One of the most active community organisations in the west country has made a splash by securing its 100th business supporter - a new watersports company.
Shaka Watersports has signed up to Love Topsham, the high profile community interest company that acts as a cheerleader for the East Devon estuary town.
Love Topsham already has scores of independent local firms as business supporters, ranging from food shops and fitness professionals to artisan craftspeople and even estate agents and holiday let owners, all based in and operating from Topsham.
Recruiting Shaka to the fold took the numbers of local businesses over the 100 mark.
“Topsham is small but packed with entrepreneurs, start ups, shops and creatives that have mostly thrived despite the pandemic - indeed, they’ve helped the local economy emerge healthier and more lively than before” explains Paul Berman, a director of non-profit Love Topsham, which promotes the town as a destination.
Shaka Watersports, based in the town since its creation last year, runs paddle board hire, guided tours, lessons and windsurfing tuition.
"If you don't know the tides in Topsham, it can be a bit daunting taking your board out. That's where we come in. We want to help people be confident and safe exploring the estuary” explains James Muggridge, who runs the firm with his partner Emma Forrester.
They’re both in their 20s and already live in Topsham.
They selected the town as a business base too because it’s got such an active community, because the estuary is well managed and not overused making it a perfect location especially for beginners to paddle boarding, and because the town is more accessible than traditional water sport destinations on the south Devon coast.
“The estuary and canal pair up to make the perfect loop for a paddle board adventure. We time our sessions with the tide, so you can ride the estuary out to Turf and then hop back on the canal for a glassy paddle to Topsham” James continues.
Love Topsham is building on its strong business support by running a networking event for local companies and staff in late September, and a Local Business Fair on October 3 in the town’s Matthew’s Hall, where over 20 producers, artisans and retailers will be on display.
Business supporters donate to help fund a string of events and activities putting the town on the map, helping increase footfall, and giving them a stake in the community.
Paul Berman says: “We operate the town website, organise events like street musicians and Christmas festivities to drive activities year-round, and have regular publicity campaigns both locally and at strategic hubs such as railway stations, to highlight just why we think Topsham is so special for residents and businesses alike.”