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13th Aug, 2014

JCI Summerfest by Lynda Harwood
by Stephen Wells 2011-12 President of JCI Reading, and Founder of on August 13, 2014 15:34


Last Saturday marked my first ever JCI Summerfest and I certainly wasn’t disappointed! JCI Summerfest is all about Southern Chambers getting together for a day of training, meeting other members, chatting and having fun!

Arriving at 9.30am, I was greeted by the lovely JCI Southampton team who had organised the event…as well as an excellent supply of Krispy Kreme donuts!

Events » Team Work.jpgAfter introductions, the day kicked off with training on the power of teamwork from JCI UK National Personal Development Director, Sarah Beckwith. The training exercises brought a smile to everyone’s faces as we all worked in groups to prevent a raw egg breaking when dropped from a height…sounds random but was very good fun and had us all working together.


Events » BBC Studios.jpgNext up was a tour of the BBC in Southampton, where we got to chill out on the red sofas in the BBC News TV studios as well as hang out in the radio station and watch a programme being recorded.

By lunchtime we were ready for a bite to eat and headed off to the wonderful Chariteas Tea House in Marlands Shopping Centre. Chariteas is run by Adam and Tracey Gregory in conjunction with their U Support charity. The profits from Chariteas goes to help provide experiences for young people who are disabled, disadvantaged, deprived or diagnosed with a life limiting condition.

The young people who run the tea room were fantastic and made us feel so welcome. Their afternoon tea selection was fab too! Thanks, guys!

Events » YMCA photo.jpgIn the afternoon, it was time to head to the YMCA to meet Support Worker, Sharlain, along with some of the young people she works with. JCI Southampton have been working on a food bank project this year and Summerfest was when the food was arriving at the YMCA. We chatted to Sharlain and the young people who live in the YMCA-run accommodation and heard some awful stories which will stay with me for a long time. However, it was the work that YMCA does and the strength of the young people that really stood out for me.

Hearing the story of a young man who has lived in the woods for the past 6 years to escape his troubled family background brought a tear to my eye. Yet, his positivity, resilience and readiness to move on from his past left me in awe.

Summerfest ended at the YMCA and as I said goodbye to Sharlain, the young people at the YMCA and fellow JCI members and new friends, I realised how completely humbled I was by my experience. Meeting Scott* - beaten every day by his Mum until he was 15 and living in the woods for the past 6 years with no one knowing he existed  made me realise how lucky many of us are and we can all definitely do a little to help each other out.

For more info about these fantastic charities, please go to:


U Support:

YMCA Southampton :


*Name has been changed

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7th Aug, 2014

Why I love JCI Reading socials!
by Clare Franklin on August 7, 2014 21:38



So, I'm on the train home from another JCI Reading social and I got thinking to myself about why it is that I enjoy them so much - surely it's just a couple of drinks? - but no, it's actually so much more.

Firstly, it's about meeting up with old friends, new friends and people you've never met before. Tonight for example there were longer term members, one of our newest members, a non-member revisiting from a previous social and a completely new face. And such variety too - lawyers, business consultants, life coaches, business coaches, a charity worker and a vet - how many places do you get that many people together!

We share problems and triumphs - tonight a big shout out has to go to JCI Reading member Lynda Harwood. Lynda works for Guide Dogs and was a member of JCI Glasgow before she moved to Reading a few years a go. Not only has she gained a promotion but her Guide Dogs films, the product of one and a half years' hard work has been nominated to the European Film Awards - oh my goodness - perhaps we have a future Hollywood film director in our midst! Tell us more Lynda and we need links to the films.

Ok so we may not have such ground breaking and startling revelations at every social, but we have some interesting discussions. Not only do we have the general chit chat and news, but taking tonight as an example we have discussed our own businesses and hobbies established and new, exchanged ideas and experiences that have contributed to our own personal development that can help each other, talked about personality types and how recognising them can help relationships in business. Of course, our Immediate Past President, Steve Wells of Aim to Succeed - business coaches, always fuels an interesting comment. A passing comment by one member saying she'd like some conflict training lead to almost a ‘mini' training workshop - I dare anyone to listen to Steve and not learn something they can use to their everyday lives.

