Thirsty Thursday

Thirsty Thursday is an informal local business networking event held regularly in Stokesley. It aims to support local businesses and foster connections with like-minded organisations in the region.

We last talked to Founder, Sue Thompson back in Feb 2021. Lockdown restrictions had just been lifted and Thirsty Thursday was returning as a digital networking group.

 

Let’s find out what’s changed since then.

 

Facing the world again

“Thankfully we’re back in our original home at The Mill in Stokesley.” Sue explained. “I’m very grateful to the owners at The Mill for letting us host Thirsty Thursday there. They provide the venue for us and lots of lovely nibbles, free of charge which is very much appreciated. Following the pandemic it was very hard to get face to face networking re-established. People were understandably apprehensive about venturing back out. A local business networking event wasn’t at the top of most people’s priorities at that time. But it was also important to keep things consistent. I expected it to be slow at first and grow again over time. That’s exactly what happened.”

 

Casual and friendly networking

“Lots of things can impact attendance. For example, bad weather, coinciding with other local events, or lack of interest in a speaker can all affect numbers. However, we’ve never seen more than the occasional dip in attendance and regularly pull in 20-30 guests. I’m conscious of the time and effort I put into marketing Thirsty Thursday. People have busy lives and I certainly don’t want to hassle them. So I usually send out invites and promote on social media 2-3 weeks prior to the event. Previous attendees who want to keep in touch, receive an invite via email. But it’s not necessary to register for the event as we like to keep it casual.”

 

Thirsty Thursday has been running for 10 years now. What makes it so successful?

 

Creating business opportunities

“It’s a really good source of information for small businesses. We keep abreast of the different types of support businesses can access, in terms of grants and funding. Such as the ‘Immediate Impact Digital Bootcamp’ training currently being offered for free by EMS. Thirsty Thursday creates opportunity for local businesses to get together. There are lots of sole traders, small businesses and people working independently in this area. Working in that way can be quite lonely at times. So I’ve tried really hard to create a local business networking event that’s informal and friendly. Business isn’t the only thing being done, friendships have been developed here as well.”

 

Did Sue think that Thirsty Thursday would still be running it 10 years later?

 

Stokesley’s thriving business community

“Not at all! In the beginning we just thought it would be great to have the opportunity to network with our own businesses. I’m immensely proud that we’re still going strong and we’re now a solid part of Stokesley’s business community. Over the years we’ve been shortlisted for, and have won awards. Including Hambleton Champion at Hambleton District Council’s Business Awards in 2016. Thirsty Thursday was shortlisted in both 2018 and 2023 for the Vibrant Market Towns Ambassador award.”

 

What has been the biggest achievement during that 10 year period?

 

Sustainable growth

“Definitely, the ability to sustain. I never wanted Thirsty Thursday to grow it into a large scale event that lost its community feel. As long as I can feel like I’m giving value to the people that attend, I’ll continue. Being able to provide a place where people can talk about their businesses, confidently is rewarding. Lots of people recommend Thirsty Thursday as the go-to local business networking event. The recognition is nice but the reputation that Thirsty Thursday has developed is my biggest achievement. We’ll turn 10 years old this November and we’ll be celebrating for sure. Watch this space for news!”

 

I asked Sue if she had any success stories she’d like to share.

 

Celebrating success

“I personally enjoy it when we make a positive contribution to projects that benefit the local community. For example, fundraising to install two public accessible defibrillators on the business park. Then subsequent fundraising 4 years later to provide essential maintenance. Similarly we’ve been involved in fundraising for Stokesley Fire Station. That’s in addition to connecting a number of local businesses with providers of grants to help support their growth. But it’s also just nice to hear good news from people who attend. Oliver Wentworth is a regular guest and his company Wentworth Security & Fire Protection have just been nominated for two FSM Awards. It’s great to be able to share that and celebrate local businesses doing well.”

 

What can we look forward to this year?

 

Calling all High Street retailers!

“Thirsty Thursday is at The Mill in Stokesley every month except August and December. May’s guest speaker is Jack Colding from the York and North Yorkshire Growth Hub. Specialist for the Environment and Sustainability, Jack shares how to save money on your waste and energy bills. All our events start at 5pm so it’s easy to drop in on your way home from work. Find out what might be available for your business whilst you enjoy a glass of something cold and a canapé or two! All are welcome, old and new faces alike. I’d personally like to extend an invitation to all the businesses on Stokesley High Street. We regularly cover topics, and detail support that is highly relevant to our local retailers but they are currently underrepresented at our events. Their contribution is very welcome!”

 

If your organisation has something to offer local businesses such as ways to save money, or help to grow then talk to Sue about guest speaker opportunities. Thirsty Thursday can be found at Office 19, 2 Roseberry Court, Terry Dicken Business Park, Ellerbeck Way, Stokesley, TS9 5QT.

Call Sue on 01642 712817

For dates of the next local business networking events visit the website. Or join the mailing list at www.thirstythursdaystokesley.co.uk

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