October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and if you’ve already read the latest issue of Life In Orpington, you’ll know that Lauretta was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.

Determined not to let it stop her from working on the magazine, she kept her condition on the downplay – until people started guessing when she lost her hair.

So, using Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Lauretta wrote about her personal experience in October’s Final Thought to inform, educate and provide inspiration for people undergoing a similar journey and for those who could relate with family or friends affected by cancer.

From a personal perspective Lauretta has enjoyed raising money for a number of charities – with the help of family and friends – including The Chartwell Cancer Trust, Cancer Research (thank you Kris!), The Little Princesses Trust and The Primrose Centre (thanks Spencer!) – all in the last six months. She’s now setting her sights on a Moonwalk next year – and possibly even a wingwalk in the future. Watch this space!

Out and about

Back to business and we’ve certainly been busy bees this month – no surprise there of course – but we’ve made a concerted effort to push the boat out when it came to things like volunteering, attending networking events and arranging meetings.

From a networking perspective, we’ve been to no fewer than four networking events this month. Networking is so important – in fact, here’s a little known fact for you: just over 12 years ago Lauretta started and ran the very first speed networking events (called Cut To The Chase) in the Borough of Bromley! The company was a success and was later sold when Lauretta was headhunted for an editor’s position on a national travel magazine.

One of our first events we attended this month was a visit to the Churchill Theatre in Bromley for a press preview event of Aladdin where we got to meet members of the cast and interview them.

At the end of last month we attended the Movers and Shakers meeting in Biggin Hill, which is great to report on in our Business feature, as there’s always something planned or happening. The next big announcemnet being Small Business Saturday for 7th December where Cllr Hannah Gray and local businessman, Chandra Sharma, have been working on getting the Business Bus booked to visit Bromley – fingers crossed!

Then we were back at the Churchill for Grease The Musical, which we absolutely loved; Peter Andre starred as the teen angel and was brilliant. We were there to do a review of the whole theatre experience, which included dinner, and we’ll be showcasing this in the November edition.

We also attended an ‘FSB Skills 30:30 event – Educating The Next Generation About The World Of Work’ at the Harris Academy Beckenham, all arranged with the wonderful Lord Harris himself who works tirelessly to make things like that happen and generously donates both time and money into not only educational establishments, but also many others including healthcare.

October: A personal journey
At the FSB 30:30 Skills event – Photo credit: Piyush Patel, FSB

At the 30:30 event we volunteered our time to help network with students and provide them with tips, tricks and inspiration in our respective industries. It was great to get involved in the project and we’d definitely put ourselves forward again. Jackie Groundsell ran the speed networking sessions – frantic but great fun!

Lauretta attended a visit to the Grow Bromley event, organised by John Coupland – founder of South East London Business Network. (SELBN). It was a well organised event with three speakers who provided an informative insight into topics including branding, internet security and website design.

Mingling with the community

In terms of community commitments, Lauretta volunteered for a couple of Darrick Wood School events which she tries to do as and when she can. This month it was the Open Day evening plus a second hand uniform sale.

If you have a child that attends the school and can help out from time to time at events, the PTA would love to hear from you – they’re always looking for people to get involved (and sometimes struggle with getting volunteers to help), so please do get in touch if you can.

Lauretta also hooked up with the lovely Helen at BR6 Life who presented her with a ‘Flower Friday’ delivery – she was over the moon – it’s a lovely gesture for Helen to do this – and a wonderful surprise at the end of another busy week. Thanks Helen!  And she ventured along to a new cancer support group for women called JustBe – if you’ve been affected by cancer and would like to find out more please email Lauretta. This is a new group and the organiser Sarah is happy to offer more information on the group – the next event will most likely be in November or December.

And finally, Michelle Simpson from The Chartwell Cancer Trust met with Lauretta to discuss a number of local issues including networking opportunities and what the charity has been doing in terms of new events, new innovations and its partners. We’re always in awe of Michelle – if you know her personally then you’ll know she does a fantastic job in raising awareness of the charity – she always pushes herself to the limit – getting out and about – and she’s one of these people that will always offer her free time to help others and volunteers for the charity as well in her free time.

