FBUK host exclusive 2024 Family Business Visits programme

May 29, 2024

Tebay Services 2024

As part of our unique offering to family businesses, FBUK were delighted to lead an exclusive Family Business visit to Cumbria, as part of our 2024 Family Business Visits programme.

We were delighted to have the opportunity to meet entrepreneur and co-founder (with wife Barbara) John Dunning, and his daughters, 2nd generation business leaders-Sarah Dunning  (Chair) and Jane Lane (Farms director)  at the UK’s first family-owned and operated motorway service area, Tebay Services Farmshop & Kitchen.

Tebay – from farm to fork 

Members were treated to a fascinating, first-hand retelling of the incredible story of the Dunning families diversification from fell farming into the services sector, with the founding of Tebay Services in 1972, after the M6 motorway was built through the family farm.

Having learned their land was to be compulsory purchased for the creation of a service station, entrepreneurs John and Barbara Dunning took both the risk and forward-looking opportunity to found Tebay services, a motorway stop with a distinct difference from the norm.

Local people, local produce, and strong values, are at the heart of a family business built from farm to fork, and from fields into an expansive, impressive enterprise. With the Westmorland Family growing the business over 52-years, to now own and operate a number of high-quality, service areas across the UK, including in Gloucestershire on the M5 & Scotland on the M74.

Investing In the local community

The family have long been local employers and also philanthropists, raising over £600,000 for charities local to their estates, and latterly supporting Kendal-based organic farm and mental health charity Growing Well which will now expand to a second site, thanks to a unique partnership (and £150,00 contribution) from the Westmorland Family, with additional National Lottery funding.

Growing Well at Tebay Services aims to help 100 people a year in Eden and North Cumbria recover from mental health difficulties by volunteering there one day a week for up to a year.

Under the supervision of experienced therapeutic growers and mental health support staff, volunteers, who can be referred by GPs, other health services, or themselves, can rebuild confidence, learn new skills, benefit from peer support and be helped to achieve their goals, such as returning to employment or education.

Volunteers will work in Growing Well’s new market garden enterprise at Tebay Services, which will supply salads and other leafy vegetables fresh every day to the Tebay Services Farmshop & Kitchen, where they will be cooked and served to customers just a few hundred metres from where they are grown.

Heritage & innovation

Today, the family farm still feeds the business, sitting at its heart, and the families heritage is vital. Change and diversification have come with considerable investment made, to enable the farms own locally-reared livestock to be both uniquely, used and sold in the Tebay farm-shop and master butchers.

Tebay (North and South) are much more than a traditional motorway services however, they have become a genuine destination.

Offering the chance for tired motorists, and Cumbrian locals alike, to:
◆ Eat a good meal in the restaurant, or grab a home-made bite to takeaway;
◆ Visit the artisan Butchery – selling the farms lamb & beef, with a strict policy of no-part’s wasted;
◆ Stay in the Westmorland Hotel, with views over the unique, landscape of Cumbria including conference rooms claiming a fell & waterfall backdrop;
◆ Shop in the expansive Farm shop, stocking food, wines & gifts from over 70+ local producers, most sourced from within 30miles of Tebay, or it’s sister co’s at Gloucester and Cairn Lodge;

Family values baked in 

Whilst harnessing a desire, since foundation, to strive for quality and innovation, Tebay also remains a lifeline for the local community who work and trade there.
With the business proud to train their own apprentices annually, including Emily Jackson, the UK’s Apprentice Butcher of the year 2023.

John, and the family business 2nd generation leaders, daughters Chair – Sarah Dunning, and farms director – Jane Lane, inspired us with their own leadership journeys, sharing how they came into the business, plans for the future and allowing us an insight into how the USP has grown the business in-line with their values.

Even at 90 years old, the inspiration and entrepreneurial spark in co-founder John, as told in his book, and in the Channel 4 documentary series “A Lake District farmshop”, is clear to see. With Sarah and Jane championing a wide community of farmers and makers, and nurturing a team of dedicated colleagues who share the family’s commitment to handmade and authentic produce.

Thank you to the family for allowing us such privileged access to a genuinely wonderful location, business, family, and story of truly-lived family values and innovation, triumphing over adversity.

Future Family Business Visits

FBUK run family business visits across the UK, with visits from North Wales to the Midlands, Norfolk to Somerset and Yorkshire in the weeks and months ahead.

Don’t miss out on future family business visits, visit our Events page to view the full 2024 Family Business Visits calendar here.

Not an FBUK Member?  – Email the team today at info@familybusinessuk.org for more information, or to signup for our e-newsletter.