Our first guest speaker was Dominic Hare, CEO of Blenheim Palace. Dominic opened his speech after breakfast by reinforcing the crucial role that B4 plays in engaging Blenheim with the local business community, explaining why B4’s longest standing Platinum Members have just committed to B4 for the next three years.
Dominic recapped on Blenheim’s progress over the past six years and, with Blenheim’s vision to be ‘the lifeblood of the local economy, to enhance the lives of the people of Oxfordshire, to share this magnificent Palace and to conserve and protect it for future generations’, Dominic gave our guests a fascinating insight into the short-, medium- and long-term plans for the future of what is arguably Oxfordshire’s finest jewel.
But, it was Dominic’s open and honest assessment of the challenges that he and Blenheim face with regards to the proposed solar farm in Oxfordshire that took most of those in attendance by surprise. “At Blenheim, we were slow to the climate challenge, really slow. We set carbon zero goals (quite expansive ones) which in truth were….easy. We are a 12,000 acre landed estate. We have all the assets we need to balance our carbon books. I have met landed estates with so much woodland that they are probably carbon zero without trying. For places like Blenheim, carbon zero isn’t hard. So, we set a different goal – to ‘weaponise’ every acre of the Blenheim Estate in the cause of furiously reversing climate change.”
“That new goal felt consistent with our long-stated purpose ‘to be the lifeblood of the local economy, to enhance the lives of local people and to share and protect this extraordinary place’. We had spent years building up relationships with our local communities. With open hearts, we had engaged, supported, given – we addressed weaknesses in the local economy, delivered truly affordable housing (profitably), offered amazing training opportunities for young people, invested in shared community assets and opened up things for everyone’s good. Because, of course, when you have a 300-year relationship with a community, and expect 300 years more, then ‘for everyone’s good = for our own good’.
“Ambition soared, as we explored powering a local circular economy, joining up settlements and boosting shared institutions with foot and cycle ways so that we could remove carbon from journeys, explore local and forest food production, repair shops…. Working with great local allies, the world, as they say, was our oyster. It felt meaningful.
“Until we dropped the “solar farm” bomb. Maybe ‘Europe’s biggest solar farm’ was not the way to brand it. In fact, we didn’t, but our highly motivated opposition totally did. It is vital that we use some of our acres to provide clean energy for every home in Oxfordshire. But at what cost?”
Dominic went on to explain the predicament that the plans for the solar farm have put him in but underlined how vital it was that these plans are seen through. He acknowledged that he will ‘need to open a new conversation and accept that the outcome will not be mine’. He added that “I have to find allies not just from the willing (there are some) but also from the furious. I might find a road map that might work for other estates too. I might persuade people to be proud of the future they co-created with us. Blenheim, the benevolent dictator, is dead. Long live something else.”
B4’s CEO, Richard Rosser, commented. “This is a huge local issue and climate change is clearly a massive concern for everyone. B4 must remain impartial on issues of such sensitive nature but we can and clearly have provided the platform for discussion. We invite local business leaders to give serious consideration to joining B4 Platinum so that together the clear and obvious challenges to all of us can be discussed and hopefully resolved through constructive conversations.
“Thank you to Emma Rogers, Heather Carter, Gemma Luckett, Jack Butler, Maria and the rest of the wonderful team at Blenheim for hosting us so brilliantly. Thank you also to Edward Michael, Sam De La Haye Davies, Emma Easton, Brooke Williams, John Blackwell, Shreyansh & Kate for their support and also to Tina for superbly co-ordinating the event to ensure its smooth running.
“Final thanks to members of B4’s Executive Board for their support including John Hoy, Graham Caleb, Edward Collett and to the B4 Members who brought or invited guests including Leah Bryan, Nikki Cooper, Lucie Elliott ACIM, Sally Addis, Daff Richardson, Milissa Davis, Giles Orr and Jef O’Riley MCIM.”
If you would like to attend the next B4 Platinum Quarterly in the refurbished Orangery at Blenheim Palace on Wednesday 8th November, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Our guest speakers will be Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of Oxfordshire LEP and Liz Nicholson, Managing Director of Nicholsons. We will also hear more about OxTrail 2024 from Nikki Gracey, Relationship Fundraising Manager of Sobell House Hospice.
More about B4 Platinum and the B4 Platinum Quarterly
See images from the event courtesy of John Scott Blackwell at: www.flickr.com/photos/b4magazine/albums/72177720310186889
See more about the next B4 Platinum Quarterly at:
Organisations in attendance at the first B4 Platinum Quarterly included representatives from:
Abingdon & Witney College; Breckon & Breckon; Charles Stanley; Darcica; Enistic; Handelsbanken; Intertronics; Kingerlee; Mills & Reeve; ODS Group; Oxfordshire County Council; Peoplevalue; Plunkett Foundation; Radley College; Thames Valley Police; Unipart; University of Oxford; Webmart Ltd; Wellers; Wenn Townsend
For a copy of the B4 Platinum Prospectus and to enquire about attending the next B4 Platinum Quarterly, please contact email@example.com.
