Being flexible with GDPR 


You should all know by now that GDPR becomes enforceable on 25th May 2018. It is intended to extend additional protection for individuals and their data, providing greater transparency and control over where their data is saved and used.  

Whilst the GDPR is good news for customers, it is going to force some change on marketers. 

As we all review our marketing choices, I would like to suggest a number of ways that traditional mail could help you ensure success in a GDPR world.  


If you can meet the conditions for legitimate interest then you won’t need consent for postal marketing whereas you may need consent for email & SMS marketing and some phone calls. Due to the challenges involved in gaining consent to GDPR standards, brands may have some customers they can only reach by postal mail.   


As mail in not in the scope of Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulation or the proposed e-Privacy Regulation – which has no clear timeframe for implementation yet – brands may have fewer regulatory unknowns when contacting customers by mail in comparison to electronic channels.  


In a world where trust and frequency of communication are increasingly important, mail is statistically proven to be more widely welcomed by recipients and offers higher response rates than e-mail. Consumers recognise that mail takes more effort than email. So when it is used, it reassures them that companies recognise and value them.  


While people are more likely to have multiple email addresses, including ghost ones they do not check – people generally only have on residential address. 


Door drops offer targeted services that are delivered with addressed mail that enables companies to engage audiences without using personal data.  

In another words GDPR with Mail is an opportunity to be flexible and increase success in targeting your market.  



Passion isn’t only important when  launching  a business it’s important when  doing  business. Always. Whether you are a small start-up company, or a multi-million pound organisation never forget your passion.  

Starting a business is something that occurs every minute, every day, every hour. People start businesses to make some money, right? Unfortunately when the focus is purely on making money, the business is likely to result in failure. This idea however, is transferable. If you are working in a business area that doesn’t excite you then instead apply yourself to a sector which you are passionate about. Being passionate helps your personality shine above the rest.  

Look at the business from another perspective… instead of seeing all the cracks and failures try to focus on the good (which is often your USP). Being miserable both as a boss and an employee is draining for those around you; this can have a dreadful effect on your customers, too… 

“It was clear that they didn’t want to be there” 

“Why are they a point of contact for ANYone?! Zero personality” 

“Talk about ‘team spirit’; this team were practically non-existent!” 

Don’t put yourself in the firing line for comments like these. All it takes is a bit of ‘umph’ and energy to create passion. Remember: what doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t change you. It is good to have tests and trials to remind you of the purpose of your place in business. 

Without passion and enthusiasm, very few small businesses will succeed.  Anyone who thinks that working for yourself is an easy gig, think again. 

Sometimes it can be lonely, no one to bounce ideas off, no one to ask you if you want a cup of coffee, the constant need to market yourself can all take their toll. 

But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Why? Because I’m passionate about what I do, I enjoy making life easier for other small business owners.  Helping them to see the wood from the trees, taking away the things that are holding them back from growing their business. 

Recently, I spent a day with a client in her home office.  When I arrived, she said that she hated going into the room, not because there was anything wrong with it, but just because it was full of ‘stuff’ that she no longer knew what to do with.  By the end of the day and after some ruthless shredding, she stood at the doorway and said she couldn’t believe it was the same place.  Not only that, she was looking forward to starting work in it the next day. 

That’s why I do what I do.  It may not be saving lives or finding a cure for cancer, but I do make a difference to people if only in a small way, and that really matters.  


Ovenden Papers

2018 marks a big year for the Ovenden family as they celebrate 75 years in business.  We spoke to James Ovenden, Managing Director of Ovenden Papers (link) to find out how it all started, his plans for the future and what motivates him as a business leader. 

Ovenden Papers started in 1943 when my great grandfather Frank Ovenden and his business partner Stanley Everard opened the doors of their stationery company Everard Ovenden & Co Limited, in High Holborn, London, where they supplied local businesses with a fine selection of writing papers, envelopes and kraft wrapping paper.  Over time they established themselves as a leading paper supplier to the city of London.  Outgrowing several premises, they relocated in 1968 to larger premises in Epping where they continued to service London and the surrounding areas for the next 40 years. 

