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December 2013 8




Business events – mark them on your calendar.



Thoughts from the region’s business community.



Ian Lowes, Lowes Grouop Plc.



New executive appointments.



James Godden, Gordon Brown Law Firm.



Brewin Dolphin puts sponsorship in the picture.





Duncan Young, Sanderson Young.



Peace & Loaf.



Paul Charlton.





Karen Carpenter, WDL Property Services.



Directors: Mike Grahamslaw, Mick O’Hare Commercial director: Martin Stout Editor: Alison Cowie Sales: Luccia Graham Editorial: Jessica Laing, Elise Rana Hopper Senior designer: John Haxon Feature photography: Chris Owens Additional photography: Penny Edwards

Office: 11 Causey Street, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 4DJ. | t: (0191) 284 9994 | f: (0191) 284 9995 | @NETimesmagazine Front cover: Clockwise from top: Phil Mustard (Durham CCC), Kyra Humphreys (co-leader, Royal Northern Sinfonia), Nicola Short (executive director, The Entrepreneurs’ Forum), Anthony Harrison (Team Northumbria Rugby) and Anthony Dorman (corporate executive, Theatre Royal) – by Chris Owen.

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High growth in the North East The proportion of high growth companies in the region rises by almost 20 per cent, according to report.


he Latest Entrepreneurs Index from Barclays and Business Growth Fund (BGF) shows the proportion of the North East’s high-growth companies has increased by 19.4 per cent from 2011 to 2012. The proportion of the North East’s high-growth SMEs have recorded a turnover of at least 33 per cent in the past three years, as well as 10 per cent year on year growth for a minimum of two of these years.

As a result, nearly one in five (19 per cent) mid-sized SMEs in the North East can be defined as high-growth. This Entrepreneurs Index is the third in an ongoing series; this is the first to track activity levels throughout the UK of the entrepreneurial life cycle, including startups, growth and share sales. The report reveals that the North East saw a 24 per cent fall in the number of active, growing companies recording share sales in the past year, which could

reflect potential investors being selective and North East entrepreneurs waiting for more favourable conditions to sell. Andrew Miller, director, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, Newcastle comments on the report findings: “Although the number of North East companies recording share sales in the past year has fallen, we are seeing many positive signs of entrepreneurial activity in the region and a sense of renewed confidence.”

Avoid Christmas party pitfalls


he Forum of Private Business is advising business owners to let staff attending parties know in advance what acceptable standards of behaviour are expected of them and make it clear that your usual disciplinary policies apply, even if the

party is being held away from the workplace. The forum’s business adviser, Joanne Eccles, explains: “With their mix of drink, high spirits and merriment, Christmas parties are still the number one source of potential problems.”


"Most of the regulations which govern the normal working day also extend to the Christmas party, wherever it might be held, so employers need to ensure they're not leaving themselves open to claims, complaints and time-consuming employee disputes."

Lindley Heritage scoops Sage contract

Durham CCC clean up at awards


age Gateshead, has appointed Lindley Heritage – the heritage, arts and leisure venue division of The Lindley Group - to manage and develop all aspects of its catering and hospitality services. Lindley Heritage clinched the fiveyear, £12.5 million catering contract after joining forces with award-winning North East-based chef and restaurateur, Terry Laybourne MBE, who will preside as consultant chef at the landmark venue. As well as providing catering and hospitality for all public events and private functions, Lindley Heritage will also work closely with Sage Gateshead’s in-house events management team to develop conference and banqueting opportunities.

urham County Cricket Club has won two awards, including the prestigious Team of the Year award at the ECB's annual Business of Cricket Awards (BOCA). The awards are designed to celebrate Marketing and PR excellence across domestic and international cricket. The four-strong judging panel, chaired by Karen Earl, former Chairman of Synergy, praised Durham for their creativity, initiative, astute commercial acumen and hard work. Durham CCC’s chief operating Officer Richard Dowson said: “We are delighted to have scooped these two prestigious awards during a hugely successful 2013 season for the club.”

Mincoffs advises on hotel purchase

Bond Dickinson work on Oman project



ewcastle law firm Mincoffs has advised on a multi-million pound deal which saw a North East based hotel and leisure entrepreneur acquire the Holiday Inn Seaton Burn. Neel Chawla of Ailantus Hotels, whose £12m turnover chain includes luxury hotels in Cheshire, Oldham, Yorkshire and Manchester, adds the 154 bedroom hotel to his growing portfolio.

Water company wins top award


orthumbrian Water has been named Business of the Year at the 2013 North of England Excellence Awards. The North East-based company won the top award at a ceremony held in Lancashire on November 14. It also won an Excellence award in the large business category.


awyers at Bond Dickinson, which has offices in Newcastle, have advised the Authority for Electricity Regulation in Oman on the procurement of the first renewable energy project in the Gulf state of Oman. The project, a 303 kilowatt solar PV project, will supplement diesel generating capacity and will deliver green electricity to a town in the west of the country.

Investment for cycling business


he Cycle Hub, a social enterprise situated on Newcastle’s Quayside, that promotes and facilitates cycling, has secured funding to assist with the refurbishment costs of its new premises.The social enterprise has secured a £25,000 loan from Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue.


Jo handed top honour


o Hand (left) has been named North East Female Entrepreneur of the Year at the 14th Women in Business (WIN) Annual North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Speaking after picking up the trophy at a ceremony at the Gateshead Hilton, Jo, whose agency Jo Hand Recruitment is based in the Tees Valley, said:“Considering the calibre of the business women in the room I felt humbled and very honoured to win the award. Their stories are amazing. I have worked very hard in the last eight years to get to this point and my family have been very understanding and very supportive. I also have a fabulous team working with me and I could not have won this award without their hard work and support.”

Mintprice joins with Spicers


he price comparison website for office supplies,, has signed an exclusive deal with industry giant Spicers. is now featuring all 17,000 lines in Spicers’ office supplies and stationery catalogue via a partnership linking the wholesaler’s resellers with the site.

Awards recognises tourism industry


orth East England Tourism Awards 2013 took place at St James’ Park last month. Winners included Lindisfarne Gospels Durham which won two Gold as well as National Trust Gibside in Gateshead, Seafield Caravan and Leaplish Waterside Park, at Kielder.







Lucia’s Italian Kitchen Tel: 01325 486666 Web: Email: Price: £14.95 per person Yarm-based restaurant, Lucia’s Italian Kitchen, is playing host to a special fashion event with fellow Yarm high street retailers, such as Monsoon Interiors and The Little Bra Shop, in aid of Breast Cancer Care. Guests will receive a glass of bubbly on arrival and a two-course Italian meal, before they take in the latest trends and Christmas offers from some of Yarm’s retailers.



Copthorne Hotel, Newcastle Tel: Web: Email: Price: Free (£50 +VAT per person for an exhibition stand)

Save the date Charity balls, business dinners and seminars.




Wynyard Hall, County Durham Tel: 01740 665414 Web: Price: £40 per person

Darlington Town Centre Web: Christmas shoppers are encouraged to show their support for independent retailers by taking part in a day-long scheme, designed to promote trade and raise awareness about a host of small businesses, charities and organisations in Darlington town centre. Backed by Distinct Darlington, shoppers will enjoy “free after 3” parking and a festive ice rink at the town’s Market Square.




Music Slash Art, Newcastle Tel: (0191) 232 5690 Twitter: @ShineNetworking Email: Price: £12 per person



Jesmond Dene House, Newcastle Tel: (0191) 212 3000 Web: Email: Price: £35 per person Beginning on December 8 and continuing on December 15 and Christmas Eve, Jesmond Dene House invites guests to take a break from Christmas shopping and treat themselves to a Champagne afternoon tea in the hotel’s Great Hall. The event includes a glass of bubbly, sweet treats and seasonal music on piano and saxophone by Graham Brown from The Paul James Band.

The NECC’s flagship networking event aims to encourage an exchange of experiences, ideas and offers between NECC members, combined with opportunities to network and build new contacts. At this a structured yet relaxed event, members are invited, in a round table setting, to share ideas and challenges. Delegates can network around a mini-expo and take part in a trading board, making ‘offers’ and posting ‘wanted’ ads.



Following its launch event this autumn, SHINE networking group organisers are bringing the North East’s young professionals once again for a speed networking event, with a festive twist. Held in the underground space of Music Slash Art, from 6pm, guests will enjoy welcome drinks on arrival, followed by a hot buffet and the chance to speed network with like-minded young professionals in the region. All proceeds from the event will be donated to The Prince’s Trust charity.

Wynyard Hall gives guests a chance to prepare for the greatest culinary challenge of the year, Christmas dinner, with a special festive Christmas cookery class from the hotel’s experienced and passionate chefs. After the cooking is over, guests will be treated to a glass of wine and a two-course lunch.



Rockliffe Hall, County Durham Tel: 01325 729999 Web: Email: Price: £22.50 per person Guests are invited to attend this festive ladies luncheon, where Paul Walker, Rockliffe Hall’s resident mixologist, will be sharing cocktail ideas to impress friends and family over the Christmas period. The event includes a sparkling wine reception and a two-course festive lunch, before guests are invited to join in mixing and tasting some of Paul’s cocktails.

Email with your events



North East viewpoint We ask some of the business men and women who have appeared in North East Times this year … ROD FINDLAY

MIKE BOWERS MANAGING DIRECTOR CELLULAR SOLUTIONS I have had quite a few highlights in 2013, but if I had to pick one it would be the amalgamation of the Bond Solutions software business with Cellular Solutions in March. We can now deliver a turn-key package with expertise in mobile, landline, email and software. It strengthens our position within the North East as a provider of bespoke communication and business solutions. I must also recognise the continued effort of the team at Cellular Solutions in delivering such top notch customer service. We get constant positive feedback from our customers and that’s down to a really dedicated and committed bunch. Thanks guys!

SAMANTHA DAVIDSON MANAGING DIRECTOR HORIZONWORKS My philosophy for 2013 was to ‘aim high’ and that’s what we have done, achieving great success along the way. As part of our growth strategy, we have celebrated the opening of our Manchester office and doubled the size of our team, which has included developing the creative arm of the business. Furthermore, we have been appointed by a diverse range of exciting new clients across the North of England, strengthening our portfolio even more.

What was your professional highlight of 2013?


CONSULTANT YOUR SPORT CONSULTING When you have many varied roles, one highlight can be difficult to pin down. I love my lecturing at Northumbria University and legal consultancy to Badminton England but my professional highlight of 2013 is securing a new position at Sport England – particularly as it allows me to remain in the North East. As a relationship manager I manage the relationship between Sport England and six sports’ governing bodies. The challenge is to provide the necessary audit function in relation to the investment of several million pounds of public funds while also maintaining empathy in order to provide management consultancy advice.

HILARY FRENCH HEADMISTRESS CENTRAL HIGH & NHSG Hosting the annual conference of the Girls' School Association (GSA) here in Newcastle/Gateshead a few weeks ago is my professional highlight for 2013. It was the culmination of my year as GSA President, bringing school heads from all over the country together for discussions on the major educational issues of the day. It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase our region with top class speakers from the North East, in our excellent venue at the Hilton Gateshead. Everyone left with a very positive view of our region.

DAVID WILSON MANAGING DIRECTOR NE MONEY My highlight has been the changes seen in the mortgage market in recent months. The introduction of Help-to-Buy schemes has not only seen the property and mortgage market moving positively again, it has also brought about a much needed confidence boost to the general public. We’ve seen a 300 per cent increase in enquiries, mostly first time buyers, and this is an encouraging sign both in terms of the focus being back on mortgages but also the recognition for quality, local advice.

STEVE NELSON TECHNICAL OPERATIONS DIRECTOR CALIBRE SECURED NETWORKS LTD There have been several highlights in 2013, which has been a seminal year for us in terms of expansion and contract success. A particular highlight has been the appointment of a new partner who has added new expertise and talent to the business on the back of significant growth for us in key sectors. Winning a contract with a Sunderland school has to be the standout success. This will secure growth as we move forward with the next phase of development and increase our turnover.

SUSAN JOPLING DIRECTOR ITPS Being appointed to the Audit and Mistletoe Ball committees of the Percy Hedley Foundation was a real honour, and I hope I can bring some value to the vital services it provides to disabled people in our region. Combining that with my promotion to director of Corporate Strategy and Policy at ITPS, making me the first woman director of a North East-based IT solutions business, it’s been quite a year so I’m looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings.

MIKE LYNCH MANAGING DIRECTOR MIKE LYNCH ADVERTISING The retention of the Nexus and BE Group media contracts for a further two years has been a fantastic vote of confidence by two clients in the service we provide and results we have delivered through innovative, creative and strategic media. We pride ourselves on providing a service that is the same for all clients, whether we are working with them for the first time or for many years so it is very pleasing to know that in an increasingly competitive market place we continue to deliver.

SARAH FURNESS ASSOCIATE SOLICITOR HAY & KILNER An employment lawyer’s life is never dull. The highlight of my professional year has been representing 49 claimants in a single case against two high profile employers. Everything is on a grand scale but I see it all as an exciting challenge and one that I think will be an important milestone in my career. It’s very satisfying being able to help so many people at once particularly when, as a group, they passionately believe they have been wronged.

ROGER TAMES MANAGING DIRECTOR BOX TO BOX MEDIA When you can go to work and enjoy one of the most iconic views in sporting history then it’s the highlight of any year. For ten days, I sat in the commentary position for the diving at the FINA World Championships and gazed in daily wonder across the city of Barcelona that had provided one of the most memorable images from the 1992 Olympic Games. While the divers seemed to launch themselves into space, I was near cloud nine as well.


STEFAN LEPKOWSKI, MANAGING DIRECTOR KAROL MARKETING LTD As shallow as it might sound, my professional highlight of 2013 was returning from our accountants at RMT with a set of year end accounts that demonstrated very strong growth for Karol in both turnover and profitability. Seeing a 30 per cent increase in turnover and a doubling of profits was fantastic, and a great way to mark our 21 years in the PR and marketing industry. It was a very proud moment.

SARAH HALL MANAGING DIRECTOR SARAH HALL CONSULTING My highlight has been our amazing client feedback. We have been described by our clients as a great team that understands our target markets perfectly, as providing highly effective PR resulting in a significant uplift in enquiries, footfall and general awareness, and offering a no nonsense, immediate and high quality service that produces results, with the added value of business introductions that pay real dividends.

CHRISTOPHER WELCH PARTNER SINTONS My highlight has been working on the management buyout of DE Pharmaceuticals, including a £37m funding line from RBS Invoice Finance. The transaction was one of the biggest in the region’s healthcare sector for many years, and under its new ownership, DE aims to turnover £196m in the next three years. It is very pleasing to be able to complete deals that allow outstanding North East businesses to thrive. The specialist pharmacy team at Sintons is delighted to have led this transaction.


10 questions for ...

Ian Lowes Ian is managing director of Lowes Group Plc which incorporates Lowes Financial Management Ltd. He has held this position for the last decade and his duties include the day-to-day management of the group’s business and strategy, presenting seminars and looking after a select number of clients. Ian is also heavily involved in the UK structured investment products sector.

What was your first break in business?

What attracted you to your current role?

What has been your career highlight?

I always had a keen interest in financial services from an early age and idolised my father who built the family business. However, instead of joining his firm at a young age I initially pursued one of my other passions and landed a role as a press photographer straight out of school. In 1988 I secured a junior position at Lowes, but after six years I left to pursue an opportunity of acquiring and refurbishing a bankrupt conveyor car wash business based 200 miles from home in Rugby. I eventually sold the car wash in 2002 to give my undivided attention to my position back at Lowes, having returned to the company in 1999.

Financial services has always been in my blood as I watched my father build and run the family business with immense energy, passion and unquestionable ethics. I developed a deep interest in all aspects of the business and while I have had other business interests over the years, my passion has always lain with Lowes Financial Management Ltd.

One day in March 2008, as the banking crisis loomed, we took the rational decision to return a significant number of investment applications and cheques to clients because the investment they were applying for was backed by Lehman Brothers. I cannot say we predicted the collapse of the bank, but I felt there was too much risk to warrant people adding Lehman Brother’s exposure to their portfolio. While the collapse did still come as a shock, history proved this to be a good move and helped us to build our reputation as one of the leading authorities in structured products.


And your career lowlight? There have been many challenges in business over the years but thankfully nothing springs to mind as a career lowlight.

What do you enjoy most about your role? Everything! There’s a great energy that I love about my job that makes me get up every morning knowing that what I set my mind on is achievable. We have a great team at Lowes and in everything we do we aim to exceed expectations – it’s not always possible but there’s nothing better than having our efforts acknowledged by clients. I love coming up with new solutions and ideas and working with brilliant people to bring them to fruition.

What's your biggest challenge?

Who are your heroes, in and out of business?

Finding the right calibre of individual to be a Lowes consultant has always been one of my biggest challenges. Over the years I have met with a lot of people seeking a role as a Lowes consultant or trainee, but what we’re looking for is a rare breed of individual who is not only highly ethical, driven, professional and caring, but has an air of calm confidence from the very first meeting. I believe I can usually tell within ten minutes of meeting someone whether they are right for Lowes and I’m looking forward to meeting the next one.

My father has obviously influenced me most on both a business and personal level and outside of business I’d have to say Elon Musk - if you haven’t heard of him yet, you will.

What is the best piece of business advice anyone has ever given you? Be open-minded, but sceptical.

What does the future hold for Lowes Group?

What do you do to relax?

Given the recent removal of advice from high street banks and shrinking numbers of advisers following the increased qualification requirements, Lowes is well positioned to continue our growth and expansion in providing more clients with quality advice. In terms of the wider business, we will build our position as an authority on structured products and develop associated data and software services to help other financial services professionals access the hitherto, much misunderstood sector.

Many business executives find it difficult to separate home and work life and I’m afraid to admit that I fall into this camp. To properly ‘switch off’ I occasionally hide away in my favourite place - a secluded log cabin in the Yorkshire Dales - but I’m afraid to admit that my Blackberry comes too!



ITPS and Cellular Solutions annual race day The ICT solutions provider and mobile phone specialists host a charity race day networking event at Newcastle’s Gosforth Park. TPS and Cellular Solutions celebrated their ninth annual race day event at Newcastle Racecourse last month. The 1920s themed event saw 360 customers and partners network and share experiences while enjoying an afternoon of racing and fine dining. Charity donations throughout the day amounted to a generous £2700, which was donated to the firm’s chosen charities: The Evening Chronicle’s Sunshine Fund and The Percy Hedley Foundation.





On the Move Your monthly guide to appointments and promotions.

