CONNECTED Magazine Issue 8

Page 1

Magazine of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce



A FIELD OF OPPORTUNITIES EURES supporting the Cross Border Worker, Jobseeker and Employer

Joe Lavery, Co-ordinator EURES Cross Border Partnership


Inner City Trust Drives Regeneration Chamber Member News Focus on Mental Health and Wellbeing 61st Annual President’s Dinner

C E L E B R AT I N G 1 0 0 Y E A R S O F S P O R T I N G E X C E L L E N C E

O’NEILLS SUPERSTORE DERRY 13-15 Waterloo Place, Derry Mon-Wed: 09:00-18:00 Thur-Fri: 09:00-20:00 Sat: 09:00-18:00 Sunday: 13:00-18:00

contents 6 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE 16 CHamber UPDATE 18 cover story

EURES: A field of opportunities


Glittering dinner and reception at 61st Annual Dinner





Derry-Londonderry’s plans for the future following a successful ‘Unlocking Prosperity through Heritage Led Regeneration Conference’

52 64 67 70 72



64 40


HALF GLASS EMPTY OR FULL? We’ve all at some stage, or other, answered the question when we’ve been asked, is the glass half full or empty? CONNECTED, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce’s full colour publication. Designed and produced by business people for business people. Distributed to businesses across the North West.

CONNECTED Magazine Editor Jackie Logan Content Editors Carol Kelly Mairead Reid Editorial Assistants Laura McElroy Eimear Courtney Production & Design Big Moo Design Business Development Executive Mairead Reid Email Address Front Cover Image Stephen Latimer Photography

It’s a simple, common expression, which on occasion, is used to determine an individual’s worldview. Attending the 61st President’s Dinner at the Everglades Hotel, it was wonderful to see over 300 guests attend. The many businessmen and women were all in good form and keen to hear what the invited speakers had to say. The evening centred on the ‘City Deal’ but it also focused on collaboration, the advantages of the North West and the new companies vying for talent in Derry. Various recent jobs announcements from the likes of FinTrU, Fleming Agri and Alchemy Technology Services were celebrated. Since that evening, there’s been more exciting job news from Learning Pool and that work on the multi million pound redevelopment of the NWRC’s Springtown Campus begins. During the Autumn Budget, it was announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond that the UK government is opening negotiations for a City Deal. All those involved broadly welcomed this as the drive for growth in the North West region is now palpable. Brexit is still a very taxing issue and as we go to press a deal has not been struck. There is nothing further to say on that subject that hasn’t been already said. Businesses continue to grow, export and invest regardless of what March 2019 will bring. For now, all we can do is look to the future, and as we did at the President’s Dinner raise our glasses, half full obviously, as the notable optimists we are and celebrate business, life and health. So, please enjoy this packed issue.

Jackie Logan Editor

Londonderry Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer McKeever Business Operations Manager Carol Kelly Business Development Executive Mairead Reid Events Manager Lorraine Allen t: 028 7126 2379 w: Follow us on:

Chamber corporate partners Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, the publisher accepts no responsibility for omissions or errors within this publication. Editorial submissions are included at the discretion of the editor. The opinions expressed in articles within this publication are not necessarily those of the Chamber. All offers, promotions and competitions appearing in CONNECTED are the sole responsibility of the advertiser/promoting party and Londonderry Chamber of Commerce does not accept any responsibility for any representations made within them.


Chamber Patrons




































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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Welcome to all our members, and a very sincere thank you to all our contributors to this edition of the CONNECTED magazine. It has been a fascinating and daunting year, on both sides of the Atlantic and indeed on both sides of the Irish Sea. Brexit has dominated our political landscape and has caused great concern for those of us who live, trade, serve customers and employ staff so close to the Irish border. As this edition of CONNECTED goes to print, we are no closer to understanding the outcome of the negotiations between UK and EU, and what the implications of those negotiations will be for Northern Ireland. Over the summer, the Chamber had a good deal of valuable engagement with senior members of the Cabinet on the impact of Brexit on business, and on our City Deal bid. In July, we were delighted the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, came to Ulster University’s Magee campus to invite Derry/Londonderry to put in a bid proposal, and since then many stakeholders in the city have been involved in developing aspects of the bid. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, both made visits to the city to offer support, and David Lidington CBE, Minister for the Cabinet Office, and Brandon Lewis, Conservative Party Chairman, both met with the Chamber of Commerce during the summer to discuss Brexit, business concerns and border issues. Against this incredibly uncertain and challenging backdrop, it has been humbling and inspiring to see the resourcefulness, ambition, tenacity, grace and decency with which our business community has conducted itself. The men and women who run businesses here, have demonstrated great loyalty and leadership to their businesses and their staff. They have continued to invest in new machinery, new premises and new processes. They have recognised that in a rapidly changing political environment they can’t assume they will have access to the same trading arrangements, and they have sought out new customers and new markets. They innovate, they adapt, and they continue to lead and grow. Creating the right environment for investment, entrepreneurship and innovation in a very fast-moving global environment is a crucial aim for any region and ours is no different. Doing it in the current environment is


extremely difficult but as a region it is critical that we tackle the questions we need to answer. We need to keep and attract skilled staff here, and we need to ensure we will continue to have new generations of entrepreneurs like you, who are inspired to start business, create new products and solve problems that we can’t yet even anticipate. The strategic growth plan of Derry City & Strabane District Council has given us, as a region, an opportunity to articulate how we might create the conditions and environment we need. The City Deal will see Ulster University at Magee expanded, the creation of a graduate entry medical school, development plans for innovation, advanced manufacturing, stratified medicine, AI and engineering. If successful, it will reimagine our riverfront and city centre, and improve connectivity by road, port and air. Most importantly, it gives us an opportunity to create a whole new generation of skilled graduates who will stay, invest, become entrepreneurs, employers,

parents and citizens. The City Deal bid will require enormous collaboration and imagination on the part of the regional stakeholders, but the prize is too valuable to give up on. It represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the city to redefine itself, not as a post-Brexit border town, but as a city ready to meet the global challenges of a future which is coming towards us very fast. This will be my last edition of CONNECTED and it has been the greatest privilege of my professional life to serve as President of the Chamber. It has been a huge pleasure getting to know our membership and I would finish by encouraging all our membership companies to continue to engage, to make your voices heard – and to continue to be brilliant leaders in your businesses and lives.

Jennifer McKeever Jennifer McKeever President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

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Dawson Hinds has announced that after over 24 years in business they are securing an office based in Dublin City Centre to cater for their clients in the south of Ireland. Over the last six months, Dawson Hinds Creative Spaces has secured significant contracts in Dublin and has more recently become the preferred supplier of office furniture for some larger corporate businesses. Dawson explains, “Approximately 65% of our current sales are with clients in the Dublin area and it makes sense to have a presence close by to service our contracts and establish relationships with potential clients. “The market in Dublin is very healthy at the minute and shows no signs of slowing down, so we thought that if we were present within the business community in Dublin we would have a better chance of winning more business.” The new office is due to open in January 2019 and some staff in the Derry branch will be temporarily transferred to Dublin until such times the Dublin branch is fully operational. It is hoped that the additional branch will see an increase in staff levels, by at least 50%, over the following 12-month period.


Ebrington eatery wins most Atmospheric Restaurant in Ireland 2019 The Walled City Brewery captured another gong at the prestigious All Ireland Georgina Campbell Awards in Dublin on 25th September 2018, winning the most ‘Atmospheric Restaurant in Ireland 2019’. Campbell’s annual awards are the longest running in Ireland, independently assessed, and eagerly awaited as a bell weather of trends in Irish hospitality. On presentation Georgina Campbell said, “The Walled City Brewery is one of my favourite places in Ireland to dine and relax. The fantastic food, beer and extraordinary décor makes it an outstanding customer experience.”

Husband and wife team, James and Louise Huey, dreamt up the idea to open a brewery and restaurant over four years ago, yet it took 12 months to finally open the doors to the public in the new civic space of Ebrington Square. James said, “When we started the business we were complete underdogs, having little restaurant experience and locating ourselves in a commercially empty square. However, we have carved ourselves out a niche by integrating a brewery into the restaurant and creating a customer experience exclusively serving local beers and food. Our staff are absolutely incredible - for me the best on the island!”

The Walled City Brewery receiving their Georgina Campbell Award.

NEW BALLROOM HELPS INCREASE EVENTS BUSINESS The Hastings Everglades Hotel in DerryLondonderry has reported a 33% increase in wedding bookings and a 15% increase in business events since the opening of its new Grand Ballroom in April 2018. The leading hotel completed a £1.5M refurbishment, which can now accommodate up to 600 people theatre style and over 400 when set up for round table events. Neil Devlin, General Manager of the Everglades Hotel said: “We are delighted to report that since the reopening of our Grand Ballroom, after a major refurbishment, we have enjoyed a 33% increase in weddings and a 15% increase in business events. “It is now the largest event space in the North West and we can now accommodate a wider range of larger conferences, gala dinners and business functions which we previously couldn’t. We are delighted to help bring new business to the city, this has included the annual conference of a public body

which was held in the North West for the first time and attended by 320 delegates. “In addition to this, we have continued to grow the internal events organised by the hotel and the Grand Ballroom now provides us with the opportunity of attracting artists that wouldn’t have been possible before. For example, in October we welcomed musical theatres leading men and X Factor stars, Rhydian Roberts and G4 frontman Jonathan Ansell, who brought their nationwide musical show Les Musicals to the Everglades.”


Alchemy Technology Services have found the right chemistry with Derry With the announcement of 256 jobs over the next three years, Alchemy Technology Services have firmly pledged their commitment to the North West. Alchemy launched their new European Centre of Excellence for insurance software implementation at the North West Regional College in September. Speaking at the launch, Invest NI CEO, Alastair Hamilton said, “Alchemy is planning to create new roles in software implementation and technology consultancy over the next three years. Once the project is fully implemented, it will generate over £6.5 million in annual salaries, a real

economic boost for Northern Ireland and the North West specifically.” The government has offered nearly £2.3 million of funding to support the creation of the new roles and secure the project for the North West. In conjunction with the Department for the Economy and North West Regional College, Alchemy will provide a four week Academy to train their recruits in everything from Insurance Fundamentals and Project Management to Specialised Software configuration. Alchemy’s consultants will

Invest NI CEO, Alastair Hamilton (right) with Alchemy Technology Services Founder and Director, John Harkin.

travel throughout the UK and Europe working with household names in the insurance industry to update their internal systems. Taking up residence in the City Factory, Alchemy will provide ongoing support and specialised training for their staff to address the shortage in specialist skills needed in the London Market and beyond. Although John Harkin, Director and Founder is from

Derry, it was the city’s talent and resources which led him to choose the city for Alchemy’s new headquarters. “I am originally from Derry, and have made frequent visits here in recent months as we assessed different locations for this investment. I have met with the colleges and university, and numerous students and have been impressed. I am confident that this is the right place to set up our business and find the talent we need.”






FLEMING ANNOUNCES £4M INVESTMENT AND 34 JOBS Manufacturer, Fleming Agri Products, has announced it is making a £4 million investment and creating 34 new jobs in the North West. The company is a leading manufacturer of agricultural and ground maintenance machinery. Making the announcement, George Fleming, Chairman of Fleming Agri Products said: “This £4 million investment will help us to meet our strategic growth plans and boost sales in external markets. “Over the past few years, we have developed new products which have helped to significantly improve our sales performance. With this new investment and the addition of 34 new staff, we hope to break into new markets, including the US and expand our existing sales in Europe. “Our main goal is to increase sales in external markets and put in place the

EHA runs Half Marathon for Charity

EHA Group runners Ronan Devine, Eamon McNicholl, Peter Graham and Dermot Bradley (missing from the picture) completed the Waterside Half Marathon in Derry on Sunday 2nd September. This is the second year they represented Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke in memory of their colleague and great friend Danny McAuley. A big well done to EHA!


necessary resources and infrastructure to enable us to service the increased demand for our products. This investment is a major commitment to the North West region and to our existing staff, to help us build long-term sustainability and we look forward to welcoming new people on board to help us drive the future of our business.” Invest NI has offered the company £220,000 of support towards the new roles which include Production Operatives, Sales Executives and Managers. The 34 staff will be in place by 2020, with 15 of the roles already in place. Des Gartland, Executive Director for Regional Business, Invest NI said: “Fleming Agri Products is a highly regarded business in the North West area with a strong brand reputation. We have offered Fleming Agri wide ranging support over the last number of years, helping the company improve its performance and strengthen its business.

Pictured are Des Gartland, Executive Director for Regional Business, Invest NI and George Fleming, Chairman of Fleming Agri Products.

“The company’s pragmatic approach has proven extremely successful and it is great to see an indigenous company reinvesting in the local area. The new jobs being created will generate over £700,000 in additional annual salaries for the Northern Ireland economy which is a great boost for the Derry City & Strabane District Council area.”

New chapter at Beech Hill Country House Hotel The Beech Hill Country House Hotel in Derry-Londonderry has been acquired by The House Collection. The historic manor house hotel, which is nestled on a 32-acre estate on the rural outskirts of the city, has been sold by the O’Kane and Donnelly families for an undisclosed sum.

Barry Kemp, Director at The House Collection, said he was delighted to announce the group’s acquisition of the famous hotel and grounds. “We are delighted and excited to welcome the Beech Hill Country House hotel into The House Collection.

“We were captivated by this elegant hotel’s unique offering, enchanting surroundings and rich history - just like many of the guests who have enjoyed it over the years. “The Beech Hill is a truly iconic country house and - while the property may be entering a new chapter - our ambitions are to build on the firm foundations laid by the O’Kane and Donnelly families.” Ms Patsy O’Kane MBE, former owner said: “It fills me with sadness to leave the Beech Hill, its wonderful team, its fascinating guests and its loyal customers. However, the time has come for a new chapter in my life and I’m looking forward to having more time for myself and my family.” Mr Kemp added: “To many guests and visitors over the last 26 years, Patsy O’Kane was the Beech Hill. We wish Patsy every happiness in retirement from her dedicated role in growing and nurturing a strongly performing business, a highly trained team and a true jewel in the crown of the Irish hospitality industry.”



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Frylite Managing Director Raises Awareness of Homelessness Eamon McCay, founder and Managing Director of Frylite, bravely opted to sleep out overnight in Strabane, Co.Tyrone to raise both awareness and funds to tackle the issue of homelessness across Ireland. Prompted by World Homeless Day on 10th October 2018, Eamon spent the night of Saturday 13th October, on the streets of Strabane. Eamon acknowledges that he is fortunate in being able to choose temporary homelessness and understands that for others, this is not a choice. The Frylite Sleep Out is also just one part of a huge charity initiative designed to celebrate the company’s 30 years in business. Over the course of 12 months, colleagues are being encouraged to play their part in raising £30,000 to be donated to a range of nominated charities. Eamon says, “Frylite has always aimed to give back to the communities in which we live and work. Because we’re an allIreland business, we’ve found many ways to do this over the years and saw our 30 years in business as an even bigger opportunity to do more of the same. I personally am delighted to have made this small gesture to help raise awareness of a nationwide issue. “I would be very grateful if you can donate what you can to this most deserving of causes by visiting our Frylite GoFundMe Page frylite-celebrating-30years.”


Bishop’s Gate Hotel Named as AA Hotel of The Year 2018-19 Bishop’s Gate Hotel has scooped one of the main accolades in the UK hospitality sector, having been named as AA Hotel of the Year (Northern Ireland) 2018-19. Bishop’s Gate Hotel opened its doors in March 2016. Within the hotel’s first year of trading, it exceeded both occupancy and business targets and continues to grow from strength to strength, winning a raft of awards in the process. Commenting on its most recent achievement Ciaran O’Neill, Managing Director of Bishop’s Gate said: “Winning the AA Hotel of the Year (Northern Ireland) 2018-19 award is a massive achievement for an independently run boutique hotel and restaurant, which only opened its doors in 2016. “This award is the AA’s ultimate accolade for hotels in the UK. “Bishop’s Gate has a commitment to excellence and our amazing team strives to exceed customer expectations at every occasion. This accolade shows that our

Bishop’s Gate receives top AA hotel award: Bishop’s Gate Hotel has scooped one of the main accolades in the UK hospitality sector, having been named as AA Hotel of the Year (Northern Ireland) 2018-19.

dedication, enthusiasm and expertise is recognised and appreciated by visitors. “The Gown Restaurant is the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ but we offer a variety of different dining options with casual food served in the Wig Bar and private dining menus for both 7 London Street and The Northern Counties Ballroom. Delivering the best accommodation, food and service is our priority and we will continue to work tirelessly to provide experiences that exceed expectations.”

