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January 2014 BUSINESS NEWS –




Business events – mark them on your calendar



Thoughts from the region’s business community



Tony Blair



New executive appointments



Emily Frankish, Mincoffs



Barry Speker, Sintons




Building a brand at Hotel du Vin

BUSINESS LUNCH – Malmaison Brasserie




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

Office: 11 Causey Street, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 4DJ. | t: (0191) 284 9994 | f: (0191) 284 9995 | @NETimesmagazine Front cover: Rob Tait (Hotel du Vin), by Chris Owen.

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Editorial: Contributions should include a fully stamped addressed envelope. No responsibility is accepted for drawings, photographs or literary contributions during transmission, or while in the Editor’s or Printer’s hands. Editorial must be received by the 12th of the month or no responsibilty is accepted for errors. Advertisements: Although every care is taken to ensure accuracy, the Publishers regret that they cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage caused by an error in the printing or damage to, or loss of artwork, transparencies or photos. Complaints: regarding advertisements will only be considered for up to a week after publication. Advertising must be received by the 15th of the month. No responsibilty is accepted for errors. © 2013 Published by North East Times Ltd.



Businesses back combined authority NECC members support bold proposition.


business membership organisation has backed proposals to create a combined authority for Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. In a submission to the Government, the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) says such a body would not only provide a co-ordinated approach to economic development across local

authority boundaries but also a united voice when lobbying the Government. NECC chief executive, James Ramsbotham, said: “The North East is home to dynamic businesses well placed to take advantage of opportunities in new and emerging sectors. The creation of a combined authority alongside a strengthened, business-led North East LEP would help to ensure that the area achieves its

undoubted economic potential. “A combined authority would give both business and the public sector in the North East LEP area a greater say on how we are governed and what our strategic priorities must be by setting our own agenda when it comes to economic development, skills, transport and inward investment and it would also provide the area with a stronger voice when speaking to external parties.”

University’s £1 million boost


Northumbria University is launching a £1.1m project to help start-up 30 new businesses and to provide graduate interns for more than 50 small businesses. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has awarded the university over half a million pounds to support the Northumbria Graduates into Business project, with the grant being matched

by the university and other funding providers. The funding will help Northumbria University to extend the support it provides to SMEs in the North East and will also enable the university to support the creation of 30 new graduate start-up businesses. It is hoped that 60 permanent jobs will be created as a result.


New enterprise hub for Hexham


orthumberland National Park Authority (NNPA) and Adapt North East have secured two grants totalling £332,000 to deliver a new enterprise hub in Hexham. The hubs will be based in the garden of the attractive National Park headquarters at Eastburn (pictured) and at the Adapt headquarters on Burn Lane to support local businesses and people wishing to start up new businesses.The enterprise hub will pilot a new approach to rent small office and flexible workshop space to micro-enterprises.

Award winning chauffeurs


arkers has won a Chauffeur Company of the Year award, organised by Professional Driver magazine. The awards were held at the Copthorne Hotel, Effingham Hall, London, and celebrated chauffeur and private hire operators that demonstrate excellent standards of Quality, Service and Innovation (QSI).The Newcastle and Teesside-based executive chauffeurs was recognised for its outstanding commitment to customer service, winning the Small Operator Gold Award for companies with one to ten vehicles.

New signature for Ringtons


he 106-year-old North-East tea and coffee merchants, Ringtons, has launched a Signature range as it looks to reach new audiences through its businessto-business clients and consumer-focused ecommerce website. The range has a new packaging design and encompasses the company’s extensive loose tea range; fruit and herbal infusions; and bean and ground coffee collections.

University hosts funding event


orthumbria University last month hosted a conference aimed at helping SMEs and social enterprises access finance. The `Show Me The Money Conference’ was delivered jointly by The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the North East Social Enterprise Partnership (NESP) and Northumbria University.

Lunch boosts electricians’ fund


he EEIBA held its first Christmas lunch last month at the Assembly Rooms. Over 250 North East electricians came together to raise £4300 for its industries’ benevolent fund, which was created to assist its members from the electrical or electronics industries who have suffered hardship or distress, often through workrelated accidents. North East EEIBA chairman, Fred Dickinson, said: “All the proceeds raised will go directly towards our members and their dependents who need it the most.”

Positive growth


wo businesses in Darlington and Hartlepool have been acquired as part of a growth plan to expand Positive Life Choices throughout the North East. They are Rudy Slippers, a major domiciliary care provider to the elderly and children, and Pathways to Independence, which specialises in supporting people with learning disabilities.

Collins wins prestigious awards


North East seafood business, Collins, is celebrating after its two directors landed prestigious business awards. Managing director Richard Collins won the Star Radio Lifetime Award while Richard’s daughter and operations director Claire Carter won the inaugural One to Watch accolade at the Women into the Network (WIN) Awards.


Set for High-flying careers


tudents Antonia Fawcett and Ryan Wenn, who are both 19, have been awarded aerospace cadetships from the Gus Robinson Foundation. The £500 bursary recognises their achievements while they study on the BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Aeronautic Engineering at Hartlepool College of Further Education.

Museums benefiting from lieu scheme


useums and art galleries in the north of England have benefitted from more than £3 million worth of art as part of the Government’s acceptance in lieu scheme, according to PwC. The scheme allows those who have an inheritance tax bill to offset part of those taxes by donating important cultural, scientific or historic objects.







Copthorne Hotel, Newcastle Quayside Web: Price: £12 per person Local businesses, 4N members and those looking for career advice and business knowledge are invited to this fun and friendly breakfast, set up by 4Networking, for a morning of networking and socialising. 4N meetings include one-to-one appointments with business professionals, an insight into new ventures and tips on how to get the career opportunities you deserve.

Save the date Charity balls, business dinners and seminars.


24 BIPC, Level 3, Newcastle City Library Tel: (0191) 277 4100 Web: Email: Price: Free Those looking to expand their technology business are invited to attend this hour-long consultation session with Dave Stevens, an experienced technology entrepreneur and business support manager at Newcastle Science City. Dave will be offering advice on everything from finance options and business planning to product development and franchising.



22 Newcastle University School of Computing Science Web: Price: Free

Rockliffe Hall, County Durham Tel: 01325 729999 Web: Email: Price: £24.50 per person


23 Jesmond Dene House Web: Email: Price: £95+VAT (members) Members are urged to attend this world exclusive chairman’s dinner, featuring former Entrepreneur of the Year and co-founder of Nomad Digital, Graeme Lowdon. During this hugely popular and social event, Graeme – who is also well known for his involvement in Formula 1 – will be talking about the future for F1 and sharing his entrepreneurial and sporting story with guests.


25 Blackfrairs Restaurant, Newcastle Tel: (0191) 261 5945 Web: Email: Price: £45 per person

Designed specifically for teachers and teaching staff and led by a subject specialist, this helpful session will provide an overview of the AQA GCSE in Computer Science, along with other qualifications. The session is part of a series of workshops, hosted by different exam board subject specialists, devoted to computing and computing science.



One of Newcastle’s most acclaimed restaurants, Blackfrairs, invites foodies and historians to an ‘earthy’ Burns dinner, complete with traditional cock-a-leekie soup, haggis, neeps and tatties and cranachan. Guests will also be treated to a dram at each course and an exclusive whiskey tasting at the end of the night with whiskey evangelist, Eddie Ludow. Guests are invited to Rockliffe Hall this month to participate in an exclusive question and answer session with ITV news presenter, Pam Royle, who has recently celebrated 30 years in television. A sparkling wine reception and a twocourse lunch in the hotel’s newly refurbished Orangery restaurant will also be on offer. Attendees are encouraged to bring along their own questions for Pam, who will also be talking about life on the small screen, what goes on behind the scenes, being a working mum and life outside television.


29 Revolution bar, Newcastle Tel: 0300 303 6322 Web: Email: Price: Free Join local NECC membership advisor, Lynsey Fairless, at this relaxed ‘mix and mingle’ networking session. Held at one of Newcastle’s most popular bars, Revolution, guests will be able to meet with other local businesses and will have the chance to talk with Lynsey about the advantages of belonging to a NECC network.

Email with your events




Local business men and women share their thoughts …

Optimism is definitely starting to rise – we are an entrepreneurial and tenuous business community in the North East and we won't be beaten lightly. I have witnessed many of our clients not just survive the downturn, but significantly develop, diversify and grow. It is the businesses with the passion and commitment to be innovative that have now started creating new jobs and winning contracts here and abroad. At OPR, we have noted an extremely active close to 2013 and are excited about the year ahead.

ANDREW MILLER DIRECTOR BARCLAYS WEALTH AND INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT At Barclays, we are seeing positive signs of entrepreneurial activity and a sense of renewed confidence, perhaps best represented by the significant increase in the number of high-growth companies. Our recent research showed that the proportion of these increased by c.20 per cent from 2011 to 2012. We also found that there was a 24 per cent fall in the number of active, growing companies recording share sales in the past year – possibly because the expectations of business owners don’t match those of investors and there is an anticipation of rising demand.

PAUL WHITECROSS SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER INVESTMENT FOR GROWTH As the manager of a fund that assists SMEs access grants for projects that boost growth and create and safeguard jobs, I can say that there certainly is a bright future for SMEs in our region this year. We helped 348 companies access £1,074,501 of funding in 2013 and have secured additional funding from the ERDF to help even more SMEs grow in 2014; making things brighter for the businesses that we help with a knock on effect for the wider economy.

Does 2014 look bright for North East business?

ROB TAIT GENERAL MANAGER HOTEL DU VIN NEWCASTLE Very bright! For Hotel du Vin, 2013 has been great and I can only see 2014 getting even better. The city seems to have become alive again, there's so much going on. I think the hard work of the NGI in recent years is paying off and the North East is seen as not only a tourism region, but also a business hub too. Long may it continue. You never know, if Newcastle United gets into Europe, the North East will definitely become the place to be!




MANAGING DIRECTOR ACTIV I am more interested in opportunities than challenges, so I am very excited about what 2014 will bring. For my business, access to superfast broadband continues to roll out to homes and offices around the country, there will be even more exciting options for our business customers to embrace digital communications, and the rollout of 4G mobile connectivity will further enhance our access to the internet while ‘on the move’.

I am delighted to hear that official statistics show North East growth was above average for the UK in 2012, and from the North East Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey, that business performance has accelerated since then. This is encouraging news as we enter 2014. It was interesting to hear of success in certain sectors, notably in offshore industries, and more recently, significant recovery in construction.



The Tony Blair Sports Foundation breakfast The former Prime Minister visits the Copthorne Hotel Newcastle to meet local children and sports people who have benefited from his foundation. n Friday, November 29, 2013, the Copthorne Hotel Newcastle welcomed a very special guest through its doors to host a celebratory breakfast meeting for The Tony Blair Sports Foundation. Attended by Tony Blair himself, the breakfast meeting was a great opportunity for Mr Blair to meet many local children and people who are supported by his charity. The aim of the Foundation is to increase the opportunities for children and young people in the North East to participate in sport, through helping people in their communities to become coaches who can then work in local sports clubs and schools. Ken Ellington, general manager of the hotel, commented: “It’s a privilege and a pleasure for us to host such a prestigious event, and to welcome Mr Blair to the hotel. It’s fantastic to see the positive impact that his visit has had on those who have been here today, and it will hopefully encourage many more people to get involved.” For more information, visit




Committed to

Why did you decide to set up The Tony Blair Sports Foundation?

volunteer in the sport. It lets them put some roots down at an early age.

It’s a way to give something back to the North East, which has given so much to me. The region is the basis of my whole political career; it’s where my constituency was in Sedgefield, County Durham, and how I was able to become Prime Minister. I chose sport because the single biggest challenge we have in grassroots sport is finding the volunteers, coaches and officials to join clubs and help, particularly young people, gain access to sport, especially in the likes of tennis, rowing and basketball. Most kids get the chance to play football but not other sports. We now have more than 3500 volunteers in our network who have gone through our coaching programmes. The Foundation’s been fabulously successful and we want to take that further.

The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics were seen as hugely successful and there was a lot of talk at the time about the Games’ legacy. What do you make of the legacy so far? I was Prime Minster when we won the Olympic bid and one of the reasons we mounted the bid was to encourage grass roots participation in sport, not just at an elite level. There is evidence of a higher participation in sport since London 2012. Cycling has seen a large increase in people participating as the British team did so well, and so has women’s boxing because of Nicola [Adams]. Truthfully though, we can do more. To get the weight of numbers of people participating in sport, you need to get people involved at a local community level. What’s lacking is exactly the type of thing that [TBSF] does. If you want to get involved in sport it’s very hard to know what, how and where you can do it. Having an organisation like ours is like a facilitation process; helping to pass down the Olympic spirit to the grassroots.

What would you say to someone who is thinking of becoming a coach? If you want to become involved in sport, coaching is a great way to do it. You give a lot of pleasure to other people but you also have a great time yourself as it teaches you about the sport in a different way. There has been a lot of cut backs to local authorities and schools, and sports partnerships have gone. It’s hard for a lot of grassroots clubs – which make up the national infrastructure of sporting opportunities – unless there are people to staff them.

You have said that sport is one of the North East’s ‘outstanding qualities’. Why do you think that is? The North East has some great sporting traditions. It has come a long way in a lot of sports in the last few years: in athletics, rowing, basketball, cricket and, of course, soccer has always had deep roots in the region. Sport has always been an important part of life in the North East but our challenge is to make sure that the choices which are available to some kids, are available to all.

You talk about the importance of children to not just play, but to commit to sport. Why is this important? If you commit to sport at a young age then it stays with you. The risk of sport for youngsters is that they play sport for a short time and then when they leave school, go to college or get a job, they don’t play anymore. In our Young Leaders programme, which is for 13 and 14 year olds, we’re helping them to understand the sport and learn how to become a

For further information on The Tony Blair Sports Foundation visit


Photography by Chris Owens.



On the Move Your monthly guide to appointments and promotions.




Newcastle-based PR and marketing agency, Karol Marketing, has expanded its team with the appointment of a new PR executive. In his new role, Simon Boddy, from Hartlepool, will be working on a wide range of high profile accounts. Simon is a Northumbria University graduate and has experience within PR and communications, having worked on business to business and business consumer PR campaigns for a number of North East agencies.

Newcastle law firm, Mincoffs, has appointed Monica Sermeno to its commercial team, which deals with a host of contractual issues for clients operating in sectors such as software, digital, media and engineering. Monica, who joins from Siemens PLC, where she worked for five years as a contract manager, holds an MA in International Economic Management and has experience in drafting and negotiating multi-million pound contracts and advising on UK and international contractual issues.




