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Life after the Forces.


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British Library - Press and Policy Centre - Life after the Forces: Why not become an entrepreneur?

On 3 July 2012, the British Library’s Business & IP Centre will host ‘From Battlefield to Business’, in association with a range of military charities. This event will showcase the achievements of inspiring entrepreneurs who successfully started their own businesses after leaving the Armed Forces, including the founder of the Covent Garden Soup Company who went on to buy Green & Blacks chocolate, and the ex-Army entrepreneur who started his own successful waste disposal company ‘Absolute Rubbish’, after struggling to find permanent work on his return to ‘Civvy Street’.

Each year tens of thousands of men and women leave the services and begin the transition back into civilian life. As well as managing this difficult change, they will be entering one of the toughest employment markets the UK has seen in decades, competing with 2.5 million other unemployed people in the search for a job. As detailed in a recent report published by the Federation of Small Businesses and the Heropreneurs charity entitled ‘From Frontline to Civvy Street’, there are still a significant proportion of ex-Servicemen and women becoming homeless or ending up in prison.

While most of the Government support for returning servicemen and women focuses on getting them into traditional employment, ‘From Battlefield to Business’ will demonstrate how starting a business can also be a viable option. The guest speakers will tell their unique and personal stories about how they turned their inspiration into action, and spokespeople will be on hand to explain how services like the Business & IP Centre can provide the expert support and guidance to enable other budding entrepreneurs to make a start on their own plans.

The evening will be chaired by Matthew Rock, editor of Real Business magazine, and keynote speaker will be Claire Perry, MP for the Devizes constituency and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Defence.

Guest speakers:

  • William Kendall, ex-Army officer who founded the hugely successful New Covent Garden Soup Company, and went on to purchase Green & Blacks chocolate which he later sold to Cadburys. Now a major business investor and campaigner for locally-produced foods

  • Peter Fitchett, worked in a pizza parlour before joining the Army. After returning to civilian life he worked in various roles before being made redundant, which inspired him to start Absolute Rubbish, a successful waste disposal company, which he now plans to franchise

  • Ben Brabyn, former Captain in the Royal Marines turned founder of Bmycharity, an online fundraising service used to deliver over £31 million to UK charities which Ben sold in 2010. He recently co-founded another business, The Tribe, a specialist outlet for high-quality clothing gear

  • Sarah-Jane Hill, the ex-Army wife , who transformed her talent for creating bespoke jewellery into an online company, Bish Bosh Becca, while her husband was serving on the frontline in Iraq.

Isabel Oswell, Head of Business Marketing at the British Library, says “Starting a business can be a challenging prospect for anyone and surprisingly few ex-service men and women choose this option. The entrepreneurs speaking at ‘From Battlefield to Business’ are an inspiring example of how the knowledge and skills acquired in the Armed Forces can be turned into a successful business. The Business & IP Centre at the British Library can provide support for anyone coming out of the Forces to develop their business idea, and transform it into a flourishing enterprise.”

Tickets & Programme details

Who should attend? Ex-service men and women and their families from across the Armed Forces.
When: Tue 3 July 2012, 6.15 - 9.00pm
Where: British Library Conference Centre
Cost: £10.00 (concessions £7.50)
How to Book: To book, contact our Box Office on tel: 01937 546546 or book your tickets online

[h=3]Notes to Editors:[/h]Saturday 30 June is Armed Forces Day Home Page
‘From Battlefield to Business’ is a partnership between the British Library’s Business & IP Centre, Heropreneurs, ABF The Soldiers Charity, Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity.
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation. It includes: books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. and follow @britishlibrary
The British Library Business & IP Centre, based at St Pancras in London, opened in March 2006 with the help of London Development Agency funding. Since then, it has welcomed over 300,000 people through the doors and has an excellent track record in supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs to start and grow businesses. The Centre provides free access to an unparalleled resource of business and intellectual property information (over £5 million worth), supplemented by one-to-one advice clinics, practical workshops and networking events, featuring role model entrepreneurs. A copy of the Centre's recent evaluation, which demonstrates how it has contributed towards London's economy, can be found here
Heropreneurs is a not for profit registered charity which takes a new and innovative approach to helping those who have served in the armed forces into business. We do this by offering a package of critical tools needed to create and develop a new business. These are:
Investment Readiness
- advice and guidance on turning business ideas into a realistic and viable commercial business with a strong business proposition and financial forecast;
- a dedicated entrepreneurial Mentor who has successfully built their own business and who has committed to nurturing the investee.
Expert Business Support
- a pool of specialist business advisors in areas such as accountancy, law and marketing.
- initial capital to enable a venture to get going

The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund is the RAF’s leading welfare charity, providing financial, practical and emotional support to all members of the RAF family. We are here for serving and former members of the RAF, as well as their partners and dependants, whenever they need us. We help members of the RAF family deal with a wide range of issues: from childcare and relationship difficulties to injury and disability, and from financial hardship and debt to illness and bereavement. For more information visit
ABF The Soldiers Charity, The Army’s National Charity. Since 1944.
For further information please contact Jackie Lloyd, PR Manager at The Soldiers’ Charity on 0845 241 4825, 07854 497 128 or email:

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