Hunter Apparel Solutions Limited UK Award Winner Hunter Apparel Solutions Limited, the longest established professional clothing and PPE manufacturer in NI, won Best Managed Major Contract and shared an award with Virgin for ‘Best Business Manager’, as well as being highly commended in the ‘Made in UK’ award in June 2018. The Hunter team attended the UK National Awards for the Professional Clothing Industry at the Park Plaza London Riverbank Hotel and were joined by the senior team from Virgin Trains. An outstanding night for Hunter which saw the project, which rolled out 3,500 new uniforms, developed and manufactured by Hunter, receive an award. Hunter CEO Simon Hunter said, “This is the second time Hunter has received the UK’s top awards for Business Management and Major Contract Management. Previously, we were nominated by the public sector, but this is the

Hunter and Virgin Trains staff members along with hosts Sharon Davies and John Miln, PCIAW Chair.

first time to be nominated by the private sector for excellent contracting.” Yvette Ashby, Managing Director PCD Awards and CEO, PCIAW said, “I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Simon Hunter, from Hunter, whom I’ve known for nearly 15 years now. His contribution to our industry is invaluable. Hunter having been awarded with Best Managed Major Contract and Made in UK 2018, is proof of this contribution.” Simon was recently made a Director of the Professional Clothing Industry Association Worldwide, which is the first ever Global Board of Directors for the Professional Clothing Industry.


Moran’s Retail invests £2.4m in store revamps Moran’s Retail is to invest £2.4m as part of a regeneration drive across its three North West stores. The investment will create 25 new jobs in the family-owned and run company’s Derry city, Ballykelly and Coleraine operations. The developments will coincide with the introduction of an innovative online system to fast-track ‘food-to-go’ ordering at In Derry, the company will demolish its Strand Road service station and Centra store to make way for improved customer experience. This will include increased forecourt capacity, more car parking and enhanced retail space, with a particular focus on providing an unrivalled range of fresh ‘food-to-go’.

The £1.6m redevelopment at Strand Road will double the current retail space and create an additional 15 full and part time posts. Preparations for the rebuild are underway and the project will be completed in early 2019. The revamp of Moran’s SuperValu store in Ballykelly will see the firm invest £350,000 before the end of this year. Five full and part-time posts will be created as a result of the refurbishment project, which includes enlarging the in-house food production facility, expanding the butchery and deli areas, and upgrading the forecourt. A further five new jobs will result from a similar £400,000 regeneration of the company’s Coleraine service station and Centra store, which includes enlarging the in-house food production facility, and deli

Moran’s Retail Managing Director John Moran (right) pictured with Paul Moran, Manager of Moran’s Centra, Strand Road.

areas, upgrading the forecourt and carwash facilities. Managing Director, John Moran says the regeneration plans are focused on improving customer experience across the stores. “We asked our customers what they wanted from our stores and now we’re simply doing what they’ve asked, plus a little extra. Servicing our customers well is what we’ve built our family business

on since it started in 1983 and that foundation won’t be changing any time soon. “Moran’s Retail employs 120 people across the North West and this redevelopment project will help us create even more local jobs in Derry, Coleraine and Ballykelly. The investment will also ensure a bright future for our existing employees, many of whom have been with us for a very long time and are the backbone of our business.”

Chef Ian Orr appears on BBC Saturday Kitchen Live Ian Orr, the multi award-winning Chef Patron of Browns Bonds Hill Group, featured on BBC Saturday Kitchen Live on Saturday 24 November at 10.00am. Starring alongside presenter Matt Tebbutt, Ian cooked a Browns’ signature dish to tempt the taste buds of viewers nationwide. Speaking of his Saturday Kitchen appearance Ian said: “Cooking on Saturday Kitchen is a real privilege. This will be my third

time on the show and it’s great to now have a regular slot. “I’m used to cooking live in front of an audience in my restaurants, at regular cooking demonstrations and at the various events I appear at across Northern Ireland. The show is a great platform to showcase not only Browns restaurants and our fantastic local produce, but also to put our Legenderry city on the map.”

Ian Orr opened Browns Bonds Hill with Marcus Roulston in 2009 followed by Browns in Town – both in Derry-Londonderry, followed by Browns on the Green & Barnhill Bar & Grill, Letterkenny and Ardtara Country House, Maghera.



firmus energy welcome local press and elected representatives to the Foyle Project Site.

firmus energy £3m Natural Gas Pipeline Project firmus energy is a natural gas distribution and supply company, based in Antrim. Since 2005, firmus energy has connected over 41,000 customers in its licence area (outside Greater Belfast) and supplies over 85,000 customers across Northern Ireland. There are currently 10,541 customers in the Derry-Londonderry area and firmus energy plans to lay a further 21km of mains this year and a further 65km over the next 10 years to make natural gas available to over 25,000 homes and businesses in the city and surrounding area. As part of this significant development programme, firmus energy has been showcasing their ambitious £3m River Foyle Crossing project, the largest directional drill project to be undertaken on the island of Ireland. The plan is to install a large diameter gas pipe under the River Foyle from Strathfoyle to Thornhill scheduled for completion before the end of this year. The project, which has been over two years in the planning, will meet the increasing demand for natural gas in the area and will provide enough gas for continued network buildout for the next 20 years. Commenting on the project, Jonathan Strain, Construction Manager, said: “This


creation through the construction phase. A 355mm diameter, 660m long, 2” thick wall polyethylene (PE) pipe will be installed beneath the River Foyle from Strathfoyle to Culmore Road at the Old Thornhill College site.

Jonathan Strain, Construction Manager for firmus energy, Stephen Kelly, MD Manufacturing NI and Eric Cosgrove, Director of Engineering for firmus energy.

is an ambitious and innovative project that will bring much needed network capacity over the next twenty years which is vital given the growing demand for gas in the city. The project has been in planning for quite some time and it is great to see it progressing. Together with Kier, our main contractor and McCormack and Son’s, a specialist directional drilling sub-contractor we will have gas flowing very soon. This is a significant £3m investment in the area.” As part of this continued engagement, firmus energy invited local stakeholders, including media and elected representatives to visit the site to hear first hand of the benefits this project will bring not only to the city itself, but also to the local economy, including local job

Using a 50 tonne directional drilling machine the work is being carried out by local, specialist drilling contractor, McCormack Drilling. Since beginning the work, they have drilled a 660m long, 550mm diameter hole through rock 25m under the river bed and under the Derry-Londonderry to Coleraine railway line. The pipe has been welded and will be pulled into and through the hole in one continuous operation. Once installed the pipe will be tested to ensure integrity of welding and then commissioned with natural gas. Commenting on the project, Eric Cosgrove, Director of Engineering, said: “We are committed to ensuring that the work is completed safely and efficiently, we appreciate the support and engagement from all our stakeholders throughout the process. We would like to say a special thanks to the Derry Port Authority, Thornhill College, Strathfoyle residents and Diocese of Derry for their continued help and support throughout the project.”


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CHAMBER LIFE Life in the North West is anything but dull and given the calendar of events and meetings this past six months it also has been as challenging as thought provoking. As a Chamber, we’ve had a great opportunity to engage with those who have sought knowledge and an understanding of what it is like to work and live in the North West. The Chamber has seen the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Charles Bowman and his colleagues attend the Derry/Londonderry Regional Economic Summit, hosted by the NWRC. There, the Chamber via the President, reinforced the message that the city is ready to collaborate and keen to begin putting in practice measures, which will rebalance the regional economy, and improve competitiveness, innovation and skills.

Mayor John Boyle,John Harkin, Alchemy, Darragh McCarthy, FinTrU, City of London Lord Mayor Rt Honourable Charles Bowman, John Kelpie, DSDC.

There was also a visit by Labour Peer, Lord Adonis. Other engagement came in the form of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley and Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire. Both made visits to the City to offer support regarding a City Deal.

Mayor John Boyle with Labour Peer, Lord Adonis and Chamber President, Jennifer McKeever.

Chamber President, Jennifer McKeever hears from SOSNI, Karen Bradley MP and David Davis MP.

David Liddington, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Brandon Lewis, Conservative Party Chairman, both met with the Chamber of Commerce during the summer to discuss Brexit, business concerns and border issues. In July the Chancellor of Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP also visited and requested that the local council, universities and businesses submit a case for a city deal or special economic status.


The Chancellor of Exchequer, Philip Hammond addressing key stakeholders on his recent visit.


Chamber events during this period included the fabulous evening on the Queen’s Quay at the Foyle Maritime Festival Networking Event in July in addition to those very important workshops and networking events for the Chamber membership.

This year saw the 61st President’s Annual Dinner and with over 300 guests in the room it was the biggest event of the year. There was also the ASG Media Awareness and Social Media Training, the Flint Studios eCommerce Workshop, and a mindfulness course. All in all, the Chamber gave its membership much food for thought.

The Foyle Maritime Festival.

Chamber President Jennifer McKeever hosted a group of mature students from Germany who had travelled to Derry to find out more about how Brexit is affecting the Border regions. They asked very specific and pointed questions about community relations, the Good Friday Agreement and future economic arrangements with the EU.

Media Workshop hosted by ASG.

Chamber board members Dawn McLaughlin and Paul Curtis hosting a table at President’s Annual Dinner.

Look forward The 133rd Annual General Meeting of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce will take place on Thursday 13th December, at 4.30pm at the Holywell Trust, Bishop Street, Derry. Christmas drinks will follow in the Chamber’s Boardroom.



A FIELD OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESSES AND JOB SEEKERS Being positioned in the North West, engagement around crossing the border is a task faced by many and one that often doesn’t usually welcome a second thought. However, that border through the island of Ireland can often restrict individuals and companies to the wealth of opportunities that are available on both sides of the border. CONNECTED talks to Joe Lavery, Cross Border Co-ordinator for the European Employment Services Partnership, otherwise known as EURES, about their services and collaborations with organisations from both sides of the border, to open a field of opportunities for businesses and job seekers alike. Joe comments, “As a transnational organisation, EURES is a cooperation network formed by public employment services in EU member states. As an agency of the EU, it facilitates employment mobility among the member states and it maintains a database of jobs as a useful means to search and apply for jobs in the EU. But with more than 1.4 million people in the EU living in one country and working in another, EURES developed the Cross Border Partnerships to helps cross-border workers, jobseekers and employers to overcome obstacles that

Pictured is Anne McDevitt, EURES Advisor speaking at the employer breakfast in Letterkenny.


Pictured are Joe Lavery, Cross Border Co-ordinator for EURES, Stephen McGlew of the Department of Communities alongside representatives of local council and Translink at the launch of the EURES job fair in Newry.

exist to cross border mobility. These partnerships involve EURES members and partners that agree to work together across borders to support the mobility of workers and employers and we are lucky to have one on our own doorstep which has been running since 1998.” Cross-border workers and employers are faced with a number of specific obstacles on a daily basis, such as different national practices, social security systems, taxation rules and legal systems in general, which can cause many businesses and individuals to turn away from opportunities, however that is where the EURES advisors come in! The EURES partnership is made up of seven organisations North and South of the border including the Confederation of British Industry, Department of Communities, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protections, Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation, Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce.

“EURES advisors are existing employees of one of the partner organisations, representing the public employment services, employer services and trade unions. “Every aspect of the business community is represented in the EURES partnership, providing a full circle network of support for both employees, job seekers and the wider business community.” Employee mobility is quickly becoming a hot topic on both a local and global level. With companies looking to attract the top talent from both sides of the border, a support system like EURES is a fundamental tool, which can bring a company to the next level when it comes to attracting the best talent. “It’s important not to restrict the pool of talent for companies, often employers shy away from employing people from across the border, purely due to the lack of knowledge regarding the obstacles that comes with cross border employment, but we can help with that.

Stephen Kenny manager of Dundalk FC helps launch the Dundalk Job fair with Anne Keeley Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), Paul Mc Ardle of EURES, Lorraine O Malley of DEASP and Niamh Murphy at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

“Likewise, for job seekers, we encourage everyone to keep an open mind when it comes to working North and South of the border, through collaboration, EURES advisors and our website will ensure you are fully informed of all of the possibilities that are open to you.” With funding directly from the European Union, EURES advisors work collaboratively across each organisation within the partnership to ensure a constant flow of information through their website and ongoing activities throughout the year. “We’ve had some fantastic events this year which all have been very well received, our cross border job fairs and employer briefing events are prime examples of the partnership coming together. “This year, we have had three job fairs in Donegal, Dundalk and Newry. In Dundalk, we had over 3,00 attend and in Newry, there were 550 live vacancies available from over 50 companies, this turnout affirms to us that that there is a need for this partnership in a bid to

further enhance relationships North and South.” As a full support network for employees and companies from searching for a job to securing it, the EURES team are on hand to provide the latest information on current labour market issues and solutions to such issues. “I think it’s important to note that we are not just a job service, we are a one stop shop of information and advice for employee mobility and employer support. Information on transport services, medical care, education services and even redundancy rights, we make the stressful process of commuting easy, so that it is more accessible for everyone.” Working across every sector in the business community from hospitality to construction, engagement in the North West has continued to rise, with an increase in employers, workers and job seekers seeking advice of the EURES partnership.

North West. Cross border relationships can be complicated and there is no one size fits all. However, we work together to support solutions that will benefit all parties.” Nevertheless, with the shadow of Brexit looming, an uncertain future for the EURES partnership persists, “We are continuing to support jobseekers, workers and employers in the current circumstances. However, with Brexit comes the increased demand for more information, which is why the EURES Partnership will be so vital to many people over the next coming months. Knowledge is power, and we want to continue to supply that knowledge for the greater good of the local economy.” For more information on how the EURES Partnership can help you or your company, visit or contact your local EURES advisor.

“There is a sincere willingness and thirst for information from people in the




FINTRU’S LOOKS TO CREATE 305 JOBS IN NORTH WEST In June 2018, FinTrU announced plans to expand its operation with 605 new jobs over the next five years, with 305 of those jobs to be created in a new North West site. On this expansion Darragh McCarthy, FinTrU Founder and CEO said: “Our current operation in Belfast has been hugely successful which has been driven by the exceptional talent we have been able to recruit in Northern Ireland. “FinTrU has won three ‘Fast Growth Business of the Year’ awards in 2018 and we are delighted to continue our expansion in other areas of Northern Ireland. “After reviewing a number of locations, I had no hesitation about expanding our presence into the North West due to the highly attractive location and the availability of talent that the region offers. Whilst managed as a profit-driven organisation, I see FinTrU as having a social purpose to create high-quality professional employment in Northern Ireland.” The new North West office is at Carlisle House, 3 Horace Street and opened in October 2018. FinTrU is now hiring for a number of positions for its DerryLondonderry site, including Legal Professionals, KYC Specialists and IT roles. See more at or contact Follow ‘FinTrU Careers’ on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for the latest opportunities in the North West.


Mayor John Boyle, cutting the ribbon at the official opening of the new Sensory Room. Included are Christine English, Autism NI, and Fergal Rafferty, Centre Manager Foyleside Shopping Centre. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Foyleside Shopping Centre has made a significant investment in its new sensory room, a unique space for children and young adults with autism and other sensory needs. The centre has worked closely with Autism NI to become more autism friendly, with specific staff training and Wednesday evenings now designated as quiet evenings. The main mall and retailers will turn off in-store music to help make the shopping experience less stressful for customers affected by autism. These significant improvements to the centre mean Foyleside is in line to be one of the first shopping centres in the country to receive the Autism NI Impact Award. Fergal Rafferty, Foyleside Shopping Centre Manager said, “We are absolutely thrilled to officially launch the new sensory room to help families deal with sensory overload if it happens while out shopping. “Everyone should be able to enjoy the wide range of stores and eateries in Foyleside and we have worked closely with Autism NI to ensure we are well

equipped to facilitate individuals with autism. We are also pleased to be launching the new quiet evenings, a fantastic initiative to raise awareness of the very real challenges autistic people face in their daily lives.” Christine English from Autism NI added, “Shopping can be a stressful experience for autistic people and their families due to crowds and loud music. It is fantastic to see Foyleside Shopping Centre provide a brilliant space for those with autism to relax and unwind.” The Foyleside Sensory Room is located at the back of the food court on Level 3. The quiet evenings will take place each Wednesday between 6pm until 9pm. Shoppers are encouraged to visit the customer service desk to request assistance from one of the Foyleside champions if they wish to avail of assistance or need guidance to the new sensory room. There will be a sensory pack at the customer service desk on level 3 in case an individual has forgotten to bring their ear defenders, as well as emergency bands, which include a guardian’s phone number.