LUCY MIDDLEMIST Morpeth-based garage equipment supplier, Gott Technical Services, has expanded its service team with the appointment of Lucy Middlemist as repair administrator. In her new role, Lucy – who joins the team from her previous role at a drain specialist company - will be responsible for the scheduling of engineers and dealing with ‘breakdown’ calls from customers at Gott Technical Services.

MARK WARDINGHAM North Shields-based architectural firm, Blake Hopkinson Architecture, has appointed Mark Wardingham as senior architect. Mark joins the expanding company from a Newcastlebased architectural firm, having built his career in the city within a wide range of specialist sectors, including residential and social housing, as well as the commercial and education sector.



Boldon-based immunoassays supplier, Immunodiagnostic Systems Plc (IDS Plc), has appointed Kim Lax as executive personal assistant (PA) to its CEO. In her new role, Kim, who is originally from Zimbabwe, will also support the company’s executive team. Kim gained an executive PA diploma at office training specialist, Pitman Training Newcastle, before working as PA to the company secretary and marketing director.

20-year-old Gemma Farmer [left], has been given a permanent role with training specialist, B-Skill, after signing up for an employability course and apprenticeship with the Newcastlebased company. Gemma is currently undergoing a one-year business administration apprenticeship and is studying towards a Level 2 NVQ qualification. She joins the company’s head office, where she aims to gain a Level 3 qualification.



Amble-based restaurant, The Old Storehouse, has appointed Adian Montaque as head chef. Adian, who has moved to Northumberland from Birmingham, began his career as a pastry chef with The Malmaison Hotel Group, before working his way up to sous chef. In his new role at The Old Storehouse - which has just reopened following a £2 million refurbishment he will be showcasing classic dishes with a twist.

North East law firm, BHP Law, has strengthened its services to business with appointment of two legal specialists. Solicitor, Mark Reeves (pictured), who graduated in law from Northumbria University, joins the firm as a commercial litigator and expert in dispute resolution. Paralegal, Elspeth Livett, meanwhile, joins its commercial property and agriculture team. Both will be based at the Teeside office at Preston Farm, Stockton.



One to watch

James Godden In a series of interviews with talented professionals set for major things in their respective industries, Alison Cowie talks to a civil litigator who has adopted the North East as a base to build a promising legal career.

ames Godden may have been born in Essex, but he sees the North East as his home, having lived in the region most of life, studied at Newcastle University and been a life-long supporter of Newcastle United. His family moved to the North East when James was just a few months old. Despite relocating to Evesham in Worcestershire 10 years later – where James attended school and sixth form college – he returned to his ‘spiritual home’ at the first opportunity, to study a degree in law at Newcastle University. James was drawn to a career in law at around 16 years old for its perceived status and financial benefits. “I thought it was a way of making loads of money,” he says. And while money was a definite factor, James also enjoys having the knowledge to empower others. James completed his Legal Practice Course at the York College of Law, but resisted the lure of Leeds, Manchester or London to return to Newcastle to forge a legal career – soon joining Gordon Brown Law Firm where he has been for the past four years. Like many trainees, James started out in


conveyancing where he built a solid grounding in property law, before moving into contentious issues. He is now a burgeoning civil litigator, focusing on general property litigation, professional negligence and contractual, commercial and civil disputes. So, what does James see as the key to succeeding in his chosen specialism? “Attention to detail,” he says. “It’s about making sure you see the detail that your opponent has missed. Ultimately you need to ensure the best commercial deal for your client.” This is something that has been instilled into James by the head of Dispute Resolution at Gordon Brown, Jonathon Stokes. “If anyone pays attention to every detail, it’s him,” James says of Jonathon. “He’s a very, very good lawyer and I’ve learned a lot from him.” James also has a keen interest in local education and sits as a governor at the Northern Counties School in Jesmond. “When I was a trainee at Gordon Brown, I was asked by our chairman, Peter Wignall, to join the board of governors at the Northern Counties School. They were looking for


someone a bit younger and wanted to get some professional input from a lawyer. I thought it was a good opportunity and, because my partner is a teacher, I had an interest in education. “I’ve been on the board for three years now and it takes up a fair chunk of my time, both professionally and socially.” James hopes to one day become a partner in a law firm while his ultimate dream is to open his own firm – although he is realistic of how challenging this is. “The cost of Professional Indemnity Insurance is so high that you, ideally, need a group of experienced and like-minded lawyers working together,” he reflects. Away from law, James is a dedicated Formula One fan. When he eventually retires, his ambition is to attend every Grand Prix in a full season. “Again, it’ll all come down to money!” he says. One thing is clear though, James’ long-term future remains in the North East. “I love the North East,” he says. “I consider myself a Newcastle boy and I don’t want to leave.”



In the boss’s chair

Shawn Bone Director, Cavu Corporate Finance

Briefly, what has been your career to date? I was at PwC for 10 years and at Deloitte seven years before that, moving to a mid-market firm to establish its corporate finance business. Most of my career has been spent in corporate finance – mainly selling businesses for shareholders or raising private equity – but also building the teams to undertake the work we carry out for clients.

Why did you establish Cavu? No one seemed to have really picked up the gauntlet to create an independent strategic advisory businesses. So, I thought I would create Cavu to deliver high quality corporate finance advice to sellers and to those companies who have a real interest in raising equity to accelerate their growth. When I started my career I was indoctrinated with always delivering beyond clients expectations – and that remains at the core of everything we do at Cavu whether we are working on a £2m deal or a £100m deal.

What skills do you need to do your job? You need to be passionate about delivering exceptional outcomes for clients. Being able to stand back, assess the big picture and develop a strategic pitch to buyers or investors - that is really the core skill. Beyond that, being honest with clients about what is and is not possible and being tenacious and having the experience to draw on

from a wide range of deal experiences – not all deals runs smoothly so experience is essential. Last but not least, being able to deal with the clients who are on the whole challenging entrepreneurs – but that is what makes the job interesting.

What's been your highlight in your role? I have enjoyed working with some great people, seeing them develop and, in some cases, go on to be successful in industry – it is satisfying when you feel you have made a difference. On the client side, I like selling businesses. It still surprises me how clients react when someone else (the buyers) wants to own what they have created and are willing to pay significant value for it. Selling is a very quantifiable end result and I would say that all of our clients have been delighted with what we have achieved for them over the years. An old PwC partner once said to me that we must enjoy the journey and have a laugh along the way. 20 years on, I can understand what he meant and I have enjoyed working with a wide range of clients where we have achieved some stellar outcomes.

What's been your biggest challenge? I would say the Financial Crisis. That was a once in a lifetime Black Swan event. The M&A market just closed. Business models needed to be reshaped but those of us still in the industry are better for it. Green shoots is perhaps an overused


term, but I can say that we are seeing more sellers, more buyers and more interest from equity investors than at any time in the last six years, so confidence is returning and valuations are starting to increase. But 2008/09 was a challenge.

How has the corporate finance industry changed since you began? In some cases, the market has changed for the better and in some cases, it has changed for the worst. Many of the larger firms have withdrawn from the North East and are seeking to service the market remotely. Frankly, most clients do not want that - if you are selling your business or raising equity you want high quality advice delivered locally by experienced professionals. For all of the developments in corporate finance, clients are still buying trust, experience and integrity. They want to look you in the eye and know that you will deliver for them. There is also much greater focus on sector knowledge and we have followed that trend by developing the Advisory Board for Cavu. While we will transact across all sectors, the Advisory Board is focusing on energy/oil and gas, technology and healthcare, which are all active M&A markets and all receiving high levels of interest from private equity funds. The withdrawal of firms from the North East has, however, been the major trend and that is what lies at the heart of the opportunity for Cavu - delivering high quality corporate finance advice that exceeds clients’ expectations.

BUSINESS Left to right: Leanne McHugh (LoveFood), Alexandra Johnson (RHWE) and Alice Blackie (Pink Boutique).

Sparks fly with success Alexandra Johnson, the chief executive of Reviving the Heart of the West End Ltd, reflects on the newly crowned WIN award winners based at John Buddle Work Village. hat a wonderful way to end another great year at the John Buddle Work Village: sharing the success of two of our businesses who between them scooped three awards at the WIN Awards 2013 ceremony that took place at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead Hotel in November. Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 winner Leanne McHugh started LoveFood back in 2009 at John Buddle Work Village. Her vision was to have a fresh and innovative approach to outside catering and with the success of delivering her vision, Leanne has built a strong business which now employs over 40 full and part time staff. She says: “From the start my ideas were clear. Develop a successful business that understood the individual requirements of all my clients and provides high quality, modern catering with everything you need for a function or party.” “The Work Village has been an ideal location for us. With modern office space, surrounded by other entrepreneurs and a management team that is just so hands on, they simply can’t do enough to help us – that has made such a difference to our business.”


Alice Blackie, MD of Pink Boutique won the WIN Award for Best Retail Business and for Best Use of Technology. She started the business in 2011 from home while juggling three jobs. Alice wanted to offer clothing and accessories to fashion-conscious young women looking for glamorous clothes at pocket money prices. Alice said: “I recognised there was a real lack of shopping opportunities to find fun, glamorous outfits and I simply began by selling through eBay. However, as orders rapidly came in, I took the exciting decision to design and create my own website and I grew the business using social media, particularly Facebook and featuring personal recommendations from our customers.” As the business developed from the kitchen table to the garage, Alice approached us at John Buddle Work Village as she knew the business needed to grow and needed to consider premises. “We spoke with Alexandra at the Work Village and she totally understood our needs and the concerns we had about moving the business from home to business space. “She was able to offer us space at Buddle House (next to the Village) and suggested a


flexible arrangement which allowed us to take those first steps into our own premises without tying the business in to a long term agreement. It was just great to have the reassurance and flexibility. “Alex and her team were always on hand to share advice and information about a whole host of business opportunities from free courses to networking – we’re grateful that even now we’ve expanded to take on a warehouse unit she still keeps us in the loop!” For nearly ten years now, I have ran John Buddle Work Village and I’m so proud to have worked with an amazing range of businesses working in all sorts of industries. I place great importance on supporting all of my tenants and especially business owners like Leanne and Alice who I was delighted to nominate for the awards as they have both had a remarkable journey – it makes my job so rewarding to know I’ve been able to help out in some way. With our tenth anniversary in 2014, we look forward to many more decades to come here at the John Buddle Work Village. For more information on Reviving the Heart of the West End Ltd, visit


Designs on growth Mick Wood turns to Oxford Innovation to develop his creative design agency, MW Design. hen Mick launched MW Design in 2009 he was keen to locate the business in his hometown of Ashington and he was undaunted by the threat of the global economic downturn. “The recession was biting but I knew if I could make a go of it then the business would be all the stronger in the future,” says Mick. “Since then we’ve succeeded in achieving steady annual growth due largely to word-of-mouth recommendations. “Right from the start my focus has been on the clients but I’ve probably been guilty of ignoring my own advice which in turn has hindered my prospects of achieving step-change growth.” Faced with the dilemma of needing to maintain his client work and spend time on his own business development, Mick turned to Oxford Innovation. The UK’s leading provider of specialist business coaching, Oxford Innovation delivers the European Regional Development Fund’s £1.35m Business Northumberland High Growth Programme on behalf of Arch, The Northumberland Development Company;


Gill Hall (Oxford Innovation) and Mick Wood (MW Design).

Northumberland County Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Gill Hall, business coach with Oxford Innovation, stepped in to support Mick.


“Right from the off I was really impressed with Mick’s creativity,” says Gill. “However it was clear he had fallen into the very common trap of pouring every ounce of effort into his clients’ work and largely ignoring his own business development.” Drawing on her own experience as a chartered marketer, Gill helped Mick plan MW Design’s growth strategy. Mick acknowledges he began the coaching process with some scepticism but he’s thrilled with the results: “We’re now establishing the concept of an MW Design Community and it’s all about how we align with our clients and match our expertise with their requirements. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome and I would strongly recommend Oxford Innovation’s programme to other businesses in Northumberland.” Anyone wishing to find out more about the Business Northumberland High Growth Programme should call (01670) 528403, email or visit


Whose responsibility is it? Rod Findlay, Consultant at Your Sport Consulting, looks at the benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility to a company.

riting this article in the build up to Christmas and thinking of present giving and receiving, I started to think about what companies do at this time of year. Internally there is often a Christmas party and many companies still provide a Christmas bonus. However, I was more thinking of external gestures. But obviously December is not the only time of the year when companies engage in generosity with many having a strategic approach to this. That might be some form of sponsorship or a more structured approach to playing a part in its community such as part of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy.


What is Corporate Social Responsibility? The World Business Council for Sustainable Development in its publication Making Good Business Sense used the following definition: “Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by businesses to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large.” More and more UK companies are adopting CSR and are seeing the benefits that it brings.

What are the benefits? At its basest, an effective CSR strategy can be part of establishing the business’ brand and may form an element of a marketing strategy. Those brand values can also be an effective part of risk management or when high profile negative events occur. If the company has a track record of CSR or can easily respond through established protocols,

EXPERT VIEW Rod Findlay Consultant Your Sport Consulting Email: Twitter: @RodFindlay

it can offset bad publicity. A CSR program can also be an aid to recruitment and retention, particularly when staff can become involved through donations, fundraising or community volunteering. Employees might also be more engaged with or committed to organisations where they support their CSR actions or have an opportunity to engage in charitable activity as part of their employment. CSR might also be part of winning contracts, particularly public sector ones, with companies being asked to demonstrate their commitment to CSR when bidding for tenders. Many large companies who are dominant in a local area may wish to adopt to CSR to smooth relationships with the community at large, particularly if they are potentially going to rely on public support for certain activities, such as planning permission.

Songo.Info – an example from overseas A really successful example I am close to is Songo.Info, an organisation based in the South African Kayamandi township that has grown from Songo Fipaza’s dream to bring


about change for his community. Approximately 70 per cent of the community live in informal settlements without access to water and toilet facilities and unemployment is high. This presents obvious social problems. Songo’s dream is to provide the children of the township with the possibility to go out and achieve their dreams, no matter how big or small by providing opportunities that have not been available to his community. Songo uses sport to this end and he provides opportunities for the children of the township to engage in BMXing and mountain biking. At first this was just community sport but he has produced a number of athletes who have gone on to race against the best in the world. This has been done with the support of many sponsors as part of their CSR. Bike manufacturer, Specialized, is a major partner and other South African companies are involved. One of the Trustees is former World Champion and Olympic medalist, Christoph Sauser.

What could you do? I imagine that the companies getting involved with Songo.Info do so because they believe in the project and can see the benefits to the community. However, there is no harm in them generating benefits as a result. Sport is an obvious route for CSR but the arts, education and other avenues might be just as appropriate. It is worth considering whether or not your business should adopt a CSR policy and then looking for appropriate opportunities that align with your objectives. This is not giving just for Christmas. But it should be about your business playing a positive role in the community in which it is based. That can benefit both the community and company.


The right solution One of the North East’s leading recruitment specialists, Solutions Recruitment, has secured new premises in Newcastle city centre. stablished in 1984, Solutions Recruitment has been helping the people of the North East find the right employment for almost 30 years. The Newcastle-based recruitment specialists provide temporary, permanent and contract recruitment in a range of industries, from finance and accountancy to construction, catering and hospitality. The company targets all individuals and covers salaries from hourly minimum wage to £100,000 per annum. Solutions Recruitment knows the importance of client relationships and takes pride in getting to know each individual client, before finding them vacancies that fit their and their employer’s needs. As a long-standing member of its professional industry lead body, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), the company is committed to adhering to its code of practice and guarantees that clients receive a consistently high level of expert service from each of its specialist divisions. From the word go, clients are met with industry specific specialists right from the beginning of their recruitment search. All specialists are experts in their field of work, enabling them to have a greater understanding of their clients’ requirements and offer helpful advice and information, from detailed market insights to salary surveys. Also included in the company’s bespoke service are site visits, to get to know working environments and achieve skills and cultural matches, before shortlisting candidates from one-on-one interviews and arranging reviews with clients. Even after employment has been secured, it


is important to Solutions Recruitment to keep in close contact with both candidates and clients to ensure both parties are satisfied. Alongside industry specific specialists, Solutions Recruitment also offers clients assistance from their consultants, who are CIPD qualified, experienced in recruitment and allowed to build their own work schedule, and strong in-house Business Development team who have been with the company for up to 20 years. Having outgrown its previous offices, the company began looking for a new workplace serving as an investment in its long-term future. In March 2013, the company successfully purchased new offices in Yorkshire Chambers on Pilgrim Street, Newcastle city centre, moving in to the premises five months later. The fully refurbished offices boast all new furniture and fittings, new conference facilities, which can be utilised for client


seminars and events, and new meeting rooms named after the streets where the company previously occupied offices: Portland Terrace, Collingwood, Grey and Hood Street. The offices are also offered free of charge to clients who prefer to interview candidates on neutral ground. The company believes that the décor and the facilities in the new offices add to what it is able to offer on a personal level - an outstanding service, which is superior to that of its competitors. It also believes that the new premises - which have allowed for a growth in personnel have served to enhance its regional presence – promote a professional, yet relaxed environment, in which team members continue to enjoy a balance between work and play, from light-hearted in-house baking competitions to weekly cross-divisional meetings. Armed with a new workplace and the same dynamic ownership, management team and consultants, future plans for the recruitment specialists include expanding regionally and, through acquisition, becoming the leading North East recruitment agency. Solutions Recruitment is located at Yorkshire Chambers, 112-114 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle. Tel: (0191) 221 0402. For more information, visit or email info@solrecruit. To receive a meeting facilities brochure, email


Rowlands race day The North East accountancy firm hosts a day for clients and guests at Hexham race course. owlands partners, Alan Hynd and Eric Brannigan, assisted by consultant David Coates, entertained clients and guests at the annual Rowlands race day at Hexham. The feature event was the sponsored Rowlands Accountants handicap hurdle where, once again, the guests enjoyed choosing the best turned out horse for the race, which fortunately was narrowed to two horses who both obliged by finishing first and second in the race. As usual, a great day was had by all; although some may, as usual, have ended up slightly lighter in pocket than others




Expanding the team Evolution LLP hires eight new members of staff.


he Tees Valley-based business and tax advisory practice, Evolution LLP, has recently added eight new members of staff to its team. Having bolstered its team, the business is now looking to extend its geographical reach, potentially by acquiring existing practices. Danielle Keighley, Matthew Crofts and Melissa Wood have joined the group as trainees, while Matt Waters, Lisa Cowley, Lucy Brown and Andrew Reilly have been appointed as senior members of Evolution’s audit and accounts team. Nicola Cook, meanwhile, has been brought into the group as credit controller. Martin Barber, managing partner of Evolution, said: “Our latest recruitment drive is a response to our increasing client base and it will ensure we have the

necessary resources to service our clients at the very high standard we set. “It’s been an exciting journey so far and we are always looking at new ways to

improve on what we do and how we do it. We will be looking to extend our geographical reach by acquiring a practice or practices further afield.”

