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This podcast selection is taken from a series of Business Hub radio shows broadcast on Star FM between February 2011 and October 2014 with advice from basic book-keeping through to crowd funding, directors loans, cashflow and a whole lot more!

There's something for everyone so do feel free to download and share - it might just be the golden nugget of information you need for your business to succeed!Listen at Star 107.9 FM

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Business Trouble - your choices

My Other Life - The Talyllyn Railway

The Business Hub Show - 10 February 2013

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For his 100th Business Hub show Garry Mumford is given free reign to speak about his passion for The Talyllyn Railway - and the Star Radio team join in the celebrations!

I firmly believe that everyone should have at least two passions in their lives (outside of personal relationships). I think that gives you a healthy distraction.

If you are running your own business then I would be rather worried if you are not like me and your business is one of your greatest passions. But what about a second?  Something perhaps that gets you away from your day to day business world and gives you something else to get engrossed in?

Well for me, after Insight Associates, my other passion is what my wife and I call our “other life”. Our life in West Wales with The Talyllyn Railway.Talyllyn Railway

It has given us a completely different set of friends, and a whole alternative and much slower way of life!

For me as well, my involvement in the Talyllyn has given me an opportunity to use my business skills to the benefit of something away from my normal business life, something I like to think, and hope, that the railway has greatly benefitted from.

The Talyllyn Railway is a narrow gauge railway built in 1865 to serve the slate quarries at Bryn Eglwys some 8 miles west of Tywyn near a small village called Abergynolwyn. Tywyn is a coastal town in west Wales, in the centre of Cardigan Bay midway between Aberystwyth and Barmouth.

The railway was built to 2 foot 3 inch gauge, just under half the normal standard gauge (hence it is known as narrow gauge), so that it was not only cheaper to build but also could negotiate more readily the steep climb up the valley and the sharp curves necessary.Garry on a rare appearance on the footplate

Its great claim to fame is that it was the first preserved railway in the world. A pioneering group based in Birmingham, led by author Tom Rolt, managed to ensure that the railway lived on when it was threatened with closure in 1950. And they did the whole thing through the then virtually unknown concept of people giving up their spare time to do the work as unpaid volunteers. It simply had not been done before.

One of the very early volunteers was none other than the Rev. Wilbert Awdry who many may know as the author of the Thomas the Tank engine books. Indeed many of the stories are based upon Wilbert’s experiences on the Talyllyn and our engines.

The railway has operated continuously since 1865, having never closed, and still operates the two original locomotives and all the original carriages. There are very few if any other railways in the world that can make such a claim. Whilst out of necessity much has changed since the first train was operated by the Preservation Society in 1951, the railway still retains much of the character which makes it a very special corner of Wales. The overall condition of the track and everything else was extremely poor, so there were huge obstacles to overcome to keep the railway running and finance it. Today the railway enjoys excellent facilities and operates for much of the year, running around 1,000 trains annually for some 42,000 visitors a year.

A train starts it journey up the valleyHaving originally volunteered as a Signalman on the railway for many years, in 2005 I was elected to be Honorary Treasurer to the Society and Accountant to the Railway Company and also a further company which is a Registered Charity called Talyllyn Holdings Limited. All of course voluntary posts. Unbelievably I am only the third person to have held these posts since the Society took control of the railway in 1951! My predecessor, Colin Roobottom, did the job for over 40 years!

I inherited not only a key post with a company nearly 150 years old, regulated by Statute not through Companies House, under the control of a Society with 3,500 members, but also a totally manual accounting system. Add to this the fact that we are dealing with a business with the turnover of a good sized corner shop but the complexity of a multi-national!!  Two cafes, two shops, engineering workshop with sales and a railway!! We also employ a small permanent staff.

With help of the infrastructures and processes we have at Insight Associates I set about computerising all this and moving the accounting of a Victorian Railway into the 21st Century!  After a very significant amount of work this is now substantially complete, and for the first time in the railways near 150 year history it has Monthly Management Accounts!!  Worth waiting for!

We face continuing challenges with ever reducing numbers of people visiting Wales, and many more attractions to distract them than there was back in the 1950’s. The incredible support from the Society members makes it all possible, giving their time, expertise (as I do) and money to keep this unique Victorian railway running.

I thoroughly enjoy being very involved in the day to day management and being able to use my accounting, financial, business and turnaround skills for the benefit of something which is very special to me. It is also nice that my whole family share my love of the railway and the surrounding area, and that we have so many special friends associated with it. It is a great distraction from the very frantic life of Insight Associates.

Why not come and visit




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