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Business events – mark them on your calendar.



New executive appointments.



John Dias, managing director of Silver Bullet.



Thoughts from the region’s business community.




MHW PR celebrates its 15th anniversary.



Twin Farms, Kenton Bank Foot.

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT – A round up of what’s on this month.






Directors: Mike Grahamslaw, Mick O’Hare Commercial director: Martin Stout Editor: Alexis Forsyth Editorial: Jessica Laing, Elise Rana Hopper, Natalie Welsh, Tom Lainchbury Senior designer: John Haxon Feature photography: Chris Owens Additional photography: Rebecca Hetherington Sales administration: Sammy Mackay-Guyll

Front cover: Wayne Halton and Ian Watson, directors of MHW PR Office: Quayside - i4, Albion Row, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 1LL. | t: (0191) 265 7050 @NETimesmagazine Find us on issuu

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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. © 2015 Published by North East Times Ltd.



Transatlantic service takes flight The new route from Newcastle International Airport to Newark, which provides a gateway to over 300 destinations Stateside, launches later this month.


inal preparations are underway ahead of the launch of the first US transatlantic scheduled service from Newcastle International Airport on May 23. As the final countdown begins, thousands of eager holidaymakers and business travellers have already booked on the service, which is running five days a week to the Big Apple. David Laws, chief executive at Newcastle International Airport, said: “Preparations are well underway as we gear up for the arrival of United Airlines

at Newcastle. “United has a significant number of staff based in the UK and the US planning the operation of the new service this summer. The route will operate five times a week between May 23 and September 7.” He added: “A small team from United Airlines will be in Newcastle shortly prior to launch, for dry runs and to help the staff based here become comfortable with handling the new flight. This will be their fourth visit ahead of the route launch to ensure everything is perfect for our passengers.

“In addition to UK residents travelling on to North America for business or for leisure, the service makes the North East of England much more accessible for inbound travel from the States, and we are working with partners over there to promote the route.” The number one destination is New York, but the service is proving popular for trips to Florida (pictured), Las Vegas, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Toronto, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In all, over 300 onward connections are available via Newark.

North East Social Investment Fund is open for business


£9 million social investment loan fund is now open for business and actively seeking applications from social enterprises in the North East of England. The North East Social Investment Company (NESIC) has appointed Northstar Ventures to manage the North East Social Investment Fund, which will invest in voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises in the region. The overall aim of the fund is to

invest in order to create social change. Key areas of interest will include homelessness, debt and poverty, improvement in health and social care needs, mental health provision, offender rehabilitation, unemployment and regeneration of deprived communities. The North East Social Investment Fund was the brainchild of Northern Rock Foundation and Big Society Capital (BSC) and is the first regional fund of its kind in


England to be set up with support from BSC. Nick O’Donohoe, chief executive of Big Society Capital, said: “We are very pleased to see the North East Social Investment Fund in operation. This will provide an independent, sustainable and long lasting social investment facility that will catalyse enterprise, innovation and growth in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors in the North East.”

Aegis jobs saved by TSG


Gentoo makes Sunderland edible


SG has bolstered its technical offering by acquiring the trade and assets of Aegis IT Limited, based in Team Valley, Gateshead. All Aegis staff have joined TSG as part of the transaction, which saw the business bought out of administration from rescue and recovery specialist Begbies Traynor with Quantum Corporate Finance acting as lead adviser. The sale has created a larger combined business in the North East with the capability to offer an improved technical service to TSG’s national customer base.

ocial enterprise business Gentoo Group has been awarded over £17,000 worth of Strategic Initiative Budget, SIB, to benefit green projects in Sunderland. Just over £10,000 from the SIB has been awarded to create an ‘Incredible Edible’ green route that will encourage local communities to learn more about growing their own food and living healthy, active and inclusive lifestyles. The green route will draw on help from local residents, community groups and schools to help plant fruit bushes, vegetable beds, herbs, create new seating areas and tidy up existing grassland.

Premium listing for Lakes Distillery

Port of Tyne wins logistics award



IX7 takes centre stage


ocal management consultancy IX7 is set to take centre stage at this year’s London Business Show, in a bid to educate SME business owners on effective digital marketing strategies. Managing director of IX7, Lisa Bean, will take to the stage at one of Britain’s biggest business exhibitions and conferences, which takes place at ExCeL London this month, drawing more than 25,000 aspiring entrepreneurs and smallmedium business owners looking for inspiration, advice and networking. Lisa will join keynote speaker, Dragon’s Den star Piers Linney, in conducting an informative seminar aimed at fast growing businesses.