Gateshead-based IT solutions and service expert, ITPS, has strengthened its sales team with the appointment of connectivity, infrastructure and applications specialist David Bradbury, as senior account manager. In his new role, David, who is a business mentor for the Business Sparks entrepreneurship programme and has a 13-year background in private and public IT solutions, will join a 12strong sales team and will focus on developing opportunities across ITPS’ UK-wide client base.

Senior health professional Chris McBride has been appointed as theatre manager at Spire Washington Hospital. With 22 years’ experience in the NHS, latterly as Cumberland Infirmary’s lead practitioner for the Hospital at Night, Chris is well versed in patient care and staff efficiency. In his new role, he will lead 27 members of staff and oversee patients’ transition from entering the operating theatre to leaving for home.

County Durham-based hotel, the Lord Crew Arms, has appointed Tommy Mark as manager. Tommy began his career in the hospitality industry at the age of 17 at his father’s pub in Hexham, where he worked his way up from washing glasses to working as bar manager. He brings a wealth of experience to his new role, including work in quality hotels and gastro pubs in the North East, the South of England and overseas.

Bill MacLeod [right] has been appointed as Newcastle office senior partner at PwC – an international network of firms, which deliver assurance, tax and advisory services. Bill succeeds Paul Woolston, who is retiring and leaving PwC after more than 25 years. In his new role, Bill – who has been a partner for 18 years and who currently leads the assurance practice in the North East - will lead the 300strong Newcastle office.



Tyne v Wear Boxing Night A boxing night at the Marriot Gosforth Park raises funds for the St. James’s Place Foundation. he inaugural Tyne v Wear boxing event was held on October 25 at the Marriot Gosforth Park Hotel, attended by the Partners and clients of St. James’s Place, in aid of the St. James’s Place Foundation. The event, organised by Patrick McLaughlin and Mark Beverley – representing the North East committee of the St. James's Place Foundation – was a great success, with some exciting bouts and over £4000 raised for good causes on the night, which will now be matched by St. James’s Place. All the boxers were from local North East clubs, who brought along a number of their own followers, which added to an already exciting atmosphere. The St. James’s Place Foundation has been in existence for just over 20 years and has raised over £31 million, donated mainly to children’s charities, the hospice movement and those supporting sufferers of cancer.




One to watch

Emily Frankish In a series of interviews with talented professionals set for major things in their careers, Alison Cowie talks to a promising solicitor who has benefited from the invaluable support and guidance of one of the region’s best-known family lawyers.

hen solicitor Emily Frankish returned to Newcastle – the city where she studied – after completing her training contract, she couldn’t have imagined the impact the man with whom she was about to share an office would have on her. The man was Lyn Rutherford, a formidable family lawyer who had been tempted out of retirement to undertake some consultancy work. While Lyn now admits to Emily that he was reluctant to share an office with anyone, it was to prove an inspired and highly productive partnership. Lyn quickly became a mentor to Emily, and when he moved to Mincoffs Solicitors to head up its family department, Emily followed. “I’m so lucky that I’ve found myself working alongside him,” Emily says of Lyn. “He has such a fantastic reputation, a real wealth of experience and an amazing client base. “I’m constantly learning from Lyn and the support and guidance that I get from him is invaluable. She continues: “After all the years that he has been practicing law, his passion and enthusiasm really inspires me. He’s like that about every case and every client. I hope I’m the same in years to come.” Born in Hull, Emily, now 26, can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a lawyer.


“I knew I wanted a challenging career and I felt that law would offer that, while also providing huge job satisfaction.” It was the law course offered at Northumbria University that was to attract the aspiring lawyer and bring her to the city she’s now proud to call home. “At the time, Northumbria was the only place offering a four-year course that incorporated the LPC (Legal Practice Course),” explains Emily. “I also liked its Student Law Office which was the only university then that had such a thing. It allowed students to work on real client files and I thought that was a fantastic opportunity.” Emily excelled at university and she graduated with first class honours. She was initially drawn to commercial law but, while completing her training contract in Hull, she found her calling in family law. “It’s the client contact you get with family law,” Emily reflects. “You’re helping people resolve family matters, which is hugely rewarding. She continues: “There’s a common misconception that family law is just about divorce, but it covers so many things and I love how varied my job is. Emily sees “empathy and understanding” as essential to succeeding in family law, as well as the ability to manage clients’ expectations: “You’re dealing with very emotional


subjects and it’s often important to help clients see the bigger picture – not just an individual matter that’s happening at that time.” While Emily admits that her legal career is demanding at times: “With modern technology, you’re never really away from the office.” She has also been surprised at the level of job satisfaction. “I never thought the reward would be as great as it has been,” says Emily. “I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoy my job. I look forward to coming into work each day and wouldn’t do anything differently.” Emily has also inspired her brother who is currently studying the same law degree as she did at Northumbria University. “He’s seen the route I’ve got down and I’ve tried to point him in the right direction,” she says. “I certainly haven’t put him off!” At present, Emily is busy arranging her forthcoming wedding to fiancé Darren Cannell, owner of The Cosmetic Dental Clinic, in February. Professionally, Emily’s plan is to continue to work hard with the hope of becoming a partner at Mincoffs one day. Her ultimate dream is to emulate the career of her mentor. “I would love to be recognised as a leading family lawyer and achieve the same reputation that Lyn has over the years,” Emily reflects. “If I can follow in his footstep, I definitely think I’ll have done alright.”



Time to review your business Make some resolutions for your business this New Year, says Rod Findlay, consultant at Your Sport Consulting.

EXPERT VIEW Rod Findlay Consultant You Sport Consulting Email: Twitter:@rodfindlay

epending on when you are reading this, you might still be keeping to your New Year Resolutions. Or you might have forgotten that you ever made one or what it was! Most resolutions relate to health. But have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution for your business? New Year is always a good time to think about new beginnings and perhaps considering a new start or a quiet revolution for your company might be worthwhile?


The need for a strategic review? If your business was starting up or needed an injection of funding then you would need to develop a strategy to convince investors. Lots of companies continue to develop their strategies but far too many live in the ‘now’ and do not stop to think whether or not the new challenges require a different approach. The answer might be that they do not but I would certainly recommend an annual review of the strategy and a regular rewriting of it. That way you can be sure that you are headed in the right direction. I would challenge the leaders of any business to spend a day thinking about their strategy and not to come up with some beneficial changes – some might be bigger than others. It is also important to think of the strategies that sit underneath the overall strategy as they too might need revisiting. Your marketing, financial, HR or other appropriate strategies should all be consistent with each other and

the overall strategy and should also reflect the changes in the operating environment.

Consider the market and your place In It? I know I have sat in many strategy reviews and there has been little analysis of what the market place is like. There might have been lots of discussion about what the business can offer or what competitors are doing but little understanding of what current and potential customers might require. That demand will change over time and lots of businesses need to switch their thinking from being supply led to demand led. Have you commissioned any research into the current market trends? For example, do people want to meet their solicitor to draft a will or do it online? Or do they want to draft it when they buy a house? Customers vary but you need to understand what the different segments want. This will not come from a few business leaders sitting in a committee room debating what they think might be done. Even once a business has considered what the market is, they also need to consider the external environment and in particular what competitors might be doing.

What does your operating model need to look like? If you are able to conclude that the market opportunity matches your offering and that


your strategy is perfectly suited to make the most of this then you are well placed. However, most businesses, as I’ve suggested, will find that a review of the market and their strategy produces some areas to develop. It might be that your staff need developing or you might need to add to the skill set. Perhaps you may need to add to your technology or it could be that your location needs to change.

How do you get there? Once a company has identified the market needs and adapted its operational model, there has to be a road map to take the company from its current point to where it intends or needs to be. This should be a statement of the changes that need to be made; the priority of the various changes; and the timelines involved in establishing this. The changes also need to be budgeted. There then needs to be some ownership of the project plan to ensure that the proposed answers to the problems are delivered. A company’s senior management team will be responsible for the proposals but one individual should drive it forward. In conclusion, every company needs to review its activities and the New Year seems as good a time as any to do that. The first step is to analyse the market and consider what steps the company needs to develop to deliver to that market. Once its operating model has been established then there has to be an action plan to get the business there.


Reasons to be optimistic Nigel Mills, chairman of The Entrepreneurs’ Forum, looks forward to a year of business growth and opportunity.

aturally confident, entrepreneurs will begin 2014 feeling upbeat and positive about the year ahead. The Christmas break will have allowed them to reflect on the previous year and reset their levels of optimism as they begin what they hope will be another fabulous year of business growth and opportunity. This is not just based on entrepreneurs’ natural instinct to be positive. There is real proof, both anecdotal and statistical, that business owners in the North East are justified in being confident that 2014 will be a year of not just further consolidation, but actual, tangible growth. The Entrepreneurs’ Forum Business Tracker Survey for the second quarter of 2013 (ending in September) showed that entrepreneurial businesses in the North East consistently outperformed national benchmarks. More than half – 56 per cent, compared with 45 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 – of the respondents indicated seeing growth in revenues. Results for the latest survey covering Q3 from October-December will be out soon, but for Q2, other key findings included:


• 61 per cent reported feeling more confident in both their own business and the economy. • 50 per cent said they had experienced a growth in export revenues. • 53 per cent of entrepreneurs forecast a rise in sales in Q3. • 39 per cent reported an increase in profits, with 44 per cent expecting profits to grow in the third quarter. • 37 per cent of entrepreneurs had seen employee numbers increase, with a third expecting this to continue into Q3. The Entrepreneurs’ Forum, over the past ten years, has brought together a cross-sector peer group of like-minded individuals who share ideas, knowledge and connections. Working together we help each other to make businesses

EXPERT VIEW Nigel Mills Chairman Entrepreneurs’ Forum Tel: (0191) 500 7780 Web: Twitter: @entforum

and the North East stronger, because if we don’t help ourselves no one else will. These findings show that entrepreneurial businesses remain at the heart of growth in the North East. The expectations of our members are that the increasingly positive indicators of economic health within their businesses and the wider economy are here to stay, for the medium term at least. While figures show the North East as still having the highest levels of unemployment in the country, the entrepreneurial community is certainly playing its part in working to reduce the jobless figures, with more than a third having increased staffing during the second quarter. Key challenges, or barriers to growth, reported by entrepreneurs included finding quality staff and accessing finance. We are seeing entrepreneurs continuing to invest in their businesses, with almost half of those accessing finance doing so to purchase assets and 44 per cent for working capital. It is interesting to note that this finance is also coming from a range of sources, from banks and retained profits to private equity and crowd funding.


The challenges remain in the economy, but overall we are seeing positivity through our members. These attitudes and perceptions will help to drive businesses forward. Mentoring is a key support measure offered by the Forum, with many of the region’s established entrepreneurs giving their time and expertise for free to help emerging talent in a mutually beneficial partnership. This is increasingly important because 66 per cent of all employment in the UK is supported by SMEs; and market research has shown that businesses that are mentored double their chances of survival and growth, compared with those without a mentor. The Forum was established to provide a mechanism for the knowledge and experience that exists within the region’s business community to be shared and connections to be made. As well as mentoring, it is achieved largely via the Forum’s impressive programme of events that give entrepreneurs access to successful figures in business who share their stories, warn of their mistakes and describe the journey to their achievements. There is a variety of format, from open events to on-site visits, from dinners to the less formal supper clubs and two major regional conferences. In the next three months alone, members can enjoy a VIP visit to Ringtons; an insight into trend forecasting; a focus dinner with North East celebrity chef Terry Laybourne; a lesson in how to become a successful ‘angel’; a master-class in PR, social media and blogging; and get the a chance to hear how Stephen Bell has led the phenomenal growth of Changing Lives (formerly The Cyrenians). The year also gets off to a flying start with an exclusive opportunity to hear from Formula One racing team chief Graeme Lowdon, team president and sporting director of Marussia F1, who will be speaking at the Chairman’s Dinner at Jesmond Dene House Hotel on January 23.


Left to right: Matt Collen (Sintons), Duncan Reid (Watson Burton), John Foots (Camerons)and David Ward (UNW).

Building a head of steam UNW assits with Head of Steam purchase by Camerons Brewery. team of Newcastle advisers has helped ensure customers of a string of iconic North pubs continue to enjoy traditional cask ales, craft beers and world lager after they were acquired by fastexpanding brewer and pub operator, Camerons Brewery. Dealmakers at business advisers and chartered accountants UNW advised Hartlepool-based Camerons Brewery on its recent acquisition of the Head of Steam pub group. The deal included well known Newcastle pubs The Cluny in Ouseburn, Tilley’s on Westgate Road and the Head of Steam opposite Central Station, and forms an important part of Camerons Brewery’s five year growth strategy.


The deal will see the company add seven new outlets to its operations and take Camerons’ estate to over 75 sites throughout the North of England. UNW partner and licensed trade expert David Ward advised the ambitious pub group on all of its taxation, due diligence and structuring affairs. Duncan Reid led both the corporate and real estate teams at Watson Burton on all legal aspects of the acquisition, which will develop Camerons offerings and help it expand geographically. Camerons finance director John Foots said: “We have worked well on this assignment with our advisers UNW and Watson Burton. “The team’s advice has been invaluable and we have experienced a seamless integration process as a result. 2015 will be our 150th anniversary and we

look forward to celebrating our continued growth.’’ UNW tax partner David Ward said: “It was great to act for Camerons in respect of their high profile acquisition of these well known pubs.” Sintons, led by partner Matt Collen, advised Head of Steam on the disposal. UNW and Watson Burton will continue to advise Camerons Brewery on its future expansion as it looks to grow to an estate of 200 pubs in the North within the next five years. The transaction also included the Head of Steam in Durham and Huddersfield, as well as Central in Half Moon Lane, Gateshead. For further information on UNW visit

Did your relationship survive Christmas? Katharine Lowthian, head of Family Law at Newcastle law firm Sintons, has some words of advice if your relationship has ended, along with the festive spirit. Is it really over?

Ask questions

Divorce really should be the last resort. Can the relationship be helped or saved by specialist marriage or relationship guidance or therapy? Plenty of organisations exist to help your relationship stay on track. Your GP or a family lawyer can refer you to a tried and trusted organisation.

You need to know the answers to these questions at your first appointment with your lawyer. How much experience does your lawyer have in family law? How long will it take? What is the best, likely and worst case scenario? How much will it cost?

Talk to each other!