In 2012 with James now in charge, the company marked a significant milestone in their history by relocating to a 94,000sq foot warehouse here in Harlow in preparation for more ambitious growth. 

James says that being a paper merchant is well and truly in his blood and that he is very honoured to continue the family tradition and work closely with the Hayward family in taking Ovenden Papers forward.  

This is a fantastic industry to be part of and continuing the legacy of Ovendens is a great privilege and one that motivates me every day.  As the fourth generation of Ovenden to lead the company, I want to ensure its ongoing success and continue to build on the strong foundations that my father Michael laid down during his time at the helm.  As a company, we collectively take a lot of pride in what we do and continually strive to give our customers the highest level of service.   

Everyone is encouraged to take responsibility for what they do and to do it to the best of their ability.  Our culture focuses on collaboration.  From the Chairman, my uncle Nigel, through to our delivery drivers, we have an openness about the way we work and we all share in each other’s success.  This has created a really positive working environment and having strong lines of communication plays an integral part.  Over half of our 84 members of staff have been with the company for over 15 years and together we make Ovendens. It’s a simple philosophy that has served us well for 75 years.” 

Today, Ovenden Papers is the leading independent paper merchant in the South East of England supplying a wide range of papers, boards, envelopes and other products to the commercial print sector.  With offices in Harlow, Ipswich and Croydon, the company has seen continued growth by consistently providing printers with an exceptional choice of materials at competitive prices, all held locally for same day, or next day delivery.   

Being an independent family run business we are very flexible and agile in the way we go to market.  This gives us a great advantage with our customers.  Like us, our customers are continually looking at ways to diversify and to generate new revenue streams and we are here to help them do that.   

Over the next few years we will continue to develop these new markets while continuing to serve our existing customers with our traditional product and service offer. 

With one eye on the future, James and his young management team are keen to develop the digital side of the business.  We want to ensure that our customers are able to trade and communicate with us in multiple ways that suit their style of doing business.  We aim to becoming a seamless extension of their business and by working closer with them in a variety of ways we can provide them with an even greater level of customer service. 




It’s your business. Your idea, your USPs, your creation. But is it your passion too? 

In 2007 I began selling books online. It was only a few a day at first but it generated a couple of hundred pounds a week  – which was a lifesaver at the time. Of course, the stock was finite, and within a few moths the money started to dry up us the books were sold. In a (faintly rare) moment of clarity I sourced a new supply – I approached as many charity shops as I could find in the East End and took their excess stock for a donation…and, blow me, I had my very own cottage industry! 

I converted my shed and shelved it from top to bottom in cheap mdf – this meant I could ‘hold’ as many as 500 books. I specialised in ‘pre-isbn’ or ‘antiquated’ books – those that held the most value –  and soon the £200 a week became £300 then £400… I’d generated an income, a living wage, out of items other people had thrown away. I was shocked – and believe me I was very passionate about it! 

With a friend I incorporated the business as FNM Books Ltd. We rented a warehouse and set out to buy up all excess, pre-1971 books in London and Essex, at one point we had over 70,000 on the shelves. All rustled up from nothing – the immediate outlay was negligible – of course the premises and logistics turned out not to be. 

In 2010, or there abouts, I met with a chap called Arthur Maxfield who was doing the same thing down in Worthing, Sussex. He invited us down to his place to see how his operation worked. I was  greeted by 60 articulated lorries, two facilities the size of Wembley and 300 staff. Arthur was passionate too. His company? World of Books Ltd. 

Passion alone will not make you as successful a businessman as Arthur Maxfield, of course. There’s determination, logic, bravado, wit, intelligence, management skills. But… 


it’s a damn good start… 



Around the back of North Weald Airfield, within earshot of the drone of classic planes and high-performance cars speeding along the runways, is an un-prepossessing eighties warehouse which is home to Best Mailing Services UK (BMS) and HDCC member, Lyn Reed. Lyn has been managing director of BMS for “more years than I care to remember.” But it wasn’t always thus…. 


Her working career began at Rank Hovis McDougall, once owned by the famous J. Arthur Rank, who at one time employed over 3,000 people, many of them in Harlow. “I began as a punch card operator. I am not sure how many people today even know what that was.” She quickly progressed to NCR, tape encoder, operator and supervisor. The role was repetitive and she became disillusioned. “I needed something different,” she said, ‘something to get my teeth into!” 