Crowne Plaza appoints senior team


he Lakes Distillery, which is headquartered in Gosforth, has secured listings for its spirits in three premium retailers – Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason and Majestic Wines. Paul Currie, founder and managing director of The Lakes Distillery, said: “It is a testament to the quality of our spirts that we have attracted interest from such well-respected retailers as Majestic Wines, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason, a reputation we intend to maintain.”

he Port of Tyne is celebrating after its logistics team delivered every single job on time for one of its biggest customers. The 100 per cent on-time deliveries record has now won a top industry award for the Port. The Port's logistics drivers, warehouse and container terminal operatives collected the NYK UK Haulier of the Year 2014 Hub Category award against competition from all over the UK.

team of experienced professionals has been appointed to lead the new Crowne Plaza® Newcastle – Stephenson Quarter hotel. Following the appointment of the hotel’s general manager Andrew Fox and director of sales Amanda McBride, five senior roles have been filled by specialists with a wealth of experience in the hospitality sector. As well as the successful recruitment process, the construction is on schedule for a summer opening.

Tyneside IT firm secures new hotel contract

Growth for Pennine Home Improvements

Ringtons’ support pours in for Sara’s Hope


ateshead-based IT firm Advantex has won a new contract to supply superfast broadband services to The Sandman Signature hotel in Newcastle, turning around installation at the 11 storey site in record breaking time – in just ten days. The installation of new internet services throughout the 170 bedroom hotel complex, which usually takes anywhere up to five months to complete, will deliver faster connectivity for guests.


ouse-proud northerners looking to add value to their properties have helped a local company grow sales by 38 per cent over the last three years – with more business than ever expected in 2015. Pennine Home Improvements has revealed that sales of its products, including conservatories, orangeries, windows and doors, increased by more than £3 million between 2011 and 2014, soaring from £8.04m to £11.1m.



orth East tea and coffee company Ringtons chose local charity, Sara’s Hope as its charity of the year in 2014 and recently presented a cheque for £4900 to the organisation following a year of fundraising by staff at Ringtons’ head office in Byker and its factory in North Tyneside. Sara’s Hope was set up in memory of Sara Hoburn, a teenager from Whitley Bay who lost her fight with cancer in 2001 aged just 16.




Newcastle City Library Tel: (0191) 277 4100 Email: Price: Free Part of the NEPO Events Programme 2015, this informative day of training will update businesses, social enterprises and third sector groups about how the Social Value Act will impact on how the public sector in the North East procures goods and services. Business organisations will be given an action plan to enable them to meet challenges and win business in the future.


Save the date Charity balls, business dinners and seminars.

SAGE 200 2015 SEMINAR May

12 Solutions for Accounting, Gateway West Business Centre, Newcastle Web: Email: Price: Free




The Sage, Gateshead Web: Tel: (0191) 500 7780 Email: Price: £99+VAT per entrepreneurial member and their guests This year’s spring conference aims to lift the lid on what makes a successful leader. Hosted by BBC Radio Newcastle presenter, Alfie Joey, the event will include a line-up of inspiring speakers, including former Microsoft executive, Richard Tait, founder of Natural Balance Foods, Jamie Combs, and Pimlico founder, Charlie Mullins, who will be sharing their stories and business and leadership advice.


St James’ Park, Newcastle Web: Tel: (0207) 404 7744 Email: Price: Free Hosted by The British Hospitality Association, this day-long seminar aims to promote hospitality as a career choice for young people, facilitate dialogue between jobseekers and employers and demonstrate the power of the industry to create stable jobs. Guests will be able to partake in seminars across work experience, apprenticeships and youth employment, during which they will hear from young people and business leaders alike.



Rockliffe Hall, County Durham Web: Tel: (01325) 729 999 Email: Price: £65 per person





Avid football fans are urged to attend this intimate event and enjoy a three-course dinner with Sky Sports Soccer Saturday’s favourites, Jeff Stelling, Chris Kamara and Charlie Nicholas, hosted in the hotel’s Rockliffe Suite. The trio will be sharing some of their stories from on and off the Sky Sports screen, followed by a Q&A session with the audience. From 7pm.


