Harbourside Physiotherapy – The Fisherman’s Project

12th June, 2018

The Fisherman’s Project – a nationwide programme expertly created, developed and led by Transform client Harbourside Physiotherapy.

Claire Stevenson, Transform client and director of Harbourside Physiotherapy in Newlyn is an experienced chartered physiotherapist. Claire and her business partner, Lesley Harry, have created a new project from the clinic offering a tailored and bespoke occupational health and physiotherapy service for the fishing industry; a cutting edge, innovative service that has generated a great deal of interest around the country.

Claire saw an opportunity to offer the fishing industry an innovative physio healthcare service by developing a project to demonstrate that early intervention physiotherapy could lead to the fishermen being able to spend more time at sea, suffer fewer injuries and get back to work more quickly in the event of an injury.  The bespoke service invited injured fishermen to go straight to a clinic for an assessment and receive a course of fully-funded treatments by the Seafarers Hospital Society.

Harbourside Physiotherapy Transform

 “From these initial assessments we confirmed a number of industry specific injuries and issues and therefore a requirement for tailored physiotherapy services to help those in a tough role often in a harsh environment.”
– Claire Stevenson MCSP, Director at Harbourside Physiotherapy

The fisherman’s project was a resounding success, supporting the fishermen in getting back to sea earlier, with less pain and more ability, leading to greater economic benefits for the industry. The project has since been successfully rolled out into four other ports, and a telephone triage service continues to run linking fishermen with local physiotherapist services around the rest of the country.

More recently, the team have succeeded in attracting funding to support the further development of the Harbourside Project. Harbourside is developing a network of local physiotherapists throughout the main ports in Devon and Cornwall offering clinics, information sessions and advice to those in the fishing industry, focusing on health, fitness and preventative action.

 “I love the physiotherapy profession, and how it supports those who need it returning back into the workplace, and their everyday lives. I also appreciate the fishing industry as my family has always worked in it and it is in my blood, I owe who I am to this industry. Fishermen are often a misunderstood group of people who need help and support especially physically.”
– Claire Stevenson MCSP, Director at Harbourside Physiotherapy

Harbourside Physiotherapy

Claire and Lesley have built up the Harbourside Physiotherapy clinic in Newlyn as a clinic of continuous excellence offering bespoke services, including hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, sports injuries, workplace injury and rehabilitation. The clinic attracts a wide audience from as far afield as London, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, attracted by the wide variety of services and clinics on offer; but mostly due to high levels of customer satisfaction and word of mouth recommendations.

Claire and Lesley have developed a hydrotherapy pool on the premises, which can be rented for classes or privately offering a unique sense of privacy, comfort and confidence.  The hydrotherapy pool is becoming more and more popular, with an increase in use this year of over 30%. It is the only one in the area and is quite uniquely placed to offer a great alternative or addition to the clinic and balance classes, which are often hard to source and expensive. Lesley has also introduced a number of unique new services including recovery packages for post hip and knee surgery and the little-known Ai Chi classes, a specialised active form of aquatic therapy particularly helpful for relaxation, fitness and physical rehabilitation.

“In the NHS, you only get access to a balance class if you have already fallen, and this service has limited funding. Harbourside offer a unique private service that can include pre, and post-op total knee and total hip packages, allowing patients to attend a clinic before their knee or hip replacements, and after as a follow up. We have found that clients enjoy far better results with these packages. Our Ai Chi classes, which is basically Tai Chi but in the water, are a unique offer in Cornwall. It’s great for our client’s balance as well as relaxation. We have a number of bespoke services that other private clinics don’t have.”
– Claire Stevenson MCSP, Director at Harbourside Physiotherapy


One of the major business challenges Claire and Lesley have faced is finding the right people that match their calibre and commitment. They remain determined to grow a strong, loyal and driven team and to continue to drive the business forward and enjoy future growth.  They have been working with Unlocking Potential to support recruitment plus the Access to Finance Team for financial coaching and funding to support their development plans.

“It’s very difficult to recruit in this area but we do what we can to attract the best and to offer the widest range of high quality services to our patients”
– Claire Stevenson MCSP, Director at Harbourside Physiotherapy

“Harbourside are a professional team, offering a wide range of services. I’m really pleased to come here. They have helped me where others have been unable to”
– Harbourside client

“A great deal of our business comes from word of mouth, so we like to let what we do speak for itself. The strength of our business is our reputation and the quality and excellence of our services. We are eager to work as a team with our patients. We have a new team member starting soon, and we plan to develop the team further and move from strength to strength. The strength we have is that we give our clients time, and the ability to manage their own problems.”
– Lesley Harry MCSP, Clinical Director and Partner Harbourside Physiotherapy

Support from Helen Stembridge and other business coaches on the Transform program

Harbourside approached Oxford Innovation in February 2017, and has been receiving support from Transform sales and marketing coach Helen Stembridge ever since. Coaching has been comprehensive, from writing a business plan to creating a sales and marketing plan, plus recruitment, HR and financial coaching support. Many other coaches have supported the Harbourside team with HR support from Sarah Pryce and financial coaching from Meredydd Jones.

“Part of my role is to encourage Harbourside to focus on their values and strengths. Over the fifteen months we have developed a tightly defined business plan, created a marketing plan, developed two projects including the fishing project and researched funding to support growth. It can be tempting at times for a business owner to become bogged down with the everyday operational “stuff”, the day to day tasks.  I coach clients to help them see the bigger picture, the art of the possible, the what if …. We worked together on the business plan for the fishing project, which involved a great deal of discussion and thought as to how to position the project and show the greatness that is Harbourside to build value, trust and prove that Harbourside Physiotherapy can successfully deliver this project.”
– Helen Stembridge, Transform Business Coach

Helen Stembridge

“Helen has provided the support I need when I need it. Towards the tender deadline I was in constant contact with Helen who gave me the coaching and confidence to say, ‘You can win this tender …. and we did’
– Claire Stevenson MCSP, Director at Harbourside Physiotherapy

Harbourside has grown by over 25%. Other Transform coaches have worked with Harbourside to provide support to Claire and Lesley, including Meredydd Jones who coached around financial planning and building value in the business with Lesley; and Sarah Pryce who has been discussing HR, growing a team, and managing the challenges of a team. Our partners at Unlocking Potential have also supported with recruitment and will be providing support with website development with the Future Focus program, and Oxford Innovation’s Access to Finance team has also been in conversation for funding new equipment.

Sarah Pryce
Staff Bios Meredydd Jones

With the support of Transform coaches, Harbourside are experiencing business growth of over 25%.

“For me personally, the highlight has been the huge mentorship that Helen has given to me. I had my plan and knew where I was heading, but needed to explore and expand this. It was amazing to have the opportunity to develop a new perspective.”
– Claire Stevenson, Director Harbourside Physiotherapy

“At the heart of Harbourside lies the desire to improve the health and lifestyle of the people of West Cornwall.  Through innovative services and projects, Harbourside are able to focus on their core values and seek opportunities to support their community and beyond, spearheading initiatives and allowing Cornwall to be at the forefront of occupational health and well-being advances.”
– Helen Stembridge, Transform Business Coach

We wish Claire, Lesley and the rest of the Harbourside team every success as they continue to receive coaching, and funding to grow their business and deliver their projects.

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