Santander Thames Valley Venus awards finalist

Our founder, Rachel Eden, is for the second year running a finalist in the Santander Thames Valley Venus Awards Entrepreneur of the year category.

Although only in their 2nd year, the Thames Valley Venus Awards are extremely popular, Venus Awards founder Tara Howard said: “We received more than 1,000 nominations and applications for the 15 award categories, which highlights the huge contribution that women in business are making to businesses in the Thames Valley Region,”  Launched in November, participants have been whittled down to the Finalists stage through a combination of sponsor and public judging.

20180417_143342The Venus Awards – dubbed by Channel 4 as “The Working Women’s Oscars” – celebrate the vital contribution that women in business make to the local, regional, and national economy, and are unique in that anyone can nominate a friend, client or family member.

The winner will be announced on on 8th June 2018 at the Madejski Stadium at an award ceremony and dinner in Reading.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for Rachel.


The full list of Finalists are:

180417_VenusFinals_3056 (1)

Finalists 2018 in all the Venus categories

 IKEA Green Business


  • Cathy Cornish of Wild to Wonderful Garden Design
  • Victoria Lochhead of Frankie & Ruby
  • Julianne Ponan of Creative Nature


Parfitt Cresswell Solicitors Influential Woman of the Year


  • Louise Fetigan of Little Troopers
  • Katherine Knight of Intelligent Health
  • Emma-Jane Taylor of The Inspirational Mentor


Marshalls Volkswagen Customer Service


  • Nicola Butler of Nikki Butler Medical Tattooing
  • Jayne Tilsley of Wadworth Brewery
  • Lesley Wallace of Dream Doors (Basingstoke & Newbury)


ShowState Marketing & PR


  • Nikki Ball of Reading Buses
  • Sophie Comas of Rimu Marketing
  • Vanessa Hunt of Vanessa Hunt Consulting Ltd


Sandler Training Sales Director of the Year


  • Clare Waterfall of Cascade Software
  • Sam Stanfield of Powered by Pie
  • Rachel Gray of Experian



Sandler Training Executive PA of the Year


  • Robyn Thompson-Vango of Reaction Engines
  • Kate Napier of Rank Group
  • Sarah Heineman of Woodford Investment Management



The Reading Chronicle Business Mother of the Year

  • Debbie Whiteley of Pink Spaghetti PA Services
  • Rachel Lambden of Heritage Estate Planning
  • Sara Southey of The Southey Way



Reading University Inspirational Woman


  • Anna Sampson of Boomerang Creative
  • Louise Fetigan of Little Troopers
  • Julianne Ponan of Creative Nature


Benefex HR Manager of the Year


  • Hayley Fisher of Allied Bakeries
  • Ruth O’Loughlin of Oxfordshire County Council
  • Emily Murphy of IKEA Group



Grandesco Entrepreneur of the Year


  • Sue Randall of Oxford Fine Dining Ltd
  • Sam Willoughby of What’s on 4
  • Rachel Eden of Holy Brook Associates Ltd



Santander Director of the Year


  • Sharon Collins of Venture Life
  • Elona Mortimer-Zhika of Iris
  • Sally Preston of Kids Foods




Local Buzz Small Business


  • Anna Davies of Therapists on the High Street
  • Celia Smith of Bluebell Biscuiterie
  • Sarah Riggott of Sarah Riggott Ltd



Wise Owls Lifetime Achievement


  • Jackie Chappell of The Ironing Lady Ltd
  • Gerry Lejeune OBE of Berkshire Community Foundation
  • Jo Cooke of Hoarding Disorders UK CIC



The Breeze Radio Employer of the Year


  • Judith Tinker of M-four Promotions Limited
  • Katherine Knight of Intelligent Health
  • Sambit Mohapatra of Siyona Tech



Prysm Group Networker of the Year


  • Amanda Ayres of The Business Girls Network
  • Aduke Onafowokan of The Sister Sister Network
  • Jade Binsted of Ribbons Media

Photograph: 2018 Finalists at Newbury Racecourse at the Thames Valley Finalist Announcement. Photo by John Rose of John Rose Photography.  

Meet the Team: Sabina Reed

IMGP8723We’re running a short series of interviews about our team members to help you get to know us better.  Here is more about Sabina Reed

What do you do?

As Holy Brook’s co-ordinator I arrange our quarterly meet ups, organise our systems, assist with bookkeeping and any other ad-hoc tasks.

We also have several bookkeeping clients that I work for as part of our finance team.

I’m currently ensuring Holy Brook is compliant under the new Data Protection Regulations that will come into effect from May this year.

2. Why are you a Holy Brook Associate?

I really enjoy working as part of a team with such a wide skill set. When we all come together we look at things from a different perspective giving new dimension to scenarios. It enables us to work with a wider range of clients on a variety of projects.