The Sage, Gateshead Web: Tel: (0191) 490 9150 Email: Price: Free

The business and software solutions provider and Top 10 Sage Business Partner, Solutions for Accounting, is marking the launch of Sage 200 2015 by hosting a free seminar at its North East office. The region’s business owners and IT professionals are invited to attend the event, which will involve the North East team presenting all of the new features and benefits of Sage 200 2015, which launched in March. Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions about the software, while enjoying refreshments and a selection of pastries.

Thinking Digital is the leading discussion forum for the latest digital developments in technology, science, media, business and the arts. Speakers include Holly Lloyd, who has worked on films such as Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, Dr Catherine Mohr of Intuitive Surgical and BBC science presenter, Steve Mould. Thinking Digital will also provide a range of hands-on workshops and networking opportunities for anyone involved in the UK’s digital scene.




From 9am to 11am. Register at

The Vermont Hotel, Newcastle Web: Tel: (0191) 233 1010 Email: Price: Free

Email with your events

Brides-to-be are invited to enjoy a relaxed visit at The Vermont Hotel to meet with its dedicated wedding coordinators and handpicked suppliers and see the possibilities it offers as a wedding venue. Attendees will be able to view the hotel’s renowned rooftop Sky Lounge & Garden, Ballroom and Redwood Bar and Lounge, which has recently been refurbished. From 5.30pm.



On the Move Your monthly guide to appointments and promotions.

JILL RUSSELL, ANTHONY WOODHOUSE AND PHILLIPA DONNISON Ramside Hall has appointed an expert team to help ensure the success of its new, state-of-theart spa. Jill Russell (left), who previously worked as spa revenue manager at Rockliffe Hall, joins as spa director, while Phillipa Donnison joins as guest services manager and Anthony Woodhouse takes up the role of general manager for spa and leisure. All three will work together to develop and shape the new spa, which opens this summer.

STEPHEN HILLIER, KATIE WATSON AND JACK STUART Newcastle-based provider of mobile payment encryption solutions, Omlis, has appointed three new starters as part of its ongoing recruitment drive. Stephen Hillier (left), who brings over 25 years’ experience in design, delivery and support of ICT systems, joins as security systems analyst, while Katie Watson joins as recruitment operations assistant and Jack Stuart takes up the role of communications assistant to support business development processes.

EMMA TOLLEY Newcastle-based recruitment firm, Thorn Baker, has appointed leading recruitment professional, Emma Tolley, as talent attraction manager. In her new role, Emma, who has worked at some of the biggest recruitment firms in the world, including Randstad and Office Angels, and has over 20 years’ experience in the field, will lead the company’s ambitious growth strategy of increasing staff numbers across the UK over the next five years.




Enterprise level financial accounting software provider, Monpellier Ltd, has appointed Erin Simpson as accounting technician apprentice in partnership with the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC). The 21-year-old, who completed her Level 2 Association of Accounting Technician’s qualification at the NECC’s Newcastle centre, will be responsible for supporting the company’s client base, which comprises a range of SMEs that require IT solutions and support.

Newcastle-based PR, digital and creative communications agency, O PR, has appointed Holly Peacock as senior digital manager for digital strategy. The 28-year-old, from Durham, joins the company after working as community editor at Grazia magazine. In her new role, she will be responsible for digital strategy development for clients, as well as managing several of the company’s national consumer PR and social media accounts.

Newcastle-based design agency, Sumo, has strengthened its senior management team with the appointment of two new members of staff. Wendy Wilson (left), who joins the agency as account director, will be tasked with developing its growing client base and leading the implementation of marketing and communication campaigns, while Kara Preston, who takes up the role of event director, will lead the production and delivery of international conferences.



10 questions for...

John Dias John Dias is managing director of Silver Bullet Marketing Ltd. He’s been in charge of the agency for 16 years, having set out on his own in 1999 after working for other agencies and undertaking various freelance writing assignments.

What was your first break in business?

What attracted you to your current role?

What has been your career highlight?

And your career lowlight?

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The entire PR department of Neil Forsyth & Associates was poached by another agency leaving myself as a freelancer and the only one who knew the accounts. I’d been writing for the agency and also trade magazines in the evenings, after driving a wagon during the day, so reckoned I deserved a break.

