Everything from ice cream to counselling services, that’s the beauty of business across Dacorum

Dacorum's Den winners
Dacorum's Den winners

New Dacorum businesses are getting on their bikes and creating markets for themselves – and for Iain Wicks pedal power is a literal truth.

Iain’s Wicks Ice Cream Company makes handmade quality ice cream, sorbets and granitas and uses a Vintage Pashley bike with an ice cream freezer on the front to sell his products at events in the area.

Indira Chima, Dacorum's Den winner

Indira Chima, Dacorum's Den winner

The company, based in Goldfield Road, Tring, was one of 12 to win a £1,000 prize from Dacorum Borough Council’s Dacorum’s Den competition in partnership with the Maylands Partnership .

Entrants were grilled by a panel of judges made up of Mike Penning MP, Andy Cook from FFEI Limited, Mark Mitchell of Community Action Dacorum and Rebecca Oblein of Dacorum Borough Council, in the style of the Dragons Den TV show.

Mr Wicks, whose milk and cream comes from the herd of Guernsey cows at Lacey’s Farm in Marlow, said: “We have found that the bike generates a lot of interest wherever we go and the ice creams are going down a storm. We’re hoping within the year to be able to offer the product to local retailers to stock.”

The money won in Dacorum’s Den will be put towards marketing. Design company KM Designs in Tring has been engaged to create a logo and website, due to be launched soon.

Dacorum's Den Hemel Hempstead. Sunnyside

Dacorum's Den Hemel Hempstead. Sunnyside

There is a big retail element in some of the other Dacorum’s Den winners, too.

Stepping Stone Café helps people with learning disabilities become work ready through experience in a café.

Divine Trees is all about wig sales for Afro Caribbean, mixed race and cancer sufferers.

The Rockin’ Lock-In sells gifts and accessories with rock music themes and Sunnyside Rural Trust supports people with learning difficulties through horticulture.

Lauren Whiteman, of Cake Stories by Lauren, as her character, Betsy Buttercream

Lauren Whiteman, of Cake Stories by Lauren, as her character, Betsy Buttercream

Cake Stories by Lauren makes bespoke cakes and cupcakes and also organises cupcake parties.

Skin Therapy is an e-commerce website for the retail of skin care products not available on the high street.

The Stepping Stone Cafe, based at Maylands Business Centre, in Hemel Hempstead, is the brainchild of Accessible Dacorum founder Tobi Manikin-Collett, the managing director of Diverse HR Solutions Ltd, Elaine Precious of Dacorum Mencap and Colette Farrell, who has a background in hospitality.

Tobi said: “We will be applying for additional funding to get this off the ground and will be asking the local business community to donate equipment such as fridges, till, a safe, utensils and so on.

Wicks ice creams at an event on Sunday

Wicks ice creams at an event on Sunday

“The Dacorum’s Den money will help buy most of the stock we need such as food, drinks, cakes.”

Stepping Stones Cafe will provide a safe environment for people with learning difficulties to gain training.

Once they are competent they will be helped to write a CV, look for work and coached on interview skills to get them into paid employment in coffee shops across Dacorum.

Sunnyside Rural Trust is a charity and social enterprise which works with local people with learning disabilities through horticultural activities across three sites in Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Northchurch. It will be using the money to automate the watering of thousands of plants grown in the greenhouse at Hemel Food Garden, in Two Waters Way.

Watering is currently by hand, a very time consuming job, and the automated system will release staff time for other tasks around the site.

The trust offers work skills to around 70 people, growing fruit and vegetables, keeping chickens, carrying out contracted gardening work and litter picking and do electrical testing. For more information visit the website at

Qualified primary school teacher Lauren Whiteman, who runs Cake Stories by Lauren in Roughdown Avenue, Boxmoor, is pursuing her interests in all things cake following careers in recruitment and being a full-time mum.

She started the business a year ago specialising in highly bespoke and unique cakes and cupcakes supplied to private clients and companies.