3. What do you like most about working/living in and around Reading?

I love the links Reading has to the rest of the south, you are a short journey from the capital or an hour or so drive to the coast with so much lovely countryside on our doorstep to explore. I think it is an ideal location for business

4. Who or what would be your ideal client or project?

I enjoy doing a wide variety of tasks and learning new things, so my ideal client or project would be a small business or start-up. I enjoy helping to put processes in place to get finances in order making it easier for business’ as they grow and establish

5.  What are your favourite things to do outside working with Holy Brook?

Things I love to do when not working include singing in a choir, gardening, exercising: Zumba, swimming, walking, cycling, spending time with family and friends, making things: from knitting and sewing, card making to making silver jewellery. I also enjoy cooking and baking. I’ve recently signed up with Free Cakes for Kids Reading.  Free Cakes for Kids Reading is a community service to families who find it difficult to provide a birthday cake for their child

Could you be our charity of the year?

At Holy Brook Associates we support our clients to improve the way they run their organisation.  This includes bookkeeping and financial management help, support in communicating with your audience more effectively and being more strategic and innovative in your thinking.

We are Reading based but work across Thames Valley, London and at times further afield.  We are a small team of skilled professionals and we aim to operate in an ethical way.

We aim to be an ethical organisation and give back.  Holy Brook Associates is looking for a charity to focus our pro bono and charitable activities on in 2018.

Our criteria

Holy Brook Associates is looking for a forward thinking charity who will really benefit from what we can offer.

We will chose our charity following agreement between associates based on the following criteria

  • How your mission and activities fit with ours
  • The benefits to the Reading community
  • How well we believe we will be able to support you
  • Your planned use of the funds and pro bono work we can offer you
  • Your ideas for how we can collaborate and support you

Benefits to you

Holy Brook Associates will offer the chosen charity:

  • pro bono work based on a needs-based consultation with our coordinating director (Rachel Eden)
  • support with events that your charity organises
  • Join in your fundraising activities
  • cash donations based on our activities

We are happy to consider other areas of support if you have ideas.

How to apply

We will be accepting applications until 24th April 2018.   Our application form is here or for an informal discussion please contact

Case study:  Charity of the Year 2016 – Trust House Reading


 From the Reading Chronicle 23rd February:
Trust House Reading received a cheque on Thursday 9th February for £260 from local training and professional services firm Holy Brook Associates, who chose Trust House as their charity of the year.

 In addition The Holy Brook Associates team have donated over 65 hours of time, which included creating and running a successful policy seminar with a follow up report making recommendations for improving support for local survivors of Rape and Sexual Abuse.

 Namita Prakesh, Centre Manager said “The seminar that Holy Brook organised has really helped us develop our vision and raise profile and the donation they are making will help to support our vital work

Would you like to join our team?


Are you missing from this picture?

Our founder Rachel Eden explains why the new job we are creating is a brilliant opportunity to help make a difference:

I started Holy Brook in February 2015 with a simple goal – to help organisations be better at achieving their mission.   Three years on and we are working with a real range of clients – from a 3D Print hub, to a charity that is over 100 years old.  What they all have in common is that they are passionate about what they do and are making the world a better place.

If you are looking for work that really makes a difference for an amazing set of clients and are a keen, self motivated individual I want to hear from you because we are now ready for a new person to join our team.  I am incredibly proud of our team, and you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside and share knowledge with some brilliant people.

I’m really excited about how Holy Brook is growing, and the person we recruit to this role is going to be a really important part of our next steps, and will have a huge opportunity to help shape how we develop.

Part-time Assistant Coordinator role

 An exciting new opportunity to join a growing and dynamic training and professional services company, as a key member of our team.

 The role will be flexible and will grow with your experience but may include

  • Event administration and support
  • Client care, analysing client feedback and follow up
  • Invoicing, credit control and purchase ledger for Holy Brook
  • Supplier management
  • Updating records
  • Ordering supplies
  • Occasional note taking
  • Diary management
  • External work commensurate with experience and expertise for our clients including accounts admin and event support

Personal Characteristics: A reliable and enthusiastic individual, the successful candidate will be numerate and have strong communication skills.  You are a self-starter who shows initiative and can work with minimal supervision at timesYou will be committed to Holy Brook’s ethos and care about supporting our clients and team in the best possible way.

Experience :  Ideally you will have worked in an office environment and has experience with spreadsheet applications like Excel or Google Sheets.  You will be comfortable with Microsoft Office tools.  Experience of using the Xero accounting package would be an advantage but is by no means essential.  We are recruiting for aptitude and attitude more than a specific set of experience.

Pay:  £9.50 /hour (will always be at or above the living wage as calculated by living wage foundation)
Hours – 16 hours a week, days to be negotiated ideally Tue-Fri.  For the right candidate we might be able to be flexible about number of hours, please contact us to discuss.

Usual work location – Grow @ Green Park, Reading a modern and friendly co-working office.  May be able to work from home on occasion and some limited travel may be needed for clients.
Holiday: 5 weeks a year pro rated.
Probationary period of 3 months
Company pension scheme
Opportunity to work overtime on occasion to suit
Training package available

We offer a supportive working environment and many opportunities for training and development.

We are an equal opportunities employer and welcome applicants of all backgrounds.

