AFC Business hails Rupert the Conkerer

CHEERS: Tasting the Bournemouth-produced Conker Spirit at AFC Business’s first Gin Evening at Vitality Stadium are, from left, Bournemouth Town Centre BID Chief Operating Officer Paul Kinvig, AFC Bournemouth Partnerships Manager Amy Brunton and founder of Conker Spirit Rupert Holloway

The rise of Bournemouth’s award-winning Conker Spirit has been celebrated at the first Gin Evening to be staged by AFC Business.

The brand’s founder Rupert Holloway was guest speaker at the event staged in the Bubbles Champagne Lounge at AFC Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium

Bournemouth Town Centre BID hosted the evening and Chief Operating Officer Paul Kinvig interviewed Rupert about his success story.

Businesspeople from across the region gathered for gin tasting, live music, food and networking at the newest event to be held by AFC Business, the commercial arm of AFC Bournemouth.

Rupert was on hand to discuss his journey from kitchen table to Dorset’s first gin distillery in Southbourne and the story of his Dorset Dry Gin, made from Dorset botanicals and New Forest spring water.

The former quantity surveyor gave up his job, sold his car and sourced funding from wherever he could to launch Conker Spirit and scale it up into the success it is today with a range of products stocked by major retailers.

Conker Spirit has won a host of awards, including a Bronze at the 2018 World Gin Awards, and has branched out with its Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur and also the new 57% proof Navy Strength Gin, which benefits the RNLI by £5 from each bottle sold.

Bournemouth Town Centre BID – a not-for-profit-company established in 2017 and primarily funded by a levy on nearly 700 businesses within its area – is dedicated to raising the town centre’s profile, generating investment, increasing footfall and boosting revenue.

A fundraising raffle was held in aid of Dorset Mental Health Forum, AFC Business charity partner for the 2018/19 season, and the organisation’s Becky Aldridge and Sarah Rose were present to talk about the work of the long-established charity.

AFC Bournemouth Partnerships Manager Amy Brunton thanked all the sponsors for their continued support, saying they had been instrumental in the club’s success on and off the field.

Amy also announced a new AFC Business venture – a pre-match meal, hospitality and ticket to the pre-season friendly against Italian Serie A giants Lazio of Rome on August 2 at Vitality Stadium.

AFC Business, the free to join business club with almost 1,800 members, is the engine for all the club’s commercial activities.

It was launched in 2009 and gives members exclusive offers at AFC Bournemouth, access to events and is a great chance to meet local businesses.

AFC Business’ five main partners are Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dorset Mental Health Forum, Hill Osborne and Strategic Solutions.

The next AFC Business event is the Directors’ Lunch for senior business people at Vitality Stadium on Wednesday July 10, which is sponsored by Savills and features as guest speaker Major Chris Hunter QGM, counter-terrorist bomb disposal specialist, with former Northampton rugby star Harvey Thorneycroft hosting proceedings.

For further information about the business club, email your details to Aysia Smith at