Who We Are
The Dorking Business Improvement District (BID) is made up a group of people and businesses that work in collaboration to improve the promotion, sales and profit of businesses within the defined Dorking BID area.
Who is in the BID?
The BID, commonly known as the Dorking Town Partnership, is comprised of 320 businesses and a board run by local businesses, led by the elected BID Manager. Businesses within the BID are either fee(levy)-paying or not, dependent on their status. The BID was elected into place, and once this happened all Dorking businesses became part of the Town Partnership. All fees paid by members go towards Dorking initiatives to attract and improve business in our area. The BID is regulated by the Business Improvements Districts (England) Regulations 2004.
What does the board do? The role of the board is to guide the BID development over a five-year term, in line with the business plan (known as the BID Proposal). It acts representative for the levy-paying businesses within the BID area, and it initiates and considers project proposals that will promote our area and improve local business prosperity. Board members are local stakeholders and they represent the range of business types found within Dorking. The board meets every 4-6 weeks, and they direct the work of the BID Manager in the implementation of initiatives and promotional campaigns. There is also an Annual General Meeting to which all BID levy-paying businesses are invited.
What have we achieved?
The BID was elected into place in 2016, and since then we’ve been busy. We have undergone a logo rebrand to better engage with our audiences, re-implemented a town radio scheme to help spread information and deter anti-social behaviour, and we’ve installed footfall counters that will help us understand how many people visit Dorking and their habits when they visit. We have also collaborated with Friends to Dorking to improve the look of our town by adding hanging baskets and pavement planters. We have also hosted multiple events to promote the town. We have enaged a local communications team to raise the profile of the town via a multi-channel communications campaign, to include a website redesign. We are also making a short film about Dorking.
Meet the BID Leadership Team
Dorking Town Partnership is led by a board of local businesses. The board guides the BID throughout its 5-year term.
Meet the impressive lineup of industry leaders whose collective experience, insight, and vision inform everything we do at the Dorking Town Partnership.
Andrew Fuller (Chair, Independent, voting)
I run my family Business S C Fullers on South Street Dorking which is the oldest family owned Independent retailer having been established in 1892. I have worked here for 37 years and as a result have great experience in responding to the ever-changing retail environment, tenacity is key! I have excellent negotiating and communication skills and work best as part of a team. I have been an integral part of the BID tender process as Chairman and so offer consistency as well as a clear vision for the BID in Dorking and its future.
Nick Boot (Office, voting)
Bullimores have offered to prepare the company management accounts. It is important to have a treasurer on the board and I believe that I am best placed to help with financial decisions.
Gillian Harris (Independent, voting)
Apart from running our shop on West Street I have also successfully traded online for over 10 years and have been heavily involved in online marketing, SEO, and using social media to gain competitive advantage. My business regularly draws customers into Dorking from much further afield for sales, courses and workshops. I have written 4 books and have also designed various ranges that we sell wholesale to other businesses both in the UK and for export abroad.
My original background is in digital design and visual corporate branding for Events and Outside Broadcasts. I have had a lot of experience in marketing and social media and in particular I am very experienced with selling and marketing online.
I like to think I am forward thinking. I can definitely see the bigger picture and feel I have creative flair and can see a vision for rebranding Dorking and moving it – as a brand- into the future. I also have a specific idea for a brand new market and for drawing in business and interest from further afield.
Philip Downer (Independent, voting)
I am interested in joining the BID Board. Skills and experience I might bring to the Board:
- Business owner in Dorking for the past five years
- Former MD of Borders bookstores, worked at director level since 1990 for WH Smith, Waterstones, Our Price Records etc
- 37 years retail experience
- Experience of building and developing businesses
- Experience of opening new shops and making a success of them
- Experience of retail planning and development
- Multiple board level positions, both executive and non-executive. Member of the board of the Booksellers Association, and Chair of World Book Day 200
- External perspective of someone who is invested in Dorking, but lives and has worked in multiple other locations in the UK and USA
Geoff Evans (Leisure and Tourism, voting)
Hello, my name is Geoff Evans and I am the Contract Manager at Dorking Sports Centre.
