Hundreds turn out for inspiring launch of Humber Business Week 2017


More than 400 people turned out for the launch of the 13th annual Humber Business Week, with a focus on celebrating young talent and opportunities to kickstart the packed five-day schedule of events.

The annual festival of business sees businesses leaders, company representatives and those with a thirst for growth come together to be inspired and celebrate what the region has to offer.

The week began with the Bondholder Breakfast at Middleton Hall on the University of Hull campus and saw multi award-winning entrepreneur Zoe Jackson MBE, founder of the Living the Dream Performing Arts Company, tell her inspirational story.

She set up the business at the age of 16 to inspire young people and help fund her own performing arts education. Since then, Living the Dream has grown to include a school of performing arts, a professional dance company and a charity called the Dream Foundation, all geared towards encouraging and supporting young people.

Zoe, 28, is passionate about championing young talent, creating access to the arts, entertaining audiences and inspiring young people to live their dreams.

Her work and ethos has been recognised by the likes of Sir Richard Branson and actor Alan Rickman, who have backed and advised her along the way.

Through the arts and enterprise, Zoe campaigns to raise awareness and support for the challenges facing young people, and has won a string of awards for her work.

Addressing the Bondholder Breakfast audience, she said her “lightbulb moment” came in her desire to organise a flash mob dance routine at St Pancras International station in London, which she achieved on New Year’s Eve in 2010 and managed to generate funding and further work with major businesses through the opportunity.

Zoe’s group, which is based in Hertfordshire, has performed in front of the Queen, at Wembley Stadium, as part of Comic Relief and on ITV, and interest continues to flood in on a global level.

Zoe, who was made an MBE for services to young entrepreneurs and performing arts in 2015 and is now working towards opening a performing arts centre in London, said: “Young people really are our leaders and giving young people a chance from an early age is so powerful.

“Give them a chance to take a risk, make mistakes and be creative. We believe in the power of young people.”

Zoe’s ethos perfectly aligned with Bondholder’s new campaign aimed at 17 to 24-year-olds to communicate the vibrancy of the area and the opportunities available.

Anita Pace, Chair of Bondholders, said the campaign, which uses the hashtag #whereitbegins, aims to inspire and educate young people about career opportunities in the region, as recruiting and retaining them is a challenge.

Local performers also took to the stage for a unique musical performance created specifically for the launch event.

The actors sang while telling local business success stories, even bringing former Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson onto the stage to read a letter to his 17-year-old self, outlining how his life would unfold from his teenage years onwards.

Kath Lavery, Chair of Humber Business Week, praised the business community for its unwavering support for the week.

She said: “This really is a big week with lots of substantial events. I’d like to thank the Humber business community for continuing to have faith and commitment towards the week. Enjoy the week you have brought together.”

Humber Business Week, which runs until Friday, June 9, is crammed with events and the majority are free to attend.

It is hosted by leading organisations and businesses and boasts top name speakers from the likes of the Institute of Directors (IoD), the Bank of England, EY, Hull 2017 and Siemens.

For more information about events, news, competitions and prizes, visit, or download the mobile and tablet app by searching ‘Humber Business Week’ on Google Play Store or the App Store. 

For more information, call Paul Baxter or Katy Wood at Arrival PR on 07944535044 or 07540183626.

Gary Pepper