At this point, Lyn’s new husband had left the army and had a role within the security services, and she was approached by MI5. After an extensive interview and vetting procedure she was given a position at the Joint Computer Bureau and tasked to set up a Secure Remote Location in London, to take the manual registry records and computerise them. At the time all the records used to identify the potential connections of individuals to groups identified as a risk to National Security were kept on card.  She sourced, interviewed and managed a team of twenty-five 18 and 19 year old girls who were employed to facilitate the three-year job. “It was a fantastic time,” Lyn laughs, “unfortunately I can’t tell you too much about it, or I’d have to shoot you..” 


After 5 years with the security services she moved on, having been ‘headhunted’ for a role with the famous Bowker Publishing House in Epping – employed as their chief computer manager and programmer. However after 6 years, the company was asset-stripped by its American owners, Rank Xerox, and was forced to close. Lyn’s business brain went into overdrive and she approached Xerox and convinced them that they should support her new venture, Best Mailing Services. That was in 1985. 


BMS are specialists in mailing services, print management, order fulfilment and data processes for all businesses. They were one of the first mailing and fulfilment houses to be accepted into the Royal Mail Strategic Partnership Scheme and have grown to become a respected provider of Direct Marketing Services throughout the UK and Internationally. Some of their clients include Kier, BAFTA and Kuoni. In March of this year she launched a Marketing and Fulfilment Hub with a local marketing agency, “One of the great lessons I have learnt in business,” she said, “is to try to be innovative, to move forward and try new avenues.” 


A very big part of Lyn’s life is her charity work. She has been a Samaritan since 2009, a ‘Befriender’ at Mind, mentoring and leads a homeless centre for Crisis at Christmas. ‘ homelessness is not inevitable, we work together to end it ‘. The main image shows Lyn in the Himalayas on a charity trip with other Samaritans in 2012.  

If you would like to contact Lyn at Best Mailing services you can give her a call on  01992 524343 or visit her website www.bestmailing.co.uk. 


Samaritans Harlow :  

01279 421110 




Phone: 01279 421 308 


Contact: Alison Wilson 



Crisis at Christmas:

Tel: 0300 636 1967




Howick & Brooker Property // Harlow Cricket Club

It’s no secret to anyone who knows him, that Alan Howick loves his cricket, and Harlow Cricket Club in particular. Alan first played at the Marigolds ground in Old Harlow as a colt in 1965. “Due to my entry into estate agency in the late sixties I was only able to play Sunday cricket although, if asked, I would say that I preferred social cricket and its traditions rather than the highly competitive league version.” He was captain of the Sunday side for 5 years in the 1980s, latterly Club Chairman (twice), Club Secretary (twice) and is now in the ninth year as Club President. 



Alan describes himself as ‘old-fashioned estate agent’ who is now in his 50th year in the industry. He is founding director of the Howick and Brooker Partnership, which has been practising in Old Harlow since 1975, and from their current home, Gothic House, since 1978.  Since formation, the agency has been instructed to sell many thousands of homes in Harlow and the neighbouring villages and as far off as Hertford, Dunmow and Saffron Walden. The company is also a member of the Guild of Professional Estate Agents. 


Howick and Brooker expanded in 2010 with the creation of HB Lettings Limited which has become a very successful business managing many hundreds of properties in and around Harlow. 


But his first love, apart from the Balinese dancer he met at 14 (skip this bit – Ed) has always been cricket. In 2015 he wrote and published ‘Cricket in Harlow – The first 139 years (I was there)’, and was instrumental in the development of the new pavilion at the ground, which opened in December 2016. “The project was kicked off by the hugely generous legacy of a former Club President, Vince Dunn, who left the Club a sum in excess of six figures,” said Alan. ‘The Club then managed to secure half a million pounds of lottery funding via Sports England and a number of other grants from charitable sources.” 


The resulting Clubhouse is an extraordinarily modern and stylish construct that still retains the traditional feel of a village cricket pavilion. It is not only home to xxxx cricket teams, both male and female of all age groups, but is also used as a facility for community and social groups who often have nowhere else to meet. 