I entered the industry via 15 years’ offshore drilling – unusual but invaluable experience of real life that most marketers completely lack. Life on an exploration rig in the 70s and 80s was quite tough but the higher up you progressed, the fewer people there were to give you a hard time. I subsequently worked at a very good and also a very bad marketing agency so figured the next step was to use those experiences, good and bad, to start my own.

Buying and converting our own premises into modern offices is certainly one, as are some great account wins – Conference and Dining at King’s College, Cambridge stands out. We rebranded in 2008 as a sign of our confidence in the future and the whole process of selfexamination was very challenging but rewarding. Overall, I think integrating the various disciplines involved in marketing and then seeing the resultant campaigns working for our clients gives the whole team a buzz.

Most would say the recession as so many agencies went under, but we’d seen hard times before and just worked our way through it. I don’t like losing clients but I accept it’s almost inevitable sometimes due to changing external circumstances and personnel. I think the low points have been when people move on from the agency – the vast majority have gone with our best wishes and for perfectly good reasons but it means the team is disrupted until we get the right replacement in place.

Compared to offshore drilling, there’s very little chance of getting killed or personal injuries, no-one shouts, I get home to see Katy – my longsuffering wife – and I work with very nice, interesting and amusing people. Plus we can choose whom we work for, and most importantly, whom we won’t work for.


What's your biggest challenge?

Who are your heroes, in and out of business?

What is the best piece of business advice anyone has ever given you?

What does the future hold for Silver Bullet?

What do you do to relax?

We’re very fortunate in having a small but extremely talented team – we’ve been together a long time and I think the greatest challenge is making sure everyone remains happy and fulfilled in their role. Creative people need a great atmosphere to do their best work and I try to create that whilst also, vainly, trying to keep up with technology.

My dad, who died many years ago, my family, and my colleagues for putting up with me. Other heroes include Bobby Robson, Jonny Wilkinson and anyone that gives all and doesn’t compromise his or her beliefs, which doesn’t usually include marketers and certainly not politicians…

“You’ll never make it on your own!” Fantastic motivation from a previous employer who ran the worst agency I’d ever had the misfortune to be employed at for a mercifully short time.

Our crystal ball is no clearer than anyone else’s. Technology is moving at an exponential rate with hardware and software, such as browsers and social media platforms, constantly changing – five years ago there was no such thing as an iPad or other tablet devices. Who knows what the next ten years will bring? What I can predict is that we’ll still be here, working for many of the same great clients who allow us the creative freedom to do our work as we have for the past 16 years or so. We’ll still have a great team of highly talented people and will still be enjoying what we do – and we’ll still be good at it!

Walking, reading, family life, Novos RFC, and I have been known to enjoy the odd pint…




LAURA MCKINLAY Local business men and women share their thoughts …

The landscape itself isn’t changing so much; most of what has been there for the last few years is still there and will be for many years yet, albeit in some cases in a more ‘marginal’ role. But the additional platforms and routes to market available online mean that advertisers can, of course, hone their campaigns with far more precision. Consequently, the ‘established’ media platforms of print and broadcast are responding well in trying to offer more targeted reach.

SALLY PEARSON HEAD OF PR AT PRESS AHEAD AND CHAIR OF CIPR NORTH EAST The North East media landscape is in an exciting phase of progression as digital innovations, in terms of both the growth of online media and citizen journalism, are driving changes across the board. Despite a downturn in print media reach, the sector in the region is addressing format and content in order to maintain a challenge to consumer driven online media. Invention and investment into print media will ensure that strong brands are likely to survive alongside their online versions.


PR MANAGER NORTH EAST CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Speed – I think that’s the biggest impact. News is instant and people want to read your reaction now, not tomorrow morning. Whether it’s through your website or Twitter, people’s expectations are high and there’s an urgency to get your news heard first or it might be lost. And then there’s the feedback – it’s great to get positive comments, but if a reader doesn’t agree with what you say you’ll soon know about it! But rather than a threat, this is an opportunity.

How are digital innovations impacting on the media landscape here in the North East?

From a journalism perspective, digital innovation is undoubtedly the driving force behind a greater focus on digital storytelling and social media in news production. Digital news providers are experimenting with everything from interactive storytelling tools like shorthand to online polls to 360-degree photography. But apart from the obvious rise of digital platforms, I don’t think the media landscape in the North East has felt the impact of