Friday, 25 November 2011

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Tom Summers

CHARMOUTH born Tom Summers returned to his Dorset roots last year after escaping from seven years in the London rat race.

As a child, Tom attended Charmouth Primary School and Colyton Grammar School before, inspired by the Heritage coast, going to Reading University to study Physical Geography.

After finishing university Tom found he wasn't qualified for much so moved to the capital where he fell into a career in marketing, working for the likes of Red Bull, Innocent Smoothies and Magners Cider.

After enjoying the excess of his London lifestlye for seven years, Tom returned to the area to help his mother with her own business venture, Felicity’s Farm Shop in Morcombelake. Tom is now Deputy Manager of the shop or, as he puts it, general dogsbody and minion to his mother.

On his return Tom became Chairman of Charmouth First Cubs and Scouts group and has recently ventured into the realm of pig keeping with his Uncle, John Summers.

WHAT made you return to your Dorset roots?
I'd had enough of being in the rat race and, when you're born here, the West Dorset countryside just gets into your heart, it’s such a beautiful place to be. I can't really explain it but it just has a real magnetic draw for me, it’s home.

YOU'VE been back for a year, do you plan to stay longer?
I think so, my mother has done a really good job setting up the farm shop and I’m sure she doesn't really require me anymore but if she'll have me, I'll stay. I have responsibilities now, I’ve got the pigs to look after, so we shall see where the future takes me.

ARE you pleased with how the farm shop has developed in its first year?
I'm really pleased, mum and her staff have worked really hard. Our customers have been really supportive and lovely and our suppliers have really been understanding, patient and lovely as well.

WHAT do you think is the secret to its success?
I think the staff. Hopefully we all radiate a happy positive vibe and make it a nice place for people to come. We like to think we are part of the community, a place where people can roll up for a chat, to hang out and have fun with us.

YOUR first batch of pigs will be ready for Christmas, will you be sad to see them go?
I try to be brave and not think about it. It is tough because they are so happy to see you, probably because you turn up with the food, but that is life and the nature of the business unfortunately. I will be sad to see them go but life goes on and we will get more pigs. My comfort is knowing that they have had a fantastic life, they've got a huge paddock to roam around so they are happy pigs.

WAS it sad to see the first Charmouth Cubs and Scouts struggling?
It was because it was a huge part of my upbringing here, it gave me a huge sense of community involvement and a sense of adventure. From the age of seven I was in the Cubs and we used to go camping, kayaking, orienteering and just having good fun really. Loads of the guys and girls from the village were part of it and it was a great way to mix with people of all ages.

ARE you glad to see them going from strength to strength now?
I'm really glad, but I can't take any of the credit for it, The hard work has been done by the scout and cub leaders. Kevin the scout leader and, Tony and Maggie, the cub leaders have done a wonderful job. They have done wonders planning a really good programme, they've doubled the cub numbers and really put some energy into it, it’s a great service for the youngsters of Charmouth.

WOULD you recommend it to all young people?
Absolutely, it's free to try it out so just pop down for a couple of sessions. In the last few weeks they have entered a go-karting competition, they took part in a swimming gala in Bridport, there is a 24 hour camp coming up next year and all sorts of Christmas parties and fun activities.

WHAT were some of the highlights of your marketing career?
It was outrageous, it was rock and roll and completely daft, but great fun. We went skidooing in Antarctica, partying in Moroccan palaces, rally car driving, I learnt to wakeboard on a lake in Austria. Lots of good fun and hi jinx, but it’s lovely to be back here, it feels a bit more real. I couldn't go walking in London, I couldn't climb golden cap or keep pigs, it’s not better or worse it’s just a different chapter of my life that I want to embrace.

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