Tees law firm welcomes simpler, cheaper LPAs

Law firm uses its head

Sintons helps marine supplier


rchers Law has welcomed recent changes in the process of making Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA). An LPA is a legal document allowing a person to choose and appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf in case of future mental incapacity. The Court of Protection administrative department has recently made the registration process more efficient and user friendly, coupled with a reduction in the fee for registering a single LPA from £130 to £110. These moves have been applauded by solicitors at Stockton-based Archers Law, which has particular expertise working with local individuals, couples and families on Court of Protection matters.

Martin Barber (centre) with Evolution’s new staff members.


charity that supports people who have been affected by a brain injury, their carers and families has been given a financial boost from a regional law firm. BHP Law is one of the funders supporting the formation of Headway Darlington & District, a local branch of a national charity, and a grant has now been approved from its Grass Roots fund, which is administered by County Durham Community Foundation. The £500 grant will be used to help with set up of a community branch of Headway, designed to provide help, advice and support to local families who have been affected by brain injury, and to fund social events and outings.



Tyneside marine supplies business is poised for expansion after being acquired by a global leader in the industry, which has established its first UK base in the process. The deal was overseen by the commercial team at Newcastle law firm, Sintons. Marine Safety Supplies Limited is now under the ownership of PTR Holland Group, which supplies marine safety equipment around the globe and is the world’s largest manufacturer of marineuse rope ladders. It has divisions in the Netherlands and Singapore and major warehousing facilities in destinations including China, Brazil and the United States.




upporting sponsorships and charitable activities are part of Brewin Dolphins rich heritage. In Newcastle, where the wealth management firm has had a large regional hub since 1903, it supports some of the North East’s most ambitious, diverse and exciting sporting, cultural and business organisations – from Durham County Cricket Club and Sage Gateshead to The Entrepreneurs’ Forum, Theatre Royal and Team Northumbria Rugby and Water-Polo teams. John Duns, business development and marketing director at Brewin Dolphin’s Newcastle office, believes that this illustrates the firm’s deep commitment to the surrounding area. He says: “At Brewin Dolphin, we work hard and play hard and these values inform who we are and how we like to do things. “As a company who has been in the region for over a hundred years, we are firmly embedded here and we have grown our business even during tough economic times. This is because North East people have put their faith in us to manage their money, therefore it’s only right we should show our support and give something back to the communities that have served us so well here over a long period.” With a large office in Newcastle employing over 350 people, Brewin Dolphin is the North East’s largest independently-owned wealth management firm, providing investment management and financial planning expertise to around 5000 private clients, many of whom are from the region. Over the decades, the region’s merchants and business people have been the bedrock of Brewin Dolphin’s client base - and today, through their support of initiatives like The Entrepreneurs’ Forum and North East Business Executive of the Year Awards, the firm recognises that a thriving business community and successful individuals are vital to the future success of the firm and to the area. In Newcastle, Brewin Dolphin has been a long-standing supporter of The Entrepreneurs’ Forum, whose 350-strong network of like-minded entrepreneurs helps businesses share experiences and make valuable connections. For Brewin Dolphin, the Forum’s aims and ethos seem a perfect fit and according to John, this is a partnership that works well on many levels. John adds: “Recent research has shown that entrepreneurs are flourishing here in the North East, which is great news for the future growth of the regional economy. We have an entrepreneurial community that is unique to this area and at the forefront of growth here. We want to encourage that and through our work with the Forum we want successful entrepreneurs to know that Brewin Dolphin can help. “How we do this is simple: We can help them in the early stages of their business growth, by offering them financial planning services, and help to protect and grow their wealth through investment management.“ He continues: “However, the relationship is very much a two-way street: From a corporate perspective, our business future here at Brewin Dolphin depends on and is built upon the success of business people and entrepreneurs in the North East investing for themselves, their businesses and their families future.” Nicola Short, executive director of The Entrepreneurs’ Forum, believes the relationship is hugely beneficial to both organisations and the wider business community. “Our partnership with Brewin Dolphin is based on strong values in both our organisations,” she comments. “Together we can create valuable connections, and engage with businesses to support economic growth for the whole of the North East.” From business to culture, Brewin Dolphin has been a major supporter

of cultural initiatives in the region for many years, sponsoring the Theatre Royal’s Autumn Season, as well as Sage Gateshead’s Young Musicians Programme, Classic FM concert series and Newcastle’s ‘Lit and Phil’ Society, as John Duns explains: “As a large and successful firm here in Newcastle, we owe a lot to this region. We want and need the entrepreneurs and business people to succeed and stay here. One of the crucial ways we can do this is by making sure that the city boasts a thriving cultural, business and sporting scene to cater for people’s interests. “That’s why Brewin Dolphin sponsor the Theatre Royal, Sage Gateshead and Lit and Phil Society – all are demonstrations in bricks and mortar of how the North East has created environments for innovation and creativity to thrive and as such, they each play a huge part in the region’s cultural make-up. He continues: “As a local business, it’s important that we can do all we can to offer our support to help ensure that this region is able to compete on an international stage. If local businesses join forces to believe in the city and the region, it’s this confidence and self-belief that breeds success. “ Kyra Humphreys, co-leader of Royal Northern Sinfonia explains how Brewin Dolphin’s support can help to attract new audiences to the Sage Gatehead: “Our Classic FM series focuses on making classical music universally accessible and as enticing as we possibly can. With Brewin Dolphin’s welcomed investment in this partnership, we look forward to being able to continue to engage new audiences through outstanding musical performances.” Brewin Dolphin has also been an important supporter of sport in the North East, sponsoring both the rugby and water-polo teams of Northumbria University, as well as backing Durham County Cricket Club in the LV = County Championship’s. In particular, it’s the close relationship with Durham County Cricket Club which has grown and developed over the last three years and the sponsorship has continued to be a project close to the hearts of everyone at the Newcastle Brewin Dolphin office. Durham batsman Phil Mustard explains why Brewin Dolphin’s support is a perfect fit for the Championship winning side: ”We have proudly sported Brewin Dolphin’s logo on our four-day shirt since 2010. Everyone involved with Brewin Dolphin here at Durham County Cricket Club feels like part of an extended team, and over the years building a long-lasting partnership like this has only helped to create a deeper understanding between the two parties. The firm’s values are very close to our own and this has helped to create a stronger bond, a more memorable brand association and a range of benefits for colleagues and clients. Overall, the sponsorship has been a great success and we’re very much looking forward to Brewin Dolphin’s continued support next season.” John Duns explains the natural synergy between business and sport: “Our business is all about trust and building long-term relationships. Whether building an innings, or building a portfolio, these values can equally be shared on the cricket, or rugby pitch, as in the boardroom. “We share a common goal to promote ambition, dedication, team building and a desire for growth and there is undoubtedly a link between those who succeed in business, and those who succeed in sport. “I think these associations also convey something about the personality of the firm and what Brewin Dolphin stands for in this region.“ For more information on the range of sponsorships supported by Brewin Dolphin in Newcastle, please visit


Clockwise from left: Anthony Dorman (corporate executive, Theatre Royal), Anthony Harrison (Team Northumbria Rugby), Phil Mustard (Durham CCC), Kyra Humphreys (co-leader, Royal Northern Sinfonia), Nicola Short (executive director, The Entrepreneurs’ Forum), Josh Pettet (Team Northumbria Rugby).



Balancing heart and head Barclay’s Richard Clark looks at how emotions can get in the way when investing in property.

nlike many other financial assets, property is something we all understand ... or think we do. At some point in our lives, most of us invest in bricks and mortar when we buy our own homes. It can, therefore, seem like a short leap to investing in property purely for financial gain. But, while direct property investment may seem more tangible than some other financial products, it is by no means simple. Investing in property is much more than a pure financial investment. Residential property has a special place in private investors’ hearts, as well as their portfolios. Buyers tend to have a strong, often intense, emotional connection with their house, even if it is not their principal residence. It is seldom treated simply as a financial asset: elements of lifestyle, luxury and fashion play a significant role in decision making where this asset class is concerned. Direct residential property has many characteristics that set it apart from other, more traditional asset classes. For many it can be a very long-term investment that is measured over decades rather than years (although this fact can get forgotten during property bubbles). It is tangible and, to many investors, its permanence offers a perceived security that they may feel is lacking with other asset classes. But there is always a danger with real estate investment – particularly in the case of


EXPERT VIEW Richard Clark Private banker Barclays Wealth and Investment Management Web:

residential property – that the heart can rule the head. Emotional attachment can get in the way of sound decision-making, leading investors to overpay for assets or overoptimistically take on excessive debt to buy what is essentially a highly concentrated, illiquid, indivisible, and, by definition, immovable asset. Buyers may be inclined to buy in an area that they personally find attractive, but this may or may not make for a good investment (let’s face it, we all have a tendency to think that the idiosyncrasies of our taste are more universally appreciated than is, in fact, the case). They may pay more for the property than the dispassionate buyer – whom, incidentally, they’ll be hoping to sell it to in years to come. Similarly, they may be reluctant to sell it when offered a price that a dispassionate investor would be happy to take. The unshakeable rule maintained by the best property investors is never to fall in love with an asset, but this is at the same time an

unreasonably narrow financial perspective when buying not just a house, but a home. There are other significant challenges to holding residential property in a portfolio. The property market is an inefficient one, with low price transparency, illiquidity and high transaction costs. There is always the risk of holding onto an asset for too long – investors may offload equities and other asset classes should the need arise, but they are less likely to be able to do the same with property, or to be able to rely on a good price should they finally be forced into selling. In the end, housing can offer a great return, but this return often isn’t financial. The all-in financial returns of property – after accounting for transaction costs, stamp duty, maintenance, insurance, depreciation on contents, etc. – are usually considerably less than the impressions people have from observing headline house prices. Enjoyment, comfort, and lifestyle are fundamentally what housing is for and, on these, it delivers very well. Your house may indeed bring financial rewards if you’re lucky, or skilled, but the lifestyle return is far more certain. Buying a home should always have an emotional component. Home, after all, is where the heart is. But just because we need emotional satisfaction from our home, doesn’t mean we should overpay for it. By all means, fall in love with your home, but try to let your head do most of the negotiating. Enjoyment, like anything, can be attained expensively, or efficiently.

Barclays Wealth Management is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and is a member of the London Stock Exchange. Share prices and the income from them can go down as well as up. Readers are advised to seek professional investment opinion before entering into dealings in securities mentioned in this article, which may be unsuitable in their personal financial circumstances.



Looking long term By Ian Lowes, managing director of Jesmond-based Lowes Financial Management.

EXPERT VIEW Ian Lowes Managing director Lowes Financial Management Tel: (0191) 281 8811 Email: Web:

ne of the most important tenets for any investor is to take a longterm view. For every story of someone timing the markets just right and making a lot of money, there are many more where people have had their fingers burned because short-term market movements can be highly unpredictable and trying to anticipate them is closer to speculation than investment. The premise behind long term investing is that over lengthier time periods the stockmarkets have tended to rise. Consequently, holding investments for the long term can often smooth out the short-term fluctuations and volatility that are inevitable in the stockmarkets. As a recent example, in May 2013 the head of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, caused a stir in global markets by hinting that the US would soon begin reducing its Quantitative Easing programme. As investors thought the supply of cheap money might be coming to an end they moved from riskier assets to safer ones causing, among other things, a sharp fall in the value of investments in emerging markets. There is debate over whether the sell-off in these markets was an overdue correction or a knee-jerk reaction but as Doug Millward, our investment manager at Lowes, pointed out, when investing short-term: “No matter how well informed you are, an unexpected event be it a comment from a central banker, a


potential war in the Middle East, or something completely different - can move the goalposts and negate a lot of the research you have done.” This point was emphasised further in September, when the markets had positioned themselves for the ‘inevitable’ tapering of QE that was hinted at in May, only for Mr Bernanke to decide that the time wasn’t right after all! Hence, it is generally better to ignore the short-term noise and take the long-term view. For the average investor this is easiest done through collective investment schemes – typically unit trusts or mutual funds – which pool investors’ cash and employ a professional fund manager, usually backed by a team of investment analysts, to pick the best countries, sectors and companies in which to invest. The skill in creating an investment portfolio is in looking for proven fund managers who are running funds with a consistent track record of producing out performance over the long term, i.e. through a variety of market cycles and short-term events, and then blending a range of these individual funds into an investment portfolio. In addition, diversification is crucial in our opinion, even within one sector. As an example, and staying with emerging markets, many people have been attracted to the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China seen as the powerhouses of the emerging markets. Despite some of the good news


stories around these countries, at Lowes we are reluctant to limit investments to such a small number. Our preference is for a more general emerging markets fund, which can be invested in the best companies in these countries but also look to other countries for investment ideas. If we look at one of the top performing emerging markets funds, for example, following the announcement by Mr Bernanke it fell by 12 per cent. At time of writing it has recovered slightly and is only down a little over 3 per cent, which is still up just under 10 per cent over the last 12 months. By contrast, one of the top performing funds investing only in India fell nearly 16 per cent, then suffered a further significant fall in August on worsening news around India’s economy and is still down 10 per cent since May and is only showing a 2 per cent rise over the last 12 months. This fall in India’s fortunes affected the broader emerging market fund too, of course, but not by the same amount as less of the fund was exposed to India. This premise extends to the wider markets. By using a range of funds invested across different markets – as well as using highly respected fund managers – the risk to the overall portfolio, should one of the markets be hit by unexpected events, is reduced. Over the years, this should help an investment portfolio weather stockmarket volatility wherever it occurs, potentially helping to create a profit for the investor in the long run.


Peace & Loaf launch Guests celebrate the opening of a new Jesmond resturant. ore than 250 guests attended the VIP launch party for the latest addition to the North East’s fine dining scene, Peace & Loaf. The Jesmond restaurant is headed up by Dave Coulson, runner up in 2010’s series of Masterchef: The Professionals. Working in partnership with Bob and Neeta Arora, the team that bring Punjabi perfection to the region at Sachins, on Forth Banks in Newcastle, Dave and business associate Geeta Ral are bringing their extensive experience and passion for exquisite dining to North East diners. Specially selected guests were invited, including former IBF World Heavyweight Champion boxer Glen McCrory, and Newcastle United stars Ryan Taylor and Shola Ameobi. They were greeted with a drinks reception and a selection of signature canapés and dishes from chef Dave’s meticulously crafted menu. Law firm Sintons handled all legal aspects of the opening, with a team led by Alok Loomba, partner in the Real Estate department, working with Bob, Neeta, David, Geeta and the team throughout the duration of the project.




Left to right: Beth Gatherar, Emma Dore and Katie Daxter.

Left to right: Kevin, Karen and Emily Howarth.

Launch of Bubble Time Malmaison pops the cork on its new Friday Champagne evenings.

Deborah Little and Holly Little.

ewcastle’s Malmaison hotel launched its new Friday party night last month. Bubble Time will take place between 5-8pm each week in the Mal Bar with plenty of speciality Champagne cocktails, canapés and promotions on offer. The launch night was Great Gatsby-inspired with plenty of glitz and glamour. There was even a bubble machine and guests drank Champagne (including Malmaison’s own brand) from classic coupe glasses.

Jamie Tulip and David Morton.


Left to right: Beth Grey, Rebecca Houghton and Rosanna Watts.

Cat Scarborough and Rachel Scarborough.

Louise Richley and Stephen Lovely.

Left to right: Michelle Wilkinson, Nadine Hollingsworth, Lisa Manes and Nicki Manes.



Making the most of second properties Alison Hall of Hay & Kilner Solicitors answers questions surrounding ownership of second properties and the use of trusts to minimise the tax liability. Can I give the property to my children now? You can give the property away to your children if they are adults, or if they are minors, you can declare a bare trust of the property. This means that the deeds stay in your name but you have given the property away for tax purposes. The disadvantage to such a gift is that you may trigger a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) charge if the value of the property has increased since you bought it.

Can I do anything to minimise the CGT liability? Yes, if only one parent owns the property, they can transfer half to their husband/wife/civil partner and they in turn can give the property to the children. The advantage to this is that each parent has an annual exemption (currently £10,600) from CGT. If the gain is less than £21,200 there would be no CGT charge.

If the gain is more than £21,200 the property could be transferred into a trust, rather than to the children outright. This allows the gain to be held over and therefore you defer the CGT until the property is sold.

Can I give more than one property to the trust? Yes but if the value exceeds the Inheritance Tax threshold (currently £325,000) there is an immediate Inheritance Tax charge on the excess at 20 per cent. Both parents can give up to £325,000 without the tax charge.

If I give the property to a trust and one of my children is declared bankrupt, what happens to it? If a child was to be declared bankrupt or to be involved in divorce proceedings, the property should not be taken into account in these proceedings.


Can I give the property away but still receive the rent? This can be done, although this involves a more complicated way of gifting a share of the property away and cannot be used in conjunction with a trust.

If I give the property to trust, can my children ever own it? Yes, the trust can be brought to an end at any time and the property transferred to your children. The gain can still be held over and no CGT will be payable until the property is sold. (This assumes the children are over the age of 18). Alison Hall is a partner in the Private Capital department of Hay & Kilner Solicitors. Email: or call (0191) 232 8345 for further information. Alternatively, visit


How to survive the festive season By Ward Hadaway’s family and matrimonial expert, Jonathan Flower. uletide is approaching fast, a time for family, fun and festive spirit. For some, the thought of carol singing, Christmas knitted jumpers and tinsel sets the pulse racing with glee, for others it can be an entirely different story. One too many at the Christmas party, last minute Christmas shopping, spending too much money and spending time with their nearest and dearest, can be simply too much to bear. You may think that it is typical of a divorce lawyer to be mentioning these issues and that somehow I am imbued with all of the Christmas spirit of Scrooge himself. However, there is no doubt that the weeks leading up to and following Christmas are a busy time in a family solicitor's office. Why? Very often it is an issue of the expectations of Christmas not being met by the reality of it all. Very often, the ill-chosen last minute present or the arguments over the Christmas table cause people to consider calling time on their relationship. Statistically, more divorce proceedings are started in January than in any other month of the year, so it can be quite easy to deduce the


EXPERT VIEW Jonathan Flower Partner and head of the Family and Matrimonial team Ward Hadaway Tel: (0191) 204 4376 Email:

thought that has been put into some people's New Year's resolutions. Dealing with the breakdown of a relationship can be a difficult period in anyone's life, more particularly if there are children to be considered. The old adage was that people, desperately unhappy in a relationship, would stay there simply, ‘for the sake of the children’. In these austere economic times, financial worries have added to pressures in relationships as well as persuading some people that the time was not right to end the relationship and move on. Sometimes it can be the case that people do not make decisions because they have not had the right legal advice, if they have received advice at all. Very often, people's thought processes are coloured by the experiences of friends and family when in reality, no two cases are ever the same. My message would therefore be think before you leap. Take advice and weigh up the options. Dealing with issues arising out of relationship breakdown can be complex, time-consuming and worrisome. A good solicitor will actually be a help not a hindrance and the perils of a DIY divorce are to be avoided, at all costs.

