Businesses are vital for the local economy, and I intend to do everything I can to support them. I am learning that they come in a surprising range of shapes and sizes, too: as I was touring Twickenham businesses this week, I was really pleased to encounter some of the boatbuilders on Eel Pie Island – among the last still active on the Thames.
I was treated to a guided tour by none other than double Olympian rower Ken Dwan, whose family has been working on the Thames for an astonishing 500 years. He showed me some of the old vessels being repaired and restored at his yard, Eel Pie Island Slipways. Some of the boats are former Dunkirk 'little ships', called into service because their shallow draughts allowed them to get close to the shoreline.
Ken’s is one of many thriving businesses on the island, all connected by an amazing community spirit. There are also artists’ studios, and an exhibition of their works will be held on 1st December; I encourage you to go and have a look for yourself.