When planning your wedding day, choosing the right venue is one of the most important decisions you can make. No one understands this better than Eifion Thomas and his wife and business partner Beth, who run the now award-winning St Tewdrics House wedding venue in Chepstow.
After winning the regional (East Wales) and national ‘new business’ awards at the 2018 Welsh National Wedding Awards on November 4, the venue is one of the most sought after in the country and there is a charming story behind how the family business came to be.
When Welsh cycling legend Geraint Thomas and his wife Sara, Eifion and Beth’s daughter, started planning for their big day, they couldn’t find a venue which fitted with their vision, until they stumbled across St Tewdrics House.
The couple instantly fell in love with its romantic, Italian renaissance style and knew it was the right location for them. They loved the venue so much, that not only did they decide to hold their wedding day there, but to also purchase and renovate the venue further; allowing other couples to experience and enjoy St Tewdrics House and its surroundings on their special day, too.
After their wedding day, Geraint and Sara invested heavily to get the business up and running, renovating St Tewdrics over a 12-month period and converting one of the location farmyards into a main venue and function room.
Because the couple were based in Monaco, they decided to hand day-to-day responsibilities to Sara’s parents Eifion and Beth, who started trading at the venue in late 2015.
While the business came out of the blue for Sara’s parents, it was a great opportunity for them to work together and experience a new career together.
“Before running St Tewdrics House I spent roughly 30 years working in financial services and Beth spent more than 30 years working as a midwife, so running a wedding business was definitely different to what we’d both experienced before.
“We knew the venue was really special for Sara and Geraint, so when they purchased St Tewdrics House and asked if we would run it, we happily said yes. It was a really exciting opportunity to work as a family and it’s one of the best things about the job.”
While renovation was being completed, Eifion and Beth turned to Business Wales, the independent business support service provided by the Welsh Government, to help with their recruitment for the business: an area the couple under-looked when first trading.
With an unexpected need for extensive recruitment, Business Wales’ Relationship Manager Phil Summers and Human Resources Adviser Cathryn Edwards, supported the couple to resolve their staffing, skills and human resources issues.
Phil provided advice regarding the various routes to recruitment, including information on Jobs Growth Wales, apprenticeships and skills gateway schemes, whilst Cathryn assisted with ensuring that employees were recruited and managed compliantly, efficiently and effectively. She helped with contracts of employment, including zero-hour contracts, as well as with the implementation of various policies and procedures.
The advisors also helped Eifion and the team with general business support and reviewed their business plan and balance sheets, referring them to further specialist Business Wales support, including Skills Gateway.
“Working with the right people is crucial for every business and Business Wales have been a key partner for us. Their advice and experience in sourcing valuable professional resources is a service that would benefit every business.
“We’re at a really exciting stage now seeing the business grow, having just won a national award for being the new wedding business of the year. We’re looking forward to 2019 and beyond.”
If you would like free support from a Business Wales advisor or would like to know more about how Business Wales can help start or develop your business, call 03000 6 03000, follow @_businesswales or @_busnescymru or visit www.businesswales.gov.wales/ or www.busnescymru.llyw.cymru/ for further information.
Business Wales, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, supports the sustainable growth of small and medium-size enterprises across the country by offering access to information, guidance and business support.