Lauren also launched Cupcake Parties in September. Her Betsy Buttercream character delivers cupcake parties for children aged four and upwards across Hemel Hempstead and Dacorum.

She said: “I am delighted to have won the grant and had the opportunity to be part of Dacorum’s Den 2013 – it’s been an amazing experience so far. I really feel part of the community and grateful that Dacorum offers such opportunity and support for small and growing businesses like mine.” She will be using the money to launch Cupcake Curriculum Classes and cupcake decorating classes for adults.

For more information visit www.cakestoriesbylauren.wordpress.com

Away from retailing, counselling, mediation and help services are also well represented in the Dacorum’s Den winners list.

Green Light Mediation is a family mediation practice to facilitate dispute resolution for children’s issues and finances following relationship breakdowns, including managing a divorce. The Counselling Service offers psychodynamic counselling and Time to Change helps offenders.

Sarah England and Karen Schirn’s Green Light Mediation, based in Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, will be using the prize money for promotion and will be attending a training course to develop the business in light of changes to the provision of legal aid in family law.

Sarah said: “In light of the changes in 2013 to legal aid and the high costs of disputes pursued through the courts we felt there had to be a better way.

“We aim to work with respected local solicitors to provide joined up services that are affordable and constructive for local families.

“Mediation is not suitable in all cases but we believe should be at least attempted as a first option for most. The mediation process can be much faster, less stressful and is considerably less expensive than a court dispute and can create kinder and more child centred arrangements for children.

“There is still a lot of misunderstanding around mediation with people confusing it with counselling or believing that they must see a solicitor first. We will use the money to promote our services and co-mediation generally and also to improve the services we offer through further training.”

For more information visit www.greenlightmediation.co.uk

The Counselling Living Room, in Markyate, is run by contemporary psychodynamic practitioner Indira Chima, who earlier this year qualified from the University of Hertfordshire with an MA in contemporary therapeutic counselling after five years of study.

She plans to use her £1,000 grant to help with her initial set-up costs such as the purchase of her therapeutic chairs, professional membership fees as well as to build her website and register with counselling directories to help clients to find her more easily.

She said: “There is a growing demand for talking therapies and the general public is more aware and willing to seek professional counselling services”

Companies involved in technology, one in renewable energy and the other in developing an app, hold the last two winners’ berths in the Dacorum’s Den competition.

Suzanne Watts and Sherief Hassan run digital technology firm Watts Hassan Associates Ltd from their home-office in Jupiter Drive, Hemel Hempstead.

Established in 2010, they decided to change focus after losing a major contract with a government body in 2011 and are developing an app called Sine Player that helps people understand more about the way their favourite films were made.

It allows people to browse from one film clip to another to see different examples of the director’s technique, with commentary from an expert.

The prototype attracted a technical consultant who has invested time to bring the technology alive for the iPad.

Suzanne, the operations manager, said: “We have been financially stretched over the past year so the £1,000 from Dacorum’s Den is a very welcome addition to our budget. We will be spending it on lawyers’ fees for a UK and EU patent search.”

Winners community benefit society Grand Union Community Energy Ltd will be using its competition winnings to document what they’ve learned so other local groups can tackle similar projects without having to reinvent the wheel.

The idea for starting GUCE came out of a workshop in late 2012 between members of Transition in Kings (TiK) and some employees of renewables company RES who advised on different approaches to generating renewable energy in and around Kings Langley.

Run by Annie Heaton, Baiju Devani and John Ingleby, GUCE has raised funds by offering shares in the society, which it uses to purchase and install renewable energy systems.

John said: “We quickly realised that the opportunities for renewable energy systems such as solar, wind and hydro power, as well as other approaches to reducing carbon emissions, extend across whole of South West Herts along the Grand Union Canal corridor - hence our name.”

GUCE is run out of The Villager, Charter Court, in Kings Langley. For more details visit www.guceltd.org

Dacorum’s Den winners will receive their awards at a presentation at Maylands Business Centre, in Hemel Hempstead, on Friday, October 4.