Meet SarahSarah Dunning
Chair of Westmorland Family (Gloucester Services)
“We always start with what’s local because that says something about the area and what the area does.”
Sarah Dunning is the Chair of Westmorland Family, the business behind Gloucester Services, and five other similar businesses across the UK. Sarah, daughter of John and Barbara Dunning, grew up with her parents running the first family-owned motorway services in the UK; Tebay Services in Cumbria. The unique services opened in 1972 after the M6 motorway was built through their farm. The family’s vision to invite the world to this once-remote stretch of Cumbria to eat a good meal, enjoy a heartfelt welcome and relish the upland landscape became a reality. Gloucester Services continues the original ethos of celebrating local people and produce and giving back to the local community at its two locations in Gloucestershire.
Gloucester Services, where it all began
In 2007, conversations started between residents on the local social housing estate of Matson in Gloucester about how to turn the nearby M5 motorway into an asset to create local jobs and sustainable income. From these conversations, the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust was formed to bring this vision to life.
Mark Gale, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Gateway Trust went in search of a business partner that shared the same set of values as the Trust to deliver the project. His research led him to Sarah Dunning, Chair of Westmorland Farm. He instantly knew the fit was right and a unique partnership between the charity and business was formed.
As a result of the new partnership with the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust and Westmorland, Gloucester Services opened its doors of the northbound carriageway of the M5 in 2014. The southbound services followed shortly after in July 2015. Each of the sustainably focussed motorway services was opened by King Charles, who himself is a champion of sustainability.
Sarah Dunning, Chair of Westmorland Family shares why the businesses is the success that it is: “It was innate, my parents were hill farmers, they found local farmers and producers, they worked with local people, it was the natural way to do it. We are the only ones that do it this way, we’re the only ones that have always done it this way, so strength comes from that history.
“We employ whole families in our business, and I love that. They are everything. They are local people with a passion for their locality which is a really important part of what we do.
“We love the idea that our customers might connect with a new place, experience the locality, the local produce, its landscape and its people, and that’s what we want to be able to give our customers.”
Giving back to the local community
Gloucester Services Farmshop and Kitchen proudly works with more than 130 local producers within a 30-mile radius of its location and a further 70 from the South West region. Many of the producers have been part of the journey since inception. The Services’ is committed to working with its longstanding producers to develop new products and nurturing new businesses and to help them grow.
Up to 3 pence in every pound of non-fuel sales at the services is reinvested in local community projects. In the last 18 months over £700,000 has been reinvested through Gloucestershire Gateway Trust into community projects and development activity in the target communities to support regeneration. Local residents help decide how future funding is spent through an annual Community Survey and an additional £2.5 million will be committed to these communities over five years.
Gloucester Services is passionate about the local community and together with the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, the ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme was created to help people experiencing barriers to work – such as disability, learning difficulties, language, or lack of skills – boost their skills and confidence, and have a guaranteed interview for real job roles at Gloucester Services.
Mark Gale explains why this programme is so important; “Bridging the Gap helps local residents who are seeking work to boost their confidence and employability. We do this through skills training, on-site work experience and we offer them a guaranteed job interview at Gloucester Services upon completion of the course. This programme has enabled whole families to gain employment with us, local families. Everyone deserves a chance, first, second or third. We’re breaking down barriers when it comes to recruitment and I am so pleased to have such a dedicated and loyal team working at Gloucester Services.”
Gloucester Services, a family-owned motorway services business that celebrates the people and produce of Gloucestershire.Meet the Changemakers Sarah Dunning and Mark Gale, Westmorland Family and Mark Gale, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Gateway Trust