If you would like to contact Alan or the Harlow Cricket Club, please use the details below 

Howick and Brooker – 01279 418888 

Alan Howick – alan.howick@hbproperty.co.uk 

Harlow Cricket Club – http://harlow.play-cricket.com 


The Harlow Arena

The Harlow Arena is part of (and affiliated with) Harlow Town Football Club and is situated on Elizabeth way, CM195BE. It has invented itself as a venue and social hub, benefitting the community and local businesses alike.

When Tommy Cunningham took over Harlow Town FC in February 2010 he had a vision for developing the existing premises into something that would benefit both the Club and the town in general. Since then the club has been promoted to the Premier Division of the Isthmian League, which represents the seventh level of the English football league system.

The former Chelsea, QPR and Wimbledon (Crazy Gang) player rebranded stadium and its facilities as The Harlow Arena, introducing a new club shop, updating the members’ areas and sprucing up the whole ground in general.

Tommy, who was also Harlow Town’s manager between 2003 – 2007, said: “Harlow’s football team have progressed really well since Danny (Chapman) took over as manager. We wanted our facilities to match that.”

The Arena now boasts a new marquee opened in 2016 which offers a unique pitch-side setting with an incorporated bar, dance-floor area and seating for up to 160 guests. It also has dedicated heating for the colder months and the ability to open up the sides for an “al fresco” setting. There is also a ‘Function Suite’ which has a large bar and dance- floor area, multiple possible layouts and seating for up to 160 people. It has hosted all kinds of events, from exhibitions and corporate events to comedy nights and private functions, such as weddings and birthday parties. There is also a Sports Bar complete with widescreen that is ideal for smaller events, and the ‘Directors’ Suite’ which offers a contemporary setting for meetings, corporate training sessions or lunches.

There has been a determined push towards engaging businesses over the past year. The football club is proud to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce and a number of HDCC events have been held in The Arena, primarily breakfast business networking, all local business are welcome to attend and should look to book through the Chamber’s website. There are a number of sponsorship offers available to business customers too, which offer considerable benefits to businesses excluding the obvious; those of increased visibility and aiding the local community.

If you would like to contact The Harlow Arena please use the links below

01279 443196



03 – LEARN

We’ve collated some excellent top tips from members, associates and contacts to whet your appetite for learning more.

STEVE CHEW – Magnificent Stuff

  1. The brain is designed to learn. If you don’t learn it will atrophy.
  2. Technology changes ridiculously quickly – constant training is imperative.
  3. I know it’s unfashionable but… READ things!



  1. Training – you can never be ‘too smart’; there is always something to be learned from someone, no matter how lowly you consider their current position to be.
  2. Development – one thing we can always be sure of is change. Try to be positive about change. A flexible mindset will help you cope.
  3. Growth – This ought to be contained within your business plan. Who are your ideal clients? How do you approach them? Who are your competitors?



  1. For start-ups, when writing a business plan double the costs and half the income forecasts.
  2. Pay invoices within 30 days and you will be more likely to be paid quicker.


PAUL BARTLET – Price Bailey

  1. Look for changes in the sector you are in. Are there opportunities for new service lines? Keep things fresh!
  2. Listen – there is a reason why we have two ears and one mouth and the key is using them in proportion. The difficult part is mastering the skill. Listen to learn rather than listening to respond.
  3. Learn – explore opportunities to broaden your skills.



TREVOR STANESBY – Blue Pig Creative

  1. Keep to your word.
  2. Do not over promise on what you can do.
  3. Listen to your client.


ED PEARSON – Entrepreneurs Network

  1. Make sure you’re embracing the right problems.
  2. There is always stuff popping up in business that can potentially derail you but solving the right issues that get you moving towards your goals and ensuring growth.


LYN REED – Best Mailing Services

  1. Build a strong relationship with your client.
  2. Stay connected.
  3. Pick up the phone! It is not all about email.
  4. Go that extra mile & be proactive.
  5. Offer help & knowledge for free; it doesn’t have to be about something you can charge for.
  6. Be happy, stay positive and show interest.