I would argue in fact that a social is not just a social, but in fact can fulfil all four of the JCI elements in one evening - business, personal development, community and international. What other pub event can you get all this? Look out for our next social!

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25th Jun, 2014

JCI Reading's Social
by Clare Franklin on June 25, 2014 21:34


I’m heading home after an excellent three hours at this evening’s JCI Reading social. The usual faces were there which is great as catching up with friends is important. Equally important however was meeting those who were at our last workshop and those completely new faces who had come along to meet us. 

What I particularly love about a JCI social is the wide range of people you get socialising together who would never meet each other in the normal course of business and often also daily lives. Tonight we had a business coach, business analyst, charity projects employee, IT technician, pharmaceuticals employee, medical researcher, IT sales manager, vet, marketing consultant, IT software developer and me, a solicitor. 

I caught up with Agula who was at our ‘Hobby to Business’ workshop four weeks ago and was really pleased to learn she had sold her first product at an African fair last weekend and with her enjoyed sharing the positive experience of the workshop with others, a number of whom have shown interest in the next workshop in the JCI Reading Business Development Workshop series – ‘Visualising the Dream’ to be held in three weeks’ time. Amber too came along – another workshop attendee – and it was great to meet someone who had experienced JCI in Estonia. 

And so it is, with my last pint drained that I’m on the train typing this blog. Good night everyone and thanks for a great evening. 

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20th Jun, 2014

Expanding your hobby, interest or idea - Where do you want to take it?
by Stephen Wells 2011-12 President of JCI Reading, and Founder of on June 20, 2014 14:08


"Expanding your hobby, interest or idea - Where do you want to take it" workshop for JCI Reading
Review Blog by Lynda Harwood

Blog » Training courses » Hobby-workshop1v2.jpgLast week, Steve Wells, Business Coach at AIM to Succeed, presented a workshop for JCI Reading on the theme of "Expanding your hobby, interest or idea – Where do you want to take it" at Reading Business Centre.

Steve led us through how to take the first steps into gathering research and info to progress our idea as well as making sure we are at the centre of our idea and getting the most out of it.


Blog » Training courses » 2014-06-06 JCI Hobby - Objectives v2.jpgAt the beginning rather than telling us what he was going to cover in the workshop, Steve asked us to write down two of our objectives for our ideas and he used our objectives to tailor the workshop to meet our requirements.

The workshop was invaluable and really brought to the forefront some key activities such as marketing, personal objectives for our hobby and research that we can all work towards achieving. Even though there were ten of us in attendance , Steve managed to personalise the workshop to each of us - no easy feat.

It was great to meet the other attendees as well as hear their fab ideas, whether it be for a small business they are intending to set up, a hobby they wanted to make more out of or even turn into a business and even a couple of existing businesses looking for some focus.

The workshop was a real success and Steve has now offered to sponsor a series of workshops for us. He is currently planning our next workshops entitles the ‘Visualising your dream’ and ‘Price perception’ (dates and details coming soon).

I'd also like to say a big thank you to Reading Business Centre for offering us use of their seminar room and facilities. The Reading Business Centre was a perfect for our workshops and I would definitely recommend it (

I think I speak for all of us, when I say we all left the workshop feeling energised and ready to expand our hobby!



Supporting JCI Reading » aim-to-succeed-border.png    Supporting JCI Reading » ReadingBusinessCentreLogo.png


Update July 2014-----
Steve is also now running a series of workshops and masterclasses which are being offered to JCI at discounted rates. 
All along the theme of 'Expanding your hobby, interest or business idea' 
Where do you want to take it? 5th June 2014    
Visualising your Dream Masterclass - 17th July 2014
Price Perception - 28th August 2014
More to come.... 


