Clitheroe - business with the personal touch

Lindsay Pollard of Ribble Valley Dance with Lucy Read, Ella Sharma and Holly Taylor

Lindsay Pollard of Ribble Valley Dance with Lucy Read, Ella Sharma and Holly Taylor - Credit: Archant

Business mixes easily with pleasure in the busy market town of Clitheroe, as Mairead Mahon and Kirsty Thompson discovered.

Elaine Shaw of Zen Massage Studio

Elaine Shaw of Zen Massage Studio - Credit: Archant

It’s not personal, it’s business’ said Don Corleone in The Godfather, making it clear the two didn’t mix but in Clitheroe they might just have to respectfully disagree. Business comes with the personal touch – literally in the case of Elaine Shaw

Elaine, an ex-science teacher and fully trained masseuse, opened Zen Massage Studio, said to be the only one of its kind in town, just a few months ago and already she has a very healthy appointments book. They come for help with medical conditions with treatments such as hot and cold stone deep massage or simply to be pampered.

‘I have had to learn how to gently wake people who fall asleep but if that doesn’t work, I give the door a push. Mind you, I always leave plenty of time between clients, so if someone does have a Rip van Winkle moment, all is not lost; after all, the plan is to make people feel better,’ says Elaine.

RvW moments for their babies might be what some new parents are hoping for, so it’s no surprise that Elaine’s baby massage courses are hugely popular, as are her head massages for dental trouble. Of course, one way to avoid dental trouble might to avoid sweet things but it would need a will of iron to avoid The Chocolate Works.

Guy Middleton of The Chocolate Works

Guy Middleton of The Chocolate Works - Credit: Archant

Owned by Guy Middleton, it is crammed full with a superb range of drinks and cakes but it is the handmade high end chocolates that are creating interest with people coming from far and wide to buy them. But what are The Works in The Chocolate Works?

‘They’re the kitchen at the back, where the chocolates are made by me. It has a viewing window, so anyone can see what’s going on – a reminder to keep smiling at all times even if I feel like having a Willy Wonka moment...a title I’m not keen on by the way,’ laughs Guy.

Nonetheless, like Willy, Guy does invite members of the public – children and adults – into his works, where they can also learn how to make their own. So far, no-one has suffered the fate of Augustus Gloop and fallen into a chocolate river. Guy adheres to health and safety!

It’s the same at Megabites of Cumbria. It’s no ordinary sandwich shop – its fame is such that it has been in a photoshoot in Waitrose Magazine and has been personally recommended by celebrity chef, Lisa Goodwin Allen, of Northcote. Run by sisters, Katie and Sam Winstanley, they both declare that sisterly rivalry is hardly ever a problem, except when it comes to choosing whose cake recipe will be made that week.

Eli Joynes, manager at Esc CC

Eli Joynes, manager at Esc CC - Credit: Archant

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‘It usually evens out because all our food, including our soups and cakes, is made right here by us from local ingredients. We have a lighter-on-the-calories range that becomes popular as spring arrives but, fear not, it’s not a beansprout in a box,’ laughs Sam.

The sisters have also forged an unusual reputation as caterers of choice to boat owners. ‘Well, barges to be exact! One owner got to hear about our outside catering and asked us to do a barge party for him and now, whenever there’s a celebration on a boat, there we are. Luckily, we both have good canal legs which is pretty much essential,’ says Sam.

Eli Joynes, a master cocktail maker, is the manager of Escape Coffee and Cocktails and it has proved to be a real draw for the connoisseurs of Clitheroe of whom, it transpires, there are many.

‘There certainly are and although the favourite at the moment is a Mojito, we make sure that our 35 cocktail menu is regularly changed to keep it exciting for everyone,’ says Eli.

Some of the ideas for cocktails come from customers, especially those who come along for one of Eli’s hands-on cocktail making courses but is a lesson on Tom Cruise type moves included?

‘Everyone loves those cool moves,’ says Eli, who remains cool even when the lid flies off the blender – a hazard of the job.

Cool moves are certainly on the agenda at the Ribble Valley Dance Studio. Complete with top quality sprung floors, it’s run by professional dance teacher, Lindsay Pollard. Students from here have won places at institutions such as The Royal Ballet but it seems that Lindsay might be about to have her own share of the spotlight,

‘I choreographed a show called Stop the Train, which sold out at the Edinburgh Festival and it’s attracting interest from the West End, so watch this space,’ says Lindsay who, as well as dance classes also offers fun groups such as, The Booty Bar, which will work wonders for the bottom, apparently. Lindsay’s clients also include some chaps, although the majority are women.

Over at Clitheroe Golf Club, it’s the opposite but maybe not for much longer, as they have launched an initiative called, Ladies into Golf, which bridges the gap to full membership.

‘We’re one of the most stylish clubs in the north west and our lady members are an important part of that but we’d just like more of them,’ says Steve Alcock, the general manager, who explains that free taster sessions and stepping stone membership are on offer.

‘It’s great for exercise and a social life and don’t worry if you’ve never held a club before – we all have to start somewhere and Clitheroe has produced some great lady golfers such as Sophie Lamb, who is part of the England Squad,’ says lady captain Gail Clifford, pointing out essentials such as the pretty Halfway House, which offers refreshments halfway round the 18-hole course.

Personal service is the backbone of Nicola and Mark Pilkington’s business, Brides Little Helper, an exquisite personalised wedding stationary and prop venue. It is the current holder of the wedding stationary category in the Great Northern Wedding Awards, something it has won four times on the trot. Clients have come from all over the UK and have included the animator Nick Park (yes, Wallace and Gromit were involved) and footballers such as Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier.

‘I always try to incorporate something that is personal to the client and that means chatting, over a cup of tea, while getting to know them. It can also mean getting to know their pets, as lots of couples want them to be included on the invitation or wedding plan. I’ve got to know dozens of dogs, cats, horses and even cows although, in the case of the latter two, a home visit is usually preferable,’ laughs Nicola whose table plans are often framed by couples as keepsakes.

Personalised artwork is key to Tile Productions Studio and Showroom owned by trained artists and sculptors Lisa Allen and Mark Aspinall. They are pretty rare as they use only traditional techniques to make unique ceramic tiles. They have worked in 20-roomed mansions and small cottages, produced tiles for television production companies and made a portrait of a prize bull called Eric!

‘Not just Eric, many people want portraits of their animals or pieces that depict something special in their lives. At the moment images of Manchester bees and skulls are very popular. We aren’t really fazed by anything, as everything is hand made using the skills that tile makers have used for centuries. In fact, if a Victorian tile maker could see the studio, he would recognise most of it,’ explains Mark, who agrees, that in Clitheroe, business has the personal touch.

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