My passion is Sport, Health and Wellbeing and it’s wonderful to see that this passion is shared by so many within the Dorking community. Whether it’s taking my son swimming, going for a bike ride or tending to my vegetable garden, I love to keep active.
My background has always been Leisure with my first job being a lifeguard. I have managed a whole variety of leisure facilities for many years and worked in Dorking for the past five years.
I hope my experience of working in a busy inspiring environment, working with a variety of different stakeholders/partners and managing a team of over 100 employees all put me in good stead for supporting the Bid Board. I am looking forward to making a positive difference to Dorking town.
Ken Storr (Multiple Retailer, voting)
I am the Manager of Waitrose in Dorking. Having recently moved to the Branch I am really excited about getting involved with the Dorking Town Partnership and helping out in any way I can.
I have worked for the John Lewis Partnership for over 30 years so hopefully I can bring good retail insight to the Board as well as experience of Business Improvement Districts and what they can do for the areas they represent.
I have worked briefly with Charlotte as part of the Guildford BID, so I have seen first hand how passionate she is towards making a BID a success and how great she is at bringing people together to achieve common goals.
Ben Curtis (Resident representative, observer, non-voting)
I am Director of a family owned business that has a turnover of nearly £10 million. I have lived in Dorking for seventeen years and since my children have left school I have started volunteering for different organisations. I was a volunteer at the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and am now an Honorary Steward at Twickenham Stadium and this year I have signed up for volunteering with the Surrey Wildlife Trust.
I am a keen cyclist and enjoy walking in the Surrey Hills. I strongly believe in supporting local businesses and I feel that my business acumen and volunteering experience has equipped me with the objective and well-rounded views that will benefit the Dorking Town Partnership.
Charlotte Whitaker (Manager, no voting rights)
I am delighted to have been appointed Dorking BID Manager. I am passionate about Business Improvement Districts as a business model as I feel they can deliver an enormous amount for town rejuvenation and the community, directly responding to the needs of the businesses. I have a proven track record of delivering successful projects driving footfall and increasing visibility.
I also bring a depth of customer service experience having worked in Retail Management for many years, so understand the challenges and concerns facing todays retailers. I am excited to be responsible for delivering the business plan, promoting Dorking as the Heart of the Surrey Hills and hope that by working together we can achieve it and more!
Stephen Cooksey (Councillor, voting)
Stephen has been a Councillor since 1972 – in Leeds until 1989 and in Dorking since 1992. He has represented Dorking South on Mole Valley District Council since 1992 and Dorking South and the Holmwoods on Surrey County Council since 2005. He had a career as a professional University administrator and has been a full-time Councillor since retiring from a senior post at the Open University in 2010. He was nominated by Mole Valley District Council for election to the Board to represent Dorking residents. He is currently Leader of the Opposition on Mole Valley Council.
Stephen has been a Director of the Dorking Chamber of Commerce for many years and served as a Director of the Leeds City Development Corporation when a Councillor in Leeds. Stephen has campaigned consistently to improve and enhance Dorking town centre and was instrumental in progressing improvements such as the repaving of West Street, the initial establishment of Town Centre Management in Dorking, the creation of Dorking Town Forum and support for the establishment of the BID.
Laura Drake (Night-time Economy, voting)
I began my career in luxury brands in the marketing department of Crabtree & Evelyn, from where I moved to Burberry to join their European Retail Marketing team. My role involved creating store events, establishing brand partnerships and sponsorship opportunities and implementing advertising plans. Headhunted for the Global Marketing team at Alfred Dunhill, one of the world’s leading luxury goods companies, I was involved in international advertising campaigns and other high-profile events.
Returning to Surrey to take up a directorship at my family’s property business, I played a leading part in establishing Fetcham Park, Leatherhead as an award-winning wedding venue – recognised for its innovative use of social media – alongside its day-to-day serviced office business.
