A former police officer who spent 30 years in the force has turned his lifelong ambition of becoming a photographer into a reality thanks to help from the Welsh Government’s Business Start Up service.
Following retirement from Gwent Police, 56-year-old Huw Fairclough was made redundant from his role as a Licensing Enforcement Officer at Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and decided to turn to local business support provider, the Centre for Business, to help follow his dreams of capturing well-known sporting events across Wales through the lens of his camera.
Although based in Caerphilly, Mr Fairclough already has a client base which spans across south Wales and is fast becoming an established photographer within the sporting industry.
He has already been commissioned as the on-site photographer for a variety of sporting events, including a number of Stages of the Tour of Britain 2013, the Newport half marathon and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing event in Cardiff, while he is now taking images for Sherdog the world’s largest mixed martial arts website, Mixed Martial Arts, and seeing his photographs published in popular magazines such as Cycling Plus.
Mr Fairclough explains: “When I was made redundant from the local authority, I had a lot of time on my hands to attend sporting events and take photos. It was then that I decided I should turn my love of photography into a full-time job and try to make some money from it. I didn’t know how to go about setting up my own business, so I approached the Centre for Business for some assistance.
“Without the help and advice provided by my advisor at the Centre for Business, Tim Williams, I don’t think I would’ve managed to get Huw Fairclough Photography up and running. I attended an eight-module business course and received one-to-one advice sessions with Tim, who helped me to compile a business plan in order for me to apply for business grants from Caerphilly Council.
“After applying, I received £250 to help build a new business website and £500 which was used to purchase some new photography equipment. I know that my success in getting these council grants was down to the help I received from Tim.”
Mr Fairclough is now looking forward to attending the Welsh, French and Lanzarote Iron Man events as on-site photographer. However, in the hope to grow the business more, he has recently diversified into the wedding market, with diary bookings fast filling up.
Mr Fairclough adds: “The business has shown signs of growing steadily since the beginning of this year, and I’m just delighted to be working at something that I’m very passionate about.
“I’m hoping to employ a freelance photographer in the near future, and this will allow me to target a larger number of events across the UK and Europe.
“The advice and time that I received from the Centre for Business helped me transition smoothly from being in employment to becoming self-employed. Without Tim’s guidance, I may still be struggling to get my business and e-commerce site up and running.
“I would recommend that any future entrepreneurs consider approaching the Centre for Business for help and advice as a first port-of-call.”
For further information on Huw Fairclough photography, visit www.huwfaircloughphotography.co.uk.