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18th Jun, 2014

Paula the guide dog has qualified!
by Stephen Wells 2011-12 President of JCI Reading, and Founder of on June 18, 2014 17:04


Paula the guide dog has qualified! By Lynda Harwood

Local projects » Guide Dogs » Paula's Grad Photo sm300.JPGI received a lovely “Thank you” card from Guide Dogs this week along with Paula’s official Guide Dogs’ graduation photo. You can see the proud lady below in her official Guide Dogs’ harness.

Opening up the package and seeing the photo of Paula made me well up with pride…there were even almost tears! To see her looking so grown up was amazing. We looked after Paula throughout her time at Guide Dog school and she was a star from the beginning…even if I do say so myself!

Whether she was out on a long country walk (searching for something muddy to roll in :-)), attending JCI events with me or coming home after a day at Guide Dog school and playing with her favourite owl teddy, she was always a marvel!

Her obedience, temperament and skills really are a testament to, not only “wee P” but also the fabulous work that the Guide Dog Mobility Instructors and Trainers undertake with these amazing dogs.

Local projects » Guide Dogs » Paula and Lynda v2 sm.JPGI was lucky enough to shadow both a mobility instructor and trainer working with Paula throughout her training and the dedication, patience and commitment from both the instructors/trainers and dogs is unbelievable. They really are heroes.

Paula is now living with a lovely family, settled in well to her new house and getting lots of cuddles! She’s even been on her holidays where she was in her element with sun, sea, sand and lots of other dogs to play with.


Although Paula was only in our lives for six months, she had an impact and she will continue to have an impact on the other people’s lives that she touches – just like the other guide dogs throughout the UK and the world.


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1st May, 2014

Over the past few months we had the pleasure of welcoming a new recruit to JCI Reading...Paula, the guide dog in training.

JCI Reading member, Lynda, has been looking after Paula for the past 6 months while Paula attended guide dog school in Winnersh. As a result, Lynda often brought "wee P" (as she's known) along to our events. Paula became a regular at our fortnightly Spanish lessons and looked forward to her treats from fellow JCI Reading member, Clare.

Paula's guide dog trainer was really pleased that she was able to come along with Lynda to our social, training and networking events. It gave the lovely Labrador more experience in busy environments, meeting new people and working within a business environment.

During her six months with Lynda, wee P settled well into trainee guide dog life, excelled at Guide Dog school and has now recently qualified with flying colours. We are pleased to hear that Paula has been matched with a guide dog owner and is having a great time with her new family.

At her last JCI Reading event, Paula was spoilt rotten with treats and cuddles from members. It was a sad goodbye but we all knew Paula was about to change someone's life and help them regain their independence which made us all feel immensely proud of her. Lynda has promised to update JCI Reading when she hears how wee P is getting on with her new family.

Having Paula in our lives for the past six months has made us all at JCI Reading even more determined to continue to fundraise £5,000 to name a puppy for Guide Dogs. We're only a few hundred pounds off target so watch this space for a very special Guide Dogs fundraising event from us soon!



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1st May, 2014

JCI Reading has a spring in its step!
by Clare Franklin on May 1, 2014 20:05


Recently we’ve had to say goodbye to two of our members Faisal and Sreeni. Both have secured jobs nearer to their homes of Swindon and who can blame them – gone are their days of endless motorway traffic and getting little time with their families. We wish them well and hope that they will stay in touch and maybe join us for the off JCI Reading event from time to time when they are able. We know that the skills they have learnt at JCI Reading has helped them on their journeys and will continue to do so – so chaps over to you, maybe they’ll be a JCI Swindon one day.

 We also welcome new member Chris, joining us from another JCI chamber. We know he has lots of plans for business networking events and this will be an exciting time for the business arm of our chamber, an element that we have been slightly less active with recently.

It’s a busy time for us as we plan our Spring timetable. Meetings are of an inherently social nature, usually involving a glass of wine or pint glass of something alcoholic and of course food – the essential ingredient of any JCI Reading social or meet up. On the bill for the coming months we have socials, community events and personal development diary dates. With meetings most weeks at the pub we have the socials well and truly covered.

