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Dame Kelly Holmes launches West Kent B2B exhibition in Tonbridge and targets 10 firms as she pushes forward Hildenborough cafe plans

By Chris Price

As she continues her transformation from athletic heroine to businesswoman, Dame Kelly Holmes revealed she was on a mission as she launched a business to business exhibition today.

Far from acting as a celebrity ribbon cutter, the double Olympic champion came to the West Kent B2B to target 10 businesses as potential partners for her budding coffee shop in her hometown.

The as-yet unnamed cafe is set to open in Hildenborough, near Tonbridge, this summer and the star told Kent Business the stakes could not be higher.

Dame Kelly Holmes launches the West Kent B2B exhibition

She said: “It’s my money, it’s my risk and my vision. Fingers crossed it works.

“It’s great to support the West Kent B2B event here in Tonbridge but I’m also going into business so I have to meet lots of different people from all different industries to try and formulate what I want to achieve with my own business.”

Dame Kelly, 44, was the star attraction of the event, which saw more than 80 companies exhibit.

She says her celebrity status has been a positive factor in the main.

Dame Kelly Holmes launches the West Kent B2B exhibition

She said: “What’s great about it is I’m able to build some partnerships. In partnerships you have got to have trust and I cannot fail to keep my word because people know who I am.

“Equally they know I am determined to make things work.”

As well as her coffee shop, Dame Kelly is working on two other business ventures.

She is set to launch a frozen yoghurt bar concept later this year and a corporate health and wellbeing initiative.

She added: “At the moment my focus is the cafe, trying to bring a hub to the community.”

Attendees at the day-long exhibition at the River Centre - run by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce - heard from a number of speakers and took part in business workshops.

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