Keep an eye on the costs

Divorce lawyers find communication problems between spouses account for a high proportion of difficulties in a relationship. If the relationship is definitely over mediation is an excellent idea if you have problems getting your partner to listen to your point of view. A good mediator will not try to patch up your relationship, but will attempt to help you come to your own agreement.

Ask your lawyer to provide you with a fixed fee estimate for each part of your case.

Use the experts Use mediation for children issues, and a good

Finally, keep your cool divorce lawyer for financial issues. Should you do it yourself? Beware of doing so. The assets of your marriage, including your house and pension, can be substantial and need to be protected. In divorce, you will get ‘one bite of the cherry’ so it has to be right first time. Even experienced divorce lawyers hire other divorce lawyers to represent them.


Tempting though it may be, do not lose control, damage your partner’s property or send abusive messages. This will only end in tears and may come back to haunt you. Contact Katharine Lowthian on (0191) 226 7911 or


Time for that difficult

conversation The importance of financial planning should the worst happen, by Ian Lowes of Lowes Financial Management.

ave you and your partner talked about your financial arrangements should one of you pass away? According to recent research by Prudential more than half of us haven’t done so. This is one of those subjects that can be difficult to broach but can be all so crucial should the worst happen and arrangements are not in place. And it can happen to us at any age. Prudential’s survey of close to 2000 UK adults over 40 years of age currently living with their spouse or partner found that fewer than 46 per cent of couples have made arrangements to ensure that one partner will continue to receive a retirement income after the other dies. The research further showed that more than a quarter (28 per cent) of couples have yet to discuss the impact on pension arrangements of one partner’s death, while 19 per cent have at least made a will but no other financial plans. The retirement risks faced by many couples are further highlighted by the fact that 41 per cent admit they have never discussed how they will turn their pension savings into an income in retirement – perhaps one of the most important decisions of a person’s life. There is also significant confusion among couples about the sources of their retirement income. One in seven don’t know what their main source of income will be when they stop working – however, the survey showed that men are more certain as only 9 per cent said “I don’t know” compared with 18 per cent of women. Clearly, communication between couples, whether married or in a civil relationship, is


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

essential to ensure both feel their income is secure should either one pass away. To start, both spouses need to know how to manage money. Most couples won't pass away on the same day, so both partners need to be on top of their finances. That includes knowing the basics – the location of bank/building society accounts and the most up-to-date balances, investment portfolios, insurance policies and wills – and for each to be familiar with the processes and requirements needed to manage a bank account or investment portfolio, or to encash an insurance policy. For those looking to buy a retirement income product, typically an annuity, choosing the right product can make all the difference to the income of a surviving partner. Single Life annuities pay an income for the life of the individual. Once the person dies the income stops. Couples who have been unaware of this have found that the surviving partner has been left with a large income gap, in some cases no income at all. This can be even more marked given that single life annuities tend to pay a higher level of income.


Alternatives, such as Joint Life annuities, pay the income to the named holder and, should they pass away, the surviving spouse receives the income or a proportion of it instead. The Prudential survey found that while a third of couples had reached a decision on the best retirement income option, only 10 per cent of them planned to purchase a ‘joint life’ annuity. Clearly, this is an area that needs careful consideration; not least because once an annuity is bought it cannot be changed. But what about if you have a portfolio of investments or your choice of retirement income is what is known as drawdown, where investments are maintained in a pensions wrapper allowing income to be ‘drawn down’ on a regular basis? To ensure the proper management of the portfolio, whether pre or post retirement, each partner should know how to research investments, balance a portfolio, minimise fees, and create a steady stream of income. A balanced portfolio will include a range of investments, including cash, diversified across various sectors. Managing a retirement portfolio isn't a onetime event, it means setting aside regular time and resources for research, planning, and education. There can be a lot to learn if one spouse has taken sole responsibility for the finances, so the sooner couples start working together the better. Alternatively, talk to your local Chartered Independent Financial Adviser who can give you experienced advice both on ensuring your finances are in the right place now and to help manage things should a partner pass away.


New Year: new you Joanne Major of Major Family Law reflects on the increase in divorce rates in January.

EXPERT VIEW Joanne Major Principal and a trained Collaborative Lawyer Major Family Law Tel: (01661) 824582 Web: Twitter: @majorfamilylaw

anuary: the traditional month for reordering your life, joining a gym, vowing never to drink again, and contemplating a fresh start, sadly it is also the month in which divorce rates traditionally soar, with the month sometimes seeing twice the average number of couples beginning divorce proceedings than any other of time of the year. Whether it’s the stress of the festive period, unrealistic expectations of a ‘perfect’ Christmas, spending time with extended family, or even office party indiscretions, it seems that for many couples, Christmas is the final straw in their relationship, and is certainly not a merry time. The idea of starting afresh in the new year and reinventing yourself may be an attractive one, but the reality often doesn’t match up. On the one hand, the word divorce is heard so frequently, that it has become a banality – a mere process, while talk of the financial implications of divorce focuses primarily on stereotypes of grasping women and devious husbands, not to mention the ‘outrageous’ fees allegedly charged by lawyers. Most of this is far from the reality of most divorcing couples’ experiences. While the process of divorce is in itself a procedural exercise, it is the practical and emotional


implications of ending a marriage that weigh most heavily. After the decorations are packed away, and the decision to separate becomes a reality, coping with the fallout can be devastating. This is true even if there is little hostility in the separation. In purely practical terms, the logistics and financial consequences of separating often mean all parties suffer a change in their standard of living for the worse. There are very few couples who are sufficiently wealthy that they can adapt to two households at a level on par with their joint married status. Research shows that the change is particularly hard on women with children, which in turn has an impact on the children, not just practically, but emotionally too. No one is immune to the emotional fallout from the end of a marriage. It’s not unusual to experience anything from fear to relief, betrayal to blame, resentment to guilt. Insecurity and loss of self-esteem are common, and these can be the hidden costs of divorce. Help and understanding can seem scarce, especially if most of your friends remain married. This can lead to loneliness and a sense of isolation in a cycle that requires gargantuan effort to break from. So when it’s all over bar the crying, how do you pick yourself up and move on?


At Major Family Law, we’ve taken the unique step of offering our clients and potential clients the services of an independent family consultant. We acknowledge that it’s not just a good solicitor many people need to guide them through the divorce procedure; they also need emotional and therapeutic support to deal with unresolved feelings associated with the ending of their marriage. Our consultant is entirely independent and confidential and can offer appointments both on and off site. With 25 years’ experience of working with families dealing with separation and divorce issues, he can assist you to articulate your feelings and thoughts, deal with your fears or concerns, or advise on the sorts of arrangements that are best for children at different ages and in different circumstances, which will allow you to develop the confidence and emotional strength to deal with the legal aspects of the end of your relationship. His services can be accessed whether or not you have reached the stage when you feel you need to instruct a solicitor, and a number of our clients have already acknowledged the benefits they have felt in using the service. So if you find yourself starting the new year with a new start, make sure you start as you mean to go on!


Driving business

performance How invoice financing can help your business, by Peter Cromarty, head of Sales at Bibby Financial Services North East.

EXPERT VIEW Peter Cromarty Head of Sales Bibby Financial Services Tel: (0191) 516 5925 Email:

ach quarter, Bibby Financial Services produces the Business Factors Index (BFI) – a report based upon the performance of more than 4000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK. In the third quarter of 2013, the report showed increasing confidence among SMEs as more businesses said they had seen signs of wider economic recovery than in previous quarters of the year. Furthermore, in December’s autumn statement George Osborne announced that the UK economy was growing faster than any developed economy in the world. But despite increasing positivity across the business environment, small and medium sized businesses still face a number of challenges, none more so than financing their businesses and ensuring that they have a funding solution in place to provide sustainable working capital. Additionally, late payment continues to be a major problem for many businesses across the country. In fact, late payment from customers was twice the problem for firms in 2013 than it


was in 2009 and as debtors are taking longer to pay invoices, the number of firms with cash available to invest slumped from 20 per cent, to just two per cent. From speaking with our clients, it’s evident that wider business performance is picking-up for those using funding solutions such as invoice finance. Funding based on the value of a business’ current sales ledger is helping thousands of SMEs in the North East to secure their cash flow and this support is vital in underpinning a sustainable recovery both in this region and throughout the rest of the UK. The BFI for Q3 2013 shows that more than a third (36 per cent) of SMEs in the North East are looking to achieve growth of up to ten per cent in 2014. It’s encouraging that so many SMEs feel positive about the year ahead; however one of the more concerning findings in the report is that 75 per cent, of firms in the region have not applied for business funding in the past 12 months. As the UK continues to edge its way towards economic recovery in 2014, it’s vital that SMEs are supported with funding which is both


sustainable and flexible. Invoice Finance facilitates both, which is perhaps why this type of funding is becoming more popular among the UK’s growing enterprises. In November 2013 the Asset Based Finance Association announced that total sales from businesses supported by asset-based finance broke £71 billion for the third quarter – the strongest ever quarterly performance. In the UK Bibby Financial Services processes in excess of 15,000 invoices, advancing over £18 million to businesses every day and taking on a new client every 90 minutes. Our clients remain at the heart of everything we do. We’re delighted that our client satisfaction rate – currently standing at 93 per cent - continues to demonstrate our promise to provide excellent service to these businesses. In the North East Bibby Financial Services is providing more than £13 million in funding to firms looking to grow. We are planning to increase this funding support further in 2014 as part of our commitment to businesses and our contribution to both the local and national economy.


Rodney Jones (Hay & Kilner) and Simon Lundy (Northpoint)

Left to right: Geoff Moir (Wallers), Tim McAdam (St James’s Place) and Fred Eisner

Left to right: Philippa Walker (Wallers), Nichola Thompson (Wallers) and Malcolm Davies (Elliott Davies)

Hay & Kilner Christmas reception

Nicola Tiffen (Hay & Kilner) and David Downing (Sanderson Weatherall)

The law firm holds a festive drinks party for staff, clients and contacts. Richard Marshall (Hay & Kilner) and Geoff Cavanagh (Tait Walker)

ay & Kilner recently held a drinks reception at Jalou in Newcastle to thank many of its valued clients and professional contacts for their support during 2013. Hay & Kilner continues to forge strong relationships within the North East business community and will be participating in a number of local charitable events during 2014.


Left to right: Chris Johnson (NRAM), Hazel Capstaff (Wallers), Kevin Boardman (NRAM) and David McCarthy (NRAM)

Kirstin Cook (Hay & Kilner) and Charles Raine (Youngs RPS)

Left to right: Christian Butler (Hay & Kilner), Martin Vinsome (Urquhart-Dykes & Lord LLP) and Nicola Matthews (Hay & Kilner)

Left to right: Toby Scott, David Hall (RHK), Maria Wardrobe (Barrie Wardrobe & Co) and Denise Howell (Barrie Wardrobe & Co)


Lee Andrews (Solutions Recruitment) and Sarah Hall (Hay & Kilner)

Left to right: Mark Adams (Hay & Kilner), Alice Clewes (Hay & Kilner) and Richard Ward (Handelsbanken)

Left to right: Granville Kelly (Handelsbanken), Andrew Little (Rowlands Accountants), Neil Harrold (Hay & Kilner) and Neil Matthews (Leathers Matthews Restructuring LLP)

Left to right: Louise Heavisides (Handelsbanken), Chris Huntington (Bibby Financial Services), Paul Moat (Rutherford Wilkinson) and Jonathan Waters (Hay & Kilner)

Left to right: Stuart McLeod (Rickards), Howard Greig, Tony Lister (Thomas Potter), John Clark (Todd & Cue) and Roger Versteeg (Versteeg Lister & Co Ltd)

Iain Shearer (Handelsbanken) and Jonny Marston (KPMG)

David Arthur (Tait Walker) and Martin Soloman (Hay & Kilner)

John Craig (Sanderson Weatherall) and Chris Pearson (Gavin Black & Partners)

Left to right: Kevan Stronach, Lucy Gray and Jan Rzedzian (all Hay & Kilner)



The right prescription RMT Accountants helps in Tyneside GP practice merger. MT’s specialist medical and healthcare division has helped bring two Tyneside GP practices together. Oxford Terrace Medical Group and Rawling Road Medical Centre in Gateshead has joined forces to become Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road Medical Group with help from the industry specialists at Newcastlebased RMT Accountants & Business Advisors. The merger was undertaken to give patients of both former practices wider access to more specialist advice and further improve the quality of service offered. It is already showing results in the way both sites operate, in terms of patients’ access to GPs, the breadth of services provided across both surgeries and the business’s overall future financial performance. The new combined Group now encompasses 12 GPs, along with around 30 other clinical and support staff, and serves over 15,200 patients from across Gateshead. Dr Peter Young, partner at Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road Medical Group, says: “The merger focused on improving patient access and quality as well as the range and variety of services provided. “Being able to pool our premises, budgets


and resources also gives us a stronger starting position from which to manage the clinical, logistical and financial challenges of delivering primary care within the evolving NHS framework. “We undertook extensive consultations with our respective patients before we moved things forward, and there was a good appreciation across the board of the benefits that this merger would bring, benefits which are already being felt just a short time after we officially came together. “RMT were involved from the outset of the merger process, and were central to what we wanted to achieve. Their detailed understanding of the financial situation and a clear view of what the impact would be on every aspect of our work. “The importance of having medical specialists working on the project who understand both where the primary care sector is now and where it’s likely to go in the future cannot be underestimated, and the action plan that we developed together early in the process set out a roadmap that we’ve followed to a successful conclusion.” RMT is nationally acknowledged as one of the UK’s leading independent specialist medical and healthcare accountancy


practices, and works with many medical professionals both across the regions and throughout the UK, including over a third of all the GP practices in the North East. RMT director Maxine Pott, who leads the firm’s Medical & Healthcare team, adds: “The changing face of primary care sector commissioning is potentially going to make this type of practice merger ever more common in the coming years, and the Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road teams have taken a very proactive approach to both improving services for their patients and enhancing the combined practice’s income streams. “The way in which medical sector finances have developed in recent years, especially within primary care, has put an even greater emphasis on strategic financial advice and business support, and the positive impact this can have across all aspects of a practice’s operations is clear to see from the results of this merger process.” RMT provides the full range of financial and business advisory services through its Specialist Tax, Recovery & Insolvency, Corporate Finance and Medical & Healthcare divisions. For more information, please visit


Achieving the best outcome Businesses should consider the broadest range of solutions bringing about the best outcome, says Andrew Cawkwell of Muckle LLP.

t Muckle LLP we like to think laterally and take a holistic approach to problems, taking a strategic view of what the issue is and how it might be solved. We apply not just our legal expertise, but also weigh up the commercial constraints to consider the best possible solution in the broadest context. This is particularly relevant in the engineering sector, where projects with large and complex contracts can be put in jeopardy if someone in the supply chain is failing to deliver. If a supplier goes bust, it can have devastating consequences for a business. It’s not just the obvious issue of being owed money and potentially losing out financially, for some it’s critical that their suppliers continue to trade for the sake of their customers and reputation. In these circumstances companies need fast solutions. Communication breaks down and litigation can seem the only way out. However,


EXPERT VIEW Andrew Cawkwell Partner, Banking and Restructuring Team Muckle LLP Email: Twitter: @companyrescue


there are other ways to keep businesses alive, so explore every option, including financial restructuring or identifying relevant funding sources. We think it’s critical to encourage dialogue between all parties, as early as possible, so we can look at how to solve issues together. Finding ways for subcontractors to deliver can sometimes mean taking necessary control of the contract, but this safeguards the project, as well as the customer, so everyone gets paid. At Muckle LLP we are extremely experienced in this area and have acted for numerous clients contractually engaged with suppliers in financial difficulties – often with significant risks attached. Whatever the risks, it’s critical that businesses look at the bigger picture and consider all options. Acting earlier in the process could also mean different goals can be achieved for all parties involved, resulting in a better overall outcome.


