This Morning star Alison Hammond swapped the TV sofa for a day working at Honister Slate Mine.
TV star Alison Hammond recently swapped her place on the This Morning sofa with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby for a day working at England’s last working slate mine in Cumbria.
The star of ITV daytime and BBC Saturday nights is used to interviewing some of the biggest names in Hollywood, but that didn’t stop her travelling up the M6 to don a helmet and chisel as she crafted slate and took a group of children for an outdoor activities’ session as an intern at Honister Slate Mine near Keswick.
Alison is supporting NatWest’s Backing Business campaign, which has been launched in partnership with ITV. The campaign aims to champion businesses of all shapes and sizes across the UK, many of whom are the heartbeat of the local communities they support and serve.
Her first job was to make an early morning brew for the Honister Slate Mine team as they prepared for the busy day ahead before she turned her hand to the ancient art of cutting slate.
“Ooh, it’s cracked,” she frowned as a splintered piece of slate fell to the floor, “I’ve messed this up haven’t I?”
Things quickly got better for Alison as she braved the rain to take a group of children climbing, though peering over the edge of the cliff face she screamed to one of her fellow instructors, “how do we get them down?”.
After her hard day’s graft, Alison said: “I loved spending the day with the guys at Honister. I had so much fun though I don’t think I’ll make a slate craftsperson! They work really hard as a business and that’s so inspirational, particularly the work they do with children, which is giving kids a chance to experience the great outdoors.”
The bank has committed to helping create an additional 50,000 new businesses by 2023, 75% of which will be outside of London and the Southeast, and its free digital Business Builder platform is packed with practical resources to help entrepreneurs grow or scale their business idea.
The Backing Business campaign offers SMEs the chance to access discounted TV advertising, match-funded by ITV, to help promote their business.
Located at the head of Honister Pass in the centre of the Lake District, the Honister Slate Mine offers a range of indoor and outdoor activities as well as being the last working slate mine in England. Slate is recognised as one of the most environmentally friendly building materials and the mine uses it to make sustainable products for housing.
Talking in the documentary to its co-owner Jan Wilkinson, Alison asked how she came to own a slate mine.
“Purely by default,” said Jan, driving Alison along Honister Pass. “My partner Mark and I built it up and I lost him in an accident. The business came to a halt and that’s where NatWest really came to the fore. Within 48 hours we actually got up and running again and they’ve been a constant support.”
Afterwards, Jan added: “We’d definitely give Alison a job at the mine! She fitted in so well and wasn’t scared to get stuck in. I’d definitely give her ten out of ten.”