Closing date for applications Friday 5th May 2018, interviews week commencing 14th May.
To apply please send your CV and a covering letter explaining why you are applying to Rachel Eden

Meet the team: Mark Mason

Connect TVT stock interiors and education event, comm by Louize Clark at GrowWe’re running a short series of interviews about our team members to help you get to know us better.  Here is more about Mark Mason

  1. What do you do?

I’m a ‘Creative Juicer’ an enabler and a facilitator who uses design thinking methodology to engage others, allowing them to be more creative themselves. I enjoy running workshops and guide organisations through the design process, supporting them in solving the challenges they face. Post-It Notes and Sharpie pens are my tools of choice and I welcome a good brainstorming session. I take great satisfaction from seeing individuals and organisations move forward (Holy Brook word of the year) based on interventions that I have delivered.

  1. Why are you a Holy Brook Associate?

Just over two years ago Rachel asked me if I would like to chair some meetings for one of her bigger clients at the time. I said yes and the relationship was formed from there. I relish working as a team and I’m looking forward to some of the initiatives we are going to collectively deliver this year.

  1. What do you like most about working/living in and around Reading?

I’ve been working in the area for over 25 years and moved to Arborfield, near Wokingham, just over 14 years ago. For the last three years I’ve been working more centrally in Reading and love the people, the communities, the culture and the history that Reading has…and not many people know about! I’m also an avid Reading FC supporter, having switched my allegiances from Arsenal to my ‘local’ team and enjoy watching games with family and friends.

  1. Who or what would be your ideal client or project?

My passion is working with and inspiring the next generation and I welcome the opportunity to work with organisations who share the same beliefs and values.

  1. What are your favourite things to do outside working with Holy Brook?

So, you already know I like football, well I also help coach my son’s U15 team. We play like Barcelona in our heads and like Reading in reality (especially this season – for both teams) and we always have a great deal of fun! I’m really into walking too and have a misty eyed obsession with the Lake District in Cumbria, having notched up many miles and ‘bagged’ most of the tallest peaks.

The one thing Reading doesn’t have is mountains, but it does have some very good countryside to enjoy. A little known secret is that I also like flying kites, big ones (known as traction kites) that drag you along and can lift you off the ground. My thinking is that a session in a good wind with a big kite beats any workout down the gym…and is a lot cheaper 😉


Meet the team: Sarah Browning

IMGP8686We’re running a short series of interviews about our team members to help you get to know us better.  Here is more about Sarah Browning

  1. What do you do?

I help organisations solve business problems by improving their communications. To do this, I carry out communication audits to identify what is currently working and not working; I write communication strategies and plans that ensure all communication activities support business plans and goals; I write powerful, effective copy; and I run a variety of training courses. I specialise in working with charities, universities and other not for profit organisations.

2.  Why are you a Holy Brook Associate?

I am a Holy Brook Associate because I believe that we have shared business values and a desire to help organisations improve. It is great being part of the team working together to support our clients to solve problems and move forward.

3.  What do you like most about working/living in and around Reading?

I grew up in Reading and after a few years living in York and Kiel, Germany, I decided to come back. My family all live locally, as do many of my friends. I work with clients here in Reading, but because of the good transport links, I often travel to London and other parts of the South East for work.

4.  Who or what would be your ideal client or project?

My ideal project is carrying out a communications audit for the senior team of a not for profit organisation. They know that their communications are not working – they aren’t getting responses and interaction with their audience – but they don’t know why or what to do about it.  After carrying out research into what is happening, I put together a strategic report and make recommendations that they can act on to improve matters straight away.

5.  What are your favourite things to do outside working with Holy Brook?

I enjoy walking and cycling. I’ve recently taken up painting with acrylics, which I find very relaxing. I love reading and books; so much so that I am also a trustee for local children’s literacy charity, ABC to read.

Meet the team: Lyndsay Henderson

IMGP8708We’re running a short series of interviews about our team members to help you get to know us better.  First up is Lyndsay Henderson

  1. What do you do?

I’m a Virtual Finance Director, this means that I work with small organisations to help them understand their numbers, manage their business growth and strategy and put in place processes and controls to run their business more effectively. I also coach small business owners to give them the confidence to take control of their finances and be their own Finance Director.

2.  Why are you a Holy Brook Associate?

I like working with a team of like-minded people who I keep learning from! We come up with some great ideas of how to help our clients do things better and support each other.

3.  What do you like most about working/living in and around Reading?

I live just outside Reading and I love how accessible it is to the countryside, London and the rest of the UK. I like how it has more going on than people give it credit for, there are some great places to shop, eat and drink and some great businesses minds!

4.  Who or what would be your ideal client or project?

My ideal is a project that I can really get stuck into!  I like helping clients and leaving knowing and feeling like their finances and operations working for them better than they were to start with.

5.  What are your favourite things to do outside working with Holy Brook?

I’ve just run a half marathon – it was supposed to be the Reading Half but it was cancelled due to snow so I ran an unofficial half a couple of days later.  My training mainly comprises me running around after two small boys and a few longer runs.  I also do enjoy a bit of knitting and I’m hoping to check out a workshop or two at Jelly, Reading over the next few months.