Our spring personal development workshop on 5th June 2014 will focus on ‘Taking your hobby further’. This is open to anyone who has a passion for something in their spare time and who is thinking of taking it further. The end of June sees some members signed up for the annual Colour Run in London, an event that promises to be messy, but one heck of a lot of fun. Anyone out there who is registered and wants to meet up on the day, drop us a line!

With all this underway you’d think we’d not have time for other things, but you’d be wrong. We’re also in discussions to get our Spanish lessons started again, collecting used postage stamps to continue our fundraising for Guide Dogs and a Dog Racing event later in the year to reach out and hopefully strike our £5,000 target for Guide Dogs and finally ‘Name our Puppy’ for Guide Dogs.


What a year we have to look forward to and we can’t wait!

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11th Feb, 2014

Marketing: For the Un-Common Businessman (And Businesswoman) - Review
by Clare Franklin on February 11, 2014 16:49


What a start to JCI Reading’s Personal Development workshop series!

A fabulous new venue for us, a trainer from the top of his game and a workshop with something for everyone.

Events » Training courses » Marketing-Atendees1.jpg

We had been eagerly anticipating our first workshop in our new venue – Reading Business Centre on the 8th Floor of Fountain House in Reading. The venue is perfect for our professional workshops and are going to compliment the high calibre of trainers that we attract. We look forward to future workshops in the modern and bright surroundings of the centre and are grateful for the centre’s support.


Events » Training courses » Marketing-Marce.jpgOur trainer for the evening was Marce Colucci, Managing Director of Lead Beyond Ltd – an expert in marketing. Marce had kindly offered his time to present a workshop having met one of our members at a local Toastmasters group. His workshop was so informative and engaging that we look forward to welcoming Marce again later this year.

“Marketing: For the Un-Common Businessman (And Businesswoman)” was well pitched and applicable for all attendees. The attendees all came from different backgrounds and Marce’s presentation had something for everyone – those with businesses of their own already, the employees amongst us, those with business plans for the future, those with charitable interests and the hobbyists among us wanting to up our games.

Marce covered the concepts of perceived value, being different, finding niche marketing, target markets, the marketing journey, the marketing funnel and the marketing machine.

Events » Training courses » Marketing-Atendees2.jpgEveryone in the seminar room that night would have taken away different messages and information. For me, as an employee and a hobbyist wanting to set my crafting business onto a more professional footing, most of the information was new to me, but the big ideas that came out of the evening for me were around building authority and nurturing sages of the marketing journey. As I was sat in the workshop, ideas were coming to me about how I could use facebook and twitter more effectively to build awareness of my crafted products and spread the word about them.


We are now in conversations with Marce about future workshops within his field of marketing, all of which are huge – so watch this space for details of our next workshop in this and other topics.



Events » Training courses » Marketing-Atendees3.JPGEvents » Training courses » Marce-Card.JPGEvents » Training courses » Marketing-Group.jpg

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1st Feb, 2014

A journey through last year - a review of 2013 at JCI Reading
by Faisal Mooraby on February 1, 2014 01:29


2013 has been a year of challenge for JCI Reading members. We decided to revamp the chapter in order to reflect the aspirations and needs of it's members. After all, what better year for redefinition to choose than the 50th Anniversary of the chapter. Our new motto has been to become better leaders through working together, be active and have fun. Fun is important because only when what you do has a sense of liking, comes motivation.

A lot of the activities we organised have improved our leadership and management skills. Behind the scene of organising these events requires a lot of negotiation, marketing, planning and sometimes delegating. JCI gives us opportunities to gain these skills through organising events and learn others through trainings and workshops.

Color Run

We started off with a very unusual, yet motivating first meeting, thanks to Dexter Dash (2014 JCI London President). We had our discussion around a major event in London - the Color Run. The meeting was about redefining ourselves and to keep the motivation level high, we enrolled in a challenging activity (the run) and yet fun (the color). It's a meeting we will for sure not forget.

