By Mark Stevens
Olympic ski-jumper Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards helped to launch the latest Tool Bank Trade Show held at Sandy Park Conference & Banqueting Centre in Exeter.
The 53-year-old is the British skier who in 1988 shot to fame globally when he became the first competitor since 1929 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping.
Born in Cheltenham, Edwards initially tried to qualify for the Winter Olympics as a downhill skier, but after he failed to make the grade, he decided to switch to ski jumping as there were no other British jumpers with whom to compete for a place.
His story epitomises the whole Olympic spirit and exhibitors and invited guests to the Tool Bank Show were given a brilliant insight into his story over a sumptuous two-course lunch.
Now into their fourth year at Sandy Park, Tool Bank always kick-off their annual show with a guest speaker from the sporting world. In the past they’ve had the likes of rugby’s Jeff Probyn, Rick O’Shea and Nigel Owens, but this year called upon Edwards – real name Michael – to provide the perfect start to their event.
Event organiser, Paul Angel of Tool Bank, said: “We always like to begin the event with a VIP lunch for our loyal customers and suppliers. It’s a nice way of us thanking them for their support and custom over the year, but also it’s a chance to hear a few stories from a sporting celebrity.
“We’ve been coming to Sandy Park now for a number of years and it’s a fantastic venue for the show. Not only is it easily accessible for everyone attending, but the space on offer allows our suppliers the perfect opportunity to showcase their various products.”
The Tool Bank show attracted in the region of 50 different exhibitors, which included all the industry’s leading brand names, and welcomed customers from across the whole of the South West.
The show helped cap off another busy week of events at Sandy Park, which also included the staging of the Regen South West, Smart Energy Marketplace.
Returning to Sandy Park for a second year, the event is a unique showcase of the emerging smart, decentralised energy system of the future.
In what is the largest event of its kind here in the South West, over 80 exhibitors and 1,000 delegates were offered valuable industry insights – and looked at the latest and upcoming policy changes and how these are affecting businesses in the UK.