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Monday 22nd February was a really significant day for us as it marked the opening of our office in Penrith. Will Johnson, previously with NFU Mutual in Lancaster and Howden Private Clients in London, has joined us to run this office which is brilliantly well placed to reach clients all over the north of England and Scotland. 1b Hobson Court is on the Penrith 40 Business Park which is only 200yds off the M6/ A66 junction and links all points of the compass very easily. One of our priorities is to be able to look after our clients by visiting them whenever they want and so to be able to reach the likes of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, York or Manchester in two hours or less adds a huge dimension to our business. We are already operating from Newmarket, London, Swindon and Wellingborough and though it might be a bit early in our development to talk in terms of national coverage, we are genuinely able to deliver what we promise, which is a personal, face-to-face service as an absolute given. Our Penrith office will provide the same range of private client insurances that our others do and we feel that we can justifiably be described as a serious new force in a sector where brokers are in danger of forgetting their clients in the rush for consolidation.

To celebrate our opening, the £15,000 Weatherbys Hamilton Chase was run on the same day 20 minutes up the M6 at Carlisle and we entertained some of the good and the great of Cumbria to lunch in a box with a magnificent view over the racecourse. The Jockey Club bought the course from its local owners some 10 years ago and have invested heavily in it. The result is a most attractive undulating course with excellent facilities, a fantastic stand and a track that is able to withstand nearly 30 days racing a year in an area where rain is hardly unknown. After surviving an 8am inspection the ground on Monday was heavy and inevitably the horses finished very tired. The low weights had a good day and our race was won by Courtdown Oscar who is something of a course specialist and trained by Philip Kirby at Middleham in North Yorkshire, emphasising just how accessible so many places are from the Penrith area.

Weatherbys Hamilton has come a long way in the three years since we started and has more than trebled its turnover. Starting with the nucleus of the Weatherbys Insurance bloodstock book, we have developed the strong following that we wanted for houses, cars, estates and the like and are extremely excited about the prospects for the next three years and beyond. Penrith is only the next stage.