We were also contacted by a retired couple from Orpington who are mini celebrities in their own right when it comes to film and TV, so we went off to interview them for an up and coming editorial piece – more on this in the January edition! If you know of someone who deserves a shout out – perhaps for our Local Heroes page or maybe you’d like to put together your own ‘Final Thought’ we’re always on the look out for contributors. Just get in touch.

A big welcome

October was a great month for welcoming a number of new advertisers – thanks to our new supporters BMI Healthcare, Peter Fiorini, Ceylon Chef UK, L.E.B Property Maintenance, Michelle Harvey Life Celebrant, PIB, Bromley Rugby & Football Club BRFC, Phil Kitchenside GCSE Tutor and The Walnuts.

We were so close to increasing the pagination in our October edition, but the ratio of ads versus editorial (40:60 respectively) meant that we didn’t have to pay the printers the additional fee as we didn’t go above our maximum of 50:50 ad/editorial ratio. However, we have had to increase our pages for next month so look out for the bumper edition!

In other news, it’s a big welcome to our new YouTube channel – we’ve finally bit the bullet and are putting ourselves out there in our new video which you can watch here.

October - A Personal Journey
Enjoying dinner at the Churchill Theatre

Working ON the business

October has been an interesting month as it’s been the first time in a while when we stopped to take stock of the direction our company is moving.

We had a day working on the business (rather than IN the business) and found this was really worthwhile – figuring out what’s working, what’s not and doing our own bit of brainstorming.

We reviewed our business model – given the variety of skills that we actually have – over 40 years of creativity between us across publishing, design, journalism, social media, video creation and creative marketing, and realised that we should be promoting what we’re great at – so watch this space!

We also looked at our distribution model for Life In Orpington and realised that although it was great that we delivered to two separate areas each month, by leaving more magazines in locations for people to pick up we were:

  1. Reducing the hours we spent delivering (a whole week out of each month), to focus more on marketing and promoting our business.
  2. Enabling more people the opportunity to read the magazine from all areas across Orpington and beyond – not just the households we delivered to – therefore spreading our reach.
  3. Reducing waste and being more eco-conscious – we can’t determine how many people are throwing away the magazine when we post through letterboxes (not many we hope but there’s no way of telling!) versus people who see the magazine and choose to pick it up. These are the readers we want for Life In Orpington as it means that they chose to read it. In fact, research has shown that the people who deliberately choose to pick up a copy are more likely to keep the magazine for the month AND engage with us. The great news is that in every location we leave the magazine they disappear like hot cakes. So much so, that we’ve now agreed with a number of businesses to take stock of a box of magazines so that they can top them up. Even the feedback from businesses has been very positive in that they get people deliberately going in to ask for Life In Orpington – great news for them and for us. We’re now in talks with other businesses who are willing and happy to support their local community by stocking the magazine.

Finally, we realise that not every household in Orpington has received Life In Orpington to date, so we’re continuing to deliver Life In Orpington until every household is aware of its existence.

Following that (and for the people who are not delivered a copy), you can choose to sign up to the digital version of the magazine so that it arrives in your inbox every month.

Alternatively, when you’re out and about, you’re able to pick up Life In Orpington in plenty of business locations including train stations, coffee shops, libraries, hairdressers, supermarkets, community centres, shopping malls.. etc the main distributors list can be found here – and it’s growing on a monthly basis!

And if you really want to receive a copy through your letterbox – or give it to someone as a gift (a great Christmas pressie idea!), then you can subscribe to have the hard copy posted to you for just £24 a year. And we can’t do better than that!

In the meantime we’re working on the December launch (we work around a month and a half in advance) and we might just have got an AMAZING local hero for the Christmas edition.

Our lips are sealed on who this is – but if it pans out, you’ll most certainly be in for a treat!

We don’t like to wish away time, but in this case we might make an exception by saying roll on December!