City of Derry Airport Icelandic Winter Escape

City of Derry Airport has teamed up with Super Break, a tour operator specialist for over 30 years, to offer a once in a lifetime trip to incredible Iceland. The 202 seater charter aircraft will depart from City of Derry Airport on Friday 25th January 2019 and return on Monday 28th January. Airport Manager at City of Derry Airport, Charlene Shongo, stated: “We are delighted to be working with Super Break again following their previous charter to Seville earlier this year. City of Derry Airport is proud to offer customers from within our local catchment a travel experience with a difference. “Our Iceland holiday package includes return flights from City of Derry Airport to Akureryi in North Iceland, 20kg baggage, a three night stay in a 3* or 4* hotel of your choice, return resort transfers, a four hour Northern Lights tour and a full day Lake Myvatn excursion exploring the land of ice and fire. Taxes, breakfast, Wi-Fi and the services of an in-resort representative are included.” Renowned as the magical land of ice and fire, Iceland is certainly one for

any adventure-seekers bucket list as it offers a holiday like no other. Ancient volcanoes, ice caves, glaciers, cascading waterfalls, nature baths – the natural wonders of this land are simply stunning. Not to mention the unique activities on offer – from whale-watching, to sledding with snow dogs or riding with Icelandic horses, there are endless experiences to soak up. And then unwind in one of the many amazing spa retreats (Myvatan Nature Baths have proven very popular with tourists!) and enjoy a relaxing Icelandic

tipple in Akureryi’s cosy restaurants and bars. Charlene added: “With prices from £699pp, this is a fantastic offer – and with Christmas just around the corner, an Icelandic adventure would make a fabulous gift as a romantic winter escape or a magical family break.” Book your Icelandic adventure today. Visit



President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce Jennifer McKeever with Vice-President Brian McGrath and Sarah Travers.

61st Annual President’s Dinner The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce hosted its 61st Annual President’s Dinner with a glittering dinner and reception held in the Everglades Hotel, Derry. Hosted by Sarah Travers, this year’s prestigious event saw more than 300 guests attend from across the diverse business community in the North West. This year the dinner was sponsored by North West Regional College, Foyle Port and Fleming Agri Products and the theme of the night was firmly fixed on a City Deal for the North West city region.

Lorraine Allen, Derry Chamber and Dawn McLaughlin, Dawn McLaughlin and Co. Accountants.

Guest speakers were Leo Murphy, Principal and Chief Executive of North West Regional College, John Kelpie, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council and Darragh McCarthy, the Founder and CEO of FinTrU, the multi-award-winning financial services company that has recently expanded its presence into the North West.

Chamber President, Jennifer McKeever, in her opening address called upon political leaders to bring stability and certainty to a region that has been hugely concerned with the potential out-workings of Brexit and the lack of a Northern Ireland Executive at such a crucial time.


Corporate partner, North West Regional College, Principal and Chief Executive, Leo Murphy said: “We were delighted to be a corporate partner for the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce President’s Dinner, in line with our determination to work together with industry partners to help


build a strong and sustainable economy for the North West. Our College is committed to providing sustainable solutions to skills shortages in this region and supporting innovation activities for industry across a number of sectors. “We have strategically positioned the college at the centre of local economic development, to support companies in pursuit of business growth and help attract new investment to the city region. “We will continue working with all key stakeholders to create more and better jobs, enhance prosperity and advance social and economic development. We are strong supporters in bidding with other economic partners in the Derry-Londonderry Strabane City region deal and will work closely with all partners to ensure a successful outcome.”

Leo Murphy, North West Regional College, President of the Chamber Jennifer McKeever, and Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr John Boyle.

John Kelpie, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “I’d like to congratulate the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce for focusing its attention on a North West region city deal at this year’s President’s dinner. “Truly understanding the needs and aspirations of the businesses operating in the region will be key to delivering a city deal. We have had very positive feedback on our vision and outline bid proposal, but it is hugely important that business leaders in the region are aware of what we are bidding for and what it could mean for them. “The Chamber plays a vital role in the economic life of the Derry City and Strabane District Council and it is a pleasure to be able to address members at this important event. I am calling on members of the Chamber to get behind this important bid in the coming weeks and months.”

President Jennifer McKeever’s family and friends enjoying her dinner.

FinTrU Founder and CEO, Darragh McCarthy, said: “Our current operation in Belfast has been hugely successful which has been driven by the exceptional talent we have been able to recruit in Northern Ireland. FinTrU has won three ‘Fast Growth Business of the Year’ awards in 2018 and we are delighted to continue our expansion in other areas of Northern Ireland. “After reviewing a number of locations, I had no hesitation about expanding our presence into the North West due to the highly attractive location and the availability of talent that the region offers. Whilst managed as a profit-driven organisation, I see FinTrU as having a social purpose to create high-quality professional employment in Northern Ireland.”

President of the Chamber of Commerce Jennifer McKeever addresses guests at the 61st Annual President’s Dinner in the Everglades Hotel.



John Kelpie, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council gave the keynote address at the Annual President’s Dinner.

Sarah Travers welcomes guests to the 61st Annual President’s Dinner in the Everglades Hotel.

Staff from Airporter enjoying the Annual President’s Dinner.

Foyle Port Commissioner Peter Sheridan with the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle.

Guests enjoying the Chamber’s 61st Annual President’s Dinner in the Everglades Hotel.



Guests enjoying the Chamber’s 61st Annual President’s Dinner in the Everglades Hotel.

Leo Murphy, North West Regional College, President of the Chamber Jennifer McKeever, John Kelpie, Derry City and Strabane District Council, and Darragh McCarthy, FinTrU.

Sarah Travers, Jennifer McKeever, John Kelpie and Leo Murphy at the Chamber’s 61st Annual President’s Dinner in the Everglades Hotel.

The staff and commissioners of Foyle Port at the Annual President’s dinner.

Murray Bell, President of Causeway Chamber and Fiona McCandless DAERA.

Chamber Board Member Damien Gallagher with his Seagate colleagues Louise Coyle, Claire Lundy and Orlaith Hurley.

Megan McKeown work experience student from Lisneal College with Chamber staff Lorraine Allen, Carol Kelly and Mairead Reid.


THE REDCASTLE HOTEL APPOINTS NEW GENERAL MANAGER Mr David Cahill, who has had numerous senior management positions in properties such as Hilton Hotels and Dalata Hotel Group, has been appointed as the General Manager of The Redcastle Hotel in Donegal. David had the following to say about his new appointment: “I am excited to work with the loyal and dedicated staff in this stunning location. The achievement of the second AA Rosette in 2018 is testament of the culinary and the quality focus of the team as a whole. I look forward to continuing their good work.” Since it was bought by Harcourt Developments in

Clement Gaffney, Group Hotels Operations Manager, welcoming David along with the Executive Team at The Redcastle Hotel.

1986, The Redcastle has transformed into one of Ireland’s most captivating four star resorts. The secluded hotel is set among mature parkland with its own private nine hole golf course, The Award Winning Edge Restaurant on a magical waterfront location overlooking Lough Foyle is proud to hold two AA Rosettes for culinary excellence.


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FROM EGLINTON TO A MAYFAIR MULTI-MILLION POUND HOME The jewel that has been crafted by contractor EHA Group in London’s Mayfair bears little resemblance in interiors to its recent past. The £5 million refurbishment of tired offices by the Derry based construction firm, has brought the Georgian building back to its former glory, and original purpose, as a central London home. With a big budget and a prestigious client, exacting requirements and high-end finishes dictated the complex 500 sq. metre refurbishment. As a Grade II listed townhouse, very little


changed on the façade. All works carried out by Eglinton based EHA were in strict

accordance with the City of Westminster Conservation Office, preserving the heritage of the 18th Century building and its place amongst its Georgian neighbours. Commencing with major structural alterations, a new floor in the basement area was created to accommodate serving staff and a working kitchen. Extensive manual excavation by hand was necessary to create this basement area, as well as underpinning to minimise reverberation from the London underground, running underneath.

Through extreme attention to detail with the highest craftmanship, skirting boards and architraves up to 400mm deep and intricate ceiling cornices were repaired, handmade from moulded copies of the originals. The latest Smart Home technology was also incorporated discreetly within the home, including a seven storey passenger lift.

Within the upper floors of the seven storey property, three bespoke highend kitchens were installed, all of which were designed and manufactured in house by EHA’s specialist joinery division in Derry. Over 40 handmade, hand painted, fire-rated panelled doors lead throughout the house with each door handle, tap and light switch plated in antique gold or polished nickel.

Several items of custom furniture, vanity mirrors and fitted wardrobes complete the eight luxurious bedrooms, designed and installed by EHA’s joinery division. Joinery fittings were also created by EHA for nine plush shower rooms, ensuites, master bathrooms and powder rooms, showcasing floating marble and porcelain clad vanity units and sinks. Handpicked marble slabs were transported from Italy, cut to shape and matched to every individual bathroom. This exceptionally high quality finish in each room showcases the opulence of this new London residence.

EHA Group undertakes a significant level of Private Residential refurbishment and construction including high-end Housing, Commercial Properties, Hotels and Student Accommodation, as well as Specialist Joinery manufacture. In addition, the Group is well established in the Social Housing sector in Northern Ireland. EHA’s head office and manufacturing base is located at Campsie Business Park, Eglinton with additional offices in Belfast and London and a team of over 80 staff. Find out more about the group at:



CLEARPATH – A FUNDING SOLUTION FOR ALL CONNECTED talks to James Gibbons LLB, Founding Partner of Clearpath, a company, which provides an innovative funding solution to businesses across Ireland. Originally from Derry City, the local man gives us a great insight into the funding options available and the new Clearpath funding platform. Tell us a little bit about Clearpath. We have created an alternative lending platform, which is available to businesses and entrepreneurs right across Ireland and the UK. If an individual goes to a mortgage broker for a home mortgage, they source the best fit for their customer from a wide variety of mortgage providers that are on their panel. We are providing a similar function for our customer base, providing commercial funding solutions for our customers. It’s quite a unique concept and we now have over fifty different lenders who have committed capital to the platform.

How does Clearpath work? The process for borrowers is very straightforward. They apply to Clearpath for a loan, normally online or by contacting the company by telephone. Our experienced and dedicated finance team talk directly to the customer, meet them and put forward the funding proposal to the internal credit committee for review. On approval, we advise the customer and guarantee a funding line for them, subject to terms and conditions. The process itself is efficient and


more importantly can often be completed within one week.

What makes Clearpath different? Speed of delivery and ‘no slow no’s’ as our name suggests a Clearpath to Finance. For the last number of decades, the high street banks have been the main source of finance for small businesses. However, due largely to the global financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent banking crash, mainstream banking is still in recovery mode, which has left a void in the marketplace. This void has now been filled with a plethora of funding options all available now through Clearpath. Business owners now want a quick decision, so being nimble and quick to form a funding decision is crucial. We accelerate it through the legal process and onto drawdown as soon as possible and that is exactly how it happens at Clearpath. We continue to refine this process and challenge ourselves rigorously to improve our offering.

How have the last 12 months of business been? We have invested significantly in our business and dedicated a lot of time

Founding Partners, James Gibbons LLB and Conor Devine MRICS.

over the last 12 months working on our unique selling points and trying to demonstrate to the funding world, that Clearpath is now an excellent route to market for them to deploy their capital. We have secured many new funders persuading them to enter the marketplace across Ireland, which is great news for the business community and economy. Clearpath is now working with the majority of these lenders to facilitate the delivery of funds to borrowers in need. In the last 12 months, we have originated more than €30M (£27M) in new funding for business borrowers in Northern Ireland, and we are now working on new positions in ROI which we hope to close before Christmas.

What will your focus be for 2019? We’re going into 2019 on a strong footing. We work hard to position Clearpath as the number one alternative lending platform right across the island of Ireland. We aim to continue to prove to our funding partners that we are an excellent route to market for them, and continue to improve our customer experience by delivering the new capital they need to grow their businesses. We are deeply passionate about business, helping people, adding value and bringing new capital to the marketplace. That is only set to grow as we progress into 2019. For more information on Clearpath Finance, visit or contact 0333 0042 888 or email info@clearpathfinance. com.


WATERHOUSE FINANCIAL PLANNING ADViSeR ACHIEVES CHARTERED STATUS The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has awarded the prestigious ‘Chartered Financial Planner’ title to Deirdre Moore, one of Waterhouse’s three advisers. Chartered Status is an exclusive title only awarded to individuals that meet the rigorous criteria relating to professionalism and capability. All Chartered Financial Planners commit to the CII’s Code of Ethics, reinforcing the highest standards of professional practice in their business dealings. Deirdre joined the company just over three years ago following 14 years of financial planning experience under her belt in Belfast. As an adviser of a chartered firm she continued to enhance her knowledge and expertise of the industry. Within just a few years she had achieved the CII Level 6 Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning becoming an elected associate of the Personal Finance Society (PFS). Waterhouse has three advisers, two of which are chartered, they advise on all areas of planning including: Pensions, Investments, Protection, Inheritance Tax and long-term care. There are also two Pension Specialists that have a wealth of experience in reviewing corporate pension schemes and protection arrangements. Waterhouse believes that financial planning requires people to make decisions, and consider in particular, the long-term impact of those decisions. It is a trust based profession reliant on the clients belief that the advice they are given is accurate, and crucially, given with their best interest at heart. Deirdre says; “We aim to create long lasting working relationships with our clients and help them achieve their objectives underpinned by expert technical knowledge and sound ethical conduct”. Thomas Leonard and Sinead Meenan, Directors, Waterhouse Financial Planning say that an additional team member securing the Chartered Status is another mark of distinction for our company: “We have always prided ourselves on being thoroughly professional in

Deirdre Moore and Sinead Meenan of Waterhouse Financial Planning.

everything we do, and for Deirdre to gain external recognition in this way is a great accolade to her of her commitment and hard work and of the support we provide as a firm to develop our staff to ensure that they are at the top of their industry.” Waterhouse Financial Planning Ltd specialises in providing advice on all types of investment, pension and protection assurance for individuals and businesses. The company also holds a corporate Chartered Status ensuring professionalism and integrity

throughout all aspects of its business from advice to administration level tasks. Should you wish to discuss any aspect of your financial position or future, please call us today for a no obligation meeting at no cost – 02871 87 8770 or



A Culture of Collaboration Providing banking services to personal, business and corporate customers across Northern Ireland, First Trust Bank recently unveiled their newly refurbished branch at Meadowbank and its North West Business Centre in the City, as part of its focus to support local decision making. Noelle Mullan, North & West Business Centre Leader at First Trust Bank, talks to us about business appetite, success and challenges in the area. At Derry-Londonderry’s first Regional Economic Summit last month, we heard from Jennifer McKeever, the City’s Chamber President that collaboration is key to Derry’s economic growth. Jennifer pointed out that the focus on local collaboration has been sharpened due to challenges such as Brexit uncertainty and the lack of political leadership, while also highlighting how businesses are working together with civic leaders and government organisations, to capitalise on opportunities such as the City Deal package and local investment opportunities. This is a message that rings true to us at First Trust Bank in our dealings with customers across all sectors. As well as supporting clients through expert financial services, successful collaboration comes from building beneficial relationships and knowledge sharing platforms – a role we try and fulfil by bringing businesses and industry partners together. We recently hosted a special business briefing event focused on the hospitality sector where, along with over 30 local businesses, we heard from experts at the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, ASM Accountants and local hoteliers. While recruitment, skills challenges and export support were the hot topics, positivity was still evident in the room. There have been a number of significant investments in the North West recently, many of which we have been proud to support including developments at Bishop’s Gate Hotel and more recently at The Beech Hill Hotel. This positive attitude is reflective of many of our recent encounters with customers across Northern Ireland. We are seeing a returning confidence from businesses who feel empowered to


Noelle Mullan, Business Centre Leader at First Trust Bank is pictured with (from left to right) Michael Williamson, Director at ASM Accountants, Ciaran O’Neill, General Manager at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel and Gareth Hetherington from the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre.

create new opportunities, from hotels expanding the services they offer – to retailers exploring e-commerce.

Hospitality, and is something we want to see local companies here take advantage of.

The demand we are seeing from the business community is largely capital driven, with customers seeking future growth loans, as well as working capital for current cash needs. At First Trust, we see ourselves as champions of the business community, keen to support local and ambitious companies with advice and financial support.

As North & West Business Centre lead, I’m proud to lead the Business Centre in Derry, supported by a talented team including Business Acquisition Manager, Stephen Comer, as well as Relationship Managers, Jennifer Doherty and Alex McDonnell. Together, we’re very keen to contribute to the culture and spirit of collaboration here in the Maiden City.

