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Whatever your business, the FSB will work for you.

Reading & West Berks Branch

To enable us to continue working for our members we would be delighted to welcome new committee members. If you would like to assist the branch in organising events, campaigning on behalf of local small businesses and promoting the benefits of the FSB in our area please contact Paul Forrest Tel: 0118 9526900, or attend our monthly committee meetings which are held at The Elephant in Pangbourne on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 7pm.

Details of all Thames Valley Events can be found on our calendar

Branch Contacts

Branch Chair



Branch Secretary


Paul Forrest Tel: 0118 9526900

Committee Members

Rob Chicken

Jay Benbow

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP commits £7.25m of capital to create next generation businesses in the sub region


The Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVB LEP) has committed £7.3 million of capital to create a new Funding Escalator, which will offer finance to SMEs that can deliver growth, in line with the remit given to LEPs by government. This is a cornerstone of the government's strategy for LEPs – to achieve growth locally. This element is part of a balanced strategy by the LEP that focusses on strategic infrastructure; employment and skills; and aims to develop the next generation of businesses that can contribute to job creation and the prosperity of the sub region.

The Funding Escalator is an initiative led by TVB LEP. It comprises a series of repayable loans and went live on 1 February 2013:

  • £1.75 million has been allocated for a commercialisation scheme, which will support newly established companies that need limited support to enhance their market position.
  • £4 million has been allocated for an expansion scheme, which will support development to scale up a business and accelerate its growth.
  • £1.5 million has been allocated to a growth or equity scheme, which is designed to support ambitious growing businesses and will be released when matched with private funds.

The FSE Group (an independent not-for-profit Community Interest Company) is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, and will be responsible for managing the Fund on behalf of the Local Enterprise Partnership. TVB LEP has delegated this responsibility to an organisation that has proven expertise in this field; indeed during the five years to 2011 FSE leveraged £107m of additional capital from an initial investment of £29m. The FSE Group is working with VitalSix in terms of the Thames Valley Berkshire Growth Fund.

If you're interested in hearing more or applying to the SME Escalator Fund then contact our Fund Manager in the first instance – Martin Coomber at The FSE Group at or visit

An alternative route to finance is available through the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP Bankers' Forum. This enables businesses in receipt of a conditional or part offer of a commercial bank loan, to apply for Growing Places funds as a top-up advance for their project, thus allowing the deal to go ahead. The normal process for this will be through a bank but any questions can be directed to the LEP Business Director, Tim Smith, on 07500 870172 or email

WorldHost – Customer Service Training available in Reading

WorldHost was the training package of choice for all volunteers and staff at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012. Details

Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE 16 to 24)

The Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE 16 to 24) is aimed at helping eligible employers to offeryoung people employment through the Apprenticeship programme, by providing wage incentives toassist employers in recruiting young apprentices.


Representing Small Businesses In Reading & West Berkshire

The Reading & West Berkshire branch committee represents small businesses from Earley in the East to Lambourne in the West. We sit on many local bodies representing small businesses as well as meeting with local authority leaders and MP's. If you would like to help us ensure that the voice of small businesses in Reading & West Berkshire is heard we would welcome your support. Please contact Sue Day.

Reading & West Berkshire's Longest Serving Member


Few can claim to have been such a loyal member of the FSB - or to have seen firsthand the benefits that membership can bring - however, West Berkshire electrician Paul House has been a member since 1974, the year the FSB was founded.

Paul and his wife Annaliese were guests of honour at a recent Business Connections event held at Porsche by the local branch and were presented with a bottle of Champagne by branch chair, Nicky Goringe-Larkin.

Paul House founded his business in Thatcham, West Berkshire in 1972 and joined the FSB two years later after his accountact recommended he join to benefit from the legal cover which Paul has since used many times.

Paul says "The FSB has given me peace of mind over the last 38 years and when I retired in 2006 I remained a "retired member" to enable me to continue to use the benefits.

Since setting up his business almost 40 years ago Paul has seen many changes. He said "The biggest change for small businesses has been the increase in legislation. As a small business it is very hard to keep up with when you are working hard to run your business". " My tip for a long and successful business would be look after your customers, listen to their needs and offer a quality service they can trust and rely on".

How can being a member of the UK's leading business organisation save your business money?

Contact Robyn Bourne, Development Manager on 01264 720545 / 07917 628976,