Make a will a priority this Christmas Rebecca Habron Grey, head of Wealth Management at Gordon Brown Law Firm, explains why, despite all the distractions of the festive season, you should still make time for a will to protect your family, should the worst happen.

s making a will right at the bottom of your list? If so, add it to your Christmas list this year and give the best gift you can give to your family. Many parents or guardians think about who could be entrusted to look after their child or children should the worst happen – you may have even broached the subject with a proposed guardian. Sadly, though, this means little. Clarity can be given in a will for it to comply with statutory provisions and your peace of mind is then easily restored. Other changes in circumstances such as a separation or divorce, can mean provisions in an existing will become rapidly out of date. Until any divorce is finalised, an existing will remains valid. Few people would be satisfied with this

especially if a spouse was a large beneficiary of that will At Gordon Brown Law Firm, we consider your circumstances to ensure our advice is tailored to you and your future plans. Forget the lists; give us a call now for an appointment so you are on the way to reassurance.


Rebecca Harbron Gray, Head of Wealth Management, is based at Newcastle and Chester-le-Street, is a qualified Trust and Estate Practitioner and one of the region’s few Solicitors for the Elderly. For more information visit Gordon Brown Law Firm can also be followed on Twitter @GordonBrownLaw.



The power of the in-laws Francesca Fothergill, an experienced matrimonial finance barrister, reflects on a recent case she worked on with Joanne Major of Major Family Law that highlighted the ‘in-law’ effect. onstrained macro-economic circumstances have forced many families into an increased financial reliance upon parents for mortgages, for school fees or indeed for housing; as recent government statistics reveal a growing number of families living with their parents, unable to house themselves elsewhere. These financially and emotionally enmeshed relationships are usually a powder keg. At the beginning of a marriage, a plethora of marital disputes can stem from a failure to recognise that a new marital union benefits from the imposition of some clear boundaries, both physically and psychologically, to regulate parental relationships. There is a multitude of different societal and cultural expectations as to how extended family relationships should operate and it is interesting to note, whatever one’s faith, how the Bible approaches this point:

To ‘cleave’ means ‘to adhere to, stick to, or join with.’ That much is clear, but does this passage suggest a biblical imperative to leave your parents upon marriage in the sense of not seeing them or not associating with them? No; but it does provide an important and useful marker to the effect that successful marriage often depends upon spouses consciously choosing and electing to prioritise their new marital unit over and above their existing family ties. Negotiation and a healthy dose of marital tact will be required and pre-marital discussions on this point are essential. Grandparents play a vital role in a family and they grieve considerably if excluded from that role upon divorce. Agreeing boundaries in advance might be painful, but worth it in the long term.


“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall become one flesh” Genesis 2: 24


Francesca Fothergill is a barrister based in Deans Court Chambers, Manchester, practising in matrimonial finance and children matters.


Who’s it TUPE to? Andrew Twineham of Langridge Employment Law looks at forthcoming changes to Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE) here can be few more unsettling issues for a workforce than the transfer or sale of a business. Since the early 1980s’ employees have had the protection of the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE). There can be few more frustrating issues for employers than knowing whether or not TUPE applies. The possibility of inheriting (or losing) a workforce, ‘and on what terms’ can make the difference between a sensible commercial deal and a financial disaster. Readers will be familiar with the basic principles. On the transfer of a business from one employer to another, TUPE preserves employee’s rights. They will also know that, over time, TUPE evolved so as to catch ‘service provision changes’ – in English, the contracting out of your cleaning. Recently, the government consulted on removing the ‘service provision’ protection. It has pulled back from that, but will introduce a number of changes to TUPE to take effect in January. The overall effect is to weaken the protection given to employees. It does, though, remain a complex and, at times, speculative area of law. The cost of getting it wrong can be huge


both economically and legally. There are, however, some welcome practical changes in the new regulations. The new employer will be able to have access to the transferring employees for consultation purposes prior to a transfer. The net effect of this will be to allow for the implementation of permissible changes somewhat sooner following the transfer than would otherwise have been the case.

Indeed, the circumstances in which terms and conditions can be changed will be extended and the scope for legitimate redundancies increased. The possibility of dismissing employees fairly is increased with the new regime. There is also a relaxation of the consultation regime. Of particular note is the ability for employers who employ fewer than ten employees to consult with individuals, rather than having to go through the potentially time consuming and artificial exercise of electing representatives. It has often been said that the only certainty about TUPE is its uncertainty! Over many years, the Employment Tribunals and higher courts have seen to that. There is bound to be further interpretation based on the new regime. It remains a highly complex and contentious area of law that often has undesired consequences for all concerned. It is always best to seek advice whenever a potential TUPE situation raises its head. For more information on employment law, contact Langridge Employment Law on (0191) 222 1221.

Corporate finance briefing ... with Mark Irving, director at Irving Ramsay Limited. t is hard to believe that another year is drawing to a close. I mentioned the short run through the autumn to Christmas in one of my previous columns and it has been proven to be the case once again this year. While it may be best said in slightly hushed tones at the moment, I do believe that this year has witnessed a positive change in the North East’s economic environment. I would certainly not want to suggest that the good times (which were arguably too good and simply unsustainable) are back but I hear many of my clients being far more bullish about their businesses than they have been for a number of years. Clearly this is no more than anecdotal but we too are seeing signs of positive improvement in the economic outlook. Inevitably with a business such as ours these signs manifest themselves in the volume of Mergers and Acquisitions we are witnessing. Again, this is no more than our own experience, but with ongoing disposal mandates involving listed plcs, private equity backed companies and overseas corporates on the buy side it is difficult not to observe that


both the will and the funding to make acquisitions are returning. It will undoubtedly take time for the recovery to blossom – it is difficult to envisage it being any other way given the depth of the recession we have recently experienced – but I can’t help but feel that 2013 has eventually seen the economy turn the corner. For the owners of North East SMEs, the


question is: what’s next? If some owners had an aspiration to sell up prior to the credit crunch but did not manage to do so, it may be that 2014 will be a pivotal year in terms of restoring profitability to somewhere near pre credit crunch levels. Having done so, there may then be the opportunity for them to achieve a sale on an acceptable valuation through a well-structured disposal process. If some owners have ambitious growth plans that need to be delivered before they can achieve the company valuation they seek, it may be that a mix of greater access to capital and improved macroeconomic conditions in 2014 will enable them to do so. If you are thinking about the possibility of selling your business or raising finance in 2014 and would like a candid view from a team of experienced professionals, feel free to get in touch. Email or call 07730 437 617. Alternatively, visit or follow Twitter: @IrvingRamsay


Time is running out Companies are invited to apply for the last of the Let's Grow programme’s funding, which has already provided £25m to North East enterprises. t is now a little over a year since the Let's Grow programme was launched with £30m of Government Regional Growth Fund money. Since then £25m has been awarded to over 60 businesses across the North East helping to create or safeguard a staggering 3000 jobs. These companies have committed to invest over £180m on exciting growth projects across a broad range of sectors. Already the fund has exceeded its targets for leveraging private sector investment, job impact and delivery timescale and so any companies wishing to access Let’s Grow will need to act quickly. Such is the success of the programme that a bid will be submitted in December to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills,


for more funding, and if this bid is successful the programme will be able to continue for a further two years. Otherwise the next round will be the last opportunity to access Let’s Grow funding.

What makes a successful application? Given the clear demand for support from the scheme, it is inevitable that not all applications received are successful and, as the current round of funding comes to an end, it is more important than ever for applicants to ensure that their application is strong and stands up to the scrutineering of the investment panel who shortlist applications. Neville Bearpark, corporate finance partner at UNW, who undertake the Let’s Grow appraisals,

said: “The Let’s Grow programme must meet fairly strict rules laid down by BIS and the EU. “What we can support are sound investment projects from businesses typically in the manufacturing sector or who provide a service which has a reach beyond the North East, for instance, a national IT provider. “Applicants must ensure however that the amount of support asked for is the minimum amount needed but also does not exceed the limits imposed on the scheme by the EU State Aid rules. “This puts a maximum level of support of 35 per cent on capital projects, however depending on the size of the applicant and the project location these limits can be as low as 10 per cent.” For further information, visit

Supporting all our teams Roger Tames on why we should be willing on all our region’s football clubs. ewcastle United fans will be choking on the irony of it all if their derby defeat at the Stadium of Light turns out to be the result that kickstarts Sunderland’s great escape. Yet black and whites should be pleased to make the sacrifice if it keeps Premier League football on Wearside. Of course, that’s asking ridiculously too much. However beneath the surface of a lifetime of Tyne Wear hostility, there may be more than a few Magpie fans who realise how damaging it would be for the North East if St James’ Park becomes an outpost of top flight football. No derbies for a start. Relegation for Sunderland would certainly be a disaster for my own industry, the media. National newspapers and Sky Sports News would find it increasingly hard to justify having a staff reporter based in the North East for just one team. Plenty of freelance television cameramen


have been grateful for a steady diet of work generated by matches, press conferences and feature interviews across two clubs. The balance of football power between north and south has changed significantly. The north west dominated the Premier League for a time


till Bolton, Blackburn, Blackpool and Wigan all slid back into the Championship. Hull has given Yorkshire a rare representative in the long term absence of Leeds and the two Sheffield clubs though The Tigers would be delighted to extend their stay. Should Sunderland finish in the bottom three, the local economy will feel the hit. Far fewer Championship fans will make the trek north to boost takings in bars and hotels. Home regulars too will pick their games more choosily, keeping their matchday money in their pockets. Before we talk the Black Cats into a tail spin, the immediate impact on results by Gus Poyet’s arrival has at least given Sunderland some chance of survival while Crystal Palace seem to have even less going for them. The North East still clings on to its hotbed of soccer self-image. It needs at least two top flight teams to keep that perception alive - while we wait for the new Spanish influence to revive the Boro.


Law firm sponsors an audience with ... Swinburne Maddison supports a Durham Book Festival event featuring an acclaimed crime writer. urham law firm Swinburne Maddison, showed its continued support for the city’s annual literary event by sponsoring a key occasion as part of the recent book festival. Guests and staff of Swinburne Maddison enjoyed a drinks reception followed by an evening of revelations and information on crime dramas, including Trial and Retribution, Above Suspicion and Prime Suspect, by none other than the author and Queen of Crime, Lynda La Plante. The event took place at the city’s Gala Theatre. Keen to support Durham in its efforts to bring the arts to a wider audience, Swinburne Maddison also sponsored Dresses, a spectacular light installation at the recently held Lumiere event.




Why engage a turnaround specialist? How Muckle can help you take control of your financial difficulties, before the bank steps in. ny business facing financial difficulties can often resolve these faster by engaging the services of a certified turnaround professional – someone with the skills and experience to find innovative and creative solutions to their problems. Don't wait until the bank steps in. It is vital for any business in difficulty to create their own strategy using their own advisers. Banks are usually the ones who are perceived to be controlling what happens when a business gets into difficulty. They will typically engage an accountant to carry out a review to determine the value of their security and how much support they should provide the business. It isn't surprising that company directors can feel unsure whether accountants are acting in the best interests of the bank rather than the business the directors are trying to save. This traditional approach limits the range of potential strategies to take the business forward. As a result of my extensive experience in the turnaround sector I have become accredited as a Certified Turnaround Professional.


EXPERT VIEW Andrew Cawkwell Partner, banking and restructuring team Muckle LLP Email: Twitter: @companyrescue


This means I can provide advice on not just the legal position, but a range of other turnaround and financial matters relevant to helping businesses in difficulty. Many lawyers in the corporate or banking field will approach business issues as legal problems, requiring legal solutions. I seek broader solutions to problems, whether these are legal, financial or otherwise. The breadth of skills and expertise at Muckle means we can help businesses take control earlier and devise their own strategies. If the directors drive the process they retain control of the strategy and give their bank greater confidence for a positive outcome. This is precisely what banks want to see happening. Clients often approach us to ask for a solution once they have defined what they think the legal problem is. However, engaging a turnaround specialist earlier in the process is usually a better approach. If they speak to us early, more options will remain available for support and recovery to help turn their business around and avoid the adverse consequences of financial failure.


Shared Interest Foundation Supports businesses across Africa

Challenge yourself in 2014 One charity runner reveals why he chose to support Shared Interest Foundation when completing this year’s Great North Run. hallenge events are becoming increasingly popular as they are a way for people to push themselves or experience things that they wouldn’t usually dream of doing, while also raising money for a fantastic cause. Here in the North East, we have one of the most famous and established challenge events right on our doorstep. In September, Miles Perry ran the Great North Run for Shared Interest Foundation, completing the 13.1 miles in 1 hour 37 minutes and raising over £350 for the charity. Miles was kind enough to share some of his thoughts on the Great North Run and the experience of fundraising:

Did you enjoy the experience?


It’s amazing to be part of such a landmark local event: the atmosphere at the start, the mass warm-up, the big village at the end. I'd recommend it to anybody, whether you've completed runs before or not, because of all the fantastic support.

Would you consider doing any other fundraising events in the future? Definitely! I'm really glad I ran for Shared Interest Foundation and I'd definitely choose them again. The next challenge would have to be bigger. Miles Perry

Is the Great North Run something you’ve always wanted to do? Absolutely. I can't believe it took me this long to get round to it. It's part of North East folklore, you can feel the build-up for months before.

What made you choose Shared Interest Foundation as your beneficiary charity? I grew up in Newcastle and about 10 years ago I saw a Shared Interest job advert in the paper. I was really excited once I realised that Newcastle had its very own development NGO I had to open a share account. Then when I got a place in the Great North Run and saw that the foundation had a Justgiving site, it was an easy decision.

Do you have any fundraising suggestions or pitfalls to avoid? Everyone was supportive once they knew it was important to me. The hard part is learning not to be shy when seeking support. The run was the first thing on my mind, but people are busy with their own lives and need reminding.

What was the hardest bit of the race and how did you get through it? Just over the half way mark, when the race turns uphill. But there's so much encouragement: bands, people handing out sweets and cheering. You never lose motivation. The best bit is near the end when the sea comes into view for the first time.


Would you recommend raising money for Shared Interest Foundation? Without a doubt - knowing it is a local charity that doesn't have hundreds of other runners was a big motivation. It meant that my contribution really mattered, also the moral support was terrific. If people can see that you care, that's what really counts. In the past year Shared Interest Foundation has provided training and support to 137 fair trade businesses across eight countries in Africa, which has helped improve the incomes of over 2000 individuals living below the poverty line. For help and information on how you can challenge yourself in 2014 in aid of Shared Interest Foundation, email or call (0191) 233 9115. Alternatively visit


Samantha Jackson with Claire Lister from Pitman Training.

The North East’s superstars The first Superstar Awards has recognised the unsung heroes and heroines of the North East business community. lmost 50 ‘behind-the-scenes’ stars were nominated by their grateful bosses for their sterling work and can-do attitudes in the Entrust and Pitman Training Newcastle-organised awards. The winners had their moment in the limelight in front of friends and colleagues at a fun presentation ceremony at As You Like It in Jesmond, on Wednesday, November 20. Samantha Jackson, who was nominated in the Customer Service Star category, was picked by the professional panel of judges as the first Overall Superstar. Samantha, the group accounts and office manager at Newcastle design and marketing agency onebestway, has risen through the ranks after joining the company a decade ago on a placement when she was just 16. Nominating her for the award, onebestway’s managing director Mike Owen, said: “For onebestway and its three sister businesses, Samantha is bookkeeper, invoicer, payroll manager, CRM system manager, does all annual returns, welcomes all clients, tidies and cleans and is credit controller. At home, Samantha looks after two beautiful young girls aged two and four and her partner Marc stays at home to allow Samantha to retain this pivotal position in our companies. Samantha, though one would not really notice, has cerebral palsy. She has mentioned this two or three times in 10 years. Related sick days over 10 years of service are zero.” Samantha, who won the Rising Star Award in 2009 when the Superstars were known as the Best Secretary on Tyneside Awards, said: “I was


nominated in the Customer Service Star category and I didn’t win, so I was just starting to relax and enjoy myself when my name was read out as the Overall Superstar 2013. I could hardly believe it, but I’m so grateful to Mike for nominating me and the judging panel for picking me.” Ben Armitage, who joined computer equipment disposal firm Innov8 Disposal at the start of the year as a Business Administration Apprentice, was named Rising Star 2013. Ben, who worked through personal issues at the start of his apprenticeship, became invaluable to the business after creating new IT systems to ensure Superstars were nominated in five categories, from which the Overall Superstar and Rising Star were chosen. The individual winners of these were: • The Number Cruncher Sponsored by RMT – Paula Henderson, Blu Sky Tax • Virtual-ly the Best Assistant Sponsored by Newcastle Business Village, Clavering House – Michelle Gudgeon, Perfect PA Services • PA Extraordinaire Sponsored by GEM Partnership – Debra Robinson, North East BIC • Customer Service Star Supported by Sage Gateshead – Alison Branton, Northumbrian Water • Jack or Jill of All Trades Sponsored by Pitman Training – Steve Raymond, QMS Engineering


greater accuracy and efficiency. “So impressed were we with the commitment Ben has shown and how he has delivered over and above what is expected, from September Ben was offered a permanent post and given a pay rise to support his Apprenticeship wage. We have also agreed to propel Ben onto full pay a month before he completes his Apprenticeship to show our gratitude for his continual effort,” said Gemma Cooper, business development manager at Innov8. The Superstar Awards were revived and rebranded this year when Entrust took over Pitman Training Newcastle, which had previously recognised the best of the region’s office staff in the Best Secretary on Tyneside Awards. Pitman Training, which provides specialist secretarial, book-keeping and IT skills designed to equip the staff that keep the North East’s offices running like clockwork, is one of the UK’s Superbrands – those company names that everyone knows such as Google and British Airways. Jill Duffy, centre manager of Pitman Training Newcastle, said: “Organising the 2013 Superstar Awards and reading through all the nominations showed what a huge wealth of talent we have behind the scenes here in the North East’s businesses. “It was brilliant to give people the opportunity to be publicly recognised for all the work they do, get dressed up and enjoy the awards evening. Congratulations to all our winners – and everyone who was nominated – because without you, it’s clear the region’s businesses wouldn’t be able to function as efficiently as they do.”