To find out more about B4, please visit www.b4-business.com
To find out more about private events at Blenheim, please visit www.blenheimpalace.com/hospitality
To see more about John Scott Blackwell, please visit www.johnscottblackwell.co.uk
Quotes from the first B4 Platinum Quarterly at Blenheim Palace
“As I said this morning I thought the Blenheim event was spectacular and just hit the right spot.”
Peter McLintock, Corporate Partner, Mills & Reeve
“Big thank you to Richard Rosser, the B4 team and Blenheim Palace for inviting us to the Platinum Breakfast, a great opportunity to really feel part of the Oxfordshire Business community & catch up with some familiar faces.
Melanie Tattersall, Director of Sustainability and Communications, Darcica Logistics
“Great event this morning. Thanks as always and see you soon.”
Gavin Webster, General Manager, Holiday Inn Oxford
Emma Allinson, Business Development Manager, Kingerlee
“Thanks Richard Rosser, Tina Rosser and both the B4 and Blenheim Palace teams for a lovely breakfast today at the beautiful Clementines at #Blenheim. Glad that Gardner Leader LLP is back in B4 now that we are growing in #oxford with the lovely Sally Addis and team. Great to meet some new people today, Ashley Davidson MRICS, Tania Viljoen, Jon Adams, Samantha Daniels and to see familiar faces Rick Mower and last but by no means least, Katy Barrow-Grint. Who knew we’d be bookending the day with both breakfast and dinner today, Katy?!” #networking #B4 #GardnerLeader
Fiona Curnow, Client Experience Director, Gardner Leader
“Just wanted to say thank you so much again for Inviting me to the B4 Blenheim event today. I had a really lovely time & so did Nick! So happy to be a B4 member!”
Milissa Davis, Owner, Tu Tu Delicious Chocolates
“Thanks for the invite to join this morning’s event and for your kind hospitality. I thought it went really well – good gathering from a wide range of businesses in Oxfordshire.”
John Hoy, Owner, Hoy Consultancy
“Thank you for such a great breakfast event this morning. It was great to see some familiar faces and to meet some new people too. The food was lovely, and the venue is great. A real success.”
Ben Procter, Managing Director, Oxford Property Consulting
“A very enjoyable and thought-provoking morning in a great venue: thank you to all.”
Daff Richardson, Partner, Penningtons Manches Cooper
“Thank you for the invite Richard, it was an excellent event.”
Katy Barrow-Grint, T/Assistant Chief Constable, Thames Valley Police
Darren Aston, Managing Director, Aston & James
“Thanks again for organising such a great event this morning and for the warm welcome on arrival. I appreciate how much work goes into organising these events. I really enjoyed the networking, the speakers and of course, the breakfast! I had a good table and thoroughly enjoyed the interesting conversations.”
Simon Froud, Client Partner, Seacourt
“Fantastic morning, thank you for inviting me! Well done all!”
Hannah Brooks, Business Development Assistant, Charles Stanley
“Absolutely insane! A breakfast for 💯 Oxfordshire professionals Blenheim Palace yesterday, perfectly executed!
I too found the speech on supporting climate change from Blenheim’s CEO Dominic Hare insightful; as did I hearing how B4 brilliantly support an impressive number of businesses in the county.”
Diane Montrose, DiddyRox Marketing
“From one extreme to another! Yesterday I changed out of my muddy boots from Latitude Festival into more civilised attire and headed to Blenheim Palace. Not a bad place for a spot of breakfast!
“It was inspiring to hear Dominic Hare, CEO at Blenheim, talk about his role as a leader.
“Dominic’s honesty about his realisation of the need to relinquish control, to share ownership of developments, to co-create outcomes within the wider ecosystem, and to accept that the end result will look different to what he envisaged, was music to my ears.
“Thank you Richard Rosser and Tina Rosser for the fantastic B4 event. It was a pleasure to host a table (which required nothing more than eating fabulous food and talking – both of which I’m pretty good at!) with Piers Clayden, Tagore Ramoutar and Diane Montrose – pleasure to meet you!!
“It was refreshing to talk with people who are genuinely interested in the challenges that companies face when putting the human factor back into business. Succession planning, hybrid working, team growth, the emotional aspects of change and individual strengths were all on the menu.
“How often do you create the space to have the conversations that matter?”
Lisa Lloyd, Owner, It’s Time for Change
“Well worth time out from time off to attend the B4 platinum breakfast at Clementine’s – Blenheim’s amazing ‘pop up’ conservatory.
“It was hugely insightful to listen to Dominic Hare’s keynote speech highlighting the opportunities and challenges that change brings.
“Thank you to Richard and Tina Rosser for organising another fabulous B4 event and to the team at Blenheim Palace for a fabulous morning.”
Nikki Gracey, Relationship Fundraising Manager, Sobell House Hospice
“Many thanks for this morning’s breakfast event. You had assembled an impressive array of people and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to network with colleagues local to Plunkett, who as yet have not come across our radar.
“I thought that Dom’s contributions were particularly fantastic and a really motivating way of thinking about how we can manage change and bring people with you.”
Chris Cowcher, Head of Policy and Communications, The Plunkett Foundation