart from 1, those ladies are able to run how they see fit, charge whatever they want to charge and they are not giving up work or income to mould their amazing satellite groups. The 1 group which isn't profit making is Inspire Young Women and quite simply it's not profit making because it's for 16-24 year olds, not women in business although they're absolutely welcome to join, no, our young women's group is about empowerment, about making your voice heard as a young person, it's about self worth, making your mark on the world and feeling you have value, something young women don't hear enough of in our society today.

I'd like to say that the last 6 weeks have been easy or a breeze but I'd be lying, it's been 19 hour days, continuous meetings, exhaustion and when Looby and I took a break, it was clear I really needed it, we both did.  There have been days where I've cried at my desk, days where I've questioned myself and I guess those are the days when the small undercurrent of haters really get you down, it doesn't matter how big you become or how well known you are, in fact it's often a sign of success when the haters do come out to play.  You see, the jealous, the insecure, the ones who complain, it's because they don't have faith in their own abilities, some people, let's call them bullies cannot bear to look at their own businesses so they pick faults with others.  Then there are those who say "Oh I love those ideas, but I don't like that business so I'll copy that.  It's flattery to be copied, it's also a sign of unoriginality and eventually those businesses will fail because negativity, compliant, bullying and copying only lead you so far.

So what can you do in your business if it happens?  Well the truth is, whether you are a CEO or a You Tuber or a blogger or a writer, all you can do is find your people, surround yourself with good people, people who care, people who you trust, people who won't mind if you wobble or have the worst mental health day because you'll be able to be honest with them, those trusted advisors will know you like you know your own heart and they will celebrate with you, cheer you on and comfort you on the bad days.

So go forward and make the changes, be brave, be bold, disrupt things, be the unique one with the original ideas, the one who's not scared to stand up and say "I believe in us, I believe in my ability to grow something that is bigger than me, bigger than all of us.  You, yourself, you who came from such humble beginnings and worked harder to be better and fought great battles, you can do anything so go and be the change and believe you are worth it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Retreat, Refresh, Relax

Running a business is hard work, being the CEO of an organisation of over 10k passionate women is even harder so doing that and then running Mandy Charlton Photography on the top of The Inspire Network
Rocky's Retreat, a luxury holiday home for hire, haven berwick holiday park, northumberland coast
is definitely the most challenging thing I've ever done, it's 19 hour days and perpetual meetings but it's also the most in love I've been with my life.  Everything is just exactly where it's supposed to be at the moment, personal, business, I'm literally so happy, if a little tired.

Last week I put out the call that I needed a little help and collaboration, Looby and I needed to get away for just a few days and a lovely lady who owns Rocky's Retreat came to the rescue.
Rocky's Retreat, a luxury holiday home for hire, haven berwick holiday park, northumberland coast

Rocky's Retreat, a luxury holiday home for hire, haven berwick holiday park, northumberland coast

Rocky's Retreat, a luxury holiday home for hire, haven berwick holiday park, northumberland coast

Rocky's retreat is a luxury holiday home situated on the gorgeous Haven Berwick Holiday Park on the beautiful Northumberland Coast and for Looby and I it offers the opportunity to just relax, refresh  and re-energise.  Even Looby needed it, after spending an entire week looking after horses at her stables last week, making sure they were all spick and span for the competition on Friday.

Yesterday was my favourite day for ages, we clocked up more than 17,000 steps, we walked through the most beautiful countryside and the sun shone on our faces producing sun beams Roald Dahl style.

The great thing about the Berwick Holiday Park is it's size, it's smaller than a lot of Haven resorts we've stayed at and after our first visit in 2015 I fell in love with it immediately.  Looby reminds me that every time we come I say I'm going to have our own caravan here one day and she's right, now more than ever before I'm determined to make it happen and with the caravans priced at between £18k and £35k it's not like it's some kind of mad crazy dream, that amount of money is totally achievable.

The season here seems to be from around the beginning of March through to the end of November and I've experienced Berwick in all of those months, yes it's sometimes wild and rugged but on a sunny day you could well be Europe for Berwick on a sunny day is a gift from the Gods.  It's also one of those rare places where at one side you have the coast and on the other you have the most amazingly beautiful countryside with the river tweed running right through it.  Situated 100 miles from Newcastle and just 90 miles from Edinburgh it's the ultimate staycation if you don't want to travel too far away from home.

Although Rocky's Retreat doesn't have wifi, it's freely available in the Brig of Tweed cafe and restaurant.  you can access free wifi or I paid £15 for 4 days of really good wifi and I didn't have any problems with the connection when I took a Skype meeting yesterday.

Berwick of course is the perfect location for all of the family including our four pawed best friends and although Rocky's Retreat doesn't offer dogs friendly accommodation, the park is dog friendly and we've already booked to come back in September to stay at the dog friendly Berwick Shores caravan and for any of you worried about the lack of Holly Bobbins, she's in Yorkshire with Harriet's folks and she's having an amazing time, it's one of few places she can go where she's not on the lead at all because of their rural location.

So, you might be thinking "Oh well Mandy, isn't Berwick small, won't we run out of things to do?"

Well let me tell you, no, I still haven't walked the town walls and I've been here several times, yesterday we did a walk we'd never done before and the holiday park itself is situated between 2 beautiful sandy bays.  In fact Rocky's Retreat is right at the stairs down onto one of the bays.  If you really do crave some excitement whilst you're here, it's only an hour to Berwick by train and the train is about 10 minutes walk from the caravan park.

The Berwick Holiday park really does have it all and Rocky's retreat is something quite special, it feels instantly like home, the beds are so comfortable and there are little touches you wouldn't get with the standard caravans, things like supplying coffee, tea, salt, you all know how annoying it is when you want to come on holiday and cook and you have to buy the biggest box of salt which you then end up throwing away or you find yourself packing copious amounts of kitchen cupboard staples you really don't need to take home with you.

The last time we stayed here I found the shop to be expensive and terribly stocked but it seems to have had a total makeover, they have everything from pastries baked daily to lovely cuts of meat and locally sourced produce.

So that's food and walks sorted, if you have any energy left you can burn it off in one of two swimming pools, one of which is outdoor and heated, so yes, on a sunny day you can imagine you are in the med, I'll be honest it's been nippy this week so we've not tried that but we are going to the indoor pool later today.

Looby and I spend so much time together, me being self employed and her being home ed, it's one of the best parts of this life we lead but there's something amazing about being away together, we walk more, we talk more and we even subject each other to terrible tv shows, Love Island anyone?  I'm not sure I've grasped what it's about except girls excitedly screaming "I've got a text".

We're staying at Rocky's retreat until Friday and then we go back and I'm straight into a weekend of weddings and photo shoots, I realise by next week I'll be shattered again but for now, I've never felt so relaxed for quite some time.  If you need a break full of lovely people in beautiful surroundings which doesn't cost the earth, well Berwick really does tick all of those boxes!

We paid for Rocky's retreat but received a discount in exchange for a blog post, social media posts and some photography. 
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