Watch this space Newcastle design and technology business hires new recruits.


esign and technology business _space group has strengthened its team with the arrival of five new recruits to its Newcastle-headquartered offices. The roles filled by this latest recruitment surge span all levels and divisions of the company. David Wise has joined the _space architecture arm of the business as a senior architect, while Andrew Smart has been appointed as content curator for _space’s building information modelling (BIM) content host, Three recent graduates have also been appointed by _space group after completing a free 12-week intensive BIM course launched by purpose-built training suite CAMPUS – a partnership between _space group’s BIM.Technologies and Northern Construction Training.

Lefto to right: Andrew Smart, Sophie McLean, David Wise, Rob Charlton (_space group chief executive), Jason Nattrass and Hollie Welch.

21-year-old Sophie McLean and 22year-old Hollie Welch have both taken up Part One architectural assistant roles and

20-year-old Jason Nattrass has taken up a technician role, all within _space architecture.

New fund to support technology start-ups


new fund to help drive growth of technology start-ups in the UK has launched on Teesside. TwentyThreeMiles is the brainchild of Clicksco, a group of global technology companies headquartered in Dubai, and fronted by investment specialists Paul Callaghan and Paul Weavers.

The fund will support technology businesses in five key areas: Big data for advertising, sales and marketing; social, mobile and e-commerce; personalisation of the internet; internet of things and social apps for enterprise. Each business TwentyThreeMiles invests in will be eligible for up to £30,000 to develop

the company, The start-up will also receive infrastructural and administrative support, including 12 months commercial accommodation around the DigitalCity technology hub on Teesside, access to London offices and practical support encompassing technical, business development, sales, finance and marketing.

BLS to transform


North East manufacturer that provided the transformers that The Kings of Leon used in their amplifiers at their recent Wembley concert has moved into bigger premises and is creating jobs because of increased demand.

BLS Electronics, which is run by Simon Williams and his wife Fran, is expanding its core business making transformers and wound components, and the directors have recently started a new venture offering business centre


services in Consett. BLS has been designing and manufacturing parts, found in everything from hi-fis to amplifiers and PAT testing equipment for portable appliances, for 40 years.


Top left to right: Karen Nelson (Calibre), Stephen Hammond (St Aidan’s) and Steve Nelson (Calibre) with pupils from St Aidan’s Catholic Academy.

Classroom of the future The face of education IT is rapidly changing and one company in the vanguard of delivering tomorrow’s technology is Newcastle-based ICT services firm Calibre Secured Networks Ltd. oday’s learning experience is a far cry from the one many of us will recall from childhood. Walk into any classroom and it’ll be almost unrecognisable with the impressive array of mobile devices, interactive touch-screen whiteboards and Kindles, instead of library cards, available for young people to use – all fully connected and integrated with superfast internet services and education applications. “The pace of change is unbelievable,” says Steve Nelson, technical operations director at Calibre. “Technology is playing an incredible part in enhancing the learning environment while providing teachers with fantastic resources and teaching aids. Education is really embracing technological advances to bring the classroom alive – today’s learning environments are exciting, collaborative, innovative and fully interactive. “The modern classroom no longer sees the teacher at the front of the class standing next to the black or white board. Instead, through the use of Apple TV and mobile devices, they are at the heart of the classroom, central to the successful absorption and utilisation of technology to deliver the curriculum in a way that improves students’ learning experience. “The ‘flipped classroom’ is another concept offering a new approach to learning where students are being introduced to new curriculum content at home or in dedicated quiet time periods prior to attending lessons, and then using lessons to plug skills’ gaps in a supported classroom environment. “We fully support teachers integrating IT into


lessons because technology is not a substitute for effective, intelligent teachers who engage, inspire and empower young people,” says Steve Nelson. This goes to the heart of the matter for Steve Nelson and the team at Calibre and underpins much of the work the firm is doing in the education sector on projects like the one at St. Aidan’s Catholic Academy in Sunderland. There the firm is well advanced in delivering a new cloud-based wireless and local area network and data storage system that is already enhancing the learning experience. The installation will be the largest of its type in the North East and once complete will provide school staff and over 1200 students with better and safer access to mobile smart phone and tablet-based ICT services and online study aids. It will be able to support mobile devices such as IPhones, enabling students to use their own laptop, mobile phones and tablets in school while teaching staff will be able to manage and control access to content to ensure it is educational. Calibre won the work as part of a five-year deal to supply and support the academy with a high speed system featuring the latest Cisco Meraki wireless technology, which puts modern technology at the heart of student learning and enable a seamless transition from school to home allowing pupils’ access to anytime, anyplace learning. Steve Nelson says the provision of high quality network and data storage services which ensure the school is able to meet the education needs of students not only now but well into the


future, adding: “Our flexible solution offers excellent value for money and will see us working in partnership with the school to deliver quality technology, support and expertise as the new system comes online.” Using Cisco Meraki technology enables the school to retain management of mobile devices belonging to students and staff, enabling installation of software, apps relevant to subjects and antivirus programs. It will also enable Google Safesearch and Educational You Tube services to be available on demand and send tailored messages to different groups and even locate lost or misplaced devices. Glenn Sanderson, head of Key Stage 4 at St Aidan’s Catholic Academy, says the school had to upgrade to reliable, high speed wireless network to meet current and future teaching needs: “Calibre impressed with its cost effective solution which will not only deliver cost benefits but can be adapted to meet the future needs of staff and students as new technology becomes available.” There is no doubt the classroom of the future will be an exciting place, believes Steve Nelson, who concludes: “Technology, and the endless possibilities it offers, will be to the fore revolving around the relationships between pupil and teacher. Seeing first-hand how technology has shaped the modern day classroom is mindblowing.” For more information on Calibre Secured Networks visit, tel: 0845 5576355 or email


State of the Art What’s new in the world of technology and gadgets ...

IPAD AIR The iPad Air is the latest offering from Apple. It features a 9.7-inch Retina display and is 20 per cent thinner and 28 per cent lighter than the fourth generation iPad. The Apple-designed A7 chip offers 64-bit desktop class architecture and with advanced graphics and faster built-in Wi-Fi and expanded LTE cellular connectivity, the iPad Air is sure to be at the top of many people’s Christmas lists. Priced from £399.



GOOGLE NEXUS 5 oogle has teamed up with LG to create a smartphone to showcase its new platform release, KitKat, that promises a smarter, more immersive Android experience. The Nexus 5 is the slimmest and fastest Nexus yet and offers a 5-inch Full HD display 4G/LTE and ultra fast Wi-Fi, as well as plenty of new apps that you’ll have more space to download, as the KitKat’s memory footprint is only 512MB of RAM.


HANNSG HT231HPB annsG has unveiled its first touchscreen monitor. The HT231HPB Full HD 23inch screen has an advanced 10-point control, built-in stereo speakers and is certified to work with Windows 8. It also has a very attractive RRP of just £199 including VAT, making it a bargain, too.


WALKMAN W274S njoy great quality sound while you’re swimming, in the gym or running a marathon with the Walkman W274S MP3 player from Sony. Boasting 8GB of memory to store up to 2000 songs and a compact design with secure in-ear fitting, these waterproof headphones are a perfect companion for getting fit in the new year.




The team from Barclays who won the Contact Centre of the Year (over 100 seats)

A ‘new’ industry comes of age When it comes to thriving North East industries, contact centres aren’t necessarily the first to spring to mind – but they should be and they are ready to take their turn in the spotlight.

inked for decades with heavy industry, the North East is quietly but confidently emerging as a UK leader in an all-together different sector. Almost as shipyards closed, contact centres opened and, thanks to significant inward investment from the UK and overseas, the North East is now at the forefront of this highly competitive industry. More than five per cent of the region’s working population now works in a contact centre and, due to the popularity of the North East accent, higher than average staff retention and competitive salaries, ours is ranked as one of the best regions in the UK in which to locate a contact centre. There are around 145 call centres across the region employing around 61,000 people and, on November 22 the skills and achievements of individuals, teams and companies in ten categories, were honoured at the North East Contact Centre Awards. “It is an industry in which talented staff are absolutely crucial,” says Therese Liddle, managing director of NRG Resource Solutions, which is headline sponsor of the event and one of the most experienced contact centre recruitment agencies in the UK. “Today’s contact centres face the challenge of engaging customers in a multi-channel environment but while technology such as email, texts and social media has a part to play, ultimately it’s the staff which make the difference,” she adds. The contact centre sector is dynamic and diverse in its portfolio of services and its breadth of employment and career


North East Customer Champion of the Year, Jessica Lee Van Pelt from (Virgin Money) with World Pay sponsor Simon Hunter.

The winners: Customer Champion of the Year: Jessica Lee Van Pelt, Virgin Money Contact Centre Professional of the Year: Hayley Steele, Virgin Money Team Leader of the Year: Ian Humphreys, Virgin Money Dream Team: CISCO IS Six Sigma, Convergys Best Recruitment and Induction Programme: Barclays, Sunderland Best Innovation: RSA Group –More Than Outsourced Contact Centre: Convergys Contact Centre of the Year (under 100 seats): Home Group Contact Centre of the Year (over 100 seats): Barclays Contact Centre, Sunderland


opportunities, not just for young people but for those of all ages and at all stages of their career. “In many situations a more mature candidate will excel in customer service as they bring life experience and empathy to many real situations,” says Therese. “Contact centres are moving away from scripts and need staff who can easily engage in conversation with the customer – and that’s where the natural warmth of North East people really comes into its own.” In addition, Hays Recruitment sponsored the Dream Team award – open to both front and back office teams – while GEM Contact Centre sponsored the award for Outstanding Team Leader of the Year. Other companies who recognised the importance of this industry included WorldPay which was also a leading sponsor of the night. “We were delighted to sponsor the award and enjoyed celebrating with the region’s contact centre industry’s top talent,” said Rebecca Hutchinson, head of the GEM Contact Centre. Driving this year’s event is Sunderland City Council that also recognised the importance of the industry to the region. “The contact centre and call centre industry contribute a huge amount to the region’s economy,” said Cllr Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council. “And it is really important that their excellent work continues to be recognised. These awards have gone from strength to strength and we are sure that this year’s event will be very well supported.”


Left to right: Peter Gilson (Entrust), Paul Slaughter (iSpy Digital), Wayne Muter (iSpy Digital), Alex Buchan (Northstar), Tony Henfrey (NF Holdings) and John Lowe (iSpy Digital)

Left to right: Emma O’Rourke (Northstar), Patrick Smith (Michael Page), Ian Richards (Northstar)

Stephen Price (Northstar) and Steve Nelson (Calibre)

Northstar Ventures hosts its annual drinks reception. ewcastle-based venture capital firm Northstar Ventures hosted its annual drinks reception at The Biscuit Factory on November 7. Over 100 guests joined Northstar, including local law firms, business advisers, business angels and a handful of Northstar’s portfolio companies. Northstar is currently investing two funds on behalf of the Finance for Business North East programme.

N Left to right: Alasdair Greig (Northstar), Demi Green (Recruitment Force) and Carl Holst-Roness (Recruitment Force).

Left to right: Martin Jasper (Root Corz), Ian Potter (Zincere) and Nick Moore (Commercial Edge Consulting)

Gerry White (Northstar), Neil Locksley (IBEX Innovations) and Alasdair Greig (Northstar).

For more information about Northstar, please visit

Left to right: Jen Muldoon, Caitlin May and Sophie Atkinson (all Northstar)

Left to right: Phil Murray (Harlands), Kevin Lee (Harlands), Richard Charnley (Northstar) and Dr. Michael Dickens (Rivers Capital).

MatchChat team and Michelle Cooper (Northstar)



LIONRA master class Blackswan launches its latest product to LIONRA members. aurice Duffy, CEO of Blackswan, delivered New Mindsets for New Times, a new Blackswan product to a large group of LIONRA members and business leaders in the North East – the first of many master classes being delivered. The LIONRA network has grown rapidly since they launched in March, raising over £10,000 for charity. Its next big event is the St Patrick’s Day Ball 2014, with Niall Quinn and Viscount Crichton joining as patrons. We’re sure it will be a great success!




Listen to this … North East firm launches a groundbreaking social media listening app.


Gosforth-based media intelligence company has launched a new online tool to navigate the wall of sound produced by social media. Lissted is designed to help businesses in the North East and beyond find out who matters most in their sector, then monitor and engage with them via Twitter. The application allows users to research, create and manage individual lists of the most influential people in their industries. Lissted is the brainchild of Adam Parker (pictured), a chartered accountant who previously spent nine years with PwC in Newcastle, and co-author of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Share This guides to using social media for PR. He launched RealWire in 2001, which operates from offices in Lincoln and Gosforth. Adam said: “Lissted works as a

superhuman social listening tool that cuts through the noise to find out what’s important. It starts with human-moderated lists of the people who really matter to an

industry - whether journalists, politicians or brands themselves. From here, its algorithm maps their relationships to other accounts and predicts who they also listen to.”

PR agency on top of the world


orth East PR agency, Karol Marketing, has been appointed to publicise the long-awaited new book by legendary climber, Alan Hinkes OBE. 8000 Metres – Climbing The World’s

Highest Mountains documents Hinkes’ challenge over 18 years and 27 attempts to reach the summit of the 14 ‘death zone’ mountains, all of which reach heights of 8000 metres or above. The Yorkshireman is said to be the only Briton

to have achieved such a feat. Stefan Lepkowski, managing director of Karol, said: “It’s a huge honour to be involved in such a prestigious project and to be working with Alan Hinkes and Cicerone on publicising the book.”

Marketing firm plots expansion


irect marketing business, Meridian Delta, is planning to recruit 25 new jobs in the next 12 months after almost quadrupling its turnover to £1.9m inside three years. The Newcastle-based firm has grown its

workforce from six to 45 since 2008 and has worked with global organisations such as VISA, Singapore Airlines, Apple, BBC, Coca-Cola, the United Nations and HSBC . Jobs offered will include sales and sales


management, design, programming and administrative roles. The company also regularly takes on apprentices to teach its marketing and business philosophies and, to date, has offered full-time employment to 80 per cent of them.


And the winners are … Samantha Davidson looks at the marketing triumphs of 2013.

t seems like we’ve hardly had time to draw breath after the whirlwind year that was 2012 and already 2013 is almost at an end! The year has seen its fair share of marketing winners this year: from Coca Cola’s personalised bottles to Morrisons’ makeover of its Wimbledon store as ‘Murriwins’ following Andy Murray’s historic victory on Centre Court. Even self-confessed marketing sceptic Michael O’Leary finally accepted, prompted no doubt by two profits warnings, that perhaps it was time to review what the Ryanair brand actually stood for. But it has been developments in digital and social media in particular which have continued to shape much of what brands have been doing these past 12 months. This year content marketing has occupied a bigger place in the marketer’s arsenal of tactics. While not a new concept, there is now greater emphasis being placed on content marketing as companies look for ways to engage with their customers and better understand them. Content marketing can be used right through the marketing mix – and social networks are driving it: the guiding principle is that it’s got to be something that people can engage with – and, crucially, share with their own networks. Discoverability, shareability, virality, whatever you want to call it is the modern-day tech equivalent of word of mouth and companies are using it as a powerful way to broaden the reach of their brand. A key trend evident throughout much of 2013 has been for visual content, in other words image and video rather than text-based content. Hot on the heels of Pinterest, which became the third most popular social network last year and which allows user to ‘pin’ images and video to their boards, Twitter and Instagram both launched “microvideo” tools


EXPERT VIEW Samantha Davidson Managing director Horizonworks Tel: 08450 759955 Email: Web:

this year, offering users 6 seconds in the case of Twitter Vine, or in the case of Instagram video, a whopping 15 seconds. Brands are already coming up with some great ideas for how to use these new tools to promote themselves – from Cadbury to Ebay and from Volkswagen to the BRIT Awards. Companies understand that producing lots of unique, engaging content will not only drive interaction with their audiences but will have the added benefit of improving SEO results, too. This year saw Google’s march go ever onward, with the news that Google+ overtook Twitter to become the second most popular social network – in the US, at least. As author rank is increasingly featuring in search algorithms, brands are publishing more and more content online, boosting their credibility in the eyes of Google and as a result, featuring prominently in the search rankings. Technology has undoubtedly changed the way we connect with customers. The challenge is to harness these new tools whilst incorporating traditional media. Customers are using a mix of online and offline, so companies need to consider how to extend their brand and build relationships with customers across a range of platforms. This is where the Share a Coke campaign demonstrated to great effect


the importance of personalisation and also the integration of the online and offline worlds – it was a tangible, personalised product, promoted through TV and poster advertising as well through events up and down the country. But the key thing was that it could also be shared online through people taking photos of ‘their’ bottle of coke and tweeting it with the hashtag #shareacoke (which they did 29,000 times, according to Brandwatch), or sharing it via the Facebook app. Another great example of online crossplatform integration in 2013 is the latest Topshop campaign, for which the retailer has teamed up with Pinterest. Topshop has even gone as far as installing touchscreens in the flagship London and New York stores, and given sales assistants in other stores iPads to help customers shop – and pin. But it doesn’t matter how often marketing evolves, some things will not change: the quality of the product or service you are delivering, managing and exceeding your customers expectations and delivering what you say you’ll deliver – in other words, your brand promise. People and relationships are still at the heart of business interactions and successful marketing is still very much about this. The best marketing campaigns are those that create an affinity between your brand and your customer in a relevant and meaningful way. New technologies help reach new customers and can give you greater exposure and awareness, but there is still nothing like talking to and listening to customers, getting to know them and consequently building trust in your brand and extending that relationship into a partnership. Whatever the predictions for 2014 that is one trend that will go on and on.

MEDIA Highlights PR helped host a Auf Wiedersehen Pet Convention this year

A year of highlights Keith Newman of Highlights PR tells us about his plans for next year, his highlights of 2013 and why PR has changed his life. dwindling in popularity and web news pages are increasing. I’ve noticed a lot of my clients are taking advantage of my writing skills to produce e-newsletters so that they can keep in touch with their clients and get their sales messages out to a wider audience.

Have you always worked in PR? No, I had an excellent career in the gas industry and was given the opportunity to join their in house PR team and never looked back.

What has been the highlight of your PR year? Without a doubt it was looking after the PR for the Auf Wiedersehen Pet convention in Newcastle last September. As a fan of the show, it was a dream to work on. The weekend of talks, tours and banquets raised much need funds for the Sunday For Sammy Trust. My work featured on TV, radio and print media all over the world. My personal highlight was meeting Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement who wrote my favourite comedy show of all time, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? “

What are you looking forward to doing next year? I’m working on a new website and planning radio media training for small businesses.

