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Tree carver helps launch new enterprise network

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Photo: Tree carver Simon O'Rourke opened the new Matchbox enterprise network at Glyndŵr University

Businesses in North Wales connected with students from further and higher education as part of a new drive to boost entrepreneurship in the region.

Tree carver Simon O’ Rourke and Emma Wilson, owner of Emzcakes, were guest speakers at the launch of new networking and business advice forum Matchbox, at Glyndŵr University.

The event was held to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week 2013, an annual campaign to promote entrepreneurship and business start-up.

Children’s illustration graduate Simon, who studied at the university, spoke about how he transferred the skills he acquired on his degree into a successful tree carving business.

After starting out carving furniture, he now works full-time on bespoke chainsaw carving projects, ranging from wooden jewellery and ornaments to large-scale installations – the most recent being a custom booth for a new steak restaurant in Bristol.

Emma delivered a talk about her journey from graduation into self-employment and the planned opening of a new cake shop in Wrexham in 2014.

Judith Alexander, Zone manager at Glyndŵr University, said: “It was fantastic to hear from Simon and we hope his talk will have inspired many sitting in the room to start their own business.

“As a Glyndŵr University graduate he was once in exactly the same position as them and has shown what great things can be achieved with the right advice and support.

“We hope that Matchbox will become an important source of such advice for all of our students, as well as providing a forum for the business community to network.”

Students from Glyndŵr University and Coleg Cambria attended the event, where they were encouraged to swap ideas and meet new people through an exchange of matchboxes.

Regular Matchbox events will now be held throughout the year at different venues across Wrexham.

Lynn Williams, enterprise lecturer at Coleg Cambria, said: “It was uplifting to see such inspirational speakers as Simon and Emma. They demonstrated the reality of self-employment to students though honesty and humour, showing that anyone with an idea and drive can achieve whatever they wish for.

“Simon left Bristol at 5am to present at our meeting - incredible! I was impressed with the general discussion and questions posed through our Matchbox project by students and business people alike. This was a fantastic start to our Global Entrepreneurship Week activities.”

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