How winning a business award has helped the Exmouth Gateway Club

PUBLISHED: 16:31 22 March 2016 | UPDATED: 16:31 22 March 2016

Emma and Paul Baldwin of Exmouth Gateway Club with their Exmouth Business Award. Photo: Paul Strange.

Emma and Paul Baldwin of Exmouth Gateway Club with their Exmouth Business Award. Photo: Paul Strange.

Archant

The Exmouth Business Awards includes the Social Enterprise/Charity of the Year Award. Sponsored by Raymond James Investment Services, it’s given to an exceptional social enterprise or charity whose aims, objectives and method of delivery are judged to chime with the needs of the community it serves.

Last year’s winner was the Exmouth Gateway Club, a social group for adults with learning disabilities living in Exmouth and the surrounding area.

Founded in 1989, the club is run entirely by volunteers and now has more than 120 members.

Gateway aims to help members develop their social and independence skills while giving them the opportunity to socialise in a safe and relaxed environment.

In the past year, the group has won not only an Exmouth Business Award, but also a Bay FM Community Award and the Exmouth and District Rotary Club’s Citizen of the Year award.

Gateway is organised by husband and wife Paul and Emma Baldwin in their spare time, helped by a team of volunteers. Were they surprised when Gateway was voted Social Enterprise/Charity of the Year at last year’s Business Awards? “We knew we’d been nominated,” says Emma, ”and we knew we were up against some strong teams, such as Exmouth in Bloom.”

“We expected to come a gracious second,” adds Paul. “It was surreal, because we weren’t at the awards and someone from Exmouth in Bloom picked the award up for us. It was quite weird.”

Paul and Emma feel that Gateway’s profile in Exmouth is responsible for its success. “The members are a big presence around the town,” says Emma. “People in Exmouth work with them and see what they do. A lot of them have families in Exmouth.” Paul agrees. “People can understand what we’re trying to do and the way we’re doing it.”

The couple believe this increased awareness is due in part to their success at the 2015 Business Awards.

“Where before I’ve tried to do things and I’ve spoken about Exmouth Gateway, it’s ‘Who are they?’,” says Paul. “Now it’s more like, ‘Oh yes, I’ve heard of them’.

“People do read the paper, especially if it’s local. The guy at Fever [the Exmouth disco which runs special nights for people with learning difficulties, raising money for charities such as Gateway] said he had noticed it in the paper, so that’s one local business that heard about others through the awards. The event helps that because it keeps things local and makes people think local.”

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