We're featuring members of the Cumberland Pencil Company every few weeks to share their memories and experiences with the company.
Next is Alex Farthing, Pencil Museum Manager:
Can you give a description of your role in the Company?
I manage the Cumberland Pencil Museum, where I am responsible for the overall visit for the customer and the welfare of the team, the marketing and PR of the Museum and the expansion and growth of the business.
I joined the company 5 years ago. Over these years I have added Sketchers coffee shop, an annual program of free and paid artist workshop events, added a family membership club and introduced ‘Drew the Giant’, a friendly giant who owns the World’s Longest Coloured Pencil.
This year, I introduced an enhanced exhibition, giving a new insight into the company’s secret WW2 pencil gadget.
What do you like to do away from work?
It is 5pm on a Friday evening and my Husband has arrived at the Pencil Museum to pick me up in our campervan. We travel to the South Lakes to one of our favourite campsites, Low Wood, near Kendal, Skelwith Fold, near Hawkshead, or a hidden gem Park Coppice with direct access to Lake Coniston.
We arrive, Stephens plugs in the electric, I swivel my passenger seat around, reach into the fridge, pull out a chilled bottle of Chardonnay, and my weekend begins.
Saturday morning, scrambled eggs and crispy bacon served in bed; ultimate indulgence! Then put on our cycling gear, get on our mountain bikes and head for the amazing lanes and country off-road tracks around the Lakes.
Sunday comes too soon, but on our journey back to the North Lakes we can quite often be found in Zefferellies, in Ambleside sampling my favourite pizza, hand made with feather light dough and topped with ricotta cheese and wild rocket.
Moving to the Lakes had always been a dream, sometimes I have to pinch myself that the dream has turned into a reality.
What special memories do you have with the Company?
When I first joined the Company the Pencil Museum employed just 6 people, after the first 18 months I had managed to expand the business to support another 4 full time positions. Those first 18 months were very difficult. I really had to push the staff and develop them into a strong team and finally 2 years on, after huge changes within their role and expectations of them, I felt they were ready to go for an award, Tourism Team of the Year.
The Cumbria Tourism Awards ceremony is a black tie affair; all 10 of the team came along. The evening was just glorious; it was the middle of May at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal, glass of champagne in our hands overlooking the mountains wearing our newly bought dresses.
The awards begin. Our award is the 7th one to be given out and we are up against 3 other businesses. The tension was immense. The host read out the four names of the businesses; my heart was pounding so hard in my chest, the winning team are…The Cumberland Pencil Museum team!
My team are strong, enthusiastic, determined ladies and a massive roar of “YES!!!”, was yelled in the air and we all stood on the stage together and collected the award.
It cemented the team together, and was such a milestone and turning point for the rest of the journey that I had still to take the team on. Today 4 years on, the team of 10 are now 12 and they grow in enthusiasm and skill each month. I am so very proud of my team. They consist of 12 customer focused, enthusiastic individuals. What more can a manager ask for.
If I asked that question to my team they would laugh and say I would definitely think of something!
Thanks to Alex for sharing her memories. Visit www.pencilmuseum.co.uk for more info on the Museum.