As part of AIB Group (UK) p.l.c. we have £2 billion of lending funds available across the UK, for medium to large sized businesses seeking finance for growth. Made up of four £500m UK funds, this support is available for businesses in the key economic growth sectors of Agri Food, Manufacturing, Healthcare and

Noelle Mullan North & West Business Centre Leader 07810634251


Ulster Bank delivers £10M to North West Businesses in 2018 Businesses in the North West have been boosted in recent months by financial support from Ulster Bank. Since the beginning of 2018, Ulster Bank has lent over £10m to business in the Derry-Londonderry area and plans to increase this figure before the year end. Deals have been completed with a wide range of businesses showing healthy rates of growth across all sectors in the region. The hospitality sector has been especially high performing, suggesting that the city is continuing to attract high levels of tourists and visitors to eat, stay and play. Local businesses who have successfully completed deals with Ulster Bank include W&J Chambers Ltd, who sought assistance to purchase a new quarry and future development lands; Oakgrove Cabins Ltd used the funding to expand into English and Welsh markets while Quantum, a local supplier of wholesale kitchen and bathroom products secured finance to purchase a new business premises. The bank’s expert agri-team has also been instrumental in helping local farmers expand and diversify. Funding from Ulster Bank has enabled Glenamoyle Farms Ltd to establish a new beef enterprise through the purchase of a new farm. John Moran, Director of Moran’s Retail Ltd, said he was impressed by the support made available to him when applying for finance with Ulster Bank: “When I first mentioned redeveloping and refurbishing our portfolio of shops, supermarket and forecourts, my business manager Ciarán [McLaughlin] went to great lengths to help find the right products and services and carefully tailored these to meet the individual needs of our business. “He took the time to work through any challenges that arose along the way and


now we have a competitive package in place that is proving to be very advantageous for the company and is helping us to complete the projects and plan for the future.” Ciaran McLaughlin, Senior Relationship Manager of Commercial Banking at Ulster Bank’s Culmore Road offices, said this was the “right time” for local business to think about financial assistance. “We’re seeing a huge increase in the number of businesses coming forward and asking for assistance to expand, diversify or refurbish their business. This is extremely positive, not just for confidence in the market and the local economy, but also a great boost for things like job creation and consumer choice. “With £10m already given to local business and more available this year, we want to let all businesses know that Ulster Bank has the right people and support systems to help achieve short, medium and long term business goals, whatever they may be.” It’s not just financial support offered by Ulster Bank, Ciaran continued,

Throughout the year we

hold numerous Ulster Bank Boost events, aimed at supporting local businesses in areas beyond banking to give them tools, knowledge and networks to help them grow.

In addition to our Boost Series of events, representatives from KPMG will deliver a presentation on ‘Making Tax Digital’ ahead of the new legislation, which comes into effect in Spring 2019 with advice on how business owners can prepare for this incoming change. More information about the event, ‘Time to Grow’ is available on

To find out more about how the Ulster Bank team can provide tailored support for your business, contact our local Managers below or visit https://digital. Contacts: Ciaran McLaughlin, Senior Relationship Manager Commercial Banking, Culmore Road Branch, Derry. m: 07810 057 373 Aidan McGrath, Business Development Manager, Business Banking, Waterside Branch, Derry. m: 07900 160 544


WHY OUTSOURCING HR IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS employers in outsourcing their HR is the reassurance created by the knowledge that trusted professionals have employee matters under control while keeping the commercial interests of the business firmly in sight.

Outsourcing HR saves time and money while promoting peace of mind for business owners and managers, says HR Team Director Martina McAuley. Getting help from experts is one of the most cost-effective ways for businesses to delegate employee management tasks and minimise the risk of costly employment tribunals.

She adds: “HR Team provides employers with commercially-focused, expert, professional advice on best practice in dealing with human resource and employment law issues. This takes all the stress out of potentially expensive and time-consuming employee matters. Our clients also benefit from on-site support, training and development, all delivered by experienced and qualified experts,” she said.

According to Ms McAuley, whatever level of support is required, there are a number of factors to be evaluated when considering an external HR provider. Firstly, employers must ensure the company servicing their HR requirements takes confidentiality seriously and is GDPR compliant. It is also good practice to consider the pros and cons of investing in ongoing HR support versus consulting the experts on an ad-hoc basis. Another factor to focus on is the value you place on peace of mind when it comes to employment law matters in your business. One of the chief benefits of outsourcing HR to trusted experts is peace of mind - you could spend hours, days, or even weeks, researching

HR Team provides outsourced human resources and employment law advice across three jurisdictions – the UK, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

HR Team Director Martina McAuley.

complicated employment law. External HR experts take the hassle out of all of this and provide assured advice and assistance on how to manage each and every problem.

Do you need expert advice on HR or employment law issues? HR Team helps business start-ups, SMEs and large multinational organisations. Call our consultants today on +44 28 71 271882 or email

HR Team Director Martina McAuley explains that one of the key drivers for

Is your business compliant? Assured employment law compliance * Outsourced HR * Project HR * Contracts Derry ~ Londonderry

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Law firm McCay Solicitors tasted success at the JCI Business Awards held on 6th October 2018 when it picked up the hotly contested Professional Services Award. It has been a meteoric rise for the firm, which was founded in 2015 by Managing Director Gareth McCay. As Gareth explains he took an unconventional route to becoming a business owner; “When I graduated from Queens in 2005, I decided that I wanted to follow a more commercial pathway, however such training opportunities were sparse in Northern Ireland. I moved to Manchester and trained with a large commercial law firm eventually specialising in employment law. Following the arrival of my first child, I moved to Belfast and took up a position with one of Northern Ireland’s largest commercial law firms.” Gareth’s life was then turned upside down following an accident in 2010 in which he suffered a spinal injury and a leg amputation spending three weeks in a coma in Altnagelvin, followed by 10 months in Musgrave Park Hospital’s spinal injuries unit. Whilst Gareth has regained some function and uses a wheelchair, his drive and ambition remains unhindered. “My employer was great with me following my accident but it was very difficult as I was travelling from Derry to Belfast. I was looking for opportunities closer to home but I had a very specialist skill set and had no experience in the traditional areas of criminal law, family law or property. I had only ever seen myself working in a large firm and hopefully working my way up to partnership however, in 2014 I left my job to open my own practice and it has been the best decision I have ever made.” McCay Solicitors opened on the Strand Road in January 2015 with just Gareth and his secretary, but it moved to larger premises in the City Factory in March 2017 and opened a second office in Strabane’s Orchard Road Business Park in January 2018. The firm was initially a niche employment and commercial law practice, however it quickly grew to a team of eight covering a wide variety of legal areas. “Our aim is to provide an alternative for North West businesses where they can avail of the legal services they require on their doorstep rather than having to go to Belfast


McCay Solicitors receiving the Professional Services Award at the JCI Business Awards in October 2018.

or further afield. I hope that the firm can provide opportunities for graduates in the North West which were not available to me, but like any business we require the support of our local business community to grow.” Strabane based sportswear company O’Neill Sports moved its legal portfolio to McCay Solicitors in 2016, Managing Director Kieran Kennedy explains; “We moved our business to McCay Solicitors as we were impressed with Gareth’s credentials and it was hugely attractive for us to be able to meet with our advisors at short notice without having to leave our office. We also believe in supporting local businesses and our decision has been vindicated as the advice and the service provided by Gareth and his team has always been first class. Our Company has gone through a period of expansion and McCay Solicitors has played an integral part in helping us to implement our plans.” A host of other local companies and some from further afield have followed suit and McCay Solicitors has continued to grow from strength to strength. Away from the office, 35-year-old Gareth is married with two children with his third child due to arrive in January. Gareth concludes; “My life experiences have given me a unique outlook and I enjoy my work which makes it so much easier. I have been very fortunate that I have great support from my wife and family and a fantastic team of colleagues who go the extra mile. It was a great boost for us as a business to be recognised by JCI and we hope it is the first of many accolades.”

With the average cost of defending an Employment Tribunal claim being around £15,000, getting an ET1 claim form through the post can be catastrophic for a business. McCay Solicitors has devised an insurance product that covers the legal cost of any claim, as well as any compensation awarded. Gareth McCay, Managing Director explains; “We have been trying to develop this product for quite some time as we have seen so many businesses coming to us with employment claims. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good internal policies and procedures are, employees or ex-employees will bring claims. “Even the most misconceived of employment claims have to be defended and that comes at a financial and administrative cost in terms of management time. Whilst legal expense policies already exist, our policy is unique in that the client only deals with us from start to finish. “We provide the quote, the advice, decide whether the claim is covered and undertake the legal work to defend the claim.”



Services: Our team of solicitors provide bespoke legal advice in the areas of;

- Employment Law - Commercial Law - Civil/Commercial Litigation - Property - Family/Matrimonial - Wills & Probate

Our Offices: Derry~Londonderry Office: City Factory, 8 North Edward Street Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland, BT48 7EF (028) 7137 1705 Strabane Office: Unit 43 Strabane Enterprise Agency Orchard Road Industrial Estate, Orchard Road Strabane, Co Tyrone, BT82 9FR (028) 7187 8177

- Clinical Negligence

DUPONT CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF KEVLAR® PRODUCTION AT MAYDOWN Local team members from DuPont Maydown were joined recently at the Foyle Maritime Festival by a delegation of senior management from the company and Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr John Boyle, to celebrate 30 years of Kevlar® production at Maydown.

Maritime Festival, which explored and explained scientific and fun facts about our rivers, oceans and all things maritime. The interactive educational marquee was designed to encourage students and families to explore their maritime heritage through the ‘Science of the Sea’ theme.

DuPont, a world leader in science and engineering, and creator of Kevlar®, has been manufacturing the material at its Maydown facility since 1988, and is one of only three Kevlar® plants in the world.

Speaking at the event, DuPont Global Business Director, John Richard, said: “I’m here on behalf of the DuPont Kevlar® business but also on behalf of my global colleagues to recognise 30 years of Kevlar® in Maydown and the Derry-Londonderry area. This is actually my third visit to Maydown. It’s a fantastic community to have a business located and to see such nice wonderful people working and interacting with us as a company at DuPont.”

Known for its extraordinary strength, Kevlar® is a lightweight fibre that is, on an equal-weight basis, five times stronger than steel. It is best known for its use in protective garments worn by workers who face danger in their jobs, such as firefighters and police officers. It’s tough and durable, but also light, making it easier and less restrictive to wear. To mark the significant milestone and to continue the company’s commitment to supporting the next generation of Northern Ireland’s scientists and engineers, DuPont sponsored an exciting new ‘Science of Water’ feature at this year’s Foyle


Richard also added, “I really do think it’s important for any company, and DuPont in particular, to support the local economy. We’re here primarily because of the people and when you are looking for the best talent possible in the area, you need to be woven into the fabric of the local community. I think that over the time that we have been here, we have become great partners with the local community and that shows the quality of the people

that work in our organisation, they’re just great representatives both for DuPont, as well as for the community of Derry-Londonderry.” Paddy Campbell, who started working at DuPont Kevlar® over 19 years ago and is now the Maydown Plant Manager, shared: “I started working at DuPont Kevlar® in November 1999 and I’ve been here ever since. We have a great team of people at Maydown, and a great family atmosphere at the plant, which makes it feel like a huge team effort. It’s a fantastic place to work!” Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr John Boyle, also took time to recognise the contribution DuPont Kevlar® has made to the local area, saying: “I don’t think anybody could actually underestimate just how significant it is to have DuPont here in our community, working with our community, and employing people in our community. They are a company that has built an enormously successful reputation with people here locally. I’m thankful that DuPont has stayed here, because they have stuck with us through thick and thin and without that vote of confidence, who knows where we would have been.”

SMART DATA ANALYSIS FUELS ONLINE RESULTS Is your website struggling to get results for your business? It may be underperforming for a number of reasons, says Grofuse Digital Director Denis Finnegan.

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Your website may not be optimised correctly, it may not be fully responsive, or your current strategy might be attracting the wrong audience. Your existing site might simply be dated or provide poor user experience – the list goes on. If your site is not performing well in terms of generating online leads or sales, then seeking the assistance of a qualified digital marketer with strong commercial focus could be the spark that ignites your business growth online. Mr Finnegan says evaluating what has gone wrong with your current online presence is the best place to start before diving into new website development. He explains that Grofuse’s new GroSmart service is designed to do just that.


“Clients are provided with a detailed document outlining where the focus needs to be placed to improve results. The GroSmart service costs £375 (excluding VAT), for Connected readers the fee is £275 (excluding VAT) if purchased before January 31, 2019. Grofuse Digital Director Denis Finnegan.

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Inner City Trust Drives Regeneration of Derry-Londonderry CONNECTED talks to Helen Quigley, Chief Executive Officer of the Inner City Trust about their plans for the City’s future, following a very successful ‘Unlocking Prosperity through Heritage Led Regeneration’ conference, which took place in the Guildhall.

Mayor John Boyle of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Helen Quigley CEO of the Inner City Trust Group and keynote speaker Stephanie Meeks together with workshop leaders, organisers and key partners including Inner City Building Preservation Trust, Derry City and Strabane District Council, the Historic Environment Division, Department for Communities and The Honourable The Irish Society.


Helen comments, “The Inner City Trust was established to fundamentally support regeneration, restore heritage buildings and enable job creation within the local area. As a not-for-private profit organisation, we work to invest in the place and people of Derry-Londonderry.” The trust, along with its sister Trusts, the Waterside Development Trust and the Inner City Building Preservation Trust, pursue a comprehensive strategy of investing and re-investing, both directly and indirectly in a range of activities that help to improve skills of the local people, encourage the relief of poverty and champion urban regeneration. “The work of the trust varies significantly, from supporting a range of charities, with the theme of alcohol, drugs and suicide, to the strategic


intervention and redevelopment of listed buildings. All of which is funded by the management of a varied portfolio of buildings throughout the city, encompassing both general buildings, residential and listed buildings,” added Helen. Responsible for the rescue and revitalisation of some of the city’s most iconic buildings which took place over the last number of years, some of the trust’s previous projects include 31-33 Shipquay Street and the restored old Northern Counties building, which is now the beautiful Bishop’s Gate Hotel. These, alongside seven other listed buildings under their portfolio, are providing a stunning landscape for the city. Through the introduction of new job opportunities for the local people, such redevelopments play a significant role in enhancing the supplier economic model in the city. The Inner City Building Preservation Trust took the lead with its partners in Derry City and Strabane District Council, Department for Communities, Heritage Council Ireland and Ulster University in organising the “Unlocking Prosperity through Heritage Led Regeneration” conference which took place in the Guildhall over the 11th and 12th October.

focused on international best practice and learning through example when it comes to the challenges faced by walled cities around the world. “It was an amazing atmosphere at the conference, full of energy and new ideas for the city of Derry-Londonderry. I think everyone left feeling very much inspired and with a renewed sense of positivity. We have an ambition to continue to drive the city forward and the conference really reaffirmed that for us.” The ‘Unlocking Prosperity through Heritage Led Regeneration’ conference was made up of a number of key workshops including, ‘Destination Heritage’ by Andrew Palmer of Creative Tourist, ‘Creating Vitality’ by Wayne Hemingway of Hemingway Design, ‘Community Spirit’ by Guilia Vallone, Senior Architect of County Cork Council and ‘The Power of Small Change’ by Kevin Murray of Kevin Murray Associates. Highlighting the key steps to change within historic city centres including traffic management to encourage pedestrian permeability, repopulating historic city centres with ‘above the shops’ living schemes, student accommodation, hostels and Airbnbs. “We also had a social media workshop run via Ciaran Murray’s “Your Derry”

The work of the trust varies significantly, from supporting a range of charities, with the theme of alcohol, drugs and suicide, to the strategic intervention and redevelopment of listed buildings. Helen continues, “The conference brought together national and international experts in the fields of heritage, urban regeneration and tourism. We had some fantastic key note speakers in the form of Stephanie Meeks, CEO of National Trust for Historic Preservation USA and Matt McNulty, Managing Director of Tourism and Heritage Management Services.”

Facebook page. It was vital that we sought the opinions of those living, working and visiting the Inner City area that may not attend the conference. The feedback was fantastic and some of the ideas was touched on by the workshop leaders, but also brought new perspectives on public art, parking and how the Walls could be utilised throughout the year.”

With delegates attending, ranging from, planners, decision makers, policy makers, neighbourhood partnerships, community representatives and private sector representatives, the conference

“There was an all-encompassing agreement that the city of DerryLondonderry whilst currently doing well, has all the components to become a more successful destination and

through positive collaboration, great lengths can be made in enhancing Destination Derry.” “Going forward, we have a number of points of focus following the ‘people first’ message, including increasing pedestrianised areas and those living in the city centre, as well as re-energising the night time economy within the city centre, creating a collaborative marketing plan for heritage offerings and focusing on the ‘old city’ as a core element and heart of the Derry City destination strategy. Animation of the City and the Walls was also a central point of discussion.” The remaining information from the conference will be put together into a framework for action which hopes to support the Council, Department for Communities, Historic Environment Division and a range of organisations dedicated to making the city of Derry-Londonderry a more prosperous place to work, live and play. Helen concludes, “The important role that heritage can play in ensuring our future was clear from all the contributions from the leaders, speakers, attendees and feedback from social media. The strong message coming from the conference was that through thoughtful strategy, commitment and real partnership, our city of DerryLondonderry can become a very prosperous place for all our citizens.” For more information on the inner city trust, visit

Bishop’s Gate Hotel.



Huge Investment for Sproules Jewellers Specialist jewellers, Sproules, based in Derry-Londonderry has announced a £500k investment, which includes the refurbishment of their current premises and marks the company’s further expansion into ecommerce. CONNECTED recently caught up with Managing Director, Nigel Sproule, to find out more about the recent investment. “Our new store is the result of an extensive five-month build programme, which has seen the restoration and upgrading of our current premises on Carlisle Road. The unusually curved building has been completely transformed and we’re extremely excited to unveil our new 2,500 sq.ft., state-of-the-art store.” Speaking about the refurbishment, Nigel said, “For over 60 years, we have been providing unrivalled customer service to our valued customers and now we want to enhance that customer experience for those who visit the store.

