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July 2020

“I never normally ask for help” – how a social media plea helped a small Welsh business survive lockdown

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“I never normally ask for help,”  said Carwyn Adams when I recently met the artisan cheesemakers and owner of Caws Cenarth near Newcastle Emlyn in Carmarthenshire. We were discussing the dramatic impact of COVID 19 on his business. When 80% of their orders disappear at the beginning of lockdown a state of panic had enveloped his business.

Then, on 20th March Carwyn decided to post his first-ever YouTube video, his plea “This is dire times…” with an authentic and heartfelt message had an amazing 30,000 + views. Following the post, 3,000 new customers came forward to help, the phone didn’t stop ringing, the orders flooded in and the business sold out of cheese in 3 days.

A chance discussion about the YouTube post with filmmaker Ross Anderson led to our collaboration and the making of this beautiful film about the Caws Cenarth’s COVID 19 experience. The film captures the story of their journey from desperate times at the start of lockdown to success following the social media plea. We met Elfyn the dairy farmer and supplier to Caws Cenarth that had nowhere to send his milk, as well as the employees that quickly learnt to deal with customers over the phone instead of  loading pallets of cheese onto a lorry destined for the supermarkets. Many challenges remain for Carwyn and his team, and a new business model is only beginning to emerge as it adapts to a new normal.

I hope you enjoy watching our 5-minute film, produced by a professional film crew that also volunteered their time because they were inspired by the story and eager to re-start shooting following lockdown.

Owen is currently working with Carmarthenshire Council to help boost the economic fortunes and growth of five rural towns supported by the Ten Towns Initiative. Ross Anderson Mr Anderson Limited is an award-winning creative director and producer located in Abergavenny that wanted to help tell a real, authentic story of a business surviving lockdown.

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