Family business event gets set to harness the ‘power of peer’

Family businesses and those that support the sector will have the opportunity to attend a unique learning event with like-minded peers next week at the Family Business MidiCon, in Carlisle.

Whether managing sibling dynamics or learning to work with mum and dad; whether building self-confidence or balancing work and home life – many family business owners share common goals and challenges. It’s through sharing these real-life experiences and drawing on the power of peer learning, that (event organisers, The Family Business Network say) really makes an impact.

Dave Clarkson, Co-Director of The Family Business Network said, “There’s no given road map for family businesses. Whilst they’re all unique they share common outlooks as well as common challenges. That’s why the content at our events such as the MidiCon really resonates and can often make a profound impact on the way they see they themselves, their role in the business and even their future plans”.

A dynamic line-up of guest speakers has been announced for the event – the first live in-person conference to be held by the organisation since the pandemic.

Dave explains, “We’re genuinely excited to be bringing our face-to-face event calendar back and what better way to start than with our new-format MidiCon?”

“Our family business conferences have been a real highlight of the calendar for family business owners during the past few years. The MidiCon will feature all the best bits of our original conferences but condensed into a shorter day, and with a limited capacity.”

The first of the MidiCon events will take place on Thursday 21st October at The Auctioneer in Carlisle, supported by Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors and Marsh Commercial.

The conference agenda will feature a blend of family business storytelling and interviews, interactive topical discussions and networking with like-minded family businesses.

MP for Carlisle, John Stevenson will be chairing an opening address and providing a Parliamentary family business update. John said, “The pandemic has tested many institutions and individuals. Family businesses are no different. This will be an opportunity to hear how such businesses have dealt with the last 18 months and what we can learn from that experience. It is a real chance to hear directly from those involved and share with others the challenges of the past but more importantly the opportunities for the future.”

Forming the guest speaker line-up are family business owners and next generation successors from across the North West, who will share their unique stories and experiences of running a family firm and lessons learned along the way.

Siblings Steve Dunne and Jennifer Hollingshead from Preston-based First Trace Heating Direct will be sharing their ever-evolving journey on the day, touching on the role that sibling dynamics plays within a family business.

Jennifer said, “Both Steven & I are very much looking forward to the Family Business MidiCon next week, as a follow on from working closely with the Network over the last 18 months. We hope that by sharing the journey of building our brand ‘Snug Underfloor Heating’ and the challenges we’ve faced and overcome as a family run company, it may strike synergies with other family businesses attending the event and help them when faced with similar challenges!”

Second generation successor of family-owned Lake District Hotels Ltd, Daniella Hope will form a part of the event line-up, sharing her experiences of joining and working within the family business which was founded by her parents in 1983.

Daniella says, “I’m really looking forward to getting involved with the Family Business Midicon to share some of my experiences of what it has taken to become a part of our company over the last ten years. It will be a great day for catching up with other like-minded family business owners and hearing their stories too.”

Another member of the speaker line-up is Matt Bennett, CEO of Cheshire-based DRB Group. In conversation with hosts, Sue Howorth and Dave Clarkson, Matt will talk candidly about his journey in business including the highs and lows and how being able to build resilience can bring about dramatic change, both personally and for your business.

Taking part in an interactive discussion panel will be Matt Carr of Lancashire firm, Carrs Pasties. During the session, some of Matt’s real-life business scenarios will form the backdrop for attendees to engage in an active learning exercise.

Sue Howorth, Co-Director of The Family Business Network explains, “Within the North West, there is a real diversity of family businesses who each have a fascinating story to tell, from how they came about and how they developed, to the challenges that they’ve faced and their aims for the future. Events such as the MidiCon provide that trusted environment for family business owners to open up and share their experiences, which really resonate with other like-minded peers.”

The Conference will run from 10am – 3pm on Thursday 21st October 2021 at The Auctioneer, Rosehill Estate, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA1 2RW. The full event agenda can be viewed here and tickets can be booked online via

Tickets are £55 +vat including a light lunch and refreshments.

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