Entrepreneurs boost North East Richard Clark of Barclays Wealth and Investment Management reflects on the news that the proportion of high growth companies in the North East has increased by almost 20 per cent.

he spirit of entrepreneurialism has been firmly grasped across the North East of England, as the proportion of highgrowth companies in the region have increased by nearly 20 per cent between 2011 and 2012. New research into entrepreneurial activity across the UK has shown that the proportion of the North East’s high-growth companies – midsized SMEs recording a 33 per cent increase in turnover in the past three years, as well as 10 per cent year on year growth for a minimum of two of these years – has shown an impressive rise of 19.4 per cent from 2011 to 2012. As a result, nearly one in five mid-sized SMEs in the North East can be defined as high growth. The success of these companies can really be felt at a local level, not just from the obvious boost to the regional economy but also by creating jobs and attracting more business investment and opportunities to the North East. These types of businesses are an integral part of the wellbeing of the economy. As such, in October 2012, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management launched the Entrepreneurs Index series in order to better understand the landscape in which these businesses operate. Now in its third edition, the latest Entrepreneurs Index, released in partnership with Business Growth Fund (BGF), gives us an indication of UK entrepreneurial activity across its different stages: from starting and funding, to growing, and finally connecting with other businesses and individuals through


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

share sales. Taking a closer look at the regional findings of this study, figures for the North East are very encouraging, showing that despite a challenging and unpredictable economy, the number of enterprises has been maintained at the same level as the previous year. In particular, Newcastle was highlighted by the Centre for Cities in the report for its healthy ratio between expanding and contracting SMEs with 10 or more employees between 2008 and 2011. We know that Newcastle is also a city in transition, with a significant rise in the number of graduates living in the city, changing its skills profile. The UK Business Angels Association was another organisation to contribute to our study, describing the North East as very active in the business angel space due to the number of patents and the emergence of IT companies. The London Stock Exchange mentions Utilitywise and Kromek as success stories of

North East companies that have recently listed on AIM. However, the report also shows that the number of active and growing companies recording share sales has fallen in the last year by 24 per cent to 110. This could reflect a more cautious approach by potential investors as well as a willingness by business owners to wait for more favourable conditions to sell. The expert panellists we spoke to predict that the current hesitancy could open up to a strong pipeline of share-selling activity in the coming months. At a UK level our research findings also suggest that entrepreneurs are becoming more adaptable and innovative in their approach to business: almost half (49 per cent) of entrepreneurs were found to have set up their business with less than £2000, and one in 10 (eight per cent) had needed no start-up funding whatsoever. This ability to adapt quickly allows entrepreneurs to be more ready to seize market opportunities when they arise, meaning that entrepreneurial activity is often viewed as a strong indication of the wider economy. For this reason, we are hopeful that the positive momentum shown by our local entrepreneurs will play an important role in helping accelerate us toward stronger growth in the New Year. Read the full report at /wealth/entrpreneursindex

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.



Using a probate practitioner Sinton’s Debra Devine explains why you should use a solicitor with probate and the administration of estates. robate and administration of estates – why use a solicitor? This is a question that is often asked, and understandably so when in this day and age everyone is looking to save money. But there are a number of reasons why you should always consider taking legal advice and using the services of an experienced probate practitioner if you have been appointed as an executor under the terms of a will, or else if a relative has died without leaving a will. The executor is responsible for administering the estate in accordance with the terms of the will, so would need to correctly interpret the terms of the will, which are often complicated for a lay person to understand. It is the duty of an executor to gather in all the assets and have these correctly valued and ascertain the debts and ensure that these are all paid before distributing the estate correctly under the terms of the will. Failure to do this would mean the executor could be personally liable. If inheritance tax is payable it is the responsibility of the executor to correctly


EXPERT VIEW Debra Devine Chartered legal executive Sintons Tel: (0191) 2267846 Email:


complete the Inland Revenue accounts and pay the tax which can be a daunting task in compiling the assets and liabilities in the estate and calculating the correct tax payable. The executor is also obliged to make full enquiries about any gifts made by the deceased person as any gifts made in the last seven years must be taken into account for inheritance tax purposes and the executor would need to consider the annual exemptions any small gifts allowance and if any gifts were made out of the income of the deceased person. If the person died without leaving a will, then that person is said to have died intestate and his estate will be administered in accordance with the intestacy rules and relatives would need to take advice as to who can be appointed as the administrator to deal with the administration of the estate on much the same lines as the above. Given these factors, seeking legal advice in this field is always advisable – and to have peace of mind that these duties are being carried out correctly, it is always best to consult an expert.


Construction claims seminar Sintons and CENE partner up for construction industry seminar. intons hosted around 50 professionals from the construction industry for a breakfast seminar entitled ‘Construction Claims under the JCT suite of contracts – an overview’. The seminar was held in conjunction with Constructing Excellence in the North East (CENE), a regional partner of Constructing Excellence. Alex Rayner, a solicitor in Sintons’ Construction and Engineering team, gave an introduction to the typical claims that arise on construction projects, with particular focus on the JCT suite of contracts. He also discussed potential ways in which construction claims can be avoided and, if avoidance is not possible, how to resolve subsequent disputes. For any advice relating to construction and engineering law issues, contact or call (0191) 226 7908.




Getting your retirement right Gareth Davies, financial planner at Brewin Dolphin, reveals why getting the right guidance is crucial to putting together a suitable retirement strategy.

he decisions that you make about financing your retirement are among the most important financial choices you will make in your life – get them wrong and it can be very difficult to recover from. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding how to use your retirement savings – when to purchase an annuity, whether to take a tax-free lump sum, whether to leave the monies invested and strip out an income from the pension, and how your retirement fund fits in with other savings and sources of income. Given the complexity and importance of these issues the first step to getting the right strategy in place should be sitting down with a financial planning expert to discuss your options. They will be able to take your individual circumstances, objectives and attitude to risk into account and devise a retirement plan that works for you. Purchasing an annuity remains the bedrock of financial planning in retirement for most people. Their key advantage is that they are the only way of using a pension to provide a guaranteed level of income for the rest of your life - annuities should be viewed as insurance against outliving your pension savings. Another advantage is that you are not restricted to buying an annuity from the company which is investing your pension savings – this means it is possible to shop around to get the best rate. However, annuities have a number of drawbacks. Annuity rates have fallen to historic lows in recent years due to factors such as increased life expectancy. Furthermore, buying an annuity is a very ‘final’ act.


EXPERT VIEW Gareth Davies Financial planner Brewin Dolphin Tel: (0191) 230 7290 Email: Web:

Once this decision is taken there is no going back and this does not always sit comfortably with people looking for flexibility in their retirement. On the other hand, annuities have become more flexible than they were in the past, as you no longer have to use all of your pension pot to buy one. You can, depending on the size of your pot, ‘annuitise’ certain chunks, while changes to legislation also mean that you no longer have to take an annuity by the age of 75. There is also the possibility of purchasing a temporary annuity which combines some of the advantages of security of income allied with the potential to revisit your options at a known point in the future. Legislative changes have also opened up other options for using pension savings to provide an income. One option is income drawdown, which allows the withdrawal of funds from your pension pot while the remainder is left invested. Using phased drawdown, where each


segment of money drawn from the pension is partly from the tax-free cash element, and the residual partly subject to income tax, allows retirement income to be structured tax efficiently and to take into account changing circumstances. Drawdown is not without risk, however, as has been seen with the considerable market volatility of recent years. Whilst it certainly offers a lot of flexibility, getting expert advice is key, as this is a complex area and needs careful consideration. An important advantage of pension savings is that, under current legislation, you can take up to 25 per cent of your pension benefits as a taxfree lump sum on retirement - but how much to take needs to be weighed up carefully. Another option for wealthier individuals is to consider delaying taking your pension and using other savings to finance some of your retirement years. For those who have adequate pension assets, as well as considerable amounts in an ISA or share portfolio, it could be benificial to use the income from those rather than triggering your pension – at least until age 75, when the pension becomes a great deal less tax efficient on death. However, if you were to die before age 75, and before you crystallised your benefits, it would pass to your nominated beneficiaries free of all taxes. In summary, there is much to consider when thinking about ways to finance your retirement and it is vitally important to make sure you get expert guidance when weighing up your options so you can put in place a plan that is right for you.


Left to right: Kathryn Taylor (managing partner, Gordon Brown Law Firm), Viv Williams (chief executive, 360 Legal Group) and Geoff Hall (head of residential conveyancing, Gordon Brown Law Firm).

Top award for Gordon Brown The law firm is celebrating being named 360 Legal Group Member of the Year.

ordon Brown Law Firm, which has offices in Newcastle and Chesterle-Street, has scooped the title 360 Legal Group Member of the Year at a prestigious legal conference and awards dinner. The law firm was announced as the winner of the award category, by the 360 Legal Group, at its annual dinner on October 3rd which took place at The Belfry, near Birmingham. It is the fourth year that Bristol-based 360 Legal Group, which helps law firms across the UK manage and market their practices more successfully as businesses, has held the awards to find and recognise practices of all sizes, which are not only adapting but also responding to the fast changing conditions facing the legal profession and the difficult economic climate they are facing. Gordon Brown Law Firm was nominated by consultants working with 360 member firms for the way in which the firm has pursued a


very clear strategy during the course of the year. The firm recently appointed the youngest female partner as its new managing partner and has undergone massive changes in the past 12 months, starting afresh with a completely new marketing and sales training programme and linking remuneration to performance and accountability. The firm has shown significant growth in these difficult economic times and has grown its conveyancing volumes by 500 per cent since 2006 since investing in and training its staff to use its Intelliworks case management system. It has also separated out its volume residential conveyancing department and probate office into a new Chester-Le-Street office while retaining its Newcastle office as its commercial and private client base. Presenting the award, Viv Williams, chief executive of 360 Legal Group said: “In choosing our award winner we were looking


for a law firm that is facing the future with imagination and initiative and in reviewing Gordon Brown Law Firm for the award, we felt that they clearly stood out in the way they have been driving their business forward”. Kathryn Taylor, managing partner at Gordon Brown Law Firm, added: “I was both surprised and delighted to have been nominated for and to receive this award. My guiding principle over the last year has been that law firms, like most other businesses, cannot afford to stand still in the hope that work will flow towards them. I have constantly sought new ways of obtaining instructions and growing our firm in spite of the challenging and turbulent times that we face. I am very flattered, therefore, that 360 Legal Group has seen what we are trying to do and has chosen to recognise it in this way.” For further information on Gordon Brown Law Firm visit


Playing the

long game After more than 42 years at Samuel Philips Law Firm, eminent lawyer Barry Speker OBE DL,is joining the team at Sintons Law. Here, he reflects on his glittering legal career and shares his thoughts on his new role.

Past achievements Having decided to leave Samuel Phillips Law Firm after 42-and-a-half years, there is much upon which to reflect. I qualified in 1971 and joined Samuel Phillips & Co, as it was then known in the hallowed corridors of 86 Pilgrim Street. I developed various specialisms in a number of legal areas: medical law, employment law family law, and some forays into the criminal courts. I was also a founder member of both the Law Society’s Clinical Negligence Panel and Children Panel. I was an interviewer and assessor on behalf of the Law Society of applicants for accreditation and an adjudicator on Legal Aid Appeals, for the Legal Services Commission, and am still active in these on occasions. For many years, I have been (and I remain) a Trust Solicitor to The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust dealing with a wide variety of complex medico-legal issues. I have become expert in medical law and ethics as well as in relation to Inquests and frequently lecture on these areas as well as writing articles and the occasional chapter in medical literature. I have been Legal Adviser to two Adoption and Fostering Agencies and still enjoy speaking at many national conferences on medico-legal subjects. I sat as District Judge for ten years and have been an Employment Judge since 1991 sitting in Tribunals in Newcastle, Middlesbrough and London.

Apart from legal practice, I have always been passionate about supporting the wider community. Helping to secure funding of over £240m in both private investment and public funding as a director of the Grainger Town Project is one of many highlights. The achievements of the internationally recognised Project are still much in evidence. I also sit on the boards of a number of charities and community projects including Age UK and NECA (North East Council on Addictions) of which I am the president. I also have a long association with the Chinese Community in the North East and was pleased to be able to spearhead and raise the funding for the Imperial Chinese Arch in Stowell Street. I am still planning a second arch. I was President of Newcastle Law Society in 2000 and was appointed a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear in 2002. I was also honoured to receive my OBE from the Queen in June 2008 ‘For services to business and the community in Newcastle upon Tyne’.

Looking to the future After many years with Samuel Phillips, of which I have been senior partner for more than 25 years, and then as a consultant since January 2012, I decided the time was right to leave. Samuel Phillips has developed significantly in my time with the firm and I wish my former colleagues success in the


years ahead. An enthusiastic and attractive approach from Sintons persuaded me to take up a new challenge, which has surprised many people. I will be practising mainly in the healthcare sector. It is very important that I will be continuing my role as Trust Solicitor of Newcastle Hospitals Trust, dealing with Inquests, Judicial review and the many complex areas of law and medical ethics arising with our excellent hospitals. This is a developing area of law with high profile issues relating to capacity, consent, confidentiality and lawfulness of treatment. I will also continue as an Employment Judge and in my role as non-executive director of Careline Lifestyles, a fast growing local company providing specialist care for adults with acquired brain injury, with modern service units throughout the North East. My involvement with charities will continue. This includes being a patron of Charlie Bear for Cancer Care, a trustee of Tyne Theatre and North of England Civic Trust and a governor of Heaton Manor. Sintons has agreed there will be enough time for golf with them at Close House and Matfen Hall as well as at Northumberland – and the parking is convenient for St James Park! And, of course, there will be time for regular weekends at the flat in London to see the children and grandchildren. Contact Barry Speker on or (0191) 226 7920.



Built on a strong Foundation Mark Beverley, a representative of St. James’s Place Wealth Management, talks to Jessica Laing about the St James’s Place Foundation – the charitable arm of the company which has, over the last 21 years, raised and donated over £30 million to hundreds of charities.

Tell us a little bit about the Foundation…

How does the Foundation decide which charities receive its grants?

The Foundation was formed in 1992 as a grant making charity. The idea behind it was to 'give something back' to people who need it most by raising and donating funds to good causes. The Foundation is no different today; representatives and employees of St. James’s Place give generously and raise funds for the Foundation with the Company matching all donations pound for pound. We have themes that help to guide our grant making.

We offer grants to UK Registered charities operating both in the UK and abroad and we do this through different grant-making programmes. The Foundation makes grants to small and medium sized charities, those who we believe can make a positive difference and who we can have the most impact on. We make grants of different sizes, from as little as a £1000 to grants of over £1 million, for larger capital projects.

Why did you decide to get involved in the Foundation? I joined St James’s Place nearly four and a half years ago. When I heard about the Foundation, how it works and how it is an integral part of the business, I thought it was a great thing to be a part of. It’s an opportunity to be involved in something in which you’re giving back.

How does the Foundation decide which ‘themes’ of charities receive help? A key element of the Foundation is that the themes which guide our grant making are chosen by our community and a survey is sent out every three to four years to the entire organisation. It’s all done very democratically: our current themes aren’t set in stone, but they are the areas in which there is a definite need and, if the grants that we give are applied appropriately, there can be an immediate positive benefit.

Are you able to find out how the grants are being spent and benefiting your chosen charities? Yes. We have a number of ambassadors – or people who act in an ambassadorial role – who go out and visit the charities to see, first-hand, what is being done and where else our help is needed. The Foundation team carry-out detailed due diligence before making any decision to donate funds. We also have a reporting mechanism in place, so that we can get feedback about how our programme is working and how our grants are benefiting people.

What was the main fundraising activity in the region in 2013? Over 80 per cent of the St. James's Place community, representatives and employees make a regular monthly contribution to the Foundation – in our office it’s over 90 per cent! In addition to that, they also organise fundraising activities, including balls, golf days, boxing nights,walks and climbing events. The pound for


pound matching offered by the company offers a big incentive to our community doubling all fundraising.

How does the North East benefit from the Foundation? The Foundation supports charities from the across the UK including a number of local organisations. Alongside our main grants programmes, we also have a local office allowance, which allows us to give smaller sums of money - from £1000 up to £2000 – to smaller organisations that don’t necessarily fit within our core themes, but are in real need for some support. Examples include the Durham Singers, the Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade, St Cuthbert’s Hospice and Children North East. Over the course of the year, I reckon we will support anywhere between 20 and 30 charities in this way.

What does the Foundation have planned for 2014 and what do does it hope to achieve? We are planning four local fundraising events in 2014: our own Foundation ball in January, a golf day at Close House in July, a summer solstice ball in June and another boxing event in November. The continued success of the Foundation will be reliant on the support we can continue to receive from our community, clients and suppliers. St James’s Place Wealth Management Group is located at One Trinity Gardens, Broad Chare, Newcastle. Tel: (0191) 260 5373. Email:, web:


Corporate finance briefing ... with Mark Irving, director at Irving Ramsay Limited nd so begins another year! I am sure there will be many twists and turns as 2014 unravels but I wonder what objectives the business owners of the North East have set themselves for this year? If anyone’s objectives include selling their business, raising finance to grow their business or possibly buying another business then there is no time to waste. The credit crunch has had a deep, severe impact on the UK (and global) economic landscape but, in my world of corporate finance in the North East, it is abundantly clear that one of its consequences is that it now takes much longer to do deals than once was the case. Of course as I reported in my final column of 2013, I do get the increasingly strong feeling that the economy has turned the corner and that there are more and more deals to be done – but they still take time. From a finance raising perspective (which comprises about half of our current portfolio), the timescales are not as extended as if you are looking to buy or sell a business. Nevertheless


it is still quite an undertaking. We have to identify and engage with relevant funders, invest time writing the business plan, undertake presentations to funders and possibly provide further information, obtain credit/investment committee approval, negotiate term sheets and project manage the


due diligence and legal processes. On the disposal side of things (being the balance of our current portfolio) timescales can be longer, especially if work needs to be done before the formal sale process can begin to groom the business and position it for sale to create the best chance of generating premium bids. Inevitably I would argue that having a corporate finance adviser in your corner will help you to complete either of the above processes in the most expedient manner possible and with a greater chance of achieving a successful conclusion. So, if you are thinking about raising finance to kick start growth in 2014 or starting the process of selling your business, why not get in touch sooner rather than later? You will get a candid view from a team of experienced professionals. Contact Mark at or call 07730 437 617. Alternatively, visit or follow Twitter: @IrvingRamsay.

BUSINESS Left to right: Reece Vail, Sarah Williams Sheila Nicholson (all First 4 Websites), Mike Jobson (Oxford Innovation), Jenna Shields, David Williams, Liam Laverty and Laura Turnbull (all First 4 Websites).

Growth weaved into web firm’s future Business coaching specialist Oxford Innovation helps First 4 Websites with its business strategy. Berwick-based online marketing firm has won new contracts and added to its workforce after taking part in the Business Northumberland High Growth Programme. First 4 Websites was established by husband and wife team David and Sarah Williams in January 2012, providing clients with the full range of design, internet and social media marketing services. The business now employs nine people including two new recruits – graphic designer Laura Turnbull and 17-year-old apprentice Reece Vail. Sarah Williams said: “In our first 18 months of trading we experienced steady growth working closely with clients from a wide range of sectors. “However we felt that to enable First 4 Websites to reach its full growth potential, we would need to enlist some expert support.” Sarah turned to Oxford Innovation, the business coaching specialists tasked with the delivery of the £1.35m Business Northumberland High Growth Programme. Mike Jobson, programme manager at Oxford Innovation, worked with Sarah, David and their entire team, advising on marketing strategies and growth plans. Mike says: “What initially struck me about First 4 Websites was the fantastic team spirit and the passion they all share for what they do. “I wanted to make sure that enthusiasm and commitment to deliver the highest possible standards of customer service were woven into


the firm’s growth strategy.” With input from the whole team, Mike led a review of First 4 Websites’ own marketing and business development activities. Sarah explained: “We knew our existing clients were very happy with our work and after sales service because they have all stayed with us at annual renewal. One has even recorded a 750 per cent increase in their website traffic since we started working together. “However, we needed to refocus on our own identity in order to reach out for new business opportunities. “Mike took us through a very thorough review of our brand which was a fascinating experience and great team-building exercise.” With his own background in senior marketing roles with global brands such as Guinness, Diageo and Colgate Palmolive, Mike also advised the First 4 Websites team on the different demands of pitching to larger organisations for new business. Having now completed the Business Northumberland High Growth Programme, Sarah is more optimistic than ever about the future of her business: “Mike has been so helpful and we’ve all really enjoyed working with him. Since taking part in the Programme, we’ve recorded our most successful month of trading and we’ve added Laura and Reece to the team to help ensure we’re resourced for future growth.” Reflecting on his work with First 4 Websites, Mike says the only barrier the team faced was a familiar one: “Prior to it participating in the


Programme, the company’s success had been based on the quality of its product and the relationships the team enjoy with clients. “That’s fundamental to any successful organisation so we had to preserve that but if First 4 Websites is going to reach its full growth potential the team have to work on their business as well as in it. I’m convinced they’re now equipped to do so and I look forward to following their progress.” The Business Northumberland High Growth Programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered on behalf of Arch, The Northumberland Development Company and the county council. The Programme provides free coaching and business support to existing businesses and start-ups across Northumberland. Oxford Innovation’s methods have proved successful elsewhere in the UK, where the organisation has worked with more than 2500 high growth businesses and start-ups. And despite the challenging economic circumstances of the last three years, Oxford Innovation has helped its clients across the UK access over £100 million of funding, creating or safeguarding more than 400 jobs. To find out about the Business Northumberland High Growth Programme and how Oxford Innovation can support your business, call (01670) 528403, email or visit


New Year, new career? How Pitman Training Newcastle can help you bag your ideal job. New Year signals a new start and for many people and top of the agenda for change is a new job. January is the ideal time to think about options for changing careers and putting in the groundwork to research what is available. Pitman Training Newcastle, now part of the wider Entrust family that provides business support and funding for enterprises across the region, is a one-stop shop for specialist secretarial, book-keeping and IT training. It’s ideally placed to help equip people with the skills they need to improve their employment prospects. Jill Lambert from Pitman Training Newcastle said: “January is always a busy time for us because learning new skills is a really popular New Year’s resolution – and one that can make a huge difference to your life. “Unlike many of the resolutions to ‘stop’ doing something, like eating chocolate, smoking or biting your nails, resolving to learn new skills and study for a qualification is something you are likely to stick to, and something that will show tangible results very quickly. “Upgrading your skills is the key to a better job, with better wages and better levels of satisfaction. And because we spend so much of our time at work, feeling more fulfilled by our job is a really important part of what makes us happy.” Equipping yourself with the skills you need to compete successfully for a new job is the first step on the ladder to changing your career. Whether


Kim Lax

you are looking to improve your earning potential by moving up a level in a similar area to the one you work in at the moment, or are looking for something new, if you’re seeking training in key office, IT and financial skills, Pitman Training Newcastle can help. A course at Pitman Training, named after the inventor of shorthand, was just the ticket for Kim Lax who was made redundant during the recession when her employer shifted much of its North East work to Poland. Kim, who worked as a personal assistant (PA), was offered training with Pitman to improve her skills as part of her redundancy package, and was able to land her dream job. Kim says: “I was offered the executive PA diploma, which took 18 months to complete. I absolutely loved it. For anyone looking for a PA


course, this is a fantastic way to enhance your skills. It is just so extensive. It covers typing letters and memos to preparing a full-blown power point presentation. There are also different skills to manage your time and personality building aspects.” On completing her diploma, Kim started working at Greggs’ headquarters in Newcastle, initially as PA to the company secretary and marketing director, before progressing to executive PA to the finance director. However, it was not long before Kim secured her dream job as executive PA to the CEO at Immunodiagnostic Systems Plc (IDS Plc), where she also supports the company’s executive team. Kim added: “This is most definitely my dream job and I firmly believe that completing my executive PA Diploma at Pitman Training proved invaluable and helped me to achieve this fantastic role, in a very competitive job market. It is good to finally have the qualification to support my many years of PA experience.” Pitman’s Jill Lambert says: “The executive PA role is a challenging one and our course has been developed to ensure our trainees are well versed in all the skills they need. We hope this will encourage others to follow Kim’s example because she demonstrates perfectly how the right qualifications can lead to further career success.” For more information about the courses on offer through Pitman Training Newcastle, visit


The need for speed Bryony Gibson, managing director of Bryony Gibson Consulting, discusses why speed is of the essence in today’s changing recruitment market. he return of confidence in the North East business community is the strongest sign of economic recovery we've seen for a long time. Green shoots of growth have been evident in a host of surveys and polls recently and, while there's still a long way to go, recruitment is firmly back on the agenda. In the second half of 2013 we saw a big uplift in the number of jobs registered, backing up KPMG and the REC’s national figures which suggest overall vacancies are increasing at their fastest pace since July 1998. On the flip side, the availability of candidates fell in November, with the rate of decline at its sharpest since July 2007. In tough economic times consolidation is the first thought for many businesses, often long before planning for growth. It’s therefore unsurprising that 2013 has been described as the year of the counter offer; and we’ve certainly seen a significant increase in the number being made, along with the amount of people accepting improved deals to stay put. This may be part of the reason permanent salary growth is at a six-year high, but whether or not that’s the case, what this does mean is that recruiters need to adapt to the new candidate driven status quo and change their ways if they want to be successful. So, how do you attract the best candidates and convince them to join you? It depends on how well you know the market and how specialised the role is.


Short term, increased salary and benefits are obvious ways to attract talent, but successful recruitment needs a long-term view and finding someone with the right skills, personality, ambition and motivation to match your organisation is surely the genuine goal. Social media provides a cost-effective opportunity to be more proactive, with some very positive results at the ‘volume end’ of the market. But when it comes to more specialist and senior roles, the idea that agency recruiters can be replaced by Twitter and LinkedIn campaigns is one that very much underestimates the impact a quality recruiter has within the placement process. Attracting and recruiting the right people has always been a challenge, but now more than ever the relationship between business and agency recruiter is crucial. In an industry that often gets a bad press, being able to find the right recruitment partner allows you to capitalise on their market knowledge and expertise. A good recruiter will show you a constant duty of care, keeping you up-to-date and providing realistic guidance on the market and how you can attract top talent. From your side, you need to be able to trust the advice you receive, as you may need to be flexible on the skills and solutions you’re looking for. Which is not always as bad as it sounds - the best personality fit is surely better with some training than someone with the right skills but wrong attitude? The truth is that the best people aren’t always


looking, so by building a partnership your recruiter will be able to help you find the right people all year round, ensuring you’re the first to know about them. While there’s little you can do to influence a counter offer, what you can do is move through the recruitment process with speed and without delaying decision making. Great people always have options and there’s nothing worse than sending out a negative message when competitors are doing the opposite. If you like someone, don’t delay in inviting them for interview or making an offer. In fact, there’s nothing worse than silence after an interview. You’ve worked hard to attract the best talent and then you go quiet. It doesn’t take long for someone to feel disengaged and look at other opportunities. It often leaves candidates feeling like they weren’t the right person for the job, even when that’s not necessarily the case. Once you engage in a candidate driven market you need to be prepared to find time and make some quick decisions. Everyone is busy and recruitment is often an addition to the day job, but the more time and importance you place on the process, the better results you will see. After all, your company is only as good as the people it employs. Contact Bryony Gibson for help finding the right tax & accountancy recruits on (0191) 375 9983. Alternatively, visit or follow Twitter: @bryonygibson


Laing goes online Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery joins Google Cultural Institute.


ewcastle’s Laing Art Gallery has joined the White House, the Palace of Versaille and other museums and galleries from around the world as part of Google’s Cultural Institute. The project hosts the world’s cultural treasures online, meaning that people from all over the world can virtually visit the Laing Art Gallery and see the artworks on show. Julie Milne, chief curator at Laing Art Gallery, said: “We were thrilled to be approached by Google to be a part of this project, and the Laing now appears alongside some of the most exceptional cultural venues in the world.” Google used Street View technology to film inside the Laing Art Gallery, and even photographed one of the Gallery’s key paintings, Laus Veneris by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (pictured), in ‘gigapixel’ format, allowing people to zoom in to brushstroke level and explore the painting in incredible detail.

ITPS backs apprenticeships campaign


TPS is to continue its in-house scheme that has already helped more than 20 apprentices kick-start a career in IT. The Gateshead-based firm has taken at least four young people a year for the last eight years, mainly into its technical services and field engineer teams. Each of the apprentices embarks on a two-year course delivered in partnership with training partners ITEC North East and Zodiac Training. The programme sees the young people working alongside experienced engineers and achieve NVQs qualifications.

Winning slogan takes prime position

Contract Winn for TSG


echnology services company TSG has been recruited by Winn Solicitors, specialists in accident claims and accident compensation. TSG’s Mark Joynson said: “To be chosen as Winn’s technology experts is a huge accolade given the critical nature of IT to the daily operation and continuing success of their business.” Managing director of Winn Solicitors. Jeff Winn, added: “We selected TSG as the ideal partner to work with on the basis of their understanding of our business and the fact that they can offer a full suite of capabilities to ensure that everything works seamlessly without interruption.”



Cramlington girl has officially opened the doors to a new store after winning a competition with a tech-perfect catchphrase aimed at welcoming customers to the launch of Manor Walks’ newest retailer Currys and PC World. Chloe Baker (12) saw her slogan ‘Manor Walks into a PC World of Technology @ Currys PC World Cramlington’ displayed on the new shop front and has taken home a HP Tablet for winning the competition. The competition was organised in partnership with youth project Digital Community Youth.


Steve Nelson

Get IT right Newcastle-based Calibre Secured Networks Ltd, offers some practical advice on getting a quality ICT infrastructure. his year will definitely see more and more organisations take a long hard look at their ICT systems as they plan for expansion and go for growth in the face of brighter economic times knowing that smart investment in technology can give them the edge. The fact is that a robust ICT infrastructure underpins the success of all departments in a company and has a proactive role to play in business growth - so you need to get it right and ensure the best IT partner is chosen who is committed to meeting your business requirements and delivering value for money. The first thing to do is plan for success: Make sure that you align your ICT aims with the organisation business priorities, identify what your objectives are and how you want to improve customer service, business efficiency and communicate with customers and suppliers securely and more effectively. Work out, with the help of an ICT specialist if necessary, how your systems support and add value and consider immediate challenges and long-term goals. Get a clear picture of the threats and opportunities you face and weigh up these and other challenges alongside the long-term demands on your ICT infrastructure. What are the pressures on the organisation now and how is that likely to change? As large IT investments usually involve a five to ten-year spend cycle, companies must make sure solutions are future-proof, ensuring that a solution will scale up and grow with a company. That’s why it’s critical to choose the right partner – it’ll help you to avoid spending time and money on the same solution year after year. What are your competitors doing? How are they using technology to improve their business be it


websites or the use of mobile technology for customer service or marketing. The growth of the internet and other networking opportunities mean that businesses can move quickly to exploit new opportunities or adopt new ways of working. Are you leading the way or lagging behind? Think about how will you minimise disruption when implementing new ICT? Disruption to your systems can have disastrous consequences across the board. Will you need external support? If so,for how long? Will you need to recruit in-house expertise? Don’t forget to factor in any staff training needed to use the new systems effectively. Consider your ICT capability - where are you now and where do you need to be in three or five years time? One of the hardest questions to answer as parameters change in a constantly moving world but you can stay ahead by defining the gap between what you have and the systems you need. Create a programme of implementation to close that gap producing cost estimates so that you know how much you will need to spend and when. And then ask yourself: How will I measure the success of my ICT investment? Again, another hard question but business initiatives are implemented to achieve tangible results, so this is critical if you are to get a return on your investment. “It can be hard for customers to answer these questions and make informed decisions about a project that costs hundreds of thousands of pounds,” says Calibre’s Steve Nelson. “So it’s important they seek advice from a reputable supplier who has proven expertise and can demonstrate a track record of success that can be independently verified. “Talk also to ICT vendors and ask them what


they think about possible suppliers and if they can recommend someone able to provide impartial, independent expertise and supply cost effective, high quality systems solutions. Getting the answers to these questions will help you go along way to achieving a successful harmonious and ultimately beneficial relationship with your supplier.” Steve advises that companies should get quotations for large investments independently reviewed to ensure that a proposed solution is designed to meet with exact requirements (it will do what they want it to do) and that it represents value for money. Calibre has helped companies save thousands of pounds by reviewing kit lists, network designs and costs on professional services, which often gives clients ammunition to go back to their incumbent suppliers to question their costs. “An ICT partner should be working collaboratively with customers on this – not just chalking up profits and moving on to the next project”, he concludes. Calibre provides ICT solutions for public and private sector organisations, working across the UK and Europe with clients building long-term strategic relationships to deliver added value solutions, which provide lasting user benefits. This includes services and solutions, which enable schools, local government organisations and companies to maximise their return on investment through the deployment of technology to meet their business challenges. Find out more at Alternatively, contact Karen Nelson, managing director, Calibre Secured Networks Ltd, 6-8 Charlotte Square, Newcastle. Tel: 0845 5576355 or email


Technically speaking ... What’s holding you back from BYOD? Asks Alex MacDonald, principal technical consultant at ITPS.

EXPERT VIEW Alex MacDonald Principal technical consultant ITPS Tel: (0191) 442 8300 Web:

he rise in popularity of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD), which describes an environment where staff use their own mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones to access company data and applications, presents a big challenge for businesses as they seek to balance potential cost savings with availability and security. BYOD is the most radical shift in the IT world since PCs landed on our desks. It illustrates the gradual consumerisation of IT, giving people what they want and need in order to work smarter and benefit the organisation. Most of us are now blurring the boundaries between work and home, being ‘always connected’ to email and social media, and BYOD is the next logical step. It can lead to a rise in productivity as people have a quick check of their email and deal with things immediately rather than waiting until they are back at their desks. It may also result in lowered hardware costs and a boost in morale, as staff are given more choice over how and when they work. Industry experts predict 60 per cent of organisations are looking to introduce BYOD in 2014, and evidence from our customer base supports that, which puts pressure on IT managers to work alongside HR, operations and other teams to address the issues and embrace the change. So how can your organisation take advantage of the benefits?


The most important factor in successful implementation is that the company and individual users clearly understand the risks, responsibilities and obligations. Ideally the process should start with a wide ranging review looking at the benefits, the risks, and how BYOD would be implemented and used. Security of applications and data is the biggest issue for most businesses. Data must be accessible but secure, and there must be a consideration of balance between personal and work data on the device. Typically, sensitive company data is stored in a secure or encrypted container on the device, allowing the company access to the information without the legal and data protection implications of having visibility of all personal data on the device. Access to network resources is a critical consideration. Permission levels need to be agreed, along with procedures for how devices will be added to the network and arrangements for restriction of any less secure devices. Network security and provisioning considerations will drive the adoption of a Mobile Device Management System (MDM). This will allow the business to analyse, audit, log and control access for any device joining the network. Policies should also be put in place to define responsibility for any illegal or offensive material stored on the device, and whether the company would be liable if it is used on the company network.


There is also the scenario where the device is lost or stolen, or the employee suddenly leaves the business. For optimal security, the company should have the capability to erase or remote wipe the device. This is essential from a data security perspective but is it acceptable to users too? We allow BYOD as part of our terms and conditions, and as an ISO27001-certified business we have remote erase enabled as part of our security policy. Where a user is receiving company email and data on their own device you could be effectively extending the work day, creating issues around working hours and overtime liability. Many of the businesses we work with have found switching to virtualised IT infrastructures has put them ahead of the race by giving them a ready-made platform for BYOD, with a secure common environment for PCs, tablets and smartphones, and policies in place for controlling data access and storage. That is not to say non-virtualised environments cannot equally successfully implement BYOD, but there is no doubt that the two approaches bring combined and immediate bottom line benefits. BYOD is a big step for any enterprise. Our advice is to tread carefully and choose an IT partner experienced in working alongside organisations of all sizes, helping them to decide how they can encourage anywhere, anytime access for staff, without compromising the business.


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

NOKIA LUMIA 2520 okia’s first Windows tablet offers a 10.1inch HD display and combines both 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity with a 6.7MP camera featuring ZEISS optics for taking quality photos in low light. The tablet also runs on Windows RT 8.1 and has fastcharging capability providing up to a 80 per cent charge in just one hour. The Nokia Lumia 2520 comes in Gloss Red or Silk Black and is available from John Lewis for £399.




Lionra Christmas drinks Seasonal networking event for Ireland and North East business links takes place in Newcastle. lackswan CEO Maurice Duffy and Paul Callaghan, chairman of the Leighton Group, hosted Líonra’s Christmas Networking Drinks on December 11 at The Living Room. The event followed on from the success of the summer Networking Drinks. Líonra’s goal is in driving conversation for business growth and networking across Ireland and the North East. The next big Líonra event will be the Shamrock Ball on March 15, 2014, with Niall Quinn and Viscount Crichton attending. Please email to book a table.




Creative agency expands consumer expertise OPR launches a specialist team.


ewcastle integrated communications agency OPR has set up a specialist consumer PR team as it continues to see new account wins in the B2C field. The agency has recruited account director Emma Campbell, who will head up the OPR consumer team working across the agency's food, FMCG, retail, housing, telecommunications, consumer finance, leisure and utility clients. An expert in the use of social media, Emma will be providing the agency with further expertise on the ever-changing digital landscape and has previously spoken on digital PR at events and conferences nationwide. Emma joins from leading PR agencies across Yorkshire, Manchester and London, and in 2014, will be celebrating her first decade in PR. Previously Emma spent four years as a BBC radio producer working at stations

Left to right: Alex Donaldson, Amy Jackson and Emma Campbell.

across the North of England and at the dedicated BBC 2002 Commonwealth Games Radio Station. She has also worked on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 1, BBC TV local news and written for the Daily Star Sunday. Account manager Alex Donaldson has also joined the O consumer team after supporting the agency on maternity cover

across the last 12 months. Alex brings over six years’ experience at integrated communications agencies and specialises in community engagement PR across events, press and social media for clients such as Miller Homes and Free Rangers eggs. Amy Jackson also recently joined the agency after previously working at two other regional PR firms on several clients including Ross’s Pickles and the Festival of the North East event. Previously Amy graduated from Northumbria University with a 2:1 in English literature and journalism. OPR managing director, Kari Owers, said: “B2C brand wins have been our fastest growing area of the agency in the last six months, with many new clients looking to reach media-savvy consumers in a new and exciting way. “I’m delighted to create a dedicated team of experts within the agency to bring a very clever and creative approach to consumer communications in the region.”

Exciting times for Horizonworks


orizonworks Marketing has strengthened its portfolio with a series of recent client wins. New clients for the agency include Gaia Heat, a biomass energy specialist, and The You Company, an innovative health and wellbeing technology provider. Horizonworks has also secured a place on Newcastle Science City’s Business Support Marketing Panel which led to the company being appointed by Hyperdrive Innovation and mHealthful to develop marketing strategies and plans to drive their business forward. The Science City framework supports innovation and both are great examples of forward thinking companies who are striving to be at the forefront of their respective industries.

Samantha Davidson (second from right) with her team.

Hyperdrive Innovation is an electronics company providing technical solutions for


systems integration, enhanced performance, fuel efficiency and carbon reduction in electric, electric hybrid and conventionally powered vehicles. While mHealthful, specialise in medical apps for patients and healthcare professional, there first product Uni-Wikis is a free collaborative revision website for medical students. Samantha Davidson, managing director at Horizonworks Marketing commented: “These new accounts are dynamic and welcome additions to our client portfolio and are the icing on the cake after a successful year. We really enjoy working with forward-thinking businesses across the region and look to build lasting relationships.”

MEDIA Duncan McEwan and Tom Hedley.

A winning year Major wins top off an amazing year for Hedley McEwan. or Headley McEwan, 2013 ending pretty much how it started with a string of high profile new account wins and additional team recruitment. The Newcastle creative business won the ‘blue chip’ Flymo account against national competition and will be handling the launch of Flymo’s biggest new product for several years, which will include national television, press, online and experiential activity. This most recent major acquisition comes hot on the heels of the company winning the prestigious intu Eldon Square account in October, and many more new account wins in the last 12 months, including; Delcor (sofas), Activ (telecoms and IT systems), Fergusons Transport, GMS (manufacturing components), The Lakes Distillery & Trout Hotels, Waterfalls (mineral water), and both of Nottingham’s main city centre shopping destinations, intu Victoria


Centre and intu Broadmarsh. In addition to this string of new business wins, further bolstering Hedley McEwan’s already impressive client list, the company has recruited a further four staff to provide the additional service required. Joint MD Tom Hedley reflects: “It really has been something of an amazing year for us. “In anticipation of some growth in the business we expanded our office space last year at the Toffee Factory here in the heart of Newcastle’s creative and cultural hub in Ouseburn, but even in our most optimistic forecasts, we couldn’t have possibly hoped for a better year. Our client list was already hugely impressive for a company which only started three years ago, including some very high profile names like; intu Metrocentre, intu Uxbridge, The Centre for Life, Mill Volvo, Square One Law, The Entrepreneurs’ Forum


and The National Bed Federation, and these latest additions give us a client list which is the envy of any company in our sector.” Tom’s business partner and joint MD, Duncan McEwan, adds: “It was always our ambition to work with a very select group of great clients who recognise what real creativity can do for their business and how it can change their fortunes for the better – we call it quite simply ‘Creative Communication’, and we now do just that. All of our clients share this ambition and are brave enough to attack their markets with truly creative strategies.” Hedley McEwan is now looking forward to 2014 with some equally ambitious plans for their business. For more information, call Tom Hedley or Duncan McEwan on (0191) 375 9070 or visit


Marketing needn’t add to your hangover Samantha Davidson, managing director of Horizonworks Marketing, explains why there are some New Year’s Resolutions definitely worth keeping.

o, hello 2014, and hello again to all those New Year’s Resolutions that we make with the best intentions but all too soon forget about. But why take chances with your marketing? So, even if by the end of January, you’ve ditched the diet and forgotten the gym, here are five marketing resolutions for 2014 to make sure that at least your business can get to the end of the year in good shape.


EXPERT VIEW Samantha Davidson Managing director Horizonworks Tel: 08450 755955 Email: Web:

Make sure you have a marketing strategy in place. Running a business without a marketing strategy is a bit like setting off on a long journey without directions: planning is the key to success. A clear and focussed marketing strategy is vital for any business and will provide a framework to plan for the future. A good strategy will help you understand where there are opportunities to develop your position in the market, and help you get more from the time and money spent on your marketing activity.

Regularly review your marketing strategy to assess what’s working well and what needs to be refined. Sometimes it can be tempting to think ‘job done’ once your marketing strategy is in place and then move on to the next thing on your todo list. However, if you don’t invest time to review it on a regular basis, your marketing strategy can quickly become out of date as your business and the market develops.

But don’t forget to keep looking outwards, too. Look at what your competitors are doing and

look at their strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your own. What is it that they’re doing that you’re not? Could your marketing campaigns be improved to compete with them? Consider developments in your market and look at what is likely to come up over the next year, two years, three years that could impact your company, your products, your customers and start to plan for this. If you don’t plan for change in the market, your competitors will.

Know your customers. When was the last time you reviewed the information you have about them, whether your product or service meets their needs, and whether you’re using the right channels in the right way to reach them? Consider carrying out a communications audit to understand what the current perceptions are of your business and measure how effective your communications are with a sample of your customers, suppliers, employees and partners. The feedback from this is essential in the development of your marketing strategy and tactical communications activity. Look at what trends are driving customer demand and consider whether your products or


services meet their needs. Think about the typical customer experience – are there any opportunities being missed for repeat business, or to incentivise your customers to refer new customers to you?

Keep your online presence up to date. One of the first thing potential customers will do is to look at your website or connect with you on social media, so your marketing strategy should include ensuring that your online presence is reviewed and updated regularly. Look at ways to provide content that people can engage with and share with their own networks. For example, think about creating – and keeping up to date – a blog: it shows people what your business is all about, gives the business a personality and demonstrates your credibility and authority in whatever sector you operate in. It can help with SEO and gives you something that you can share through other online channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Producing unique, engaging content will not only drive interaction with your target audience but will have the added benefit of improving your SEO results, too. At Horizonworks, the Marketing Healthcheck we offer includes a review of your marketing strategy and feedback on what improvements to consider in order to help you achieve your business objectives. Whether you want to increase your profile, improve communication with your customers or gain a better understanding of your competitors, combining a strategic approach with creative thinking we will provide recommendations and ideas that will make your business stand out. It’s a great way to kick start your marketing for a healthy 2014.


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

Navy Cuff Points shoes, £28, Next

Navy Suede dress, £240, Todd Lyn (Debenhams)

Mini Winged Handheld bag, £29, Accessorize

Suzy Lace dress, £89, Phase Eight

t’s official: navy is the new black this season. Made famous by the British Royal Navy, dark blue has since translated into the world of fashion as a staple shade and appears as this winter’s chief colour. Like black, classic navy complements a range of prints – from tartan to floral (as pictured) – making it easy to work the shade into your wardrobe throughout winter into early spring. During the colder months, you can’t go wrong with wearing navy head-totoe: we love navy knitwear and a pair of dark blue boots, paired with a pair of skinny denim jeans and a bold, handheld bag. For evenings, pale-skinned and blonde-haired ladies are especially encouraged to embrace the January blues by sporting navy-coloured lace or suede dresses – the shade’s cool tones will make your skin tone pop and your colour appear vibrant.


Ottilie Chunky Cable Knit Longline jumper, £16.99,

MODEL ATTIRE Autograph top, £79 Autograph trousers, £79 Earrings, £7.50 Necklaces, £15/£29.50 Shoes, £35 All from Marks & Spencer

Billy Front Zip shoes, £85, Office







ob Tait has found his first year as general manager of Hotel du Vin (HDV) Newcastle, “exciting, challenging and rewarding.” He has made a number of key appointments and now believes he has the right team in place who share his vision: “The pieces of the jigsaw are in place,” says Rob, “and everyone has the same ethos of offering phenomenal food and beverage and excellent rapport and customer service.” HDV Newcastle is located within the former home of the Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company and offers 42 individually-styled bedrooms, a bistro open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, the fantastic Laroche wine tasting room, two private dining rooms, bubble bar, courtyard and wine cellar. While part of a national brand, the hotel is encouraged to develop its own personality and flare, which Rob has been working on since his appointment. One of the hotel’s biggest successes in 2013 has been the launch of Le Brunch, a lavish four-course brunch served every Sunday, from noon to 4pm. Priced just £22.95 per person (£9.95 for children under 12), diners can enjoy a market table full of luxury seafood, artisan breads, meats, cheeses and salads. “The brunch has really taken off and it genuinely is the talk of the town,” Rob enthuses. “It’s incredible value for money and a great way for HDV to showcase its food and beverage.” Rob and his team have also seen a rise in private dining bookings – in particular wine tasting events in the Laroche room, managed by the hotel’s new sommelier, Radek. Wine tasting is something that Rob is keen to develop in 2014. “The brand, Hotel du Vin, literally means ‘hotel of wine’, so it’s always encouraging its hotels to promote wine,” he says. I love wine myself and I want this hotel to be renowned locally for its wine offerings. Whilst other hotels choose to hold large-scale events, Newcastle is opting for a more intimate, informal programme for 2014. As well as the Laroche wine room being available for private hire, the hotel is to hold monthly wine dinners from March onwards. Wine suppliers will host the dinners with wine makers flown in from around the world to share their expertise. “Making these events accessible to all is paramount,” says Rob. “There has been a nice cultural shift with wine recently where more and more people are getting into wine. The snobbery has gone. We’re embracing that and making our wine tasting for everyone.” HDV Newcastle is also running a number of promotions in 2014, combining the excellent food and wine with the luxurious accommodation. Settle in Sundays allows two people to dine in the bistro and as long as they spend £75 or more on food and wine, they can stay overnight at the hotel for just £25. “It’s a really nice way to relax and then go to work the next morning,” says Rob. From January to March, the hotel is also offering rooms from £119 per night, which includes a room for two, breakfast and a £20 food voucher for the bistro; or for £194, a couple can enjoy overnight accommodation, breakfast and a £100 wine voucher. The Hotel du Vin Group will celebrate 20 years since it opened its first property in Winchester this year and Rob and his team are looking forward to helping celebrate the milestone. The Group will be holding a number of birthday events across its properties and will be investing in many of its hotel’s bars and facilities. HDV Newcastle is to have its outdoor decking area replaced ahead of the al fresco season with new furniture and surroundings. Rob adds: “The outdoor area is such a fantastic place to eat and drink in the summer and we’ll be promoting this – along with the cigar shack – for private gatherings, be they with friends, families or for business.” With all this to look forward to, it seems that 2014 will be another exciting, challenging, rewarding – and busy ¬– year for Rob and his team.


For further information and bookings visit



Have a Rockliffe New Year The Christmas tree’s down, the tinsel’s packed away for another year and you’ll be trampling on pine needles until about March. Now’s the time to think about treating yourself to a pick-me-up, whether it’s in the next few weeks or later in the year. ockliffe Hall is the North’s only AA 5 red star rated property and its delights are right on your doorstep whether you’re looking to do business, enjoy a meal, relax in the spa for a day, take to the golf course or stay a little longer.


Leisure for pleasure Tucked away amid 375 acres of woodland, resting on the banks of the River Tees, Rockliffe Hall is a haven for rest and relaxationespecially if you can stay a little longer. Choose from an array of luxury breaks from gourmet to golf, from spa to business, the team will help you build the perfect stay. As you meander down the drive, concierge will tend to your needs and show you to your plush room where you can enjoy views across the estate, watch television in your bath (yes, really) or just take some time out before you wine, dine, golf or spa.

Wining and dining Guests travel from all over the UK to sample the foodie delights at Rockliffe Hall. There is literally something for all tastes and budgets, from The Clubhouse fish and chips or chargrilled steak burger with Chef’s famous hand cut chips, through to sharing platters and grills in The Brasserie or something a little more special in The Orangery, ensconced within the Gothic walls of Rockliffe Hall’s Old Hall. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, private parties and dedicated wine and ‘meetthe-chef’ dinners, The Orangery severs up culinary delights such as slow-cooked pork belly with boudin noir, pan-roasted red mullet with razor clams and 12-hour braised beef cheek.

As well as a la carte menus, enjoy the Tasting Menus that The Orangery has become famous for – a foodie adventure through the North of England. A little known fact about Rockliffe Hall is its extensive and varied wine list- named as an ‘AA Notable Wine List’ for 2014. Very few restaurants carry this accolade, which has been awarded thanks to Rockliffe Hall’s sommelier team for its commitment to constantly updating and reviewing the wines on offer to include a mix of familiar names and perhaps some that might surprise you. Whether you’re a wine buff or not, all of the wines have been speciallyselected to complement the menus and to suit all budgets.

Wishing on a spa From individual treatments, spa days and residential stays to corporate getaways and fitness packages to suit your needs, the spa at Rockliffe Hall is the place to visit to feel refreshed and rejuvenated- long after you leave. Rockliffe Hall’s 50,000 square feet spa is the largest in the North so you’ll always find the space to kick back surrounded by luxury, bathed in 5* service provided by spa butlers to cater to your every whim whether you desire a fruit platter, smoothie or glass of Champagne. Just some of the highlights include a 20 metre leisure pool and the thermal bathing suite with a tepidarium, caldarium, roman and heat saunas, tropicarium, hydropool and ice fountain, as well as sound wave therapy beds. Add to that, an extensive range of signature treatments using some of the most exclusive products available from names such as Murad, Comfort Zone and Orly. And, for a limited time, a number of exclusive membership packages have been made available entitling you to a range of


benefits from discounts throughout the resort, use of all the spa and Technogym facilities to fitness consultations and a packed timetable of classes and events.

Tee or tea In its short four-year history, as well as notching up a host of accolades and awards, Rockliffe Hall has put itself (and the North East) back on the map for golf and become famed for its sumptuous afternoon tea. So you can literally tea or tee. In 2013, the Championship golf course played host to some of the game’s biggest names as it became the home of the European Senior Tour English Senior Open. Golfers including Carl Mason, former Ryder Cup captain Mark James and Senior Tour favourites such as Barry Lane, Des Smyth, Peter Fowler praised Rockliffe Hall for its outstanding facilities and world-class course – so much so that they and other famous names will be returning for the Tour in 2014, from August 22-24. If you’re in need of something a little more refined- and a little less energetic- take afternoon tea in the grand surroundings of The Orangery, Morning Room, the Old Hall Arches or the Drawing Room. But this isn’t just any old afternoon tea. Dainty sandwiches (crust-less of course!) nudge home-made scones, cakes and pastries washed down with specially-selected and highly-acclaimed ‘Jing’ teas which come in a wide range of varieties whether you prefer a traditional tea or something a little more adventurous. Or treat yourself to a Champagne afternoon tea- or even Rockliffe Hall’s Hendrick’s ‘G + T’- a must for gin lovers! For more information on any of these events and offers, visit or call (01325) 729999.

Antony s Michaelide



A new golden age The past is set to come dancing back to life at Assembly Rooms. a flagship leisure destination for Newcastle and beyond.” The Assembly Rooms was a crumbling, derelict shadow of its former self ear-marked for demolition when the Michaelides family bought it in 1974. Over the years it has been home to a members’ only casino as well as the banqueting and conference facilities. Bonbar will operate seven days a week from mid-morning until 4am on selected nights and offer lunch and afternoon teas as well as evening dining with a late lounge and musical entertainment. Running alongside will be the 467 club inspired by a fancy dress ball and supper organised in 1823 by 47 gentlemen bachelors of Newcastle for 467 ladies and gentlemen. It was described at the time as the most splendid entertainment ever seen in the city. The refurbishment work will involve removing the false ceiling in the Lower Ballroom to reveal the original wrought iron trellis work as well as the original ornate cornicing and columns. A new wood and zinc faced bar area will be installed as well as a state-of-the-art multi-media system. Antony – who is working with Newcastle-based marketing consultants DDCA on the rebranding – said the intention was to create a cool and contemporary space that brought the Assembly Rooms into the 21st century while paying homage to its past. Antony said: “We are delivering something on a scale that hasn’t been seen in Newcastle for some time and something the city desperately needs. Hopefully this will be a venue that will be strong enough to keep people in the town day and night. “We are retaining the original features, and indeed reinstating many to public view. “This is a new chapter in the Assembly Rooms’ long history and it’s a new chapter in my life. I am getting the chance to create something unique in Newcastle and doing it right, which as a family we have always prided ourselves on. “Without my family the Assembly Rooms wouldn’t be here now. But we are only the key holders for the future; as a family we can’t take the Assembly Rooms with us. “I have long thought it was a crime not to be using this building for the intention for which it was built, which is to get people socialising in person. “Bonbar will breathe new life into what is a uniquely important venue.”

