Westerham's 'British family', preparing to launch 'Made in Britain' stamp, celebrate 12 months of UK-only goods (almost)
PUBLISHED: 17:04 06 January 2014 | UPDATED: 17:04 06 January 2014
For a supposedly "British-only" year, the last 12 months have been decidedly international for Westerham's Bradshaw family.
"Ultimately it shouldn’t be down to a normal family in Kent to promote British manufacturing – it should be the politicians and leaders"
Capturing imaginations after announcing their intention in January 2013 to buy only UK-made products, James and Emily – and three-year-old Lucan – have seen their campaign featured on Chinese and Korean television and in Italian magazines.
Now they’re quietly celebrating a successful year of championing British manufacturing – even though, technically, they’ve failed.
“We found a small number of products that just aren’t made in the UK,” admits James, 35.
“That means if we’re asked, ‘is it possible for a normal British family to survive on only British-made goods?’ then the answer is ‘no’ – there are things we no longer produce.
“But we have been surprised by the wealth of goods that are manufactured in this country.”
Something else he’s found surprising is the family’s new-found fame.
“We’ve almost inadvertently become champions of British manufacturing, which isn’t what we expected,” he told the Bromley Times.
“We’ve been on TV, on the radio and in the press throughout the world.
“That side of things has been fun, but ultimately it shouldn’t be down to a normal family in Kent to promote British manufacturing – it should be the politicians and leaders, or even celebrities.
“As just a normal family, we feel a lot of pressure not to let them down.”
It started on New Year’s Day 2013 with a resolution to say “no” to the cut-price goods offered by international retail giants, often flown halfway across the globe yet sold for half their material value.
So what have been their sticking points?
When the Times caught up with the family, formerly of Bromley, in June, they were having trouble finding batteries – but once the evenings drew in and the tree went up there were more pressing problems.
“There’s no British toy industry, which is a real tragedy around Christmas,” admits James. “It meant my son’s presents were a bit disappointing from a parent’s perspective, because we want him to have the things he sees on TV.
“But we’ve been surprised by the amount of electronic products we produce – the big irony being that we import all our expensive electronics stuff from the far east.”
With a successful year under their belts, James and Emily are preparing for the next step – the launch of an accredited “Made in Britain” logo they hope to see appearing on supermarket shelves from this month.
They also hope to run their British manufacturing fayre, a hit last summer, at double the capacity on August 31 – and James insists they’re on track to get more than 100 businesses and 8,000 shoppers into Westerham.
James, who still works part-time in the city, is now a director of the Made in Britain Campaign, founded with other pro-British industry groups like Make It British and Best of Britannia.
No chance of a sit-down and a cup of tea, then.
Despite his protestations about whose job it is to champion UK manufacturing, James is clear on one thing – whoever holds the purse strings holds the power.
“As consumers we can’t wait for the government to change things,” he says. “We can vote now with our money.”
■ Go to britishfamily.co.uk to find out more.