Ongoing work at Sproules Jewellers.


“Purchasing a piece of jewellery is an experience in itself and we want to ensure our customers get the red carpet treatment. Sproules is unique in that we offer an on-site watchmaker and goldsmith and we have a team of diamond specialists, regularly travelling the world to attend trade exhibitions to choose ranges for the next season. We’re also passionate about showcasing emerging designers and we offer a bespoke design service to all of our customers. “This service has proved extremely popular with those seeking engagement and bridal jewellery and we’ve taken this into consideration with the creation of a bespoke area in our new premises for our engagement and bridal customers. The first floor has been completely redesigned with luxurious finishes that will be complemented with a prosecco bar, offering an amazing 250-degree view over the city.”

CGI images of Sproules Jewellers refurbishment of their premises.

Maintaining and improving the customer experience is something that Nigel and his team is passionate about but feels that it is becoming less of a priority for others in the modern age of digital and online technologies. Nigel explains, “For our industry, we feel that the customer experience is more important than ever. Our customers have high expectations and when you choose a piece of jewellery, particularly when it’s something that you keep for a lifetime, it should be an experience to be remembered. You can’t get that experience when you are shopping or browsing online. “That said, we recently made the move into the world of ecommerce which has been a steep learning curve for us, but has been worth all of the pain. We have been introduced to a new and different customer profile that wishes to browse and shop online.

“We are finding that more purchases under £300 are being made online with 70% of those being made on a mobile phone. For purchases over £300, we have noticed that an increasing number of customers are choosing to browse online, but they still prefer to make the purchase in-store.” So from a one-man business set up by Nigel’s father, WJ Sproule in 1954 to 11 employees, a new and very exciting state-of-the-art store along with further expansion into the world of ecommerce in 2018, CONNECTED asked Nigel, “What’s next for Sproules?” The response? “You will just have to wait and see!” Sproules Jewellers officially opens their new refurbished premises in December. To view the company’s comprehensive range of jewellery, visit their website at



22-26 Carlisle Rd, Derry/Londonderry BT48 6JW

Tel: 02871 266994 CONTACT web:




Airporter announces £1million investment

Airporter’s new £1million purpose built facility at Springtown Industrial Estate in Derry.

The Derry-Londonderry based transport firm, Airporter, announced a £1 million investment in a new, purpose-built facility and hub as the company expands. Founded in 1996, Airporter now runs 30 journeys a day to Belfast International and Belfast City Airport from the North West, carrying around 155,000 passengers per year. In the last four years employee numbers have trebled with 30 drivers working for the company and 15 buses on the road every day. The company has grown from just two drivers and two vehicles, carrying 5,000 passengers in its first year in business. It now has a fleet of 21 vehicles. The new 14,000 square foot hub on a 2.5 acre site regenerates the former site of the old Lough Swilly Bus Company in Springtown Industrial Estate and is the result of a six-month development plan, kickstarted by a doubling of passengers in recent years. The hub includes on site servicing, fueling and bespoke bus washing with a range of new driver training and rest facilities.


Previously the company has invested heavily in digital technology which allows passengers to book tickets 24 hours a day from anywhere. Airporter bookings are almost 100% booked online. The announcement comes amidst a backdrop of concerns around the potential risks of Brexit and the lack of investment in infrastructure in the North West but there has also been reason for optimism after work on the A6 between Dungiven and Derry-Londonderry began, which should see travel time reduced once complete. Jennifer McKeever, Director of Airporter said: “This investment represents a real statement of intent for us at Airporter. Our expansion reflects our success and the growth in the number of passengers so far. “We now have a purpose-built facility fitted out to provide our team with a working environment which reflects the volume of business we do. This shows that as a company we’re always looking towards the future, we’re always looking to do better. “The investment in the site will allow Airporter to deal with anticipated future

Directors of Airporter, Niall and Jennifer McKeever

growth in demand, but also represents a considerable investment in human resources from a company that already puts a strong emphasis on employee training. “It’s also entirely necessary because demand keeps growing and that’s only going to continue. Last year was a record year for tourism in Northern Ireland and more and more people are coming to explore the North West. “The recent work that has started on the A6 will only make it easier for people to travel to and from the North West and the two main airports in Belfast. We expect that more and more people will use the service as the travel time will reduce even further once complete.”



Ian and Paul Curtis, business partners and brothers.

There is one name synonymous for eyewear in the city of DerryLondonderry, Curtis Opticians. Three Generations of the Curtis family have been at the forefront of eyewear in the North West, each driving the business forward, adapting to the changing needs of the customer, whilst staying true to their core family values.

jeweller, but turned to study optometry when the local community kept coming into his shop to fix their glasses. Having recognised a gap in the market and never one to shy away from a challenge, he officially opened Curtis Opticians in 1928, in the Diamond, in Derry.

Amidst their 90th anniversary celebrations, CONNECTED talks to business partners and brothers, Paul and Ian Curtis, of Curtis Opticians to chat about the company’s journey to date and how the company, despite its age, stays ahead of the game.

“It turns out a passion for optometry ran in the family, as Percy’s sons, my father, Derek and his two brothers, Harold and Noel, joined the company. With the introduction of Richmond Shopping Centre to the Diamond, it was then they made the decision to move to the Carlisle Road in 1978 and that has been our home ever since.

Paul Curtis comments “My grandfather, Harold Percival Curtis, known by the locals as Percy, is responsible for Curtis Opticians. He actually started out as a

“In the late 1990s, myself and Ian completed our own qualifications before joining the practice, by 1999 we were running the business in


partnership with our father and the rest, as they say, is history.” Curtis Opticians has grown significantly over the past few years, with over 70,000 patient records and 19 members of staff across two stores, the second of which was opened in 2001 in Dungiven, Paul and Ian have continued their grandfather’s legacy and taken the Curtis Optician brand into the modern era. Ian Curtis added, “Although we have hit our 90th year, we’re definitely not an old-fashioned company, however we still have those views and values on customer service. We are focused on ensuring that we have access to the latest advancements in technology both in the testing rooms and the shop floor.”


Through continual investment, Curtis Opticians utilises the latest in clinical testing equipment. Named as one of the first high street opticians in Northern Ireland to acquire an OCT screener, which allows for a 3D image of the back of the eye. This level of technology, which is typically found in hospitals, is instrumental in the early detection and monitoring of a range of diseases. “We are very proud of the technology which we use in both of our stores, and are therefore regularly selected by various frame, lens and equipment suppliers to pioneer newly developed products first in the UK and Ireland. I think that’s one of the reasons why our patients keep coming back, they know they are getting a thorough eye examination and award winning service with the most up-to-date technology. “We have developed a close working relationship with the local hospital eye departments, especially regarding paediatric eye care, and have liaised with local authorities on provision of specialist fitting eyewear for children with complicated prescriptions and fitting issues” With the capacity to service a range of needs, from every day eyewear to specialist fittings for all ages, Curtis Opticians has positioned themselves as the first point of contact for all optometry needs in Derry-Londonderry. “It’s quite clear to see that we have a very strong family ethos, and this transcends to, not only the management staff, but our employees and customers as well. We have grown our customer database since day one and we now have the privilege to serve the

Curtis Opticians utilising key technology.

fifth generation of customers whose ancestors would have come to my grandfather and father, it’s amazing to see that loyalty from the local people.” “Our customers return to us largely because of the level of customer service we provide in the store and that is a testament to our staff. Investing in our people is one of our fundamental business values, through training and continual opportunity for progression, our staff are positioned to offer specialist advice for all needs.” Having travelled with their staff to international trade shows across Europe and as far afield as Hong Kong, Curtis Opticians provides an extensive range of eyewear from the designer labels of Gucci, Chanel and the high street heroes, to some of the most beautifully crafted independent niche brands available, providing a service to suit any style and budget. “Although our store has a very luxurious feel, we want to ensure that we meet all needs of the community, which is where our competitive prices, high street brands and special offers for free glasses under the NHS comes in.” Being part of the community is an important aspect of their family brand. Curtis Opticians strive to support the local community through donations and sponsorship throughout the year, having most recently supplied sports goggles for the Oxford Bulls, a local football team made up of kids with Down Syndrome.

Curtis Opticians in the Diamond.

extra to local community. Being able to support the likes of the Oxford Bulls is such a joy.” An award-winning business, Curtis Opticians was named as the family opticians of the year in the UK and Ireland in 2015 and they have big plans to take them into the next milestone anniversary. “We have recently put significant efforts into the corporate eyecare market, working in collaboration with some of the leading local manufacturing, IT and engineering companies, focusing on specialist safety glasses, eye tests and access to screening equipment for their employees. It’s fantastic to see companies offer this level of duty of care for their employees and one we are happy to facilitate and advise on.” “To reach the milestone of 90 years is quite an accolade, our father Derek retired over eleven years ago and we are very fortunate to have spent our early careers working alongside him and having his experience as a mentor to push us towards our own futures in the business. I’ve no doubt that my grandfather and father are very proud of what we as a family have achieved and long may it continue.” For more information on the services provided by Curtis Opticians; visit, e: t: 028 7126 2652.

“Each year we set aside a budget which allows us to add that little bit



Flint Studios Offers Free Website Audits For Chamber Members Thanks to Belfast-based web solutions provider, Flint Studios, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce members can now benefit from a complimentary website audit. The team at Flint Studios will use their expertise to review the website’s navigation, design, technology, digital services and the overall user experience. Heidi Nicolls, Business Development Manager at Flint Studios, said: Offering a complimentary website audit allows us to help support Chamber members in their digital efforts. Upon completion of the audit, we will provide the business with an easy to understand report that clearly identifies any improvements which should be made in the future, ensuring that they understand exactly how to enhance their online presence. Today it is increasingly important that businesses, whether they have a brochure website or an ecommerce website selling products, keep up to date with technological advances and user experience practices. This website audit will allow Chamber members to identify how certain digital tools can be utilised in order to provide website visitors with an impeccable, seamless user experience. Flint Studios announced its partnership with Londonderry Chamber of Commerce earlier this year. The partnership has seen the company deliver a three-part series of digital workshops to both chamber and non-chamber members. These workshops have focused on Google


AdWords, eCommerce Google Shopping and user experience (UX). Pete Hanlon, Head of UX Design and director at Flint Studios, who presented the most recent workshop on 7th November at the Chamber said: An increasing number of businesses are recognising the value gained from investing in user experience as part of their online strategy. Users must be satisfied with their experience and be able to perform tasks and navigate with ease whilst building a trusted relationship with both the brand and the website. Neglecting UX can result in a website which frustrates and even alienates your users, and that can be detrimental to website conversions. Through our partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, we have the opportunity to share some of our knowledge with local businesses. We will review your website’s UX design, overall performance, and digital marketing activity - and provide feedback in an easy-tounderstand report.

Lorraine Allen, Events Manager at Londonderry Chamber of Commerce added: The Chamber is continuously identifying innovative ways to further support our members and we believe this audit undertaken by a team of skilled designers, developers, and digital marketers is a great way for local businesses to maximise their online potential. We recognise the need for businesses to have a thorough understanding of the digital world, and who better to learn off than the experts at Flint Studios To request a website audit, or to discuss your company’s website requirements, contact us on 028 7127 7489, email or visit


Great Day “fore” Lady Golfers at Roe Park Resort Women from seven golf clubs across Northern Ireland competed at the annual Elemis Spa Ladies’ Open at the Roe Park Resort, Limavady, recently. A popular fixture on the ladies’ golf circuit, the Elemis Spa Ladies’ Open is just one of the tournaments continuing to make Roe Park Resort a popular destination for competitive golfers. This year’s tournament attracted 108 female golfers competing for the top spot, as well as many spectators who enjoyed Roe Park Resort’s newly redesigned course and updated facilities. After the day of competition, it was Anne Kearney, Estelle Rose and Noleen McIntyre, from Roe Park Golf Club who topped the leader board. Following this year’s event, Lady Captain of Roe Park Golf Club, Shona O’Connor said, “We enjoyed a great day of competitive golf and I would like to thank all of

the ladies who came to Roe Park Resort for a fantastic event. The grand prize of £300 worth of Roe Park Resort vouchers continues to be a popular draw – we had golfers from seven clubs across Northern Ireland out on the course, as well as our own golfers from Roe Park Golf Club. “In addition to the superb course and lovely atmosphere, the tournament was great value, at only £5 entry fee for members and all the golfers left with a luxurious Elemis gift bag. All in all, this was a brilliant day out from start to finish.” Roe Park Resort Golf and Spa Manager Terry Kelly added, “Despite the unsettled spell of weather, the rain held off to provide perfect course conditions for all our lady golfers. Having Elemis as the title sponsor has made the tournament particularly popular and again, this year we continue to see great interest with many players returning to compete.

Terry Kelly, Golf and Spa Manager at the Roe Park Resort pictured with Lady Captain of Roe Park Golf Club, Shona O’Connor at the 2018 Elemis Spa Ladies’ Open at Roe Park Resort.

“With the 2019 Open Championship hosted in Portrush, we have seen an increase in people taking up golf with a new-found passion for the game. To cater to this, we recently completed a major investment programme totalling £1 million, transforming the Roe Park Resort golf course. In September, our driving range will also be refurbished so our outdoor bays can accommodate everyone from the amateur to the professional. We hope to see even more lady golfers at next year’s tournament on Monday 26th August 2019.”




£132.50 PER PERSON



Strategic Growth Plan basis for City Deal bid Strabane Fireworks.

Driving growth and prosperity across the entire North West City region remains top of the agenda for Derry City and Strabane District Council as it continues to work in collaboration with officials from Government, key stakeholders and statutory and support partners to deliver on the eight outcomes set out in its inclusive, Strategic Growth Plan to drive social, economic and environmental wellbeing across the City, District and wider North West Region. Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Chief Executive John Kelpie says significant progress has already been made in delivering on the actions within the Strategic Growth Plan. Strategic Outline Cases (SOC) for each of the catalyst projects identified within the plan have been drafted for consideration within a City Deal proposal. These projects will be presented to the respective lead Government departments with a view to quickly reaching agreement on a Heads of Terms for a City Deal for the DerryLondonderry and Strabane in the coming months. He said: “After a significant co-design process our Strategic Growth Plan has been agreed. Our economic modelling shows that if we deliver the key projects within the plan we will drive prosperity and wellbeing within this region and ‘turn the curve’ on forecasted trends. The Strategic Growth Plan has already been recognised by senior officials as a positive blueprint for change


The Guildhall.

here and we will continue to drive these plans forward to build on the fantastic work that has been done in terms of capital development, building international trade relations with Dalian in China and Boston, Philadelphia and New York, and establishing very strong collaborative cross border links. Our Strategic Growth Plan presents a very solid base on which we have based our City Growth Deal. The announcement by the Chancellor in his Autumn Budget statement that he is opening negotiations for a City Deal is hugely significant for us and it will help us deliver on some of the

key catalyst projects within the plan.” The Council chief outlined how the primary focus of securing a City Deal is to provide investment for the projects within the Strategic Growth Plan that present the greatest potential for job creation, helping to leverage private sector investment and build on the foundations to build and create opportunities that will contribute to sustainable growth and economic development. He said that key to the delivery of the Strategic Growth Plan and the development of City Deal proposals


is the strong partnership and collaborative approach that is in place to support it. “We have a strong collaborative partnership structure in place. Over the past number of years we been working with our regional partners in the business, community and voluntary sector and public bodies as well as our political representatives in delivering the plan and progress with our ambitious plans to transform the North West city region. “We have ensured that our Strategic Growth Plan is aligned with the Programme for Government and the City Deal projects relates to the Chancellor’s focus on innovation and skills. The expansion of Ulster University is at the core of our plan in helping to bring about high growth in areas of high impact such as robotics, life sciences and artificial intelligence.”

The North West at night.

John Kelpie added that among a number of key economic projects within the Growth Plan have been identified as key catalyst projects for delivery with the support of a City Deal. They include a number of strong innovation projects including the Cognitive Analytics Research Lab (CARL) at Ulster University and the Centre for Stratified Medicine at Altnagelvin, which are already delivering ground breaking work. “We are building on the substantial investment made by Council and our statutory and support partners to date in the early delivery of the Strategic Growth Plan and believe the City Growth Deal provides us with another mechanism for delivering on the some of the key projects within the Plan, which will have a transformational effect, filtering into every aspect of life here,” he said. Referring to the recent announcement by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement, John Kelpie said the announcement came a few months following his visit to the city when he met with the Mayor and key stakeholders to discuss our Strategic Growth Plan and the potential support a City Deal could provide to it.

The Tinneys at night.

