Latest stories

Clients: John Yorke & Alexandria Blackford

Job Centre: Pembroke

Business Advisor: Alex Sen

Business Name: Llama walks & Farm Stays ltd

Our story began in 2012 when we went Llama Trekking at a site in rural Gloucestershire. We both found walking with llamas so relaxing that we agreed that it would be great to have our own llamas one day - most likely many years down the road when we retired. At the time Matt worked as an IT consultant and Alex was a nurse working for the NHS. Retirement seemed many years away and consequently it didn't seem like our dream was going to manifest anytime soon.

Things started to change in 2015 when Matt suffered ill health, and it brought it home how important it is not to squander the time we have, and we started to think more seriously about how we wanted to spend our lives.

In 2018 John was made redundant and we took the opportunity to move from England to Wales, where Matt has family, and buy a smallholding in Pembrokeshire, a beautiful rural area in West Wales. He started working in a series of short term IT roles, often commuting long distances from Wales to work in England.

We had bought some llamas and began training them to carry packs and to be comfortable around people, which is a long process and demands patience. Alex is great at working with the animals, and her experience as a nurse helps her care for them in a very practical way. Then 2 months ago Matt was made redundant again. Having signed on and hearing about the New Enterprise Allowance, we decided that all the pieces were finally in the right place and that we ready to start our own business.

Our job centre referred us to Business Sense Associates - an organisation based in Swansea that puts NEA applicants in touch with their own Business Advisor. We met our Business Advisor Alex Sen a few months ago and he could not have been more helpful. Neither of us have ever been self-employed before and although we felt that we had a good business idea and had all the relevant skills to make it a reality, what we were badly lacking was the experience of having run a business before - we weren't sure what our legal responsibilities were or what we should and should not be doing in terms of interacting with the various government agencies such as HMRC, DWP, Companies House etc.

Alex was able to guide us through this minefield in a clear and structured manner. He empowered us to take control of our own destiny, whilst providing overall direction, sagacious guidance, and structured support where necessary. He was able to provide us with overall direction whilst allowing us the autonomy to research what would be best for our business. Most importantly, Alex was able to provide us with the confidence to start our business, safe in the knowledge that due to his input that we had left no stone unturned and had absolutely every box ticked off and covered.

Evidently the Coronavirus outbreak has had a totally unforeseen effect on our plans; and like everybody we are wanting and working to find a way through it. But we are very pleased to be able to be active in a community where we can rally round and help each other – we think that is one of the positives to what's going on. We have recently been combining our exercise routines with the llamas to offer home shopping deliveries to local people – by llama! It lifts the spirits, is good for the llamas and the community, and we've video'd footage of it for future promotions of our Pembrokeshire Llama Experience.

Despite the impact that the Coronavirus lockdown has had on us financially (not being eligible for any government support whatsoever), we are optimistic about the future. We have started selling vouchers for our services – redeemable at a later date. Being UK based, and being able to offer our customers local holidays and experiences, we hope to be able to offer people a break from their own homes after the lockdown is lifted – we can't think of anything better than a holiday in our log cabin with a wood fire and being surrounded by peaceful llamas. Whilst here, customers will also be able to purchase a llama walk through our beautiful valley full of red kites and ancient trees. And afterwards – there is the gorgeous Pembrokeshire coastline to enjoy within 30 mins in each direction of North, West, or South! We hope you find our story inspiring and hopefully we will see you soon at Pembrokeshire Llamas!

They were filmed for the BBC. Please click the link below:

Llamas Deliver Shopping to Those in Self Isolation

Award winning company with award winning staff

Business Sense Associates Ltd. Ltd Company number 08636013

Registered Office : The Business Centre, 1-5 Peniel Green Rd, Llansamlet, Swansea SA7 9AP