Rebecca is our Young Trader of the Year 2021

REBECCA MARTIN has been named the NMTF’s Young Trader of the Year 2021 after her freshly baked savoury treats wowed the judges and visitors who couldn’t get enough of her speciality sausage rolls, scotch eggs and quiches.

Such was the demand that Rebecca — pictured with NMTF National President Michael Nicholson (right) and President-Elect John Dyson — sold out on both days of the final of the Young Traders Market 2021 campaign held at Stratford-upon-Avon on Friday and Saturday, August 27 and 28,  despite having cabinets piled high with her tasty home-made products.

Fortunately, Rebecca hails from Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire, just a few miles down the road, so she was able to ring her butcher and meet him in the pub to pick up more sausage meat after the first day.

She ended up baking through the night and had had no sleep when she picked up her winner’s trophy from Michael Nicholson.

The announcement of the overall winners, category winners and the highly commended entrants was the culmination of an incredible successful national competition which showcased the very best of young talent and enterprise.

Joe Harrison, CEO of the NMTF, said: “We launched this competition a few years ago because we know that young people are the future of our markets industry. So many household names in the UK started their journey on a market stall.”

He said the idea was to encourage new blood into the industry and to showcase the numerous enterprising and creative businesses young people were starting up all over the country, often on market stalls where start-up costs and overheads were low.

More than 70 young people aged between 16 and 30 set up stall on Stratford-upon-Avon’s busy Waterside for the final.

They had fought their way through to the final from seven regional finals and numerous youth markets staged in the months leading up to the main event.

The entrants were grouped into four different categories — Food and Drink, Arts and Crafts, Grocery, and General Retail.

They ranged from hand made artwork, cushions, jewellery and plants to tasty treats and hot food and drinks businesses.

Some were just starting out on their business journey and others had swiftly built up strong customer bases and oft visited web sites.

Michael Nicholson said all shared an enterprising streak which gave a lie to the advice he was given many years ago when he first started out in market trading that there wasn’t a great future for markets.

This year’s winner started her savoury treat business in October last year and is a regular on Banbury Market.

“I used to have an office job in transport but my mother was a great baker and I have  always loved baking,” Rebecca said.

After she had a son, Rowan, in February 2020, she decided to launch a catering business, called Berowbe, which comes from her, her son’s and her partner, Ben’s names. And she soon found the perfect place to sell her goodies and showcase her business on the Oxfordshire market.

The judges were looking at every aspect of the young people’s business, from the quality of their products to their customer service and the way they promoted their businesses.

The four judges were Coun Kevin Taylor, Mayor of Stratford Town Council; Coun Matt Jennings Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and Leisure at Stratford District Council; Chair of Stratforward Josefine Blomqvist; and Rich Jones, Centre Manager of Bell Court shopping centre.

The other three category winners had taken different paths to create impressive businesses.

Samuel Green trained as a cobbler and decided to launch his own business after a life-changing event last year when he broke his spine in four places in a motorcycle accident.

He bought a converted horsebox, repurposed it for a shoe mending and key cutting business and has made a success of trading on Bury St. Edmunds Wednesday Market in Suffolk.

Gnina Balchin, who won the Food and Drink category, used to work as assistant manager at a well-known Sussex winery and now makes and sells her own English vermouth and ready to drink cocktails from wine that would otherwise be wasted, and fresh botanicals she grows herself.

Sophie Clarke, of Sophie Clarke Designs, triumphed in the highly competitive Arts and Crafts section. The judges were impressed with her hand-woven interior products and homeware.

Joe Harrison said: “This year the judges had an incredibly difficult task and I would like to that them, Stratford town and district councils who give us such a warm welcome and LSD, the private market operator who help us so much whenever they possibly can.”

THE HIGHLY COMMENDED

Jim Keogh was highly commended in the Food and Drink category. Jim gives 15 per cent of his profits to mental health charities and was inspired to launch his mobile coffee business after finding help from enjoying a coffee and talking to baristas when he was going through a difficult time.
Two young people were highly commended in the Arts and Crafts category of the competition. They were Chloe Jackson for her business Paper Jack Illustrates and Grace Hancock for Cushy Paws.
Sarah Clarke was highly commended in the Grocery section. She runs Rub and Roll specialising in spices and seasoning blends
The two highly commended entrants in the General Retail category were Danielle Jefferson whose business is called Jefferson Crafts and Gabrielle Martin-Goff who has a vibrant business called Sew Little specialising in outfits for little ones.