Most recently I have been working alongside my husband Steve Drake, Chef Proprietor of Sorrel in Dorking. Based in Surrey for 20 years, Steve opened Sorrel in October 2017 and within its first year the restaurant gained a Michelin star and was awarded AA Restaurant of the Year. Steve also owns The Anchor pub in Ripley.
I’m reminded of why we chose Dorking every time I drive to Sorrel: whichever way you approach you’re reminded why the Surrey Hills have been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and just how special it is to have a beautiful town at the heart of it all.
It’s undoubtedly one of the most spectacular – and under-rated – parts of the country but importantly for business, it’s accessible too. On relocating from Ripley, Steve was keen to find somewhere both beautiful, and easy to get to, for our guests. Dorking ticked that box. And as we drove up West Street to view 77 South Street for the very first time we were delighted to see a town full of independent shops with a real sense of ‘community’.
But we also saw an opportunity: retail is the lifeblood of any town but it also needs social spaces and we wanted to bring something new to Dorking, something that would add to the already interesting mix of businesses. Whilst the town is undoubtedly served by a number of great pubs and restaurants, we felt there was an exciting chance for us to create a fine dining restaurant that would serve both Dorking’s residents and attract guests from further afield. And if guests were travelling to visit us, we wanted it to be somewhere special, with a range of other local attractions both in the town and nearby.
We’re always proud to welcome people to Dorking for the first time and we’re still just as excited about being part of the town – and it’s thriving community – as when we first got the keys! However, we also believe that Dorking’s yet to fulfil its potential and that’s why we’re keen to work with the Town Partnership and contribute towards the long-term vision for the town.
Working with the Town Partnership is incredibly important to us, both to try and effect change at what’s a particularly challenging time for the High Street and Retail, and to support other local businesses. Hospitality businesses such as ours are a vital part of the retail mix and we hope that our involvement can help further the aims of the Partnership and contribute to the long-term success of Dorking for all those that visit, live and work here.
Lisa Edwards (Leisure and Tourism, voting)
Dorking Wanderers Football Club (Head of Commercial Partnerships)
I have been self-employed now for 4 years working for a number of different clients – Euan’s Guide, Superhero Series, Leatherhead Youth FC, Dorking Wanderers FC. I have experience in event operations and management, project management, disability sport and fundraising. The skills I therefore bring to the Board are broadly project and event management, networking and partnerships. In addition to this I have been resident in Dorking for 20 years and both my children have been schooled in Dorking – St Pauls and the Priory.
I am interested in joining the BID Board: I would like to have a positive impact on Dorking having lived here for 20 years and seen some but not enough positive changes implemented. I do believe Dorking can be a truly exceptional town, it has so much going for it but needs to be driven forward with a strong and diverse team. I am very keen for DWFC to engage with the wider community as a whole and believe that by joining the BID this will support this ambition. The club did engage very successfully with the Rob Walker centenary and it is my intention to continue to do so with future events.
Metin Huseyin (MVDC, voting)
Bookham North and Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Risk
Candida Goulden (MVDC Representative, observer, non-voting)
Economic Development Manager Observer
Beccy Gunn, White Horse Dorking General Manager
I am currently the General Manager of the White Horse Hotel located in the heart of Dorking. I have spent the last 15 months re-opening and re-positioning the hotel after a 4 million pound renovation. I very firmly believe that our success is linked closely with the town and our obligation to not only support the town but also source where possible local products, and employ local workers of all ages.
I feel that being part of the BID Partnership will give me the opportunity to not only help drive business from out of town but also directly support local businesses. I am keen to work with and contribute towards the long term vision of the town. I have recently moved back to the area and live just outside Dorking having lived and studied in Surrey in the past. Whilst in London I was a trustee for a local charity called NOVA, and have worked with Colleges on Hospitality training and have been on the board of several Hospitality organisations.