• Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

aaMatthew and Tom 3Tom and Matthew
REGIONAL business network The Mussel Club has signed up its 5,000th member.

Headquartered in Sunderland, The Mussel Club was established in 2006 by David Cook, Managing Partner at wealth management company Northern Spire.

“At the time there was a dearth of opportunities for business people to meet, network, exchange ideas and contact details. So I launched this group that we called The Mussel Club as our first meeting was at The Copthorne Hotel in Newcastle where the chef’s signature dish was mussels,” David explained.

“We wanted the meetings to be low-key, informal – and free. And although we’ve experimented with different days and times for our meetings, the relaxed nature of our get togethers has not changed,” he added.

The meetings are now held in prominent venues on Wearside and Tyneside – with recent meetings being held at the Beacon of Light and Sunderland Empire in Sunderland, and the Hard Rock Café and Vermont Hotel in Newcastle.

While David often attends the meetings, the day to day running of the Club now lies in the hands of his son Matthew, a financial advisor at Northern Spire, and with Tom Harvey, Marketing Executive at the same company

“The model established by my dad still works – we work with some terrific venues who lay on refreshments for members to enjoy. It’s all about providing the free opportunity to network – only occasionally do we have guest speakers – so members can spend a couple of hours meeting like-minded business people to exchange and share experiences, knowledge and in some instances, work,” said Matthew.

“Sometimes our meetings are sponsored by partners such as Virgin Money, but no matter where we meet or how many people attend, the informality is key,” added Tom.

Earlier this year, The Mussel Club held its biggest ever Sunderland event, when more than 300 people attended a breakfast meeting at The City Hall.

“That was special. That morning we did have guest speakers – Neil Guthrie, Development Director at Riverside Sunderland; Chris Healy, Senior Manager at Land and Investment at Sunderland City Council, and Laura Kerry, Assistant Manager at City Hall,” said Matthew.

“They talked about the ongoing regeneration going on in Sunderland at the moment, and there was a massive amount of interest – and lots of questions for our speakers. The event led to a surge in our numbers as people signed up to attend the meeting,” he added.

The meetings start at 9am and finish no later than 11am, so as not to eat too much into the working day. Traditionally, the meetings have been hosted every other Friday, but recently, demand has been such that meetings have been held weekly.

“While more work for us, it’s hugely gratifying to see people appreciating the Club so much that we’re having to increase the frequency of meetings. Of course, it’s also really satisfying to see the numbers go over 5,000,” said Tom.

“We have such a vast range of businesses and sectors who attend – from start-ups and one-person companies to major local, regional and national companies and organisations. We have people from professional services, accountants, solicitors to constructions companies and marketers – we even have a chimney sweep! People come and go during the meetings, which is fine as not everyone can stay for the full two hours – it’s important we’re flexible,” he added.

The Mussel Club’s next Wearside meeting is at Beamish Museum on Friday, June 23, from 9am – 11am. The following Wednesday, June 28, the Club is hosting its first-ever comedy night at The Purple Peacock in Newcastle.

“This is a first for us, and is a paid-for event (£15), but we thought we’d mix it up a bit and try something new,” explained Matthew.

To sign up to the Mussel Club, or for more information about forthcoming events, go to www.themusselclub.com

For more on Northern Spire, go to https://partnership.sjp.co.uk/northernspire