Blog » 2013 » colorrunmeeting.jpg

Blog » 2013 » P1100172.JPG


Gala Dinner

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of JCI Reading, senators and past members organised a Gala Dinner at the lovely Wokefield Park Hotel in Reading. We had an appropriate theme, which also ring into the fact that we recreated ourselves: "Celebrating the Past - Creating the future". We had past presidents of spanning 6 decades of the existence of JCI Reading present. It was a lovely opportunity to get insight of what JCI Reading was in the past and what were the opportunities and aspirations of the members then. A post will be dedicated to the gala event - so keep an eye on our blog.

Blog » 2013 » gala.jpg


Networking Workshop

Our first workshop was delivered by Julian Lewis of Positive Computing. Julian delivered a fascinating workshop of how to become better Business Networker. We had tips on where to pin our name badges, how to start a conversation and how to build relationship with potential clients or partners. Here is the interview of Julian on the night.


Public Speaking with Confidence

Our second training was delivered by Sarah Beckwith, JCI UK Vice President of Membership 2013. Sarah delivered a highly interactive training on public speaking and how we can get confident at it. She taught us how to stand, make use of effective body language, and how to use our voice. Here is Sarah's interview on the night:


Spanish Learning

At JCI you can decide to learn, in a team of like-minded individuals, anything constructive. We decided to learn Spanish as a new language. Lynda, one of our members went the extra mile to get us a tutor who teaches us every fortnight. I have to say that learning Spanish is not that easy, but it certainly is fun. I can testify though that the whole process has a bonding effect on our team. If you want a team building activity, why not get your team to learn a new language - a tip from me.

Lynda will write a blog on the topic in the coming future.

Blog » 2013 » spanishdinner.jpg



Clare, another of our members, orgnanised a very successful bowling event which caught the eyes of two guests, Alex and Chris. We had fun, a few tears with our disappointing scores (that was me) and sounds of cheers (mainly from our past President Steve). 

Blog » 2013 » bowling.jpg


2013 was a very challenging, yet fun year at JCI Reading. We have strengthen the bond within our team and learnt essential skills to become leaders in our community or field. 2013 was the year we celebrated the past and to create the future. 2014 will be the year of more challenges - but with challenges come more opportunities to make us better leaders. Keep visiting our blog to keep up with our journey.

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16th Jan, 2014

Partnership with Reading Business Centre
by Stephen Wells 2011-12 President of JCI Reading, and Founder of on January 16, 2014 20:06


JCI Reading is pleased to announce our latest business partnership with Reading Business Centre (at Fountain House).

Reading Business Centre is a hub for Start-ups and SME’s looking to collaborate in a modern cost effective business centre. They have kindly agreed to support JCI Reading with the provision of professional training and meeting facilities for our monthly training sessions.

Stephen Wells (Founder of AIM to Succeed and 2011/12 President of JCI Reading)

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank, both personally and on behalf of JCI Reading, Nick and Alex for their support.

This is just what JCI Reading has been looking to find for the last few years. A regular meeting and training facility that is a hub for businesses in the Reading area.

Having a professional facility we can use regularly will enable us to focus our efforts on delivering personal and professional development rather than spending time finding suitable locations for our sessions.

We look forward to hosting our training events and workshops at the Reading Business Centre ( as we grow the chamber.  ”

Alex Hickman  (Director of Reading Business Centre)

“Reading Business Centre has been created to be a hub for businesses and entrepreneurship in Reading, Berkshire and the Thames Valley.

The concept has always been to support and develop the Reading Business Community therefore being asked to support JCI Reading (and the opportunities they provide) allows us to show that is more than just a talk.

We are excited to help bring together young professionals and businesses in this way and look forward to helping JCI Reading grow throughout 2014.”


The first session being hosted at the Reading Business Centre is JCI Reading Marketing Workshop on Thursday 30th January 2014


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