We spoke to Peter Surridge about Ridgetek Web Solutions – his Prudhoe based website development company.
Pete told us about his work, his involvement in the Happy Faces project and Visit Prudhoe, and why this is such a great location for businesses to grow.
PB: You haven’t always lived in the North East, what brought you to Prudhoe?
PS: Although I wasn’t born in Prudhoe, I moved here when I was three and spent most of my school life in Prudhoe. After many years working for Barclays Bank, in the North East, London, and Cheshire, I took redundancy in 2014 and took the plunge to start my own website development business while still in Cheshire.
My son, who was six at that time and is now approaching 14, has additional needs and – because mainstream schooling wasn’t working very well for him – I decided to move back to Prudhoe to be closer to family who still live here and so he could attend a SEN school.
So Ridgetek was relaunched as a North East business at the start of 2016 and we’ve been here ever since.
PB: Tell us about the business…
PS: Ridgetek provides end-to-end website development, support and hosting. We have clients from across the UK – but mainly from the North of England. My partner in crime is Rutva Patel, who I went to school with – I keep telling people that she was my teacher but that doesn’t go down very well with her.
Despite leading very different lives for over 30 years our career paths crossed when we both returned to the North East around the same time. We’re now looking for another technical person to join the team in our office in The Spetchells Centre so that we can continue to deliver the level of customer service our clients are used to.
PB: Ridgetek will be celebrating its tenth anniversary next year, how has the business changed over the decade?
PS: The main thing that hasn’t changed is that drive to provide excellent customer service – anyone who has used our services will know that we work extremely hard to support their business or organisation – often way beyond the remit of just their website or emails.
When I started all those years ago, I worked on my own from my home office and after a stint – pre-Covid – working from Consett, we’re now very happy in Prudhoe.
Our network has grown massively over the last ten years and we’re supporting many more businesses than we were back then. Of course, the biggest change is having Rutva working with me. She is a mum of two, so already has her hands full but finds the time to work Tuesday to Thursday.
Rutva tries to keep me on track as I tend to juggle multiple projects at the same time, so she is the main point of contact for our clients so that I can keep my head in the technical side of the business.
PB: You’re involved in a number of local community initiatives – tell us about those…
PS: I’m treasurer and a trustee at Happy Faces Prudhoe. We provide social opportunities and activities for children with additional needs and their families. I have been involved since just after it was formed in 2017 by two local mums – one of whom, Amanda Carr, is our Chair. It’s an incredibly hard-working team supporting two dedicated Youth Workers.
The future of the Prudhoe East Centre is also close to my heart and I sit on the working group for the project. There are exciting plans afoot that will benefit the young people of Prudhoe and surrounding areas.
Ridgetek also runs the Visit Prudhoe website and social media on behalf of the local community – where the aim is to help promote local businesses and organisations, share local events and activities, and encourage people to visit Prudhoe and to spend money in our area.
Combining all of this with initiatives led by organisations, such as the Miners Lamp Community Café and Prudhoe Community Partnership, there is a real sense of pride and determination to make Prudhoe an amazing place to live.
PB: What would you say to anyone considering locating their business in Prudhoe?
PS: Prudhoe is a fab place to run a business. It has great transport links and is in easy reach of Newcastle, Gateshead, Hexham and Carlisle. The local community is fantastic, there are lots of initiatives run by local organisations. It would be great to see a bit more variety of businesses to help attract more people to our shopping areas.
Businesses and organisations are well supported by our local councillors who are always looking for good photo opportunities for social media – but they actually do try and make a difference and there are various local community channels that help promote, recommend and support you.
PB: What does the rest of 2023 look like for Ridgetek and your community projects?
PS: 2023 is already another busy year for Ridgetek. We love being busy though, and that sense of making a difference to small businesses.
Happy Faces has two trips planned for 2023 so far, as well as running our twice-weekly sessions during term time, and we intend to continue to grow the Visit Prudhoe initiative and there are other streams going on as well.
We want to help make Prudhoe a vibrant town and encourage people to use our shops and services – so get in touch and let’s make this happen together.