Lochaber Ideas Week once again provided a packed week of inspirational events designed to bring the whole business and wider community together in Fort William recently.

Lochaber Chamber of Commerce delivered an engaging mixture of business events and inspirational speakers from Monday 12th to Friday 16th November. The sixth Lochaber Ideas Week proved to be the busiest yet with an astounding 1,000 people booked onto events throughout the week.

We were delighted that Tim Allan, President of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, was able to join us for the official launch of the week with our presenting partners, Developing the Young Workforce West Highland. Tim also represented the SCC network alongside other selected panel members at an open Question Time debate on the future of Lochaber business.

As well as professional skills seminars during the day, there was also evening events to entice the whole community. We were thrilled to bring the sporting legend that is Michael ‘Eddie the Eagle’ Edwards to a packed house on Monday evening. His incredible tale of perseverance and dogged refusal to give up in the pursuit of his Olympic ski-jumping dream at the Calgary Winter Olympics wowed the audience and inspired many to follow their own dreams.

Around Lochaber in 80 Tables, the ever-popular speed-networking event sponsored by Lochaber Times was fast, friendly and frantic – in a good way! One new member of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce was very impressed with the format and atmosphere, saying that this was the best networking event he’d ever been to!

Dragons’ Glen on Wednesday night provided a nail-biting evening of drama for the packed crowd at the Ben Nevis distillery, when five local entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to our ‘dragons’ to win a £10,000 cheque from the West Coast Communities Growth Trust administered by Foundation Scotland.

Tourism is a massive part of Lochaber’s economy and Thursday’s Shaping Tourism in Lochaber event saw a great turnout from local tourism businesses who came to ask questions of a panel of experts about future industry trends. This was followed by a highly informative presentation on what tourism businesses can do to be ‘China-ready’ by taking simple steps to suit the preferences of the Chinese visitor market.

Our most popular event this year was the annual Charles Kennedy Lecture. Charles is well remembered as the former leader of the Liberal Democrats party and long-serving Lochaber MP, who sadly died in 2015. Almost 300 people packed Lochaber High School on Thursday 15th to hear this year’s lecture delivered by Charles’ close friend Alastair Campbell. The former Labour Director of Communications gave a highly personal, often humorous and insightful lecture that shed light on his friendship with Charles and his beliefs about how to help those facing personal struggles. This was followed by a lively Q & A session, where it didn’t take long for the subject of ‘Brexit’ to rear its head!

We rounded off the week in style with a sold-out Ideas Week Gala Dinner. Our after-dinner speaker was the hugely successful tech entrepreneur and angel investor, Dale Murray. She gave a fantastic speech about never giving up on your business dream and the importance of getting more women into senior positions in business.

We’ve already started planning for Lochaber Ideas Week 2019 and can’t wait to bring more exciting and inspiring events to the Lochaber community next November.