Last night saw the first networking evening of the B2B club at Bloxham Mill, a prestigious Business Centre near Banbury.  The evening was organised by the Mill and sponsored by BM-IT, one of the companies based there. 

From the minute we arrived to a very warm welcome, it was clear this was going to be a great event.  After some lively networking, guest speaker Steve Cunningham took the floor. 

Steve Cunningham is an inspiration!  He lost his sight at the age of 12 and is living proof of how guts and determination can overcome any odds.  He has set land and water speed records and was the first blind person to fly round the UK.  If that isn’t motivational, I don’t know what is!  Steve’s watchword is ‘Go MAD’ … Make A Difference.  And without a doubt, he made a difference to everyone attending the event last night. 

In the early 1990s, I worked for the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) fund-raising team.  It changed my attitudes and, as a copywriter, I am now passionate about the accessibility of print.  My Area Manager was blind and he was one of the most amazing people I’d ever had the privilege to meet.  Like Steve Cunningham, he never let his blindness stand in the way of his goals and aspirations. 

Its hard for any sighted person to understand these challenges.  Even if we don a blindfold, we’re secure in the knowledge we can take it off and life will return to normal.  One of my most vivid memories of that time was having to eat a cooked breakfast wearing a blindfold.  I still shudder today at the experience.  You can’t begin to imagine how awful a fried egg can be when you can’t see what you’re eating!  For someone who couldn’t master an everyday thing like eating breakfast, I’m lost in admiration for Steve Cunningham who is not only a record breaker, but is also a successful, active, and dynamic business man.   

All in all, it was a sensational evening.  We networked with around a 100 like-minded people, were well fed with a stunning buffet, and came away with an impressive ‘goodie bag’.  This both delighted and bewildered me.  My bag contained an umbrella … very useful for someone who loses them at the rate of about 2 a year!  However, when I put on my marketing hat, I was bound to wonder why it wasn’t branded with a sponsor’s name?  Perhaps the organisers, who did a brilliant job, should be talking to Jody Fletcher of Banbury’s Chilli Promotional Products.  She’ll soon get them sorted out and making the most of their marketing opportunities!

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