South Shields-based, JC Events, is making an exhibition of itself by winning contracts across the UK, having fought back from the worst of the pandemic, thanks to a grant of £1,250 from Open North Foundation.

The money, donated by firms in the region who want to assist others to recover and move forward, has gone towards the hire of a van.

JC Events, based at One Trinity Green, was on a strong growth curve prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, designing and manufacturing exhibition stands and conference layouts and also supplying audio visual, props and room dressings for a vast range of clients in the public and private sectors.

With the arrival of the pandemic, all in-door projects were cancelled and, because the firm had very few outdoor contracts, this affected the business. Now back on the road to a strong recovery, the company is recruiting staff.

Jacqui Chapman, who owns the business, realised that she would have to adapt very quickly if she was to continue her business. She took advice from the business support team at South Tyneside Council, devised a strategy that included developing virtual events, introduced a range of Safetouch products designed to prevent the proliferation of bacteria and also manufactured PPE equipment in the fight against Covid 19.

Alongside that, she looked at potential grant support and was made aware of funding that was available through Open North Foundation, which was established in July 2020, and is a direct response from the business community in the North East to provide financial and in-kind support to small businesses in the region directly hit by the pandemic. It relies on the generosity of companies and organisations to provide donations and has a structure of a board of directors, ambassadors and supporters, all of whom provide their services free of charge.

Jacqui Chapman, said: “I very much appreciated the support I received from South Tyneside Council and others such as my financial advisor, who brought to my attention the potential grants available through Open North Foundation. I was fascinated to learn that it was not a government-backed initiative but that it was a spontaneous and truly inspirational response from fellow businesspeople to help their own during one of the most catastrophic periods in modern Britain. The fact that this initiative came out of the North East made it all the more impressive.

“I am delighted to say all areas of our business are now operating at full capacity, we are once again working across the UK and we are most grateful for the £1,250 grant that allowed us to hire a van and so give us an additional resource during this time

Richard Swart, chair of Open North Foundation, said: “The North East has a vast and very varied range of small business that come together to provide a very important eco system to support larger firms, the general public and also the public sector. They employ tens of thousands of people and it is vital that as many as possible recover from the pandemic, so that the region can move forward. JC Events is one such company. It is owned by a very tenacious and determined managing director in Jacqui Chapman who had to make some very brave decisions in order to continue operating her business during a pandemic. We are delighted that it is now doing so well and that our grant has assisted her business.  We wish the business all the very best for the future.”

Open North Foundation is looking to support as many small firms as possible, although grant support is only given to those that it assesses as having a strong chance of survival and can create jobs. To support the Open North Foundation with funding, please go to