“Since then the Council has been in detailed engagement with senior officials from the Northern Ireland Office and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Council also led a delegation to London in September where the City Deal Vision and Outline Bid proposal was formally submitted and we also hosted a hugely successful City Region Economic Summit where the focus on securing a City Deal was very much to the fore. “Our Strategic Growth Plan and its supporting City Deal Vision and Outline Bid are detailed documents which

encompasses all the projects which will transform the Derry/ Londonderry and Strabane District area. The feedback to date has hugely positive and supportive and the Council remains fully committed to continue to work closely with our partners in the weeks and months ahead to deliver on our plan, including submitting detailed cases for each of the catalyst projects. We are confident that securing a formal City Deal agreement in the near future will further assist in our commitment to delivering the projects within our Strategic Growth Plan.”



business advice Chamber Members share their expertise and advice on some of the key topical issues. Have a read. FEELING STRESSED AND OVERWHELMED IS HAVING A HUGE IMPACT ON MY WORK PERFORMANCE. WHAT CAN I DO? Often this overwhelmed feeling can lead to a sense of not being in control. Therefore, it’s important to gain back a sense of control. Never underestimate the impact of small changes. Here are a few tips to help: Pause and breathe: stopping allows you to become grounded and gather your thoughts, unhooking from any negativity. Draw a mind map: put all the things on your mind down on paper in bubbles to capture them and get a visual sense of your thoughts. Add actions to each point. Ditch the snooze button: your morning routine sets you up for the day. By hitting snooze your focus is on staying in bed. Put your alarm on the far side of the room. Get up, eat breakfast and leave on time. Night time routine: choose to have a cut off time thinking about work. Prepare your clothes, lunch and focus for the morning. An hour before going to sleep switch off all social media and leave phone/laptop out of the bedroom. There is no denying a huge workload, but changing perspective can make all the difference, never underestimate the small steps! Helen McDonnell Personal & Professional Coach, IndigoLife Coaching




A negative murmur online can these days quickly transform into a full-blown PR disaster, if not managed effectively. Certain PR crises require very particular measures, well-honed skills and good media contacts to help safeguard reputations. The best advice is to have a pre-prepared bespoke crisis management plan. In the absence of any plan when excrement hits the fan, organisations are best advised to observe some general governing principles of crisis management. 1 Be cool – Acting fast is important but being composed is crucial. Gain a full understanding of the situation and avoid knee jerk reactions. 2 Be empathetic – Understand the position/feelings of those who are aggrieved. 3 Be proactive - Acknowledge the incident and its repercussions. 4 Be transparent - Accept responsibility, explain how you are resolving the situation and highlight steps taken to ensure no reoccurrence. 5 Be apologetic - Say sorry publicly to those affected. 6 Be advised - Invest in your future by hiring a PR professional. Handling a PR crisis may be alien to you, but experienced PR crisis managers will maximise the protection of your organisation’s reputation.

To get a wider range of applicants, the vacancy should be advertised on which is the Department for Communities online vacancy service. Employers can register and create an account on Employers Online via and automatically upload their vacancies. Once validated, they will appear on Job Centre Online. To have the vacancy further promoted in neighbouring counties in the Republic of Ireland, employers should register with Jobs Ireland on to post the vacancy and this will be highlighted to jobseekers across the border. All vacancies posted on Jobcentre online are automatically lifted to the EURES (European Employment Services) website on eures.europa. eu, but if an employer seeks to recruit from Europe and they tick the ‘blue flag’ symbol, then the vacancy will be actively promoted to jobseekers across the European Union. EURES staff will liaise directly with European colleagues to promote vacancies in other European countries.

Ian Cullen Director, PR Team

EURES can provide a consultation on a company’s individual recruitment needs and if required, arrange a tailored recruitment project for individual companies in their chosen country. All services are free. Joe Lavery Northern Ireland – Ireland Cross Border Coordinator, European Employment Services Parnership (EURES)




Performance management is a day to day responsibility that every manager must carry out in order to be effective. A key element of good performance management is direct contact with the employees – face to face conversations wherever and whenever possible.

The Supreme Court has decided the Asher’s “Gay Cake” case and to many people’s surprise the bakery’s appeal, that its refusal to provide a cake with a message supporting same sex marriage was not discriminatory, has been upheld.

With the HMRC ‘Making Tax Digital’ deadline less than six months away, business should use the opportunity to make a step change. Digital cloud based accounting software has significant advantages over the traditional ways of bookkeeping.

At HR Team we use our BET system to help our clients manage the performance of their teams. BET stands for Basic Standards, Expectations and Targets: the three key factors which when explained by managers and fully understood by employees – have led to proven results in promoting strong staff performance. When employees know what their non-negotiable basic standards (ie. time keeping, code of conduct, sickness policy etc) are; what exactly is expected of them (clear job descriptions) and the goals they are working towards (deadlines, financial targets, productivity targets, wastage targets, sales targets etc.), then performance can easily be improved.

The case has left a large degree of uncertainty surrounding the extent to which a business can rely on the idea that they are objecting to “the message, not the messenger”. The decision, while striking a blow for free speech, has blurred the limits of discrimination law and does not provide any answers to the practical problems surrounding the “clash of rights” in a commercial setting. The case was very much decided on its own unique facts, so it does not require knee-jerk reactions or overhauls of equal opportunities policies. It is still the case that refusing to provide someone a service based on their age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, political opinion, gender or disability is discriminatory.

Imagine if you could: • See a clear picture of your current financial position, in real-time, wherever you are; • Have your accounts 100% online, so there’s no software to install and everything is backed up automatically; • Avoid upfront accounting software costs, meaning upgrades, maintenance, system administration costs and server failures are no longer an issue; • Have your bank feed your data directly into your accounts on a DAILY basis; • Take a photo on your phone of a purchase invoice and it was posted automatically; AND • See your results, debtors, creditor, stock and your business bank balance 24/7, 365 days from your phone.

Breda Cullen Director, HR Team

Gareth McCay Managing Director, McCay Solicitors

Digital Matters. Dawn McLaughlin Principal, Dawn McLaughlin & Co Chartered Accountants


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MCDONALD’S STRAND ROAD NEW LOOK RESTAURANT WELL RECEIVED BY CUSTOMERS The McDonald’s restaurant at Strand Road reopened its doors in July following significant investment, which has included a major digital makeover, as well as a new dual lane drive thru. Located in the heart of the city, the restaurant currently employs over 100 people and is open 24/7. The refurbishment has been welcomed by customers who are now experiencing faster and easier ordering, as well as the option to use one of four self-order kiosks. These allow customers to browse the menu, look at nutritional information and personalise their meals, thus offering more time to consider their food and drink choices. These changes have been designed with customer needs in mind, and the customer care team ensure the process is as quick and easy as possible. Aaron McGinty the business manager at Strand Road said, “The newly refurbished Strand Road restaurant is an exciting new offering and we are delighted to be providing our customers with this premium experience. Since reopening earlier this year, we have had great feedback from customers who are really enjoying the new look restaurant and also the digital innovations that have transformed it.

The refurbishments at the newly reopened McDonald’s Strand Road included a major digital makeover.

“Table service has also been introduced, which aims to take the stress out of finding somewhere to sit when carrying food, potentially with children, bags and buggies. Feedback has so far been positive - families can enjoy the ease of not having to leave children unattended while queuing, and customers now have more time to relax and chat with friends and family. “We now also offer a dual lane drive thru which operates 24/7, enabling two orders to be taken at the same time -

meaning an even quicker service for customers. In the kitchens, new lay-outs and increased technology ensures McDonald’s iconic products will be made to order for customers, with every order being freshly prepared. “McDonald’s constantly strives to deliver new innovations and provide a unique and premium experience for its customers. With quality at the heart of the business, staff have really embraced the new restaurant, along with all of the exciting new features. We look forward to continuing to work together to deliver quality food, first class service and market leading innovations.” As well as investing in the local economy, McDonald’s Strand Road is involved in the community through its partnership with Maiden City FC which spans over a decade. The longest standing supporter of grassroots football in Northern Ireland, McDonald’s continues to champion those who enable children and young adults to play and enjoy football, regardless of gender or disability. McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in Derry-Londonderry in September 1995 and today employs over 300 people locally in Strand Road, Foyleside Shopping Centre and Crescent Link.

The McDonald’s Strand Road staff.


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Diversified Business Paying Off for Foyle Port As we dive headlong into Brexit, Foyle Port is embracing the challenge as it prepares for the proposed exit of the UK from the EU. Straddling the border, it presents the Port as a classic case study that is grabbing the interest of many. Operating cross border with its jurisdiction stretching from the Craigavon Bridge in Derry City to Greencastle in Donegal and across Lough Foyle to Magilligan, it is recognised by both the UK and Irish governments as the competent harbour authority for the area. But any threats that Brexit may pose have been offset by the Port’s latest financial results which show a new record turnover of £9.1million, with an operating profit of £1.8 million for the 2017/2018 financial year - its sixth year of consecutive growth. Brian McGrath Chief Executive of Foyle Port.


It’s the continual reinvestment of all profits that allows the Port to improve the business and upgrade facilities, giving it the ability to undertake a period of significant capital investment, including a recent expansion in

the harbour estate by 23 acres and increased capacity of the marine fleet at the Port. Chief Executive, Brian McGrath is in buoyant mood and praises his team for maximising profitability and says that the potential of the Port to add jobs and lead growth into the future is an exciting prospect. “The outstanding corporate performance of the organisation, year on year, demonstrates the strength of our operational team”, he stated. “The Port’s location at Lisahally underpins our key position as an Atlantic gateway for the United Kingdom and Europe. The Port Economic Zone naturally sits across the wider City Region and with multi deep-water terminal locations within the harbour, and an extensive port landbank with close proximity to industrial power, we are ready to play our part as an industrial platform in support of a City Deal for Derry-Londonderry.” “Our strategy was set out several years ago and since then our performance has outstripped targets and the Port business has


Foyle Port Director George Cuthbert.

continued to grow. This model has increased our resilience and put Foyle Port on a strong footing to meet any challenges that lie ahead. Foyle Port has the flexibility needed to adapt to a new commercial context and the innovation needed to capitalise on all new opportunities arising in the future.”

“Back in 2010 we knew we had a wealth of engineering talent at our disposal and we started to apply that expertise not only within the Port, but also for residential, industrial, commercial and renewable projects such as the Lisahally Biomass Power Station, wind farms and other types of infrastructure projects”, he said.

Consulting Engineers

“Our Engineering Principal, Peter O’Connor, has been central in building a team comprising both of highly experienced qualified Engineers and apprentices. We’ve got a great range of clients with more coming down the track and space to grow. It’s a great example of how we are expanding the wider operation at the Port to assist in delivering sustained growth over the best part of a decade.”

Foyle Port celebrated the Foyle Maritime Festival and Clipper Round the World Yacht race during the summer.

Steel Fabrication

“With the experienced staff we have already in fabrication and welding, we are adding new apprentices to meet the demand for our skills and expertise,” added George.

Expertise in a range of areas is helping the Port diversify and drive forward its success. One way it is doing this is through its engineering arm which has been growing alongside core Port activity. Overseen by Foyle Port Director George Cuthbert, Foyle Consulting Engineers was borne out of a demand for engineering services from initial concept through to construction in the immediate area. Now those services are also being delivered in the Republic and as far as England, working on private developments and with public authorities.

“Since the setup of the Consulting Engineering division, we have also branched out into steel

fabrication. Located within the harbour estate, the state-of-the-art facility with highly specialised equipment such as automated plasma cutting, offers both repairs and manufacturing of steel products for the agricultural, construction and marine sectors, as well as specialist port products including hoppers, grabs and lifting equipment.”

Business Confidence Port Chief McGrath is confident that whatever the next year brings, the Port has the capabilities to build on recent successful business performance. “Not only is our range of services doing well, but the core Port activity remains steadfast. We aren’t sitting back either, as we progress our planning for the development of the cruise ship terminal at Greencastle in Donegal, alongside other operational enhancements. The potential for the wider port economic zone is immense.”



ULSTER UNIVERSITY PARTNERS WITH DONEGAL COUNTY COUNCIL FOR TIP O’NEILL IRISH DIASPORA AWARD Ulster University recently partnered with Donegal County Council to host a number of joint activities around the annual Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award ceremony. The award, which recognises the achievements of a chosen member of the Irish Diaspora in their chosen field and their interest and support of Ireland and its Diaspora, was named after Thomas P. Tip O’Neill, American Politician and Statesman. Thomas, whose maternal grandparents hailed from Donegal, also served as speaker in the US House of Representatives between 1977 and 1987. 2018 recipients of the award included The Homes of Donegal Fundraising Committee who raised large amounts of money for the Irish Red Cross to distribute to those affected, after floods swept across the peninsula devastating homes and businesses. Ulster University hosted two of the award recipients from The Homes of Donegal Fundraising Committee, to discuss lessons about community fundraising with local community groups at Magee.

Dr Malachy Ó’Néill, Provost of the Magee campus, Head of Enterprise Donegal County Council, Michael Tunney, Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor of Ulster University, Donegal Diaspora, Joanne Kilmartin, The Homes of Donegal Fundraising Committee, Oran McGonagle, Community Engagement Manager, Claire Mulrone and The Homes of Donegal Fundraising Committee, Declan Houton.

Dr Malachy Ó’Néill, Provost of the Magee campus said: “We were delighted to welcome recipients of the prestigious Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award to our Magee campus. At Ulster University, we have strong links with the

O’Neill family and in 2015 we established the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, recognising the role they played in helping to create the conditions for Northern Ireland’s peace process.”

MUSIC@ONE – LOCAL AND GLOBAL MUSICAL TALENT TAKE TO THE STAGE AT ULSTER UNIVERSITY Ulster University is opening up its Magee campus for a weekly series of free live music performances. Music@ONE, coordinated by the School of Arts and Humanities, aims to showcase local musicians, as well as to bring international artists and visitors to the region. Staff, students and the general public are invited to come along and experience the world-class musical talent on show. The North West, a hub for musical talent, creativity and story-telling, creates the perfect environment for a programme such as Music@ONE to thrive. There are exceptionally talented students studying Music in Magee who have gained insight into what their future career might entail, some of whom have performed themselves as part of the programme. Dr Linley Hamilton, who has been instrumental in the development of the programme is a renowned trumpet player,


BBC Jazz Broadcaster and Lecturer in Music at Ulster University. Linley himself is a member of the Sazeracs, who will perform as part of Music@ONE. Linley said: “Music@ONE brings the best musicians across a range of musical genres, to perform at Magee, but in the process our students engage with professionals at the top of their game. “They get a chance to witness the logistics and preparation that goes into a worldclass performance, giving them the inspiration to achieve that for themselves. In addition, Music@ONE is open to everyone, further extending the University’s impact on the city.” A cohort of exciting musical artists will perform as part of Music@ONE, including Liane Carroll, the critically acclaimed Jazz musician, who will perform on Tuesday 27 November. Known for her mesmerising vocal talent and prowess on piano, Liane

Liane Carroll performing, photographed by Lisa Wormsley.

amazes audiences with her ability to truly interpret a song. For more information on the performances and stage times, visit

Upcoming Performances: November: 13th: Anthony Toner / John McCullough 20th: Sazeracs 27th: Liane Carroll December 7th: David Lyttle with Jesse Van Ruller


The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP, visited Ulster University’s Magee campus during a one-day visit to Northern Ireland

Manchester United Foundation workshops at Ulster University, Magee. Pupils are Katie Ferguson (St Cecilia’s College) and Shea Jackson (Oakgrove Integrated College). (Photo: Nigel McDowell/Ulster University).

MANCHESTER UNITED FOUNDATION AND ULSTER UNIVERSITY TEAM UP TO ENGAGE AND INSPIRE YOUNG PEOPLE Pupils from local schools in DerryLondonderry recently took part in “United… The Business”, a pilot enterprise programme delivered by the Manchester United Foundation and Ulster University. The programme aimed to inspire young people to engage more positively in education and increase their aspirations and skills so that they can achieve their full potential. Ten local schools were involved in the pilot on Ulster University’s Magee campus. This was the first time the Manchester United Foundation has delivered its education programme outside of Greater Manchester. Both Ulster University and Manchester United Foundation have a wealth of experience in delivering educational programmes to engage and inspire young people to build a better life for themselves and unite the communities in which they live. Throughout the programme, dedicated staff delivered interactive programmes and personal development, providing a range of opportunities for local pupils. In the final phase of the programme, the young people had the opportunity to put some of their

newly acquired skills to good use. They acted as Parade Ambassadors at the 2018 Foyle Cup at the Magee Campus and ball assistants and mascots at the Under 19s Manchester United versus Celtic match at the SupercupNI in July in Coleraine. Dr Nigel Dobson, Head of Sports Services, Ulster University said: “We were delighted to partner with the Manchester United Foundation on this pilot project to inspire and support local young people to achieve their full potential. With Ulster University’s strong reputation for sporting excellence and community engagement through sport, the Manchester United Foundation is the perfect partner.” John Shiels, Manchester United Foundation Chief Executive said: “Working with Ulster University on the ‘United… The Business’ programme has allowed Manchester United Foundation to reach into the Foyle learning community and engage young people using the world’s most recognised sports brand. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be working hand in hand with the University to create positive experiences and life changing opportunities for young fans across the Derry-Londonderry area.”

