Lynden Stowe, Vale Press

Do you know?

Lynden Stowe, Vale Press

“Do You Know?” is a not too serious column for you to enjoy where we ask a local personality to share some of their secrets and inspiration for success with us.

Today over a cup of coffee in my kitchen I get to turn the tables on Lynden Stowe, owner of Vale Press and publisher of “The Bulletin” so that instead of him asking the questions he is on the receiving end of mine.

Are you a local boy?

Yes I have always lived in Mickelton and went to Chipping Campden School. I think I still hold the school sprinting records for 100m, 200m and 400m from 1979. I have slowed up a bit since then!

What do you watch on TV?

“Father Brown” filmed locally in Blockley is a favourite, and I enjoy repeats of classic comedies such as “Dad’s Army”, “Only Fools and Horses” and “Fawlty Towers”. They don’t make them like they used to.

Are you reading a good book at the moment?

I have two books on the go. “Rivets, Trivets and Galvanised Buckets” by Tom Ford, the story of a village hardware shop, and “The Lunar Men” by Jenny Uglow, about the Birmingham based Lunar Society – the men who changed the world in the 18th Century.

What was the last film you went to see?

“One Life” starring Anthony Hopkins, celebrating the rescue in 1938 and 1939 of 669 Kindertransport children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia by train to London organised by Nicholas Winton. It’s brilliant film which everyone should see.

What’s on your music playlist?

I am a fan of the 70s with “Seagull” by Bad Company perhaps my favourite. Then Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones and Neil Diamond too. Also classical tracks such as “Jerusalem” from Chariots of Fire, “Rule Britannia” and “Nimrod”. So quite an eclectic list.

What is your favourite local spot?

Looking down on Mickelton from Bakers Hill.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs.

What is your greatest extravagance?

One very large oil painting by Yvonne Coomber. Our kitchen/diner/lounge is basically designed around it.

What was your first job?

I started out with the NFU in Stratford and moved quickly on to Saville Tractors also in Stratford.

When did you set up on your own?

I started Vale Press in 1984 with my brother David, in competition with about 25 other printers within 10 miles. We had started printing a few years earlier in a garden shed with a hand operated Adana Letterpress.

Who inspired you?

In my younger years, Tiny Rowland of Lonhro (who owned Saville Tractors) was a big influence. Today, locally, I respect Denys Shortt, Chairman of DCS Group based in Banbury and Redditch and who lives in Buckland.

Your fantasy Dinner Party Guests?

My Great great grandfather Edward Vaughton was a ring maker in Vyse Street in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham; Sir Winston Churchill; Isambard Kingdom Brunel; and Queen Elizabeth II. Perhaps Mandy Rice-Davies to add a bit of fun to the proceedings.

What is your biggest challenge?

Pricing in print is incredibly challenging. Running and sustaining a viable business is always tough. Covid was the worst nightmare – without furlough most small businesses would have crashed. Business rates for manufacturers and industrial units are far too high and painful.

What was your best business decision?

Moving from our shed in Mickelton and buying our own premises in Willersey in 1997.

What is interesting about Printing?

The variety. No two days are the same. Every customer is different. Every job is different. Our biggest job was for 14 million leaflets for a national campaign. The logistics were horrendous. So was getting paid!

How does the business support local communities?

Vale Press has some large national customers but also hundreds of smaller ones too. Many of the jobs we print are for individuals, small businesses and organisations. We have never lost our roots and still print more than 50 local community and parish magazines. We like to play our part in supporting communities.

 

Lynden Stowe was talking to Michael Allchin from Campden Business Forum CIC.