What PR work gives you pleasure at Christmas? I enjoy working on any Christmas story as it’s a very special time of year but my work with Tyneside charity, The People’s Kitchen, takes on a new urgency as the more coverage I can get, the more help they receive from the public. I particularly love their street party for the homeless which has brass bands, festive food and Santa with presents, all in a quiet part of Newcastle at night.

Music is a big part of your work; tell us about it ... I’m a director at Radio Northumberland, run my own punk show and I’ve started to promote bands. I already look after the PR for a number of prominent musicians. Keith Newman

What will you do between Christmas and New Year? I use this time to plan my strategy for next year and catch up with family and friends. The nature of the job means that this can change at a moment’s notice – particularly with my crisis management services.

You’ve a passion for the River Tyne and boats – how have you incorporated that into your work? Yes, I’m the National PR officer for nautical charity, The Maritime Volunteer Service and I look after PR for HMS Calliope, the Royal Naval Reserves at Gateshead.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the PR world this year? Sadly, many of my friends and contacts in newspapers are being expected to do more and more with fewer resources. Newspapers are


Why do you think that your clients come back to you? I don’t charge silly prices and I deliver more than expected. The quality of our work is high including fantastic photography by The Bigger Picture.

What is the best thing about having your own PR business? It’s literally changed my life. It’s made me think on my feet, allowed me to see behind the scenes of some fantastic businesses and enabled me to meet a lot of great people, many of whom I now call friends rather than clients. Above all, I love meeting people and finding an angle to a story that no one else has thought of and then hearing their delight when I tell them that our story is in the newspapers. Contact Keith Newman and Highlights PR on 07814 397951, email: Alternatively visit or follow Twitter: @highlightspr


Reasons to be cheerful ... reasons to invest As we look forward to 2014, Stefan Lepkowski, managing director of Karol Marketing, urges businesses to take advantage of growing confidence and review their communications strategies. he economic recovery has finally taken hold, according to the Governor Of The Bank Of England. The glass, suggested Mark Carney, may be half full - for the first time in years. Unemployment is reportedly falling. Positivity is returning to the Old Lady Of Threadneedle Street’s hallowed halls. The CBI, meanwhile, has pointed to optimism among small and medium-sized manufacturers growing at a “record pace”, with huge increases in both domestic and export orders in past months. It’s true though, that this ‘recovery’ may take a while to make its presence truly felt in our part of the world, which was hit particularly hard by the recession. Throughout the downturn, and in its early stages especially, many regional firms were reluctant to talk about their successes and often kept a low profile: I recall attending several corporate events where filling tables had obviously been a struggle, and charity auction prizes went for embarrassingly small sums of money. Restraint was pervasive. Many businesses cut their cloth in the recession, and sadly, one of the first parts of their budget to see the dreaded black marker pen was often public relations and marketing activity. Several of the established agency heavyweights in the north’s media scene have since fallen by the wayside as a result of


slashed client spend. At a time when North East businesses needed to be shouting from the rooftops - to attract new customers, to keep themselves in the public eye - companies were speaking in hushed tones. That’s why news of increased positivity, not just from Carney and co., but also among the businesses which Karol talks to on a daily basis, represents an opportunity. A chance to seize the day and forge ahead. A carefully crafted, well executed public relations campaign gives companies the chance to grab a greater share of voice, to ensure that, as the country emerges from recession and the storm clouds lift, they’ll be in pole position to take advantage of renewed consumer and investor confidence, rather than lagging behind their competitors. When businesses start to talk positively about themselves, they start to act positively, and opportunities will open up for them. Our clients include regional manufacturers, international retailers and global brands ... and they all recognise that change is in the air. The regional newspapers also have their part to play in fostering a sense of positivity. They rightly champion technology, engineering, renewables and education, for instance, but by giving an increased profile to the North East’s PR and marketing sector - of


which there is much to be proud - they would be encouraging growth in this industry too. For too long, PR companies have seen their successes ignored, or relegated to news in brief columns, even if they have won prestigious international accounts. This is an editorial policy rooted in the erroneous belief that because agencies are specialists in promotion, they should be excluded from promoting themselves. And the more regional success stories PR agencies are able to tell, the stronger the relationship between their subjects and the local press will be; after all, everyone enjoys snooping on the competition, and the newspaper is a great place to start! Newspaper sales should increase as a result, reversing the downward trend of the last few years. Let’s be honest – conditions are still tough for many businesses. But if we can build a sense of momentum, embrace good news, tell our stories and move forward together, then recovery can become a reality on the ground ... and not just on Threadneedle Street. For more information on how Karol Marketing can help your business, tel: (0191) 265 7765, email or visit


Three of the best Sarah Hall, managing director of Sarah Hall Consulting Ltd, the PR and marketing consultancy, looks back at the best marketing campaigns of 2013.

EXPERT VIEW Sarah Hall Managing director Sarah Hall Consulting Tel: 07702 162704 Email: Web: Twitter: @hallmeister

hristmas is a great time for reflection and my thoughts often turn to the fantastic PR and marketing campaigns we’ve been involved with and those we’ve seen elsewhere. For example we’ve loved developing some really clever content strategies for office supplies price comparison site, where business is burgeoning and international music venue Sage Gateshead, where engagement is at an all time high. Our video production arm has been extremely well used by almost all of our clients who have benefited from higher click through rates and an improved organic page ranking in Google, driven in part by the films we have produced, each designed to be watchable, relevant and very shareable. Looking at some of the big brands, there has been a lot to draw inspiration from. My favourite campaign of the year has most definitely been Coca-Cola personalised bottles, a really simple and highly effective idea that continues to be popular. The summer campaign invited people to share a moment of happiness with friends, families and loved ones and – in a relatively brave move – swapped the iconic logo on the bottles with 250 of the most popular names in Great Britain. Taken on the road in July and August, trips into towns and cities saw over 350,000 bottles personalised. I’m sure you’ll remember it – never before have I seen so many avatar’s replaced on Twitter and Facebook with named bottles of coke in a superb


example of how people will become your brand ambassadors for you, if you give them a compelling reason to do so. Interested in other peoples’ favourite campaigns from 2013, I turned to the chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations North East committee, Chris Taylor, for his view. For him, it has been ‘Elvis has left the building’. Chris said: “Welsh local government might be an odd place for the year’s best PR campaign but Torfaen Borough Council’s winter maintenance message featuring an Elvis impersonator talking about gritting roads and collecting waste is a work of genius. “At a time when North East local authorities are dusting down their grit wagons and winter safety messages, this is a fantastic example of how councils can communicate with residents. It’s engaging, funny and very, very shareable, yet with a serious message. “Half a million YouTube views later you have a lot of more engaged residents with a smile on their faces who have a new perspective on the work their council does to keep things moving. Check it out at and spare a thought for all of Elvis’s colleagues keeping our region moving this winter!” I then asked Stephen Waddington, director of Ketchum Europe and the co-author of #BrandVandals, if any of the Christmas campaigns had caught his eye. He said: “The M&S Christmas campaign has


become a traditional feature of the seasonal calendar alongside crackers, mince pies, presents and trees. This year’s #magicandsparkle campaign is no turkey. It’s an exception piece of creative work that is beautifully produced and integrated across all forms of media from TV advertising to social. “The question is whether the campaign translates to magic and sparkle for the high street retailer. M&S recently announced its ninth consecutive quarter of falling sales. Food sales are up but clothing continues to fall against high street competition. “Therein lies the issue for M&S. Good public relations and strong marketing campaigns can generate attention but it needs to be supported by product.” All the examples shown here are worth looking at if you’re searching for creative ideas for your 2014 campaigns but Stephen makes a good point. Glitz and glamour and big spend doesn’t always translate into sales so tread carefully and make sure the product or service you are offering fulfils a need for your target market – and that you deliver on the brand promises you are making. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful New Year. See you in 2014. For more PR and marketing related news and articles, please visit


Get the look Fashion and accessories for men. By Jessica Laing.

Black classic Bow Tie, £45, Hugo Boss

Occasions Jacket, £65, Debenhams

Best of British Striped Tie, £29.50, Marks & Spencers

Front Tuxedo Shirt, £270, Dolce & Gabbana

is the season to smarten up! With the festive period comes office parties, festive meals and even the odd Christmas ball, so what better time to get dressed up? If you find ‘dressing up’ daunting or are frightened of formal wear, you needn’t worry; there are plenty of ways to turn up the glamour and feel comfortable at the same time. For balls and formal gatherings, you can’t go wrong with the classic, clean-cut tuxedo. Slimming and distinguishing, a crisp white shirt, a sharp black blazer and a stylish bow tie are always a winning combination. To bring individuality to your look, why not opt for a purple, brown or blue bow tie for a splash of colour? For more relaxed festive occasions, the sharp suit is your friend – particularly if it boasts slightly shiny fabric. Pull everything together with a printed ‘skinny’ tie (to bring boyish charm to your outfit) and shiny leather shoes – perfect for dancing the night away.


Dinner Suit Trousers, £60, Jacamo

MODEL ATTIRE Malmo Navy Slim Fit High Shine Suit Jacket, £50 Premium Cotton Forward Point Collar Shirt, £16 Skinny Fashion Tie, £5 Formal Side Leather Lace Up’s, £25 All from Matalan

Oxford Gross Grain Patent Leather Shoes, £430, Saint Laurent



A good day for Niven An architects practice has been rewarded for its technological vision after winning global acclaim.


n the same day as North Eastbased Niven Architects celebrated success in an international technological challenge, they also gained major exposure at a global conference looking at the future of building design and delivery. Working with the Teesside University’s Knowledge Transfer Programme, the Darlington practice has secured its reputation as being at the cutting edge of BIM (Building Information Modelling) which uses state of the art computer software to provide a single set of three dimensional plans for building schemes of all sizes. Niven’s BIM manager, Johnathan Munkley, led a team in the international contest Build Sydney Live 2013, which attracted leading experts from Germany, USA, Singapore, Vietnam and Latvia. Their round-the-clock efforts saw them take the award for Best Use of BIM for Sustainability and Constructability. At the same time Niven director Simon Crowe was in London where the practice was the main sponsor of the Construction Virtual Reality Conference, which attracted leading authorities from around the world.

Example of BIM.

Demand for NE commercial property rising


emand for shops, offices and industrial units in the North East increased during the third quarter of the year (Aug-Oct), according to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Commercial Property Survey.

Nine per cent more chartered surveyors in the region reported rises rather than falls in demand for shops. Meanwhile, a net balance of 37 percent more respondents reported an increase in demand for industrial units in the North East

(up from 11 per cent in Q2), with 28 percent reporting a rise in demand for office space in the region (up from -11 per cent in Q2). This growth in interest has resulted in more chartered surveyors predicting rents in the North East may rise over the coming year.

Blaydon MP backs £80K classroom giveaway


ave Anderson, MP for Blaydon, is urging the North East to enter a national competition to win an £80,000 classroom. The permanent timber-clad 30-pupil classroom is being given away by Clearspace Buildings, which is based on the Team Valley, in conjunction with the

leading education magazine and website TES. This is the second time Clearspace and TES have partnered to donate a classroom. This year, Clearspace is offering the winning school the choice of the standalone permanent single classroom or an £80,000 contribution to


a rooftop extension – both from the company’s Clearspace Education brand. Dave Anderson MP said: “The great people at Clearspace are dedicated to their work and determined to ensure that our nation’s children can be taught in state-of-the-art facilities.”



The long game North East Times asks successful business men and women, with more than 25 years experience in their field, what their industry was like when they started, how it has changed and where they see their sector going?

Duncan Young Managing director at Sanderson Young

PAST y first experience of estate agency was with Glover Humble & Partners, based in Alnwick, working out of North Northumberland. My first office was in Berwick working with a lovely lady, Nan Sinton, who was my office manager, sales negotiator, cleaner and great support worker. In 1985 I came down to Gosforth and began an intensive estate agency, valuing up to 13 houses a day, writing details by longhand and dictating to my boss’s secretary, valuations and memorandums of sale. Everything worked at a much slower pace and developers, solicitors, building societies and bank managers were courteous, supportive, personable and efficient. Nobody expected instant replies or a 24-hour service and life was calmer. From the early 80s to the late 90s my responsibilities grew; from one office and one member of staff to 66 offices and 300 plus staff. In 1998 I left it all – the whole corporate world and the support of HR, training departments and personal profile analysis. I started again when I set up Sanderson Young, my own company, in January 1999. The rebirth of estate agency was exciting, vibrant, fresh and new and soon my past clients returned and the regional market understood the brand, its ethos and our mission statement, based on good old-fashioned principles, solid professional advice and the human touch in a modern world. It was soon to change beyond our belief. I was one of the first to use a Blackberry!



PRESENT n 2013, estate agents are finally smiling again. After seven years of famine, it appears that confidence is growing. The current world has evolved immensely and version five of our website is about to be launched, with very clever, modern and intelligent technology. Over 60 per cent of our business comes through the internet and over half of that business is from mobile devices, which have nearly doubled in the last 18 months. The actions we take must be immediate, the service we give must be 100 per cent efficient and the display and marketing we provide to our clients must be the very best available within the North of England. The hard printed media still exists and certain niche titles are still in high demand, but the internet, portal websites and our own website will drive the brand forward and we are investing hundreds of thousands of pounds to ensure we remain at the forefront of this technology. However, estate agency is a people’s business and a computer can never replace the human touch of understanding, reviewing and listening to our clients’ needs. I keep telling my team that I am not interested in the amount of For Sale boards we have in one area, but the amount of sold boards. If we are to act well for our clients, we must stay honest, dependable and reliable.


s I approach 50, people often talk to me about succession planning. The company has a hunger to enjoy the resurgence of the housing market. We have the skills and the capability within our mature team to do very well for those looking to invest, develop or buy a residential property in the North of England. Our information technology, our walk-through videos and the clever use of intelligent databases are becoming increasingly important. The protection of the database and the successful management of clients ensure that we have repeat and referred business. We must build clients for life, not just for one generation. We must add value to our clients, with insurance, mortgage and associated products that match our brand. The onward development of new media creates significant opportunities, but we know a personal interface has to remain and that only through constantly revisiting our client bank can we ensure that we provide added value to those clients. Estate agents no longer need multiple offices and, in the future, more agents may become remote like American realtors, working from home and networking their own patch. However, being part of a much stronger brand will penetrate throughout all price levels and ensure that we make a difference to our clients’ aspirations. Our data allows us to be more efficient, the maturity of our backgrounds allows us to be more effective and our drive and ambition will create success for our clients.


TIMELINE 1982-1984: Part-time work at Scott & Muirhead in Alnwick. 1984-1986: Glover Humble & Partners, Northumberland Estate Agents & Surveyors 1986-1998: General Accident Property Services, Area to Divisional Director 1999: The birth of Sanderson Young




Heaton is happening Property expert Damiano Rea looks at an area of Newcastle that is growing in popularity as a place to live.

t is always nice to see an area of town enjoy a bit of a renaissance, especially if you live and work there. For too long Heaton has been overshadowed by its glamorous sisters, Jesmond and Gosforth, but of late the area has emerged with its own distinct style and vibrant atmosphere. Heaton is fast becoming the first choice for students and young professionals who appreciate the diversity of local shops, restaurants and other amenities. All this begs the question, which came first? The hip, young population or the quirky local shops they frequent? My guess is a bit of both with the availability of quality lettings being a significant factor. If the vibe on the streets is


Damiano Rea


not convincing enough, the arrival of big retailers led by Tesco and Sainsbury’s makes the assumption that Heaton is on the up a cast iron certainty. These multiples do not choose their location on a whim, rather on the basis of painstaking research into their target market. And a glance at the shelves in these new supermarket outlets reveals a lot about the results of their research. These are not the huge out of town sheds which sell everything including the kitchen sink. Rather they are smaller, almost boutique supermarkets whose offer is aimed squarely at young people with busy lifestyles and disposable income. They

are high on prepared food, ready meals, deli items and of course wines and beers. While the big multiples have been accused of killing our high streets, the effect of their smaller boutique operations actually enhances street life and encourages local trade. Shoppers stopping off for their pizza and bottle of wine may well also stop at a classic clothing store, a local gym or simply grab a cup of coffee and a cake. While it is true that the traditional butcher, baker and greengrocer have largely fallen victim to the big multiples, in Heaton their place has been taken by entrepreneurial young traders offering the goods and services the local community wants to buy. Mary ‘Queen of Shops’ Portas would be proud! While good shops, restaurants and other retail businesses are essential to an area’s resurgence, Heaton has more to offer than simply shopping. With excellent transport connections residents can be in town within minutes. And the refurbishment of Heaton Park means this lovely green space is used by more people than ever before. From our office on Heaton Road it is possible to walk to the Quayside through Armstrong Park, Heaton Park, City Stadium then down the Ouseburn. The only way you know you are in a city centre is when you have to cross Ouseburn Road and Warwick Street.

The emergence of Heaton as a vibrant place to live has provided opportunity for landlords since the multiple occupancy student bedsits of yore are now history, due in part to the new student accommodation blocks near the universities. Our project management team is currently flat out arranging for the conversion of lovely old Heaton houses from slightly run down student lets into homes any of us would be happy to live in. A typical spend of £150,000 including refurbishment and furnishing to a high standard will see a yield of 12 per cent plus, after mortgage payment and management fees. Our Pro-Share Plus scheme which brings together young professionals to take on a larger property means we frequently have the home fully let before building work is completed. This represents a good return on investment and another home for people who will make a positive contribution to the local economy and culture. All good news for Heaton but are there lessons to be learned for other areas in need of an economic and cultural boost? Perhaps. Heaton has a number of advantages – the availability of quality housing stock and homes suitable for refurbishment to a high standard. It has two vibrant high streets in Heaton Road


and Chillingham Road with affordable rents suitable for entrepreneurial start ups. A significant factor in an areas renewal is the availability of parking for our mobile lifestyle. While Jesmond is known for a lack of parking, in Heaton, the parking issue is less of a problem since there is room for residents and visitors alike. While the private sector is a major contributor to the regeneration of an area like Heaton through landlords and entrepreneurial traders investing to make the area work, the council also has a role to play. Recently we have been talking to the council about such issues as the problem of fly tipping and it seems we are making progress. Consultation and open discussion is the way forward if we are to build upon recent success in Heaton and jointly learn any lessons which may be applied to other areas of our city. Everybody, residents, landlords, lettings agencies and the authorities want to see the same outcomes – vibrant, sustainable communities supporting local businesses and reflecting well upon our great city. Perhaps together we can make it happen beyond the boundaries of Heaton? For information on Heaton Property call (0191) 240 0665 or visit


Giving businesses a Newlife Why this cleaning company is proud of its green credentials. ewlife Cleaning Systems regularly test new technologies in conjunction with a number of national clients, always ensuring that using eco-friendly cleaning supplies is one of their top priorities. With over 30 years of experience in their field, the extensive range of services and fully trained employees ensure an unrivalled level of customer satisfaction. While billowing clouds of smoke from the coal-burning plant are bad for your lungs, the pollutants in your workplace may not be quite so obvious. As a company policy, Newlife avoids the use of chemically reactive and toxic products and instead choose to invest in biodegradable products that are designed to be kinder to health and environmental quality, while ensuring high


quality results is still achieved. Not only do the Newlife fleet hold a moral compass when it comes to the products they use but they also certify that all members of staff are fully trained and given NVQ qualifications as well as being CRB checked for venues that dictate it. Offering a wide selection of specialist cleaning services including office cleaning, industrial parts cleaning and high level cleaning as well as medical and clinical cleaning and floor treatments, Newlife Cleaning Systems can ensure that your cleaning requirements are understood and organised efficiently to enhance the running of your business, in an eco-friendly way. With extensive knowledge, experience and a first rate reputation, Newlife is proud to work in partnership with high profile organisations within

both the public and private sectors. Providing a perfectly tailored cleaning schedule, Newlife offer high quality and sustainable solutions to fit your requirements. Regardless of size or value, each contract is treated with the same attention. To find out more about Newlife or to view the entire range of services offered to the entire nation by Newlife Cleaning Systems, visit, alternatively, for regular posts and updates @NewlifeClean can be found on Twitter. Newlife Cleaning Systems Limited can be found at Town Hall Chambers, 7 Beach Road, South Shields. To arrange a site visit and quotation, please contact an adviser on 0800 018 90 99.