During his visit in July 2018, the Chancellor met with the Vice-Chancellor and other senior staff to learn about the work of the University, before taking a tour of the Intelligent Systems Research Centre. He visited the robotics lab and the Brain Computer Interface lab to hear about how the research being undertaken is having a positive impact on peoples’ lives and the wider economy. The Chancellor also took the opportunity to meet with senior stakeholders from across Derry-Londonderry to discuss the proposed City Deal for the region, in which Ulster University will play an integral role. Ulster University is looking forward to continuing to work with local partners to develop ambitious proposals for a Derry– Londonderry City Deal as Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paddy Nixon, explains: “I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that the UK government is inviting local partners to submit proposals for a Derry– Londonderry City Deal. I look forward to working with the local council and others to bring forward ambitious proposals for the government to consider.” The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said: “Northern Ireland is leading the way within the UK in productivity growth. I want to support this progress by inviting a bid for a DerryLondonderry City Deal, an opportunity for the region to continue to drive forward economic growth and build an economy that works for everyone.”

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP is pictured with Emmett Kerr, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at Ulster University.



what’s on January Mindfulness Workshops President’s Annual Lunch

February Business Awards Launch Mindfulness Workshops Speed Networking Café Conversations

March Workshops Meet the Buyer Business Lunch

April Workshops

May Eures Breakfast – Tax Seminar Café Conversations North West Business Awards

June Workshops Safari Speed Networking Event Business Lunch


Events Manager Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

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BECOME A MEMBER The Chamber of Commerce in Derry is widely recognised as the leading voice of business in the North West. It is one of the leading Chambers on the Island of Ireland and the second largest in Northern Ireland. We have a large and active membership of over 500 businesses, and a reach of over 6,000 from the smallest SME and sole trader to the largest corporations, and institutions. The Chamber supports local business by providing unrivalled networking opportunities, promoting members commercial interests and assisting member businesses to develop new and expanded export trade potential.

benefits 1 Make new business contacts

2. Promote your business

3. Start selling globally

4. Influence local policy


Business Development Executive Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

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unsung hero Name

Patsy O’Kane MBE Company

Beech Hill Country House Hotel Role/appointment

Owner/Manager (retired) I value and respect all my employees and as a result they respond in a positive way. They feel part of something they value, they are stakeholders and are an integral part of my business.

What is your favourite aspect of the job? Working in a Georgian Manor House which is steeped in history and heritage, Beech Hill has a distinctive feel about it - this feel is linked to culture and is a reflection of my beliefs and values.

Patsy O’Kane MBE.

Patsy O’Kane MBE has been the queen of Derry hospitality, since transforming the historic Beech Hill Country House into one of Ireland’s most famous hotels almost 30 years ago. Ahead of her recent retirement from the helm at the idyllic Ardmore hotel, Patsy’s former colleagues nominated her as CONNECTED magazine’s unsung hero. They are not the only ones to have honoured Patsy for her endeavours. In 2014 she was awarded an MBE for services to tourism and hospitality in the New Year’s honours list, while two years later she was conferred the Royal appointment of High Sheriff of Derry-Londonderry. Patsy has now handed over control of her beloved Beech Hill - where she dedicated almost three decades to ensuring the comfort of each and every guest. Those who visited will remember fondly the charming hospitality which comes so naturally to Patsy - US Presidents, international dignitaries, Hollywood stars, rock icons, literary giants, beaming brides and grooms, holiday makers from home and abroad, casual diners and many more.


During her last week in the job, our unsung hero spoke to CONNECTED...

How long have you worked at Beech Hill? I have been involved operationally since 1989 when my family purchased the Beech Hill Country House.

What does your job role involve? My role is very diverse, different challenges every day. New mountains to climb! Every day I have meetings with staff and customers. I share the short and long-term vision for Beech Hill. Little can be achieved on the journey to excellence without effective leadership. As a leader I set the example and inspire a motivated and dedicated team. To reach agreed goals all staff must be committed. The collective focus is always on building a great service experience. Nothing matters to me more than satisfied customers. Focus and direction are key drivers in the pursuit of excellence. I believe that with commitment, competence and motivation of my employees, we can achieve greater productivity, efficiency and quality, which ultimately contributes to the overall profitability of Beech Hill Hotel.

What has been the highlight of your career? There have been many highlights in my career to date - one of the most notable was being awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours in 2014 for services to Tourism and Hospitality in Northern Ireland. I was amazed and very humbled by it. I am very grateful and hugely honoured.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in business? Success in business life is never accidental - you create your own destiny. It starts with having a long-term vision, supported by clear and measurable goals. Set your goals so high that the greatest effort is needed to reach them. After all, the greater the goal, the less competition you have to fear. Benchmarking is crucial!

How would you describe yourself to someone who has never met you? I am a humble person with lots of energy and drive. I strive to offer a great service experience, which is focused on and meets customer expectations on a continuous basis.

What do you like to do outside of work? Collaborate closely with external agencies and trade bodies who are tasked with promoting our great destination.


marble hill brings wellness to life The last six months have been a busy time for Derrybased skincare company, Marble Hill, which was founded by medical doctor Maria McGee and is probably best known for producing the UK’s leading natural foot cream, PediSalve™. Marble Hill grew out of Dr McGee’s quest to find a substitute for strong steroidbased creams for her own family’s chronic skin problems. “I have always believed that prevention is better than cure“ she says. “Marble Hill is about getting people in good shape and keeping them well, not treating problems which can often easily be avoided by choosing natural options for skincare, rather than irritating, allergenic chemicals.” This positive approach has brought her company a number of prestigious awards and links with distributors, retailers and health professionals throughout the EU and beyond. Using only natural plant oils in their creams and water from the family well in Co. Donegal, Marble Hill produce a range of skin options which

have been life-changing for people suffering from conditions including eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, severe dandruff and diabetes. “We sell all over the world and while most of our business is online, it is equally satisfying to have our products available locally in pharmacies, health shops and podiatrists. We partner with a chain of pharmacies such as Liam Grimley’s Healthwise group and send our products to retail outlets in Kuwait, where we have been trading for nearly two years.” Education is key to helping relieve many of today’s epidemic skin problems, but it can be hard to get people to understand that the fragrant liquid hand washes and shower gels they love are doing them harm.

Dr Maria McGee with PediSalve.

“Many people do not realise that they are causing their own dry skin problems by using detergent-based wash products, but by changing to moisturising options such as our Neem bar, they can really see the difference. It sounds obvious but if you don’t wash the oils out of your skin or use products containing irritating, allergenic preservatives and fragrances, you are far less likely to suffer from skin problems like eczema or dermatitis.“ Skincare is by no means the only string to Marble Hill’s bow, their motto has recently been updated to “Invest in Wellness“, a reference to their new hemp oil range - including Marble Hill’s CBD oil which is available locally, in the wider UK and Republic and online. “We knew that people were looking for CBD (cannabidiol) but not always confident in the products they could source, so we have partnered with the only medically-owned CBD producer in the USA to make a premium option available to anyone who wants to experience the wellbeing benefits of CBD as a nutritional supplement.

“It is not all about CBD however, hemp oil is definitely a “sleeping giant” for wellness and I have now developed a hemp-based massage oil, CannaFlex® which was launched at the recent UK Pharmacy Show in Birmingham and is producing excellent results for arthritis and fibromyalgia sufferers. Massage is recommended by the Arthritis Foundation and the Fibromyalgia Association for relief of pain and has also been demonstrated by scientific research to improve mobility and circulation.” CannaFlex® has been blended to maximise the massage and is already in high demand. A CBD cream is already in development in response to demand from both customers and suppliers and is lined up for this summer to augment the range. Dr McGee feels that in Marble Hill she has found a true mission: “The natural approach is not a fad – it is a real necessity for so many families, from babies to the senior members and we already provide something for everyone in terms of skin care and healthy lifestyle.”

E: T: +44(0) 28 7135 7128 W:



Craft Training 1. Gary Doherty

Gary is Craft Training’s new Business Development Manager, responsible for cultivating both existing and new business over the entire province. He brings a wealth of leadership and management experience from a variety of industries.

1. 2.

Disability Action 2. Tommy Cairns

Tommy joined Disability Action in 2015 to take part in a project supporting people with disabilities into employment. He is now a full-time staff member on the project working with employers of all sizes across the North West to recruit people with disabilities into all sectors.

eha group


3. Caolan Irwin, Ryan Kearney and Patrick Bonnar

The latest group of trainee Quantity Surveyors has joined EHA Group. Caolan Irwin is working on a project in Plymouth, Ryan Kearney is at Springfield Road, Belfast and Patrick Bonnar is based at the Glen Road, Belfast. We wish them every success during their placement time with the EHA.

4. Valerie Hunt

Valerie Hunt started this September as a full-time receptionist in the head office in Eglinton. She has worked previously in Reception and Administration and is enjoying the new role. Welcome to the team Valerie!


5. 6.


5. Joanne Mulholland

EHA Group welcomed Joanne to the Specialist Joinery division. She is an Accounts Assistant and has settled in very well with the Joinery team.

6. Samantha Dang

Samantha joined the team at EHA Group in October. She is a Construction Administrator and brings great experience to the role. Welcome to the team Samantha!

New Appointments Section in partnership with MPA Recruitment



JT Physiotherapy


9. Chloe Sexton


Chloe joins the JT Physiotherapy team in Derry as a Chartered Physiotherapist. She graduated from University of Brighton in 2011 and is a highly motivated physiotherapist, with experience working within the public and private sectors including MSK, orthopaedics, medical, cardiothoracics and respiratory.


Chloe is HCPC and CORU registered as well as being a member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists. Her main interests are yoga and pilates and she enjoys incorporating this into practice and education with patients.

McCay Solicitors 12.

10. Aaron Mullen

Aaron has been appointed to McCay’s litigation team in its Derry office. He has recently qualified as a solicitor in England having trained with a specialist litigation firm in Manchester.


11. Eleanor McFeeters

Eleanor has been appointed to McCay’s property team. She has returned to the North West after spending eight years at a firm in Liverpool and will work across the firm’s Derry and Strabane offices.

The Muff Liquor Company JC Halliday & Sons 8. Simon McMichael

flybmi 7. Colin Gracey

Colin is flybmi’s sales manager with responsibility for the London-Derry Air service. He is a native of Northern Ireland with over 30 years’ travel trade experience.

Simon is the Sales Manager, having spent 12 of the last 13 years in the motor industry. He brings great enthusiasm and professionalism to the business as well as his strong ethos of customer care. This is something that has been engrained in all the employees at JC Halliday and Sons. During his time within the motor industry he has achieved many awards, achieving top 10 sales executives in the UK, two years in a row as a salesman. As a manager he has earned several certificates for managing, customer service and selling to local business users.

Finding talent for our partners throughout the North West for over 20 years Contact Paul McQue MD MPA Tel: 028 71 360070 (M) 074 1479 3560

12. Niall McColgan

Niall is the newest addition to The Muff Liquor Company and has been appointed as their Irish Brand Ambassador. Niall came on board in July, his enthusiasm, drinks’ knowledge and mixology skills attracted The Muff Liquor Company’s attention. He has an impressive 10+ years of award winning hospitality experience behind him. Niall’s job is to advocate the brand and educate consumers and bartenders through the many cocktail and Muff gin events he has hosted over the past few months.


Welcome to The Chamber CONNECTED is highlighting some of the Chamber’s newest members. Let us introduce you to the wider range of members that the Londonderry Chamber represents across the North West. Will your business be featured in the next edition?




Alchemy is a newly created European Centre of Excellence for the implementation of leading core technology offerings to drive Digital Transformation in the UK and European Insurance market.

As an authorised Mercedes Benz aftersales and warranty agent and stockists for the new Turas Lou’s range, Donegal Commercial Vehicles boosts a fully functional heavy commercial garage which includes services such as fleet maintenance, vehicle rental, servicing and repairs for CVRT testing.

Glenturas Construction Ltd continues to deliver building and civil engineering works to the highest standards within the construction industry. With particular expertise in Windfarm work, where they undertake large volumes of cable laying and the construction of sub-station control buildings, Glenturas Construction Ltd has continued to expand and have undertaken large scale groundworks projects in sub-contract formal.

IndigoLife Coaching provides personal and professional development coaching services to individuals, businesses and organisations – creating personal strategies for a future of possibilities.

Bell Architects creates beautiful bespoke buildings which are environmentally-friendly, functional, and a joy to live or work in. Their practice has been focused on combining excellent architectural design with environmental awareness – not just for the sake of it, but for the benefit of future generations.

Founded in December 2013, FinTrU is a multi-award-winning financial services company that is committed to giving local talent the opportunity to work on a global stage with the largest international investment banks. FinTrU provides its clients with high quality, cost-effective, near-shore resourcing solutions.

Located in Victoria Bridge, Strabane, Greg Mitchell Motors is an independent car dealership supplying quality used cars and light commercial vehicles in Northern Ireland. Having recently become a MG dealership, Gregg Mitchell Motors has a handpicked selection of quality used cars and 4x4s, which are all competitively priced within the market.

Lawlink NI work closely with solicitors, financial institutions and other professional bodies to provide prompt and accurate searches on companies and individuals who buy, sell and remortgage property.

Disability Action is a Northern Ireland Charity that works with people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, hidden disabilities and mental health disabilities. They provide help in a number of ways, including advice and support for employers considering employing somebody with a disability or who need advice to support an existing disabled employee.

Gerard Gormley Photography has been passionate about photography for from day one, from the days of the darkroom to his digital camera today, storytelling is at the heart of what he does.

In Your Space is a Derry-Londonderry based circus and street theatre company. Their work, which primarily covers Northern Ireland and Donegal, includes a circus school for children from the age of three years, and a creative agency which develops packages of animation, workshops and street theatre pieces for events and festivals.

A family owned business founded in 1966 by Jack Lockton, Lockton LLP is the world’s largest, privately owned broking/ risk management company and largest commercial Insurance broker in Northern Ireland, placing over £65m of premium annually.



Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) is a vibrant, dynamic and modern learning environment where you can pursue your academic and career ambitions with confidence. With 120 programmes across four schools of business, tourism, engineering and science, LYIT courses are as diverse as their student body and range from one to four years, combining academic theory with practical skills development.

The Muff Liquor Company was established in 2017 by Donegal native Laura Bonner and her business partner Tom Russell. Producing premium handcrafted distilled spirits, Muff Liquor launched their flagship product, Irish Potato Craft Gin in February 2018, a fresh and vibrant gin that carries sweet notes with a smoothness that is the direct result of the potato base. It is infused with nine different botanicals including mandarin, lemon, rosemary, and elderflower.

Founded in 2011 by Roisin Crawford, STEM Aware allows children and young people to relate to STEM in everyday life through interactive learning and play. Through the progression of the business, STEM Aware has achieved the development of STEM Kits and bespoke programmes to facilitate specific STEM industry needs. STEM Aware will get everyone to think like a scientist, operate like an engineer and play like a child!


MarcFive Ltd is a specialist joinery manufacturing firm, based in Northern Ireland. Currently supplying awardwinning kitchen retailers throughout Ireland and the UK with bespoke, made to order products. With a workshop scaling 25,000sq ft and a large team of highly skilled cabinet makers, MarcFive has the latest in specialist machinery and works hard to stay at the forefront of joinery manufacturing innovation. With further expansion plans and over 60 years in business, MarcFive continues to grow and adapt to the industry’s every changing needs.

Orenda Living, the sofa and chair company, specialises in luxury sofas and bespoke furniture for both commercial and retail application, based in their luxury new showroom at 4 Victoria Road, Derry-Londonderry.

Established in 1993 by the Canavan Family, Moville Boutique Hostel is a family run boutique perfectly located on the Wild Atlantic Way in the Seaside town of Moville, Donegal. The accommodation boasts family friendly rooms and apartments full of character in an enchanting woodland setting home to the Oldest Bridge in Ireland.

SmartPayNI’s acquiring bank, processes three billion transactions of over one million businesses. A leader in payment processing that offers world class technology, powerful payment solutions with the lowest cost, SmartPayNI is an internationally recognised payment processing platform.

Travel in style with Thrifty Car and Van Rental! Choose from their fabulous range of vehicles to suit all your rental needs. With a user-friendly website offering the best rates, the booking process is easy with Thrifty Car and Van rental. Specialist Jewellers, Sproules, established in 1954 unveils its new store in 2018. Now redesigned with two floors of luxury. Why not enjoy a glass of prosecco upstairs in their diamond and wedding ring boutiques or simply browse the latest collections of fine jewellery in their open plan ground floor. Bringing you the latest designs in both watches and jewellery. Have a chat with their in-house watchmaker and goldsmith, who can cater for those handmade one of a kind designs or meticulously repair your treasured sentimental items, or talk with one of our diamond specialists who can guide you through the process of selecting that perfect diamond. Let us exceed your expectations.

