Allison Hammond and NatWest partner to support small business.

This Morning viewers were in for a delightful surprise as Alison Hammond, beloved star of the popular ITV daytime show, ventured out of her comfort zone and traded the cosy TV sofa for a day of hard work at Honister Slate Mine, England’s last operating slate mine located in the picturesque region of Cumbria.

Known for her charismatic interviews with Hollywood’s A-listers and her infectious personality, Alison fearlessly embarked on a journey up the M6 to immerse herself in the mining industry. With her trusty helmet on and chisel in hand, she embraced the role of an intern at Honister Slate Mine, ready to tackle the challenges that awaited her.

Alison’s participation in this unique endeavour was part of her support for NatWest’s Backing Business campaign, a collaborative effort between the renowned bank and ITV. The campaign’s objective is to shine a spotlight on businesses of all sizes across the United Kingdom, recognizing them as vital contributors to their local communities.

As the day began, Alison eagerly brewed a fresh pot of morning coffee for the dedicated team at Honister Slate Mine, fueling their energy for the busy day ahead. Her next task involved mastering the ancient art of cutting slate, a skill that required precision and finesse. However, her initial attempt resulted in a cracked piece of slate falling to the floor, leaving her with a frown of disappointment. “I’ve messed this up, haven’t I?” she sighed, acknowledging the challenge of the craft.

Fortunately, Alison’s enthusiasm quickly rebounded as she braved the rain to lead a group of adventurous children in an outdoor climbing session. Standing on the edge of a cliff face, she couldn’t help but exclaim, “How do we get them down?” seeking guidance from her fellow instructors. Despite the momentary uncertainty, her determination to ensure the children’s safety prevailed, showcasing her admirable commitment to the task at hand.

Reflecting on her fulfilling day at Honister Slate Mine, Alison shared her thoughts: “I loved spending the day with the guys at Honister. I had so much fun, though I don’t think I’ll be pursuing a career as a slate craftsperson! The team at Honister works incredibly hard, and their dedication is truly inspirational. I was particularly impressed by the work they do with children, giving them the opportunity to experience the wonders of the great outdoors.”

NatWest, as part of its commitment to fostering entrepreneurship, has pledged to support the creation of an additional 50,000 new businesses by 2023, with a focus on expanding opportunities beyond the confines of London and the Southeast. To assist aspiring entrepreneurs, they have developed the Business Builder platform, an invaluable resource offering practical tools and guidance for growing and scaling business ideas.

The Backing Business campaign is another initiative under NatWest’s umbrella, granting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) the chance to access discounted TV advertising. In a powerful collaboration with ITV, the campaign aims to amplify the reach of these businesses and provide them with a platform to showcase their offerings.

Nestled at the head of Honister Pass in the heart of the breathtaking Lake District, the Honister Slate Mine not only serves as a haven for a variety of indoor and outdoor activities but also stands as a testament to the region’s rich mining heritage. With sustainability at the core of its operations, the mine utilizes slate, recognized as one of the most eco-friendly building materials, to create sustainable products for the housing industry.

During her documentary-style conversation with Jan Wilkinson, co-owner of Honister Slate Mine, Alison seized the opportunity to learn more about the fascinating journey that led Jan to become the owner of a slate mine. Jan revealed that fate played a role in her ownership, explaining how she and her partner, Mark, built up the business before tragically losing him in an accident. In that difficult time, NatWest provided crucial support, enabling the mine to swiftly recover and continue its operations. Jan expressed deep gratitude for the bank’s unwavering assistance throughout their journey.

Following their day of collaboration, Jan shared her admiration for Alison’s work ethic, saying, “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.” Jan’s praise serves as a testament to Alison’s unwavering dedication and adaptability, qualities that resonated with the hardworking team at Honister Slate Mine.

Alison’s experience at Honister Slate Mine serves as a reminder of the importance of recognizing and supporting businesses that form the lifeblood of local communities. NatWest’s Backing Business campaign, with the invaluable support of ITV, continues to champion these enterprises, fostering their growth and celebrating their contributions to the UK’s economic landscape. As Alison’s day of exploration and hard work drew to a close, she left with a renewed appreciation for the incredible efforts of businesses like Honister Slate Mine and a determination to inspire others to support their local entrepreneurial endeavors.