Welcome to the yard

We studied in Plymouth and stayed in Plymouth

Four graduates talk about their careers and why they’ve gravitated to Royal William Yard, Plymouth’s cultural quarter.

Bethan Llewellyn-Hall

We began in the university Formation Zone, an incubation centre for start-ups, and later moved to Royal William Yard. It was great.
Actuate Marketing

The business owner: Bethan Llewellyn-Hall

“I was 23 when I set up Actuate Marketing with Alison and Dave. The media landscape was changing and it was a great opportunity to start up on our own. We began in the university Formation Zone, an incubation centre for start-ups, and later moved to Royal William Yard. It was great. We were really lucky to have a brand new space, where we can showcase what we can do when we have clients in for meetings. The reputation of the yard has grown lots and this has helped us, too. It’s been a rollercoaster, but nothing beats the high of winning a new client all on your own merit.

I did a Marketing degree at Plymouth with a sandwich year and graduated in 2007 with 1st class honours. The course gave me a great insight into the foundation and basic principles of marketing. But the real learning began on my placement year; I put my skills and knowledge to the test, and it made everything make sense when I returned for my final year.

I’m from South Wales and the original plan was to come to uni and see where life takes me. Twelve years on I’m still here. When the sun’s shining I often take my cup of tea down to Firestone Arches and look at the Sound. You can see Drake’s Island, Mount Edgcumbe and the breakwater. I take a deep breath then return to work.”

Steve Toze

I started a cycling magazine called Shred during my second year at Plymouth University, and from there I went down the road of business.
Rockets & Rascals

The bike shop entrepreneur: Steve Toze

“I started a cycling magazine called Shred during my second year at Plymouth University, and from there I went down the road of business. After university I worked for a bike company and then got a job helping out at the 1998 Mountain Bike World Cup. A Plymouth business had won the contract, and recruited me via the university.

I started Rockets & Rascals in 2013 – it’s a bike shop and café but we also run events. We wanted to open a business that was led wholly by the experience of cycling and enjoying the outdoors. Royal William Yard has a lot of outdoor space, and is surrounded by the sea. We tendered against 30 other businesses for council funding and won an award to develop cycling infrastructure as part of the Coastal Communities Project. We’re also promoting cycling as part of a tourism offer over the next three years.

Part of what we’re doing with our little corner of Royal William Yard is to make somewhere people know they can come and have fun, whether that’s hiring a bike from us or a paddleboard from Will at South West SUP. A lot of people come to see us about buying a bike, but finding safe storage is difficult for students so often they hire bikes instead. We always have student deals going. On a sunny day it’s a lovely place to be – and people don’t even know it’s here.”

Will Batho

I did quite an outdoor degree – and spending all that time outside made me realise that’s where my values are. It’s what I love.
Southwest SUP Facebook page

The SUP instructor: Will Batho

“I flew Sea King helicopters for nine years, but after leaving the Navy I had to find something else to do with my life. So I decided to start South West SUP (stand-up paddleboarding). It wasn’t an easy decision but I’ve no regrets. It’s been great. I wanted to come back to Plymouth because of my time at university. I was married, and wanted to start a family so we decided to start our new life here. I did quite an outdoor degree – and spending all that time outside made me realise that’s where my values are. It’s what I love.

I’d discovered stand-up paddleboarding on holiday, and had always loved it. Living down here, on the South Coast, you don’t get much in the way of swell so having a paddleboard is a great way to get out on the water. It’s also a good way to travel between the beaches. I did a lesson for the staff of Rockets & Rascals last year, which is how we met. They offered me a place to come and set-up my business. We meet at the café when there’s a lesson, so it promotes the café as well as being a great spot for me.

It’s easy to learn SUP on flat water. I’ve taught primary school kids and grandparents and they’ve all stood up on the first session. Firestone Bay is sheltered from westerlies and is a great swimming area. You also get a few waves when the Plymouth to Roscoff ferry comes in, which can be quite exciting!”

Laura Rosser

Royal William Yard is a really inspirational place. It’s something pretty special, and has a really quiet, calm feeling about it.
BA (Hons) Fine Art

The Fine Art graduate: Laura Rosser

“As a university print technician and student of Fine Art I live and breathe art every day. Artists are really critical of their work, but as part of a group MA show here at Royal William Yard, I feel really happy with how it looks. My degree has totally changed the way I see my work, which is what I wanted it to do. The main reason people do an MA is because they have an established process and they want to change it in some way. The academics are brilliant.

As an art graduate you could become an artist in your own right, or follow a more commercial path as an illustrator, graphic designer, curator, gallery worker, teacher or art therapist. A lot of the skills from an art degree are transferable, for example, the creative skills, writing, time management and academic skills. I think if you’re an artist you know deep inside that’s what you want to do, and if you have that feeling you have to go with your gut instinct.

 

Royal William Yard is a really inspirational place. It’s something pretty special, and has a really quiet, calm feeling about it. The yard is just going from strength to strength. We’re really fortunate to be able to use it.

I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist. I used to do paintings depicting Ronald Reagan with Michael Jackson and cats. My teacher at parents’ evening said I’d never make it as an artist. I’d like to see him again. I’d say ‘nah nah’!”