Tulla Construction Ltd is a DerryLondonderry based building company, providing a comprehensive range of services for commercial and residential properties. They specialise in new build, renovations, refurbishments and construction. As well as the ability to design and build bespoke kitchens tailor made to fit any home, the Tulla Group also provides a unique made to measure window service.


NEW GOVERNMENT ROLE TO BOOST NI FINTECH CONNECTED hears from Georgina O’Leary, Director of Innovation, Research and Development at Allstate Northern Ireland, who has been newly appointed as the government’s new FinTech envoy for Northern Ireland. FinTech is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK economy. It encompasses innovation in financial services including digital banking, payment technologies, peer-to-peer lending and crowd funding platforms. FinTech involves digitisation in banking and the insurance industry, usage-based insurance, creation of AI, and block chain and bitcoin development. The UK government is keen to ensure UK FinTech (financial technology) doesn’t only focus on London, but rather builds a network of regional FinTech envoys to help deliver that ambition in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The announcement of this new role was made by the Chancellor at HM Treasury International FinTech Conference 2018, where he launched the Government’s new FinTech strategy. Speaking about her two-year appointment, Georgina said: “I’m hugely excited to be taking on this FinTech envoy role at such a critical time for the UK’s FinTech and wider financial services industry. The United Kingdom has created a FinTech strategy and realised how London centric the sector had become. Therefore, work is being done to include other regions, such as Northern Ireland. That’s where I come in,” she explained. This appointment comes as six councils in Northern Ireland have submitted proposals to the government, which could create 20,000 jobs over 10 years. They hope to secure £1bn from the Treasury and other sources as part of a city deal. City deals are packages of funding and decision making powers, which allow councils to boost the economy through large projects, including FinTech. In her new role, Georgina will be responsible for promoting Northern

Ireland’s thriving FinTech sector and championing it as a place for firms to develop and grow their business. Georgina, a digital transformation leader at Allstate, is a highly accomplished technology expert in Northern Ireland (NI). She has over 20 years of experience in tech businesses from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. NI’s new FinTech envoy will have the opportunity to lend her expertise to major corporations, consultancies and start-ups, making her a perfect fit for this role. “I have a strong perspective when it comes to these locations. I also understand the skills that it takes to build digital organisations, methodology and successful products, and to meet the needs of FinTech,” explained Georgina. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said: “FinTech is the future of financial services, and we want each corner of the UK to be able to harness its power. Our new regional FinTech envoy for Northern Ireland, Georgina O’Leary, will help the sector to grow and flourish throughout Belfast and beyond. I want to congratulate Georgina on her new role. With her wealth of experience in the technology sector, I am certain she will build on the success of the existing envoys in helping the UK to remain at the cutting edge of the digital revolution.” Georgina says she is excited to get started and collaboration will be key to success: “Belfast is the number one destination globally for FinTech development projects. Northern Ireland offers financial services firms an innovative and high quality, cost competitive location. “What we have with FinTech is an industry characterised by very small start-ups and large institutions. I want to

Georgina O’Leary, FinTech envoy for Northern Ireland

encourage a culture and a system that, together with universities and the public sector, starts to answer the question of how we can make Northern Ireland a FinTech Hub. We already have worldclass universities. “The next stage is to cultivate an ecosystem where people who are emerging talent in this industry can go for help, access resources and finally collaborate for success. And ultimately ensuring that innovation can be turned into maturation and growth.” You can follow Georgina @ginaoleary2 and follow Allstate Northern Ireland at @ AllstateNI



Mental Health and Wellbeing at Work North West Regional College Champions Mental Health The North West Regional College aims to tackle the issue of mental ill-health firstly through the provision of a comprehensive Health & Wellbeing programme to ensure that our staff have the tools and support they need to manage their mental health in the workplace. This programme includes a number of wellbeing initiatives aimed specifically at dealing with mental health, to include a 2 day Mental Health First Aid course, a 4 day Mindfulness Programme, a 12 week yoga programme and a 4 week meditation session for staff offered during lunch times. Furthermore, the College widely promotes the use of ‘Inspire Workplaces’ amongst staff which is an independent, confidential source of support provided free of charge. Moreover, the College have partnered with Occupational Health, Risk and Disability Management Consultancy (OHRD Ltd) in order to improve our employees health and ensure that our staff know we have their health as a priority. The North West Regional College has championed the importance of mental health through a number of initiatives which aims to ensure each member of staff has the tools and support they need to manage their mental health in the workplace. A comprehensive programme of support throughout the year includes; a two day mental health first aid course, four day mindfulness programme, 12 week yoga programme and a four week meditation session which are available during lunch time, allowing staff to take time and switch-off from working life. Through the promotion of ‘Inspire Workplaces’, an independent and confidential source of support which is free of charge, and collaborations with Occupational Health, Risk and Disability Management Consultancy (OHRD Ltd), staff are secure in the knowledge that employee health is a number one priority for the North West Regional College.


CONNECTED joins the conversation of mental health, as the changing public perception continues to encourage businesses across Ireland to recognise the importance of offering a duty of care to their employees, regarding their physical and mental health. With one in four people experiencing a mental health problem each year in the UK, taking steps to manage an employees’ mental health in the workplace has never been more important. CONNECTED talks to Julie Pollock of Consult HR and she offers some of her top HR tips for effectively managing mental health in the workplace.

1. Ask the difficult questions There’s no denying that mental health isn’t the easiest topic to talk about especially at work and it is not unusual for business owners and managers to fear talking to staff about their health, but in reality, if you don’t ask the questions, then you don’t know how to help. Following absences, conducting return to work interviews will provide you with the opportunity to discuss the employee’s absence, identify early signs and put supporting measures in place to help the employee.

2. Don’t be the ostrich – early intervention is key 44% of people who suffer from stress have cited that the cause is heavy workload. In such situations, ignoring this only leads to the situation getting worse. Facilitate an open communication with your staff, listen to any issues they raise and seek a resolution early. If the employee does go off due to stress at work, ask them to explain what the cause of the stress is and work through a solution to enable the employee to return to work as quickly as possible.

3. Remove prejudice It’s essential that if an employee shares details of their mental health, that they are still given the same opportunities as other staff members. It is good practice to have conversations with employees who have cited mental health problems

and discuss how their work can be managed in order to help alleviate this.

4. Awareness sessions Educating staff on how to build their mental health resilience is an excellent way to reduce mental health absences and improve the overall wellbeing of staff. One way to do this is by holding an awareness week or awareness sessions at regular intervals throughout the year, inviting speakers to share their experiences or offer education sessions. Opening up the channels of communication is the perfect place to start.

5. Stress is not always created in the workplace We all lead very busy lives and commonly employees’ mental health suffers as a result of something that is happening outside of work ie. in their personal lives. External factors can still have detrimental impacts on an individual’s work. So, remember to acknowledge that they are working through a difficult time in their life and offer support where you can.

6. Encourage a stress-less environment Doing what you can to promote a stress-less work environment will work wonders. Start by instilling a good work-life balance, in which long hours and out of office emails are not a part of your company’s nature. Remember, employees who are less stressed are more productive. Appreciating employees and advocating empowerment can go a long way in promoting a happy team. Contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email to discuss further.

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MINDING STAFF MENTAL HEALTH BOOSTS BUSINESS WELLBEING Everyone wins when employers take steps to safeguard staff mental health, according to a leading human resources and employment law advisor. “People are intrinsic to the success of organisations and it is important to take steps to safeguard their mental health,” says HR Team’s Martina McAuley. “Every employer has a duty of care to staff to protect their health, safety and wellbeing. By doing this, employers improve performance, reduce absenteeism, bolster staff retention and more. In short, having robust policies in place regarding employee mental health can dramatically cut costs in the long term and have a very positive effect on the overall performance of an organisation,” Ms McAuley explains. She is urging local employers to ensure that workplace policies are in place to minimise the risk of mental ill health or stress-related illness and injury to employees. “If policies are not already in situ they should be implemented immediately in the interests of both the employer and the employed. Existing policies should be reviewed and revised. “Making this move protects the people who make your organisation tick and could save your business many thousands of pounds in the long run,” she adds.


Ms McAuley says employers are best advised to adopt a comprehensive strategy. She explains: “A strong focus should be placed on the promotion of staff wellbeing, the reduction of work-related mental health issues and the safeguarding of those experiencing mental ill-health. Risk assessments and stress management policies and annual staff satisfaction questionnaires can all be part of this strategy. “Taking these steps not only protects the individual but will result in a more engaged workforce. Staff who are engaged are generally eager to succeed and much less likely to underperform or take stress-related absences.” Ms McAuley also warns that employers cannot treat employees differently on the grounds of mental ill health. “It’s important to note that some mental illnesses will constitute a disability under equality legislation and as such are a protected characteristic within employment law,” she adds. Estimates suggest work-related mental ill health costs the UK economy up to £30 billion annually through lost working days, staff turnover and reduced productivity. The Centre for Mental Health charity estimates that employers can cut the cost of mental health by about a third, by improving

Martina McAuley of HR Team.

their management of mental health at work. Ms McAuley adds: “Overlooking the warning signs of mental health or stress-related problems is not a good move for employers as it can lead to high staff turnover or increased absenteeism. “Employers are advised to be proactive in their policies and practice. The right workplace support, in which positive relationships are promoted, can emphasise this culture.”

Ms McAuley advises that employers should also ensure strong lines of communication are evident across the workplace. “Staff need to be clear of their roles, expectations and responsibilities. Communication is a two-way process and an engaged workforce is more likely to be motivated and feel comfortable communicating and feeding back to managers.”


Creating personal strategies for a future of possibilities...

Helen McDonnell of IndigoLife.

Be honest…What do you think when you hear the words ‘mental health’? There is often a negative association to something that actually is positive as the World Health Organisation’s definition emphasises; ‘Mental health is defined as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’ From my first formal introduction to mental health when I was a Psychology undergraduate, 30 years ago, I have seen a huge shift in attitudes towards positive mental health. Indeed since starting my coaching practice 12 years ago, I see this positive shift with employers even more so. The world we live in today is fast paced and full of distractions, we are constantly accessible, bombarded with information and being overstimulated and find difficulty switching off. Cue my mission….To slow the world down, nanosecond by nanosecond! With over 25 years’ experience in mental health and development, I truly believe that being reminded of the innate resilience skills that we all have, everyone can pause, be in control and take responsibility for their own mental wellness. All the coaching programmes delivered by IndigoLife are evidence based approaches whereby individuals/ groups develop their own personal ‘user manual’ for good mental health and effectiveness. In the world of business there is a bottom line, which to a larger extent is dependent on staff performance, staff being the most important asset. Therefore supporting and guiding employee wellbeing should be a priority for good business sense. What are you doing to support your own or staff’s mental wellbeing?

Personal, Executive and Group coaching for: Increased Effectiveness Work / Life Balance Career Development Practical Mindfulness Self-esteem / Confidence Return to Work

t: 07719 302 988 e: w:


Jack and Jill Playgroup receives donation from Acorn Flood Fund.

With 40 years’ experience as philanthropy advisors helping donors locally, The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland begins with a donor’s wishes and how they want to make a difference. We connect people who care to causes that matter locally in Derry-Londonderry through the Acorn Fund. Since 2014, the Fund has provided over £200k of grant support to local groups, using arts and cultural activities to address social need and bring people together.

The Grant from the Acorn Flood Fund has been a life saver. We lost everything in the floods and needed to find alternative premises immediately for local parents who rely on the playgroup In 2017 the Acorn Fund provided immediate funding to local community groups devastated by the unprecedented floods. We quickly established a match fund for donors and funders who wanted to direct their giving to those facing crisis and raised over £40k.

Philanthropy Services

Community Need In recent years we have seen a huge increase in the number of applications which address the current crisis impacting individuals and families due to mental health conditions. In 2014/15 the Foundation supported nine mental health projects compared to 121 projects in 2017/18. In 2019, under the direction of a local donor, we will open a new fund, specifically to support groups working with men and boys who traditionally struggle to discuss

At the Foundation, we support those in need in our society, as well as those who are making a difference. We use our unrestricted endowment to get money to people who can’t fundraise for themselves or have the skills needed to generate income. We can provide match fund opportunities for both donor directed funds and community crisis funds. Ballykelly Men’s Shed ‘Using Old to Make New Project.

personal health issues. The MAN Fund will offer grant support to organisations working in this field. If you or your business is interested in supporting this crucial work, please get in touch for advice on how to donate.

The work we undertake with the men provides the opportunity to chat, be creative and ultimately feel connected to something really positive. 76

Central to our success is working in partnership, with donors and other funders, to target specific inequalities which prevent people from living the best life possible due to accessibility, mental health, isolation or human crisis issues.

There is growing interest to learn more about planned and effective giving and the options available. We offer advice to individuals, lawyers, accountants and wealth professionals on how to add philanthropy services to a team and give the right advice to a private, corporate and charity client about giving.

Helping You to Help Others Ask us about personalised, tax efficient match funding opportunities for you, your family’s, or your business’s giving locally. ”I’ve been giving to good causes for a long time but it’s time for a new challenge, which is why I decided to set up a charitable fund. I wanted to give something back.’” Alan Nappin Chairman of The ARN Foundation. For more information please visit For advice please email Shauna Kelpie: or phone 028 71371547. Twitter: @AcornFund


FINTRU’S SOCIAL PURPOSE IN CREATING HIGH QUALITY AND REWARDING EMPLOYMENT Founded in December 2013, FinTrU is a multi-award winning financial services company that is committed to giving local talent the opportunity to work on the global stage with the largest international investment banks. FinTrU provides its clients with high quality, cost-effective, near-shore resourcing solutions. Whilst FinTrU is managed as a profit-driven organisation, Darragh McCarthy, Founder and CEO, also considers FinTrU as having a social purpose to create high-quality professional employment on the island of Ireland. Headquartered in Belfast, FinTrU opened its new office in DerryLondonderry in October 2018, in Carlisle House on Horace Street. To ensure the delivery of a comprehensive and thoughtful wellness plan, FinTrU partnered with Health Matters NI in 2017 to develop and launch their health and wellbeing strategy, christened TrU Wellness. FinTrU placed huge importance on employee experience and, as such,

acknowledge that part of their overall engagement activity should be dedicated to promoting and encouraging health and wellbeing at work, both mentally and physically. FinTrU prides itself on offering a market-leading benefits package to its staff. This package includes private medical insurance, income protection, life assurance, an employee assistance programme, ‘Best Doctors’ and health screening. Also offered is a comprehensive health cash plan, which promotes proactive health and wellbeing support through cashback on massages, CBT, hypnotherapy, acupressure and much more. As part of the TrU Wellness strategy, FinTrU disseminates information in many ways including through in-house workshops, email communication, posters around the offices and office wide initiatives. In recent months, FinTrU has held talks in their offices from a number of local charities, around topics including suicide awareness and stress management. FinTrU also regularly hosts ‘Tea

An in-house workshop, part of the TrU Wellness strategy.

and Talk’ style events where staff are encouraged to simply take some time away from their desks and connect over a cup of tea with their wider network of colleagues. Physical and mental health are inextricably linked, so the culture in FinTrU promotes and encourages getting active in whatever way is best suited to the individual. Staff are empowered to set up clubs and teams in areas which they are particularly passionate. To date, FinTrU’s staff led clubs include GAA, football, yoga, walk and talk, high intensity interval training and fishing to name just a few! FinTrU CEO, Darragh McCarthy said: “TrU Wellness has been a wonderful initiative that has really impacted FinTrU’s already thriving culture. The HR team, in conjunction with the Health Champions across the business, have designed a robust annual plan that has attracted significant interest and participation from our employees. This, along with other people related initiatives, is ensuring that FinTrU continues to develop a first-class employee experience that enables us to attract and retain the best talent in our business.” The employee driven culture also plays its role in creating and organising events for charity partner, Include Youth. In the past 12 months, almost £20,000 was raised through events aimed at fundraising, including 65 of the team running the Belfast Marathon, and knowledge sharing such as interview skills sessions. Paddy Mooney, Include Youth Director said: “Our relationship with FinTrU began as a corporate sponsorship, but very quickly grew into a corporate partnership. We have gained much more than financial assistance from this relationship.”

The FinTrU team who ran the Belfast Marathon.

This type of work culture is a priority for FinTrU and represents a unique, diverse and supportive framework that gives everyone the opportunity to succeed, both in their career and personal lives.




Helping the Cross Border Jobseeker, Worker and Employer. Cross the border regularly for work? The EURES Cross Border Partnership can advise on tax, benefits, health entitlements, responsibilities and much more.

Advice and support for the cross border jobseeker, worker and employer. @crosseures This publication has received financial support from the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation “EaSI� (2014 - 2020). For further information please consult: