Digital Sparkles #dodigitalevent for Willow Burn Hospice by Claire Jenks Design

On the 13th July, Nicola Little from Digital Sparkles hosted a fundraising event for Willow Burn Hospice in County Durham. Various trainers with different specialist subjects donated their time to provide training sessions to a group of business owners from all over the North East, and what a sparkly day it was.


The location for the day was the Digital Sparkle offices in the Viewpoint Building at Consett Business Centre. Everyone arrived for 9am, bringing food for the picnic lunch, clothes for a clothes swap and their notepads and pens ready to learn, meet new faces and raise some much-needed funds for Willow Burn. The day began with an introduction from Nicola followed by an introduction by Laura Douthwaite, Senior Fundraiser from Willow Burn explaining the work the hospice does along with their wishes and aims. Stories about patients brought tears and really put into perspective the need for fundraising and how it goes towards helping the patients and the families in so many ways. It was lovely to find out more about the charity and to know the money raised from the event was going to such a great cause.

Before the event we were invited to choose the sessions we would like to attend during the day. I chose to start the day with an insight in to SEO with James Lane from Hypestar.


James Lane, Hypestar

James talked about how to write (or not write) for SEO and how keywords should be used by tailoring them to work for what your customers are searching for. James also talked about key factors in helping SEO such as site speed, optimising images and site maps and the areas that currently don’t add to your ranking such as social signals. One of the recurring themes which has been talked about a lot recently was the use of video and the power it has. Something I’m keen to work into my content strategy.

There were also a few jokes along the way…”How many SEO experts does it talk to change a lightbulb, bulb, lightbulbs, lighting, lights?” #nerducator


Claire Hunter, The Social Concierge

After a short tea break the next session began where Claire Hunter, The Social Concierge told us all about Facebook advertising. Claire talked about ‘The Pixel’ and how to create, install it and make it start working for you. Claire explained the power it has in helping you create more targeted and thought out campaigns when creating Facebook adverts, especially regarding re-targeting. Claire also went through the various types of Facebook advertising and where and why you would use them. I personally wasn’t aware of the different types so as soon as I got home I installed the pixel and set out working out a campaign strategy.


Picnic Time!

A few attendees didn’t use Facebook or already had a good understanding so were offered 121’s with other trainers and attendees during this time. Nicola organised the day so well for people to tailor the sessions to their needs and relevance.

Lunch! Everyone was invited to bring something little each to add to an overall buffet. A great way to get everyone involved and ensure as much money could be donated. It gave us all a chance to network within the group, talk business, personal life and put faces to names from within the #dodigital Facebook group that Nicola runs. A community of professionals based in the North East who offer help and support to one another as and when they need.

Lunch followed with an outbreak of singing with Rebecca McGarvie, ‘The Singing Elf’ who hosts Singing and Prosecco events. It was a fun way to wake ourselves up after a fabulous lunch and lots of cake!


Gavin Forster, Photographer

Once all woken up and ready to begin again, the afternoon began and everyone went off to their selected session. I opted for the “Using your phone for social media photos” with Gavin Forster. Gavin explained how camera phones are designed to be used in a particular way, however there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when creating images for our social media accounts, in particular Instagram. A practical session meant we could explore the use of light, angles, setting and composition within our images using our own photos. Gavin took the group outside and showed us how looking at things from a different angle and paying some attention to our surroundings we can really enhance our images and make them stand out more to other similar images throughout Instagram. A big take away from this session was to find your own style and stick to it to make your accounts look stronger and more consistent. No more than 2 filters!


Kathryn Clarke

The final speaker of the day was Kathryn Clarke, a personal branding consultant who explained to us how important our personal brand is and how it can be enhanced or tarnished through how we conduct and present ourselves. Kathryn talked about how people do business with people and not a website or a logo so it’s a good exercise to look at what we’re wearing and what our clothes might be telling other people. As a branding designer, I think it’s important to know that your brand doesn’t stop at your logo or website and that presenting ourselves in a way to conveys our brand only strengths and reinforces it.

Kathryn then opened a clothes swap which was a great way of using some of what we had learnt as well as ending the whole day.


All the donations were counted before the end of the day and was announced as having raised a whopping £2700! Well done to everyone who contributed their time and money and for Nicola for organising the whole event.

It really was a credit to her, the day ran so smoothly and a great atmosphere created. It was a great way of helping business grow, get together but also raise money for such a great cause. It was great to have met everyone and I look forward to any future events that are organised!

Also a shout out to mini sparkler Alex Hill and James Ibbitson from Visual Punch who filmed the full day.