The keys to a ‘secret club’ of Wiltshire producers and experiences are being handed to residents and tourists alike, in the form of a new discovery website.
Local Uncovered gives visitors information about dozens of independent, small-scale producers, spanning a wide range of goods from food and drink to art, fashions and homewares.
Meanwhile, featured businesses – the site’s ‘members’ – are encouraged to share the hidden secrets of their own communities, from unmapped walks to quirky events: providing an alternative tourist information service for locals and visitors.
Most of the members – who are selected for their production of original, unique and quality merchandise – are what website creator Sam Bertram calls ‘kitchen table enterprises’.
And the platform – which is available on mobile phones and tablets as well as PCs – has been put together from Sam’s office, at her thatched cottage at Clatford, just outside Marlborough.
Sam helped some of the biggest brands in the UK reach their customers through digital media, before leaving the London rat race for a quieter life in Wiltshire with her husband, John, and children Oliver (5) and Iona (3) last year.
“I’ve always liked the idea of using local businesses and shopping for local produce, wherever in the world I am,” said Sam, who grew up in Kenya, “and there’s a massive trend towards people wanting that authentic experience.”
“When I came to Wiltshire I soon started to discover these brilliant little businesses producing excellent products, and decided to use my expertise and experience from working with big brands to support these independent producers.”
Sam says her website is like a ‘secret club’. “You know when you have a circle of friends who meet for coffee and tell each other about the lady designing bespoke handbags, or the couple producing liqueurs with your own name on the label? That’s what Local Uncovered is all about.”
The alternative visitor guide reflects the spirit of uncovering the county’s hidden gems. Sam has encouraged her members to share their favourite tips with visitors: like snail racing at Upavon village fete, or oak apple day at Great Wishford, where villagers ceremonially assert their right to gather firewood by cutting an oak bough and decorating it with ribbons.
“There’s so much enthusiasm for this feature,” says Sam. “The members are passionate about Wiltshire, and are excited to have a platform from which to share the things they think make the county such a great place to be.”
Site visitors can browse homegrown products and tourism tips by category or location – using a beautifully illustrated map – helping them to discover small businesses and experiences on their doorstep.
Key local events are also listed on the site, and there is a special section for charities and community organisations.
And with more than 40 Wiltshire businesses on the site already, Local Uncovered will be rolling out to neighbouring counties soon.