Wiff boughs of holly Try something different this party season ... hether you’re looking for a vibrant and exciting night out with friends, or a brand new way to commemorate the festive period with your work colleagues, Durham-based Wiff Waff is the perfect place to visit. Situated in the famous and historic university city, Wiff Waff is the latest addition to Durham’s bustling night life and the North East’s very first ping pong bar! With two fully licensed bars, four ping pong tables, tantalising cocktail and food menus, as well as a private hire area, there is something to suit everyone this December. The relaxed and informal atmosphere also adds to the unrivalled


Wiff Waff experience. The catering team offers a menu which boasts four types of house salad (not just for the health conscious) with everything from duck to goat’s cheese, as well as meat platters, Mediterranean light bites, bread and olives and much more. And a novel concept is the Wiff Waff dessert menu. Served at the table on freshly made pizza bases, popular toppings such as Nutella, fresh fruit and other sweet treats are all meticulously crafted to be perfectly enjoyed as a group. Offering its patrons a late licence, Wiff Waff is the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit. Available for both private and corporate hire, Wiff Waff can be used as a hospitality venue if


you’re looking to spread the Christmas cheer with colleagues, clients and even suppliers. Promoting an impressive calendar of events, Wiff Waff host student nights, tournament Tuesdays and nightly buy-one-get-one-free drinks offers. Wiff Waff can be found at Back Silver Street, Durham. Further information and reservations can be made by calling (0191) 386 77 00, emailing: Alternatively visit search Wiff Waff Bars on Facebook or follow Twitter: @WiffWaffBars.


ABC night with Baroness Warsi The Minister for Faith and Communities is guest of honour at Asian Business Connexions evening. sian Business Connexions (ABC) hosted a private audience with Baroness Warsi – Minister for Faith and Communities – at The Beacon, Westgate Road, Newcastle on Friday, November 8. Prominent members of the private, political and third sectors came together to promote the North East and celebrate the profound impact, made over the past five years, by ABC and partners. For more information and future events visit



L E I S U R E & H O S P I TA L I T Y N E W S

Seaham Hall launches new membership club One of the North East’s most prestigious hotels, Seaham Hall, has launched a brand new membership club – The Seaham Hall Club.


he County Durham-based hotel – which has recently unveiled the results of a £2 million refurbishment – is giving 250 guests a year a chance to enjoy a range of VIP privileges and complimentary treats, worth thousands of pounds. For a one-off fee of £195, members will be able to enjoy everything from free dining at both of the hotel’s renowned restaurants and free use of its award-winning spa, to exclusive invitations to gourmet events and social activities, as well as free enrolment into Design Restaurant diners club, which provides exclusive offers and invitations to a number of AA rosette and Michelinstarred restaurants throughout the UK. Ross Grieve, general manager at Seaham Hall, said: “The Seaham Hall Club will reward our loyal customers and, hopefully, introduce our facilities and services to new, discerning visitors, who may not be familiar with them.” Membership will be granted on a first come, first served basis and joint memberships are available for £220.Z

Another bite at the North East


ne of the fastest-growing restaurant franchises, Tiger Bills, has announced plans to open its first County Durham outlet, with the support of Durham County Council. This month, the restaurant, which offers a mix of Thai and Tex Mex cuisine, is to open a 180-cover restaurant at Puddles Corner, Consett, which will create around 40 full and part-time jobs. Tiger Bills currently operates sites in the Midlands and in the South. The Consett development is the second site opened by the company in the North East, after a franchise restaurant recently opened in Whitley Bay.

Buyer interest in Whitworth Hall Hotel


oint administrators of Whitworth Hall Hotel, Spennymoor, near Durham, are confident that a sale will soon be concluded, following enquiries from more than 30 potential purchasers. Located in a country park, complete with its own herd of deer, the 29bedroom hotel has a strong reputation as a popular wedding venue and, according to administrators, is a viable business for purchasers. The hotel will be running as normal throughout the Christmas period and is currently taking bookings for Christmas dinners and parties.


Festive fun at Lumley Castle


umley Castle has announced a packed programme of shopping fayres, parties, afternoon teas and more throughout the festive season. In addition to Sunday lunches, served every Sunday in December, guests can enjoy a murder mystery evening on December 22, complete with drinks on arrival and a three-course dinner. There will also be Christmas parties held in the hotel’s function rooms, along with special casino nights and Elizabethan banquets. Guests attending any of the festive events are able to take advantage of special overnight packages, including accommodation in the castle itself or its adjoining courtyard.


Afternoon tea Hilton Newcastle Gateshead Hotel hosts a tea party for teachers of Hadrian School, which caters for pupils with special educational needs. eneral manager Martin Robinson and a group of Hilton Hotel team members recently recognised the work of the teachers from Hadrian’s School, Benwell. The Hilton team served the teachers a stunning selection of home-made sandwiches, scones and cakes from their current Afternoon Tea menu. The afternoon event was a great success enjoyed by everyone. Martin said: "it's great to see first hand the work that's done here at the school and it's a privilege to be involved".




A progressive year Now into his third year at the helm of the Copthorne Newcastle, Ken Ellington, general manager at the hotel, discusses the successful progression of the hotel during 2013.

How has the Copthorne progressed during 2013? It has been a really good all-round year for the hotel, in all key areas. From a team perspective, it has all been about positive consolidation, following a lot of change in 2012. We have had relatively little change this year, with only one senior manager joining us to head up the maintenance department, Kevin Ramsden, who has made a big impact. With all the other departments, we have been continuing to build and develop highly motivated and skilled teams. Our guest service feedback has been consistently excellent throughout the year, and this has

Ken Ellington


been great to see. Our aim was always to be one of the friendliest hotel teams in the North East, and the positive guest service experience continues to be our most regular area of feedback by far. From a property perspective, 2013 has been the busiest year for the hotel since it opened back in 1991. On the bedroom side, all 156 rooms now have new (top of the range) Hypnos beds, new Samsung flatscreen televisions, and new carpets. A large number of bedrooms have also seen new tub chairs and new desk chairs as well. The bedrooms’ heating/cooling system has also been fully upgraded, making the hotel lovely and cosy at any time of year. The

public areas have also seen new Whisper window blinds added throughout key riverfacing areas, as well as a lot of re-decoration. Our meeting rooms have also largely been upgraded, with new blinds and some upgraded conference comfort chairs installed. Our guests’ lifts have also been fully upgraded this year, and the riverside front of the hotel has had a facelift (hence a lot of scaffolding at the time). There has also been investment into the property behind the scenes (the boring but vital stuff that the guests never see!).

Where would you like to see the Copthorne this time next year? The aim from the start has always been to positively and confidently re-position the hotel, to fully capitalise on its position and the fact that all of the bedrooms overlook the Tyne, which is its unique selling point. 2014 largely sees a thankful continuation of the temporary respite in new hotel openings before a lot of activity in 2015, and we plan to use next year to consolidate our position in the marketplace through direct promotion of the key property changes that have been made. A great hotel in my view has to combine three things to the benefit of guests – location , product and above all, service. Next year for us is about finishing the last of the big product re-positioning projects and settling down to compete with great confidence with a very clear identity in all three of these areas. As always, great service will continue to be the cornerstone of the hotel, and we will be continuing to focus our collective energies on keeping the needs of the guests at the forefront of every decision made.

What is planned for 2014 from an investment perspective? Our first planned project will see new curtains and bed throws in all 156 bedrooms, to create a uniform standard, from where we will be looking at some elements of bathroom upgrading. Further new furniture is also planned for our Club rooms. We will then be moving on to planned re-carpeting of all of the bedroom corridors, the car park stairwell and the main banqueting suite. From there, we then plan to create an exciting external seating area outside the main bar, with a purpose-built sheltered patio area to allow the guests to enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine by the riverside on an evening. We’re also looking at continuing the theme of Whisper blinds into the Atrium to impact positively on the reception area.

Contact Ken via For more information on the hotel, visit wcastle



Business lunch

Peace & Loaf Alison Cowie visits the recently opened Jesmond eatery headed by Masterchef finalist Dave Coulson. ne of the newest – and hotly anticipated – restaurants to open in Newcastle in recent months is Peace & Loaf. Headed up by Dave Coulson, the bearded and tattooed chef who was a finalist on 2010’s Materchef, the eatery is described on its website as, “a restaurant unlike any other in the region”. I was eager to see if this was true when I visited Peace & Loaf with two colleagues last month. Inside the restaurant, located on Jesmond Road, the interior is sleek and modern, yet quite informal and not overbearing. It boasts a bright and coloursful décor with a slightly anarchic feel, thanks to graffiti artwork and a huge stag’s head adorning the walls. The interior design also uses texture to good effect – combining glass, exposed brickwork, wood, fabric, slate, leather


and polished surfaces. At lunchtime, there is a choice of the individually priced a la carte menu or the Prix Fixe menu (priced one course for £11, two courses for £14 and three courses for £18). While the choice of dishes is not huge, the combination of ingredients contained within each option are endless and fully justifies the limited. While I chose my starter and main course from the Prix Fixe menu, my dining companions went for the al la carte. Before our meals arrived, we were presented with a selection of amuse bouches: carrot and beetroot macaroons, tiny beans on toast and a celebration of artichoke. All were attractive, inventive and very, very tasty – an insight into what was to come. Each course we were given was exceptionally presented and demonstrated incredible skill with wonderful flavour combinations.


Stand out dishes in a meal of highlights were the all day breakfast – a mix of quail scotch egg, pancetta, brown sauce jelly and black pudding crumb – and the Masterchef chicken pie – which was a deconstructed version with elements of breaded chicken, pan-fried chicken, mushroom, gravy and pastry. The high standard of skilful and innovative cooking on offer at Peace & Loaf will definitely make it popular with gastronomes. But, this combined with the quirky interior and wonderful service, should make it a mustvisit for everyone. I would have to agree that Peace & Loaf does offer something unique to the region. So why not turn off, tune in and drop … er … in to Peace & Loaf? Peace & Loaf is at 217 Jesmond Road, Newcastle. For information and bookings call (0191) 281 5222 or visit

Scotch quail egg, chorizo and apple jam

All-day breakfast

Scallops, pork pie, apple and crackling salad

Well executed with lovely flavours

A truly inventive and cheeky take on a classic: a winning dish!

(part of £14 fixe menu)


Fillet of salmon, beetroot and pickled vegetables

Crispy pork belly, black pudding and apple

Beautifully cooked fish on spinach with zingy pickled flavours.

Moist pork, tangy apple and decorative black pudding crumbs festooning the plate; a work of art.

Not your usual chicken pie, this deconstructed version celebrates the classic dish in a fine dining away: a highlight of the meal.

(part of £14 fixe menu)



Chocolate terrine and pistachio

Apple and blackberry rice pudding

Banana pudding, caramelized banana and custard jelly

Dense milk chocolate with velvety ice-cream and quirky popping candy.

Creamy rice with blackberries and added dried fruit to intensify the flavour.




Huge scallops with the most amazing bite-sized pork pie.


Masterchef chicken pie

Dish included a slice of banana loaf combined with oats, nuts, jelly and caramelized slices of banana.



Hotel Indigo and Marco Pierre White Steakhouse celebrations hose involved with Hotel Indigo and the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse are celebrated a AA Rosette and winning large hotel of the year at the NE Tourism Awards with special lunch and dinner with Marco Pierre White, which included menus created especially by Marco, along with head chef Paul Amer and his team.


Stay fit this Christmas You can still enjoy Christmas and follow your health and fitness regime, says Tony Douglass of Bodyguards Fitness Service. s we get closer and closer to Christmas, we are finding ourselves in the midst of party season. Here are some useful tips to help you come out the other end relatively intact:


• Give 100 per cent to each training session and keep a training focus.

• The old adage, ‘everything in moderation’ is particularly relevant at this time of year.

• Feel good about the training you achieved and forget the few sessions that you missed.

• Stay clear of sugary pre-mixed alcoholic drinks and high-caffeine energy drinks.

• Always try to book a time each week to train with a friend or trainer.

Bodyguards Fitness Service ltd separates itself from the others in Newcastle with our Personal Trainers having levels of knowledge and experience that is second to none. This gives our clients all the tools necessary for them to achieve their health and fitness goals. Your trainer will develop your bespoke training plan. Your trainer will guid you through your entire programme of health and fitness development, which includes your training inside and outside of the gym, your diet, your lifestyle and all support services to ensure that you are in full health. We aim to make you feel like yourself again, only better!

• Set your fitness goals for the week around your social and family commitments.

• Train in the morning and you will feel energized for the remainder of the day.

For more information email Tony at

• Try drinking a glass of water between alcoholic drinks. • To avoid temptation at parties, simply move away from bowls of crisps and cheese platters. • Have a balanced meal before you head off to the Christmas party.



Northumbrian hospitality The Grahamslaw clan visits Slaley Hall. aving sampled the delights of Liverpool, Edinburgh and Newcastle, the Grahamslaw Magical Mystery Summer Tour bus finally ended its 12-night whistle-stop tour at Slaley Hall in Northumberland. Its driver (me) and passengers (my wife Lisa, son Jack and daughter Holly) certainly chose the perfect place to end the final leg of our journey. For relaxation, a chance to recharge the batteries and reflect on a quality family sojourn – this is the venue of choice. Slaley Hall is an old family favourite and not just because North East Times has been doing business with it for nearly 20 years. Set in over 1000 acres of magnificent Northumbrian moorland and forest, this truly superb Edwardian mansion is a beacon of opulence for discerning folk to work, rest and play. It offers 142 bedrooms and suites as well as luxury lakeside lodges for the ultimate retreat. Its two 18-hole championship standard golf courses, The Hunting and The Priestman, are a testament to all that is good in British golf and set a standard that many others can only aspire to. The sheer scale of the place is breathtaking. To put it into perspective, it has 500 car parking spaces alone. The family and I checked into our simply sumptuous rooms overlooking the notoriously difficult ninth hole on the Hunting Championship Course, and while Lisa checked out the excellent facilities and pampering goodies, I was already mentally putting a birdie just outside our window: and


the crowd went wild - well, in my head anyway! We warmed up with a spot of lunch in the well-appointed cocktail bar before I gave my son Jack a snooker lesson in the adjoining games room. He’s a bright lad and a quick


learner and I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s more proficient than me. Following the exertion of potting a few snooker balls, I paid a visit the superb leisure facilities where Jack and I pumped iron a little before having a quick paddle (this is not a misprint!) in the pool. After a relaxing afternoon, we showered and changed before wending our way to dinner in the Dukes Grill, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant. In its Edwardian drawing room setting, top chefs prepare food at your table and give you an interesting insight into how to create and serve exquisite meals. Being a steak aficionado, one of the most fascinating aspects for me was being shown, and talked through, the different cuts of beef. The food and service was, as always, exceptional. After eight hours of relaxing and refreshing deep sleep, I tiptoed out at 7.30am for a round of golf. But which course to play? Should it be The Hunting with its tricky approach or The Priestman with its testing water hazards? On flipping a coin, I chose the former. I played pretty well for the very testing front nine holes before falling apart on the less difficult back nine. It was still a wonderful experience and I can honestly say it’s in the top three courses I have played in the 60-odd I have visited since getting the bug three years ago. If only the game was based on enthusiasm alone! I urge you to investigate Slaley Hall, a musttry venue, whether you are a golfer or not. For further information and bookings visit /slaley-hall.


Derwent Manor Christmas Market The hotel celebrates the festive season. est Western Derwent Manor Hotel hosted yet another successful indoor Christmas Market on Sunday, November 34. A festive atmosphere was enjoyed by all, enhanced with carol singing and Santa in his Grotto. Over 50 local exhibitors attended to sell their goods, including selling their goods covering a wide range of festive gift ideas, culinary food delights, festive drinks, books, cards, jewellery, clothes, trinkets, baby gifts, home ware gifts, plants and bulbs, festive decorations, doggie delights and more.




The Elliott Ward Room Three generations of the Ward family Allanians celebrate the official opening of the Elliott Ward Room at Dame Allan’s Junior School and Nursery. r Hind expressed the schools’ gratitude for all the work Elliott Ward has done as chairman of the Governors, to lead the development of the new school: “The schools have undoubtedly benefitted from Elliott’s vast professional experience in property, his determination to negotiate the best value and his forensic mastery of detail. His vision and his drive have helped us to create an excellent building, which is matched only by an excellent staff to produce a Junior School and Nursery that is admired across this region.” The celebrations began with a vivacious programme of songs from both sides of the Atlantic performed by the Junior Choir, interspersed with piano solos by Jessica, Finlay and Callum Ward, the chairman’s grandchildren. It was fitting that the evening’s celebrations centred on music because, as Elliott Ward said: “Music plays an important part in the life of the Ward family.” Dame Allan’s, too, has played an important part in the life of the Ward family, with Elliott having been a pupil, parent, grandparent and now chairman of the Governors, a role he has held since 2006. He has always played an active role in the development of the schools’ property, most notably the Queen’s Building and the new junior School. The governors therefore unanimously decided that their gratitude for all his work should be marked by the naming of the second hall at the junior school in his honour. Speaking after unveiling the plaque, Elliott Ward said: “I am fiercely proud to be chairman of the governors and humbled to be honoured today.”