The golden age of Newcastle’s historic Assembly Rooms is to be brought back to life in an ambitious £1m leisure and hospitality venture. The project, which could create up to 50 new jobs, will see the 237-year-old Grade 2 listed building’s Lower Ballroom, Sovereign Suite and cobbled exterior entrance courtyard transformed into a restaurant, entertainment lounge, VIP club and alfresco dining area offering unrestricted day-to-night admission to the public. Until now, entry to the Assembly Rooms on Fenkle Street has been limited to private parties and conference users. But the new plans will see the leisure facility, which opened in 1776, stepping back to the future to once again become a flagship community destination for Newcastle. Called Bonbar, the new venue within a venue is the brainchild of the Assembly Rooms’ owner Antony Michaelides. Set to open in mid-March, work on Bonbar will begin shortly and will involve enhancing the Assembly Rooms’ ground floor, including the unveiling of original period features hidden from public view for decades. When completed, Bonbar will have a capacity of 700 and offer a mix of food and entertainment. Antony said the move away from the Assembly Rooms being just an elegant conference and banqueting location had been prompted by changing public tastes and the need for a more sophisticated and aspirational venue in Newcastle catering to the 25 year old plus age group. While the conference and banqueting facilities will remain, Antony added that the time had come to recreate the magic of the Assembly Rooms’ early days, albeit brought up to date and sympathetically refurbished. He said: “As the Assembly Rooms heads towards its 240th birthday, what better way to celebrate this historic and beautiful venue than to look to its’ past by commemorating both its history and its future.” “When the Assembly Rooms opened it was a community space where the public of Newcastle could come and read the newspapers of the day, play cards, relax in a reading room, drink coffee, gossip and dine and dance. “That had all been lost and now we want to return to those heady days in the 18th and early 19th centuries where the Assembly Rooms was this wonderful space open to all and the place to go and be seen. “My dream is to once again turn the Assembly Rooms into



Business lunch

Malmaison Brasserie Alison Cowie visits the Quayside hotel. he Malmaison brand is known for its opulence and the Newcastle arm of the chain is no different. Inside the prominent Quayside hotel is like stepping into an Alice in Wonderland set with swathes of sumptuous fabrics, oversized furniture and ostentatious floral arrangements. It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting in the depths of winter or the height of summer, the dark, almost gothic, ambience remains the same and something that has helped Malmaison Newcastle stay a popular haunt for years The decadence permeates every corner of


the hotel including the first-floor brassiere with its mix of dark woods, leather seating and rich grey and purple decor. While the a la carte menu could not be described as fine dining, it does offer a good selection of refined classics including a selection of steaks and gourmet burgers. My two colleagues and I enjoyed attentive service throughout our lunchtime visit with our friendly waitress always on hand to fill our glasses and answer any queries we had about the menu. Highlights of the meal included the beautifully presented creamed brie with soft


and sweet red wine poached pear and salted and candied pecans that I chose for my starter, and the succulent rib eye steak that one of my dining companions enjoyed – along with his accompanying side of tasty garlic and chilli baked mushrooms (£3.50). The Malmaison is ideal for a business lunch. Its fantastical décor is the perfect antidote to an uninspiring office setting, its central Quayside location and ample parking makes it accessible and its food is upmarket enough to impress without being too challenging or pretentious to put off unadventurous eaters.

Creamed brie, red wine poached pear, salted and candied pecans Beautifully presented dish. The sweet pear, bursting with flavour was a highlight.


Mal chicken lollipops, satay, Moroccan spiced croquette, Thai bon-bon, tandoori and barbecue chicken with sweet chilli and aioli dipping sauces. A celebration of chicken that’s sure to be a hit with even the fussiest eater.


Fritto misto, tempura of squid, tiger prawn and courgette, lemon aioli and sweet chilli sauce. The tempura batter was a little thick but still a pleasant, good-sized dish.


Rump of lamb ‘forestiere’, crushed new potatoes, mushroom and jus vinaigrette.

Smoked haddock fishcake, buttered spinach, warm poached egg and lemon hollandaise sauce.

Lovely earthy flavours with well-cooked lamb.

Large and flavoursome fishcake with light delicate sauce.

Succulent, good quality beef with sweet accompanying sauce. No complains.




Valrhona chocolate fondant, malt ice cream.

Mal hot chocolate.

Créme brûlée.

With white chocolate, ice cream, cream, marshmallow and chocolate sauce, this is for someone with a raging sweet tooth.

A well-executed classic.

Decadent fondant; a must for chocolate lovers.




Rib eye steak with red wine and shallot sauce.



News from

Dame Allan’s Schools Dr John Hind, principle of Dame Allan’s School, reflects on the latest happenings at the schools.

A cracking Christmas production

Carry on fundraising he Boys’ School’s Cross Country team have returned with national honours from the English Schools Athletics Association Cross Country Cup. They came second in the Junior (under 14) Boys national final held at Southend at the end of last term. They had been undefeated in their qualifying rounds, which began in October, with nearly 1500 teams from over 500 schools throughout England competing for a place in the finals for the boys and girls’ teams. The team of six boys, who are in Years 7 and 8, won the county and then the regional final to qualify to compete in the Junior Boys’ Cup Final. The team comprised James Ritchie (captain), James Anderson, Joe Anderson, Will Dixon, Ben Dykins and Charles Down. James Anderson had the fastest time, completing the 3km course in 11 minutes 56 seconds. His fellow team mates all finished close behind him, giving the Dame Allan’s team an overall score of 101, to finish just behind Northampton School for Boys. Head of Boys’ Games, Bill Hudson, was thrilled with their performance: “This is a fantastic achievement by the whole team. They are a talented squad who work hard and support and encourage each other. They thoroughly deserve this success.”


he younger pupils in the Junior School gave their Christmas production an unusual twist at the end of term. Family and friends watched children from Years 1 and 2 put on their own version of The Nutcracker, showcasing the remarkable talent of the 57 youngsters, aged between five and seven. The performance was the culmination of their regular Friday afternoon Creative Arts class. Their production was inspired by Matthew Bourne’s interpretation of this classic Christmas ballet and choreographed by dance teacher Mrs Rebekah Waters. Deputy Head Deborah Farren and Kay Ellis wrote the script, collaborating with Mrs Waters on the music. The principal roles were taken by Harry Wanless as the Nutcracker, Kate Farren as Clara, Amelia Long as the Sugar Plum Fairy with Charlie Mooney as Herr Drosselmeyer. All the children in Year 2 had speaking parts, which impressed the audiences in the packed Junior School hall.


Sharing slick science he pupils heard about the importance of oil and watched a brief video about the problems of transporting this major natural resource by sea before being set their challenge to work together to design an experiment that would give them reliable answers. They learned about designing experiments, using controls, the need to be able to repeat their experiment and how to report their results. Head of Science Jason Downie created an imaginative substitute for oil using cocoa powder and vegetable oil, encouraging the pupils to be equally creative in their ideas and experiments. At the end of their morning in the laboratory, the pupils returned to their own schools, enthused by their introduction to science and the opportunity to carry out their own experiements. As one headteacher wrote: “The children came back buzzing. They had really enjoyed the session and were all keen to tell me about all the experiments and the flames, chocolate spillage and balloons on fire.” The visit was arranged as part of the Schools’ programme to work with their local community.




Sage Gateshead catering launch 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 five-year, £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. The partnership was announced at Sage Gateshead’s AGM at the end of November.




Launch of Za Za Bazaar Za Za Bazaar plates up success at The Gate. £3 million, 500-seater restaurant in the heart of Newcastle has been opened by the Sheriff of Newcastle, Councillor George Pattison. Za Za Bazaar at The Gate sees authentic global food cooked to order and has created 75 local jobs, including 31 highly skilled chefs from around the world and UK. The dining concept, which combines a fixed price offer with freshly prepared food in a buzzing oriental ‘night market’ environment, has already proven a huge hit. The launch night was attended by many high profile gusts including Chi Onwurah MP and Miss Galaxy UK finalist, Kethose Nagi while music was provided by The London Vegetable Orchestra. For further information visit or follow Twitter: @zazabazaar




Recharging your business How ELM EV can help you reduce your carbon footprint. he hype surrounding electric vehicles, cars and renewable energy is growing at an impressive rate. Offering a unique service to its clientele, North East based Elm Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions (ELM EV) is helping commercial and domestic customers kick-start 2014 with a lowered carbon footprint. There are currently over 6500 electric vehicles on the roads of the UK, which is a figure that increases day by day. Potential customers plan their trips and days out around the availability of electric charging points and stations on route to, or at their chosen destination. Public charging points are now beginning to be installed by local councils and businesses around the UK, on motorway routes and in city locations, to keep users running. The number of available charging points is continuously growing. Should you have one installed it shows your customers that your business is ready for the future, that you’re committed to the environment and most importantly; you’re dedicated to providing an additional facility for them to take advantage of.


The average price of petrol in the UK has hovered around the £1.30 per litre mark since mid-October; for around £2 an electric car can be fully charged and road ready in just six hours. With the installation of one of our commercial charging stations, you will not only be saving your customers a great deal of money, you will be helping to work towards a greener economy. Aside from the economical and environmental benefits, the installation of an electric vehicle charging point could help you to gain an advantage over your competitors. Offering the additional electric vehicle charging point service to your customers will not only generate extra income and futureproof your company, but will also help towards gaining business awards and stars. Managing director of ELM EV Anthony Piggott says: “We are hopeful that a commercial grant will be issued in 2014 to help companies and organisations to have charging equipment fitted into their places of work. “Government funding has already been put aside to allow us to offer our domestic customers a completely free service, whereby a


charging point is fitted to the exterior of their property completely free of charge, which as well as future proofing the home, adds value.” ELM EV uses the highest quality equipment supplied by Rolec, Pod Point, Elektromotive and Chargemaster; the world’s leading specialists in the design, manufacture and installation of electrical connections and distribution. With support from the governments funding programme, which issued £400,000 in support of the purchasing of full electric and hybrid vehicles, ELM are working as an implementer of this new generation movement, working on allocating tens of thousands of EV charging points throughout the UK. To find out more about ELM EV or if you have an enquiry about installing a commercial charging point at your business or home then call (01207) 582 100. ELM EV Ltd is located at Derwentside Business Park, Consett. For the full range of Elm’s products and services visit You can also follow @Elm_EV on Twitter.


Keep your New Year’s Resolution Tony Douglass of Bodyguards Fitness Service Ltd gives his tips for getting fit and beating the bulge in 2014. ven with the best intentions to improve fitness or drop some weight, statistics show very few New Year’s Resolutions actually work. I see it every year, people really do want to keep their resolutions, but they just don't know how and usually people are back to old habits by mid-February. Here are my top five tips for sticking with your New Year's Resolution.


week. Gradually increase the time you walk, and if you want to run, start adding a few minutes of running at a time, interspersed with two or three-minute walk breaks. Over time increase the duration of the running segments and decrease the time of the recovery walks. Increases should be by roughly 10 per cent a week.

Seek advice from a personal trainer Create one, specific goal Whether it's to lose a certain amount of weight, to walk or run four or five times per week, or to complete a 10k or half-marathon, having a specific goal is a great way to stay focused. Make sure your goals are ambitious, but attainable for you with a bit of hard work and persistence.

No longer only available to the rich and famous, personal training services are now much more accessible and affordable. Your own personal trainer will work with you every step of the way towards your goals, through oneto-one sessions, keeping you motivated and focused.

Tell others about your goal Make small changes and don't overdo it The human body is very adaptable, and it's designed to move. The key to starting a running or walking programme is to make gradual changes to your current situation. Start by walking 15-20 minutes three or four days per

When family, friends and co-workers take an interest in your goal and ask how your weekend long run went; do you want to tell them you ran farther than you've ever gone before, or that you finished off a box of Quality Street while watching the television? Accountability keeps you honest.


Make it fun Training with others, varying your training routes, and rewarding yourself after milestone workouts are great ways to make your training more enjoyable. Get your personal trainer to find creative ways to make your workouts fun is the key to sticking to your goal into February and beyond! Bodyguards Fitness Service Ltd separates itself from the others in Newcastle with our personal trainers having levels of knowledge and experience that are 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 and guide 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! Contact Tony Douglass at


Need a hip or knee replacement? Make Spire Washington Hospital your first choice. ip and knee replacements are very common operations in England and Wales, with around 160,000 procedures carried out every year. The number of procedures to fit artificial joints is expected to double in the next decade, due to better diagnostics, faster treatment and the increasing age of the UK population. Joint pains that limit your mobility, hurt while you’re at rest or wake you in the night are early signs that you may be a candidate for knee or hip replacement surgery. By choosing Spire Washington and its expert surgeons to carry out your operation, you’re putting yourself in safe hands, because Spire Healthcare has been named as one of the best providers of hip and knee replacements in England by the wellrespected Dr Foster Hospital Guide. Jeff Barwick, 71, from Sunderland recently had his left knee replaced in an operation carried out by Spire Washington orthopaedic surgeon Mr Paul Dixon. Retired hairdressing teacher Jeff, who has been practising karate for around 45 years, had been suffering from pain in his left knee for a few years before opting to have it replaced. He said: “I exercise and train quite a bit


and over the last four to five months before the operation the pain became severe. “Mr Dixon was highly recommended by two or three people and I went in to see him and decided he was the man for the job. “It’s now seven weeks since the operation and I’m going back to karate, although I’m going to train very lightly. I have been going to the gym for three weeks doing weightbearing exercises that the physiotherapist recommended. “My knee feels very good, very stable and very comfortable, though obviously I’m still recovering. I saw Mr Dixon two weeks ago and I will see him again in March to get the all-clear.” Jeff was impressed by how quickly he was able to return home after the procedure, and the excellent care he received both during and after the operation. “I went in on the Tuesday evening and I was back out on the Thursday morning,” he said. “The surgery team, the anaesthetist and operation assistants were great. I had a spinal anaesthetic and it was absolutely tremendous, everybody was very good, very efficient and effective. The post-op care by the nursing staff was excellent. I was up


and about the next day. “Obviously, it’s uncomfortable but I was very quickly able to get into an exercise regime. I’ve always exercised and kept fairly fit - it’s the arthritis that is most painful.” The knee replacement wasn’t the first joint replacement that Jeff has undergone at Spire Washington. A long-time patient at the hospital, who in the past has had physiotherapy from Spire Washington’s hospital director, Shelagh Alderson, when she was still operating as a physio, he also has had both hips replaced when he was in his 50s. Jeff said: “I had both hips replaced by Mr Buchanan at Spire Washington Hospital 20odd years ago and they continue to serve me well. I was very young for the operation but a scan showed that it needed doing after I pushed my GP to take my investigations further. “I will probably have to restrict myself a little bit with my knee now. Contact karate might be out of bounds but I still plan to enjoy regular exercise.” For further information on Spire Washington Hospital visit


Alan Shearer Foundation Ball Shearer event raises over £200,000 for Foundation. lan Shearer OBE and chart-topping pop star Olly Murs teamed up for the second annual Alan Shearer Foundation Ball, held at Hilton Newcastle Gateshead Hotel. Olly performed some of his latest chart topping hits to a delighted audience helping to raise thousands of pounds for The Alan Shearer Centre for disabled people and their families. The dinner was attended by leading North East businesses, celebrities and supporters of the Foundation, who helped raise over £200,000 for the specialist facility for profoundly disabled people from across the region. Alan Shearer OBE said “To raise over £200,000 on the night is quite staggering and I just can’t thank enough everyone who attended the dinner and who all dug deep into their pockets to raise such a fantastic amount of money.



North East Times Magazine - January 2014