‘Dragon’ and Repair Shop star among festival line-up

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A ‘Dragon’ and a TV repair guru are among the inspirational guests coming to the free Innovation Festival in July.

Fresh from Dragons’ Den, County Durham businesswoman Sara Davies will be opening Northumbrian Water’s festival, which promotes creativity.

She will deliver with a talk about how she has needed to innovate in order to become one of the UK’s most successful and recognisable business figures. The venue is Newcastle Racecourse.

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Sara will also discuss how she founded her multi-million-pound company, Crafter’s Companion, while still studying for a business management degree at York University. She is expected to provide an insight into her eight-week stint on Strictly Come Dancing too.

Sara Davies and Jay Blades are in the festival line-up. PA images.Sara Davies and Jay Blades are in the festival line-up. PA images.
Sara Davies and Jay Blades are in the festival line-up. PA images.

The festival line-up also features the furniture restorer and eco-designer Jay Blades, known for his passions for sustainability, social enterprise and inclusion.

As well as his fame as a furniture up-cycler on the BBC’s Repair Shop, he also recently made the inspiring documentary Learning to Read at 51, which showed how he carved a successful career, despite his struggles with literacy.

The line up at the three-day event is further boosted by Foxdog Studios, a double act comprised of IT professionals-turned-comedians Lloyd Henning and Peter Sutton.

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Combining comedy, computer programming and rock music, Foxdog Studios are making a name for themselves as one of the more innovative acts to emerge on the circuit.

Alongside the headliners will be an assortment of other acts and activities, including a gospel choir and slam poets Harry and Chris.

Angela MacOscar, head of innovation at Northumbrian Water, said: “As anyone who has ever attended our festivals knows, there is a lot of hard work that goes into coming up with the solutions to these big problems, which is why it’s important for us to get some inspirational people and motivating voices to help us along.

“We’re really excited about this year’s guests, they have all experienced first-hand the ups and downs of innovation and will all have some fantastic insights and advice to share with festival goers.

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“The lightening talks by our guests are often one of the highlights of the festival and really bring the event to life. It’s going to be fantastic.”

Each of the sessions are completely free to attend at Newcastle Racecourse, July 12-14. To register go to www.innovationfestival.org.

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