With hit Edinburgh sketch show The Ginge, The Geordie and The Geek gaining fans on BBC2, the Bishop Auckland-born actor and writer Paul Charlton talks to Elise Rana Hopper about his Christmas shows for Northern Stage, looking after an imaginary dog and why entertainment is the heart of comedy.

The first thing I remember was standing on a makeshift stage at nursery, singing ‘Policeman, Policeman, oh wouldn’t it be grand’, with my mam watching. I did a production of Oliver Twist in primary school and then was in drama group at secondary school. I was going to be an accountant until I was 14 because I was good at maths but then I decided to forgo the career where I could have made money and go into acting, writing and living hand-to-mouth.

Our sensibility as a sketch show is about entertaining the masses. We’re influenced by The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise, with elements of Big Train and The Fast Show. A lot of the comedy that’s around now is either very base, very niche or very satirical - it has its place but there’s a lot of it around and what we do is a breath of fresh air: uplifting comedy that anyone can watch. The actors I look up to aren’t the big Hollywood names but those who are generous human beings, good ensemble members and nice people. Mark Benton is a fantastic actor but he’s also very generous with people and at ease with who he is. James McAvoy is the best actor of his generation but he’s also very down to earth and at ease with himself.

I wrote a play when I was 16 called Love, Sex and Cider – it was ‘write what you know’ - it had bits of comedy in it that went down well. That led onto writing comedy plays, which led onto writing sketches, and I’m now writing a sitcom. So comedy came out of writing drama, and wanting that to be funny - because for me the heart of theatre is entertainment, and jokes are a good way to do that. That’s also my approach to taking work as an actor - is it going to entertain an audience?

I’ve got my imaginary dog Santiago down here in Newcastle with me. He comes into work, sits in the corner of the room while we’re rehearsing and I take him out at lunchtime, get some air, take him to Waitrose to get some food. He likes a chicken wrap.

I’m a bit of a traveller – I’m never in one place for long. I’m in the process of buying a house in Glasgow but it’s just a place where my stuff will live. London always calls me back for work and I love coming back home and working in the North East. You don’t get good Yorkshire puddings outside of the North. They’re either burnt, Aunt Bessie’s or non-existent.

Twitter is great because it allows people to have a voice. We get our statistics through from the BBC but it’s a faceless number - what we get on Twitter is interaction from real people watching our show. We use it to engage with our audience and reply to as much as we can. The downside is the rubbish and lies that get retweeted: but for me, the pros outweigh the cons.

The catchphrase of the minute is ‘that’d make a good sketch’ – although what you think would make a good sketch rarely does. It’s elements of real life, but taken to the extreme.

Dark Woods, Deep Snow is a fun, fantastical show about a little boy who wanders into the woods and has to find his way back out through all the weirdness and the magic in there. It’s about family and belonging, and adventure and heroes and danger. And I get to wear a really sexy hat.

Drama school is probably the most expedient into acting but it’s expensive – £40 a pop just to audition for a drama school, then if you get in you’ve got fees and rent to pay, then you come out and you’re penniless and trying to make it in a tough industry. It’s massively weighted now toward those from richer backgrounds. How do we support people who haven’t got the money?

Paul appears in Dark Woods, Deep Snow December 2-28 and The Ginge, The Geordie and The Geek December 17-18 at Northern Stage. Tel: (0191) 230 5151,



Behind the wheel by Jessica Laing.

F.Y.I. Engine: 6.6-litre Max power: 624bhp Max Torque: 800nm from 1500 rpm Max Speed: 155mph Acceleration: 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds


ROLLS-ROYCE WRAITH ombining hallmark Rolls-Royce attributes of luxury and refinement with modern style, drama and power, the brand new Wraith model has been hailed as the most dramatic, dynamic and powerful Rolls-Royce in history. Power is provided by a twin-turbo V12 engine, married to 8-speed automatic ZF transmission. You’ll also find that the four-seat coupe’s suspension has been tuned to minimise body roll and discreetly amplify feedback when cornering. Externally, the 2.4tonne model’s eye-catching two-tone presentation is complemented by bold lines, a deeply recessed grille, wide rear track and a raked rear screen. Two coach doors open to reveal a contemporary, yacht-like cabin, bathed in spotlight and warmth and complete with Phantom-grade leather and wood Canadel Panelling. Advances in mechanical and electrical technology systems deliver the likes of adaptive headlights, head-up display and a keyless opening boot. The model also debuts voice-activated connectivity and Satellite Aided Transmission – a technology that uses GPS mapping data to see beyond what the driver sees, anticipates their next move, based on location and current driving style, before selecting the most appropriate gear for the terrain ahead.




Alan Bailes with the new Tourneo Connect model.

Two new additions The Ford Transit and Ford Tourneo join the award-winning commercial vehicle range at Jennings Ford. ustomers visiting Jennings Ford’s Commercial Sales Centres in Middlesbrough and Gateshead, will soon be able to test drive two new additions to Ford’s award-winning commercial range – the all-new Ford Transit and the new Tourneo Connect. The all-new Ford Transit, scheduled to be launched at the beginning of January 2014, was exclusively previewed at Jennings Ford’s Commercial Sales Centre in Midlesbrough. Alan Bailes, general commercial manager at Jennings Ford’s Commercial Sales Centre in Middlesbrough, said: “We were delighted to showcase the all-new Ford Transit, which to date has generated a substantial amount of sales enquiries and is expected to boost sales for the start of 2014.” Offering increased carrying capacity, the allnew Ford Transit comes with an array of advanced technologies and low running costs and will be available in a variety of bodystyles, including van, double-cab-in-van, chassis cab, double cab and bus variants. Customers will also be given a choice of front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and all wheel drive, up to five different body lengths and gross vehicle mass options ranging from 2900kgs to 4700kgs. Expected to be the most efficient vehicle in its class as a result of a range of ECOnetic technologies, including Auto-Start-Stop which can save up to 10 per cent on fuel, the all-new


Ford Transit has also been specifically designed to help customers work more efficiently, with the option to double the cab up as a mobile office. In addition to the option of a fold-down worktable, multiple stowage areas and two 12v power supply points are also available. Customers are also anticipating the arrival of another model to Ford’s popular commercial vehicle range – the new Tourneo Connect model. Appealing to professionals, families and drivers looking for extra space for storage, the new versatile and well-equipped Tourneo Connect is available in a choice of two models – the five-seat and the seven-seat Grand Tourneo Connect. Customers can choose between the latest highly fuel-efficient Duratorq TDCi diesel engine, or Ford’s award-winning EcoBoost direct injection petrol engine. Jennings Ford’s Commercial Sales Centres are responsible for providing the award-winning Ford range to customers at a local and national level. The Ford Commercial range consists of the Ford Transit model, which has been the bestselling commercial vehicle in the country for more than 40 years, in addition to the all-new Transit Connect, the new Transit Custom and Fiesta Van, the Tourneo Connect, Tourneo and Transit Mini-Bus. Ford’s multi-purpose selection including the


Tipper, Chassis Cab and 4x4 Ranger, are also on display and available to test drive at the Middlesbrough and Gateshead branches. Customers who purchase a new or quality used commercial vehicle, can also take advantage of a number of additional services, including the Adaptation facility which includes fitting roof racks, line outs, towbars and a signage service which entails vehicles displaying company logos, straplines and images. Alan added: “Businesses are able to use Jennings Ford’s Commercial Sales Centres as a one-stop-shop for all their needs and requirements. Not only are they purchasing the vehicle they require, but they’re also taking advantage of the adaptation and signage service facility on offer. If we can offer these services all under one roof, it saves the customer time and money sourcing other supplies.” Alan also added: “As a one-stop shop able to cater for the needs and requirements of both local and national businesses, our main objective is to provide a service synonymous with the best in quality and customer care.” For more information about the range of products and services available at Jennings Ford’s Commercial Sales Centres, contact the Cargo Fleet Lane dealership in Middlesbrough on (01642) 209100, the Eslington Park branch in Gateshead on (0191) 4607464, or visit


Back row left to right: Stephen Cunningham, BoomChang Records and Steve Cooper, Cry in the Dark. Front row left to right: Mark Squires, Jason Smith, Steve Barron, Benfield Motor Group. For more information on the Cry in the Dark charity, visit

Single set to be a big hit for Romanian charity A group of maverick motor traders from the North East’s largest motor group, Benfield have teamed up to make a charity hit single to help raise valuable funds for less fortunate children in Romania. he band dubbed ‘Cry in the Dark’ after the Romanian children’s charity, have recorded the single, We’re Gonna Try, which is being backed and produced by local record label BoomChang Records… who famously produced Gazza’s version of Fog on the Tyne. Released for sale on November 25, the charity single CD is the brain-child of singer songwriter and lead singer Jason Smith, who works for Benfield’s Corporate Division. Band members include Benfield’s chief executive Mark Squires on keyboard. General manager and drummer, Steve Barron. Service specialist and backing vocalist, Lyndsay Shaw. Driver and base guitarist, Ron Norton, and trumpet playing courtesy of David Petherick, group compliance manager. Lead singer and composer Jason Smith, said: “The idea came from our companywide initiative called Be More which encourages staff to take part in fund-raising activities for the less fortunate. “We quickly got together as colleagues and formed the band Cry in the Dark. The lyrics and words have been written to exemplify the unswerving determination of those who work among suffering children in Romania and their refusal to give up, despite the scale of the challenges they face.


“We really hope the single We’re Gonna Try sends out a powerful message to people to purchase the cd or make a donation to help this worthwhile cause. The charity single is available to purchase on iTunes from November 25 and costs 79p to download and all money will go to the Cry in the Dark charity. The band have also produced a four track cd and video which includes the single and is available for sale at a cost of £5. For further details contact: or view We’re Gonna Try at: Former Lindisfarne bass player Stephen Cunningham is producing the single under the record label of BoomChang Records and is supporting the charity song. “I am delighted to be invited to co-produce and promote the single. We are taking every opportunity to get the demo cd in the hands of the right people and to get the necessary air space on radio and online. We need the support of people everywhere to spread the word and make the difference. “I must compliment the band members on their first class musical and vocal ability and given the right break the CD could really go on to be a


hit single for a great cause.” he added. Steve Cooper, CEO of Cry in the Dark, said: “Jason and all the guys from Benfield have been amazing and we are all hoping that this song is a big hit. “Cry in the Dark has been working in the North East of Romania for the last 15 years reaching children, young adults, and their families who have become marginalised through poverty, sickness, disability, race, creed, culture or colour. “We do not discriminate in anyway and our aim is to continue to care and bring education through our three existing projects Casa Lumina, our home for 22 special needs orphans, Hospice Casa Albert, our hospice community and respite service for children and young adults with terminal and life limiting illness, and Project Hope, the community outreach programme to an entire rural Roma community. “We are hoping that the proceeds from this song will bring in the much needed funding needed to help us continue to change people’s lives.” he added. For media enquiries contact: Andy Naylor, Benfield Group Communications Manager, Tel: (07771) 831 633.


Mill Volvo spreads its wings The motor dealership has signed a new sponsor deal with Newcastle Falcons.

Left to right: Bill Ward (Mill Volvo), Jane Shepstone (Falcons), Jeff Tabb (Mill Volvo), Duncan Edward (Mill Volvo) and Nick Mather (Falcons).

preading the festive cheer and getting behind one of the region’s finest sporting teams this season, is well known Tyneside dealership Mill Volvo which recently announced an exciting new sponsorship deal with Newcastle Falcons. Mill Volvo has been servicing the region for over 65 years, throughout which its continued support and sense of regional pride has been expressed to countless community and sporting projects. Speaking of their latest sponsorship deal, operations director Jeff Tabb explains: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Newcastle Falcons team this season. We have supplied two cars to be used across the corporate and commercial department for club use, two vehicles for players’ use as well as becoming a new, additional sponsor on the team kits.”


In return, Mill Volvo will be using the Newcastle Falcons facilities for business meetings to entertain its loyal customers and to invite lucky social media supporters to join the team for VIP events and gatherings. In addition, the Mill Volvo branding will be seen upon a sponsored billboard in the ground as well as on the liveried vehicles that will be seen driving around the region. Newcastle Falcons has been at the centre of the North East’s sporting community since the original formation back in 1877. Falcon’s commercial director Duncan Edwards says: “We are delighted to have gained sponsorship from Mill Volvo. We have been fortunate enough to have had their support in the past and it is great to see them back behind the team. “I’d like to thank Bill Ward [Mill Volvo managing director] and the team for their


generosity and I’m really looking forward to seeing the Mill Volvo guys here cheering on the Falcons at their upcoming games!” To view the future matches of the season, to purchase tickets or for further information visit the Newcastle Falcons website: You can also contact the box office on 08712 266 060. For more information on the services and vehicles available from Mill Volvo visit their website at or call into their Tyneside showroom on Scotswood Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE15 6BZ. Alternatively, for regular posts, updates and giveaways please find and like Mill Volvo on Facebook or follow @MillVolvo on Twitter.


A year to celebrate Shelagh Alderson, director of Spire Washington Hospital, takes a look back over the last 12 months and towards what 2014 has in store. Spire Washington Hospital has enjoyed a very special year. Why is that the case? This year has been the 25th anniversary of the hospital first opening its doors, which has been wonderful to celebrate, not least because we continue to go from strength to strength despite a difficult economic climate. We believe this is down to our focus on our patients – to use a cliché, they really are at the heart of everything we do. This has been born out through our patient satisfaction survey results, which have only recently been published and are the best ever. Carried out independently, we have been thrilled to see that 96 per cent of patients rate us overall as excellent or very good.

Spire Washington Hospital is known as a happy place to work. How do you achieve this? It’s great that this is a message that has penetrated the local marketplace because we pride ourselves on looking after our employees. We believe in only recruiting and retaining the most talented staff - and this is not just about experience because our focus on continuous professional development means we look to develop those who work hard and give us their loyalty. The quality of our consultants is key to our success and we have some of the UK’s best talent working here at Spire Washington Hospital. We try and nurture our consultants and were

delighted when the 2013 consultant survey showed that 99 per cent of our team strongly agreed we are easy to do business with.

Tell us about the recent investment into the facilities at Spire Washington Hospital In 2012 we spent around a third of a million pounds in an upgrade to two of the hospital’s theatres. This year we allocated £380,000 to an extension that now houses new office space and a meeting room for up to 30 people, which we use regularly for staff training. The spend has also seen patient bedrooms, anaesthetic rooms and a number of autoclaves redeveloped. The refurbishment programme has been particularly important for us – our endoscopy department is now compliant with Joint Advisory Group (JAG) regulations, a big step towards JAG accreditation. JAG works hand in hand with Global Rating Scale and is a patient centred service that requires clarity of standards for all gastrointestinal endoscopy units. The purpose of its accreditation is to ensure hospitals have everything necessary to provide best practice patient-centred care. Currently all NHS hospitals are legally obliged to attain the accreditation, but private healthcare providers are not and as such, very few independents nationally have taken the step. As you can see, our aim is always to lead the way where standards are concerned.

You’ve had a number of team


changes – what’s been happening? We have indeed. I was appointed to the position of hospital director and Andrew Johnson, who is a long serving member of staff, secured head of clinical services. Andrew was previously theatre manager so we have recruited Chris McBride as his replacement, who brings a wealth of experience from the NHS and is a very welcome addition to the team. Our collective focus, along with the other members of the senior team, is how we further evolve the services on offer.

What will 2014 bring? Our aim is always to be one of the leading health providers in the country so this remains our goal. We have a lot to live up to – this year we were ranked fifth in the league for primary hip replacement and sixth for knee replacements in the Patient Recorded Outcome Measures data published annually by the NHS Partners Network, and we also had another year without any reported cases of MRSA or C.Difficile infections. Ultimately whatever 2014 brings, you can be sure that our patients will always be treated with respect and professionalism because their well being is our over-riding priority. If you’d like to know more about Spire Washington Hospital, please visit or call (0191) 415 1272.


Get to know me ...

Karen Carpenter Office manager at maintenance and construction company, WDL Property Services.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a professional tennis player. I quickly

I’m inspired by people I meet along the way. I love meeting people who are

went through various jobs such as wanting to become a vet, a fire fighter and a PE teacher. There was a brief period when I wanted to be a project manager in construction like my dad – but probably only because he told me that women didn’t go into the construction industry. Seeing as I now work for a construction company – I guess I’ve proved him wrong!

optimistic and determined despite hardships they’ve had to overcome during their lives and I met and lived among many while I was in El Salvador last summer. Above all, my friends and family and the people I meet along the way make me want to leave a positive legacy, and no matter how clichéd it may sound – make the world a better place for future generations.

My first job was working in a food and drinks kiosk in a rugby stadium. I worked

My great achievement is organising various successful fundraising events,

in the same stall as three childhood friends so we had a great laugh while earning some money. My first taste at an office-based job was when I volunteered at Warrington Museum and did the research for an exhibition on early body modification and fashion which is probably one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done.

including a bag-pack and 200ft abseil to spend 3 months in El Salvador last summer. I worked on an environmental and food sustainability project with a women’s empowerment organisation alongside a charity called Progressio. Completing my degree was also a big achievement and I recently climbed Ben Nevis too which was fun!!

I would tell my 18-year-old self to take every opportunity that’s thrown my way. This is quite a difficult one to answer

When I need a helping hand, I ask my friends, family or colleagues. I’m a

because I’m only 22 and I don’t think I would have done anything differently – maybe just to join a club or society at university and be a bit more proactive. I’d probably also say: ‘18-year-old self, don’t worry too much about the future

bit indecisive so I always like to get different viewpoints and opinions on things before I finally make a decision, if I can. I’m also a firm believer that there’s always a solution to a problem.

My favourite place in the whole world


is Risley Moss Nature Reserve in my hometown of Warrington. It was somewhere I used to go when I wanted to get away from life and just sit and read a book (at the time it was usually one of the Harry Potter books or some sort of book related to magic). I used to love the quiet and peacefulness of the reserve and sometimes I’d spend whole days there just chilling out, reading and listening to the birds. In my spare time, I love to do something creative – I think I’m quite a creative person and always have some sort of idea for a project to keep my mind busy. I recently made a Weeping Angel costume (Dr Who fans will understand) for a Halloween party that took me the good part of four weeks to complete. I also like to spend time catching up on my favourite TV shows and spend time with friends and family (though, not necessarily in that order!).

In five years’ time, I’ll be worrying about where I’ll be in the next five years, most probably! I like to think I’ll be leaving a positive impact on the people I’ve met and places I’ve been. For further information on WDL Property Services, visit

North East Times Magazine - December 2013  


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