If you would like any help with any of the topics discussed please feel free to contact us at info@magnificentstuff.net 


No regrets in life, just lessons learnt.

Sharing knowledge strengthens our own personal development and helps others benefit too.


We have two ears & one mouth

We should use them appropriately. Too often we are selective in what we hear and carry out the wrong instructions. When given a task to undertake; such as a brief for a project, ‘listen’. Write notes as you go along and ask questions. Never make assumptions and always confirm you understand what is required. Adjust where necessary, until you are satisfied the task is correct. It will save you time, reduce risk and possibly money later.

Manners cost nothing

My parents taught me to respect others from a young age and it has served me well in the workplace. People are more inclined to give assistance if you are polite, patient and show gratitude. Having worked to deadline-driven environments, with fast turnarounds; last minute requests were common. No one likes demands placed upon them when time is limited, even when it is part of their job role. Tell someone their efforts were valued and appreciated, they may be more willing to help you next time…There is always a next time! 

Be respectful 

No need to yell! Being shouted at and humiliated should be forbidden in any work environment, but unfortunately, it still happens. If this should happen to you, do not be tempted to react in the same manner. Instead, balance your emotions, compose yourself and respond calmly. It is likely the aggressor is also undergoing immense pressure elsewhere, so try to react calmly and professionally; chances are they may return later to apologize. Stress in the workplace is on the rise, be considerate of your colleagues’ needs; offering to help or carry out simple tasks yourself could relieve some pressure. 


There is no ‘I’ in team 

We are generally at work for at least 35 hours a week and are integrated with people from different backgrounds, status, skills, experience and personalities; thus, creating an environment to co-exist amicably should be encouraged. Know your strengths – stepping in to assist or mentor a colleague when needed will improve relationships and boost team morale. If you are working on a similar piece of work, campaign or project as another team, communicate regularly to ensure your work is aligned and constant. This will improve efficiency, visibility and brand consistency. 


Respect other people’s time 

I was employed by a company that had an agreed 7 minute ‘late’ window for all meetings. Unfortunately, this decision was unfair and affected those who turned up on time, as frequently, last items on the Agenda were either rushed or left out. Deadlines are put in place for a reason and if missed could have numerous knock on effects, for example, hefty fines by external governance for late submissions. Therefore, it is imperative to create key milestones to track progress and meet deadlines. Schedule calendar reminders to ensure that tasks are being completed as planned – stop, review and adjust. 


Written by: Althea Blake 

Founder and Senior Consultant of ROOTS POD Ltd 

A project management consultancy in Harlow. www.rootspod.co.uk 




Bury Road, Old Harlow, CM17 0ED 

Image result for the victoria hall theatre harlow

The Victoria Hall Theatre is a special community theatre, set in a beautiful historic building in the heart of Old Harlow. It was built in 1888 and funded by public subscriptions, managed by The Victoria Hall Company. The main hall accommodated 300 people; additional rooms were added upstairs c. 1911. 


In 1920, the hall was purchased by the Parish Council, and with the development of the New Town, was under the ownership of Harlow District Council from 1955-1964. It was sold to Essex County Council in 1964 and run as Mark Hall Youth Centre, with the basement being used as a disco venue. 


In 1995, the Harlow Playhouse temporarily ceased functioning and consequently local amateur theatre companies had nowhere to stage productions. It was suggested that Victoria Hall might be adapted to form a community theatre. 

Image result for the victoria hall theatre harlow

With the aid of keen volunteers and a generous donation from Longman Publishers (now Pearson Education) the conversion was begun. The Victoria Hall Performing Arts Association was formed to run the building and subsequently registered as a charity. When Essex County Council decided they wanted to sell the building, the VHPAA set about fundraising in order to raise the money to purchase it – which it did in 2010. 


Many local theatre groups, entertainers and children use the theatre for their productions and all the money is ploughed back into improving the building for the users and audiences. With approximately 24 productions a year, the theatre is almost constantly in use and still run by volunteers. 


If you would like to get involved with volunteering at the theatre, please get in touch via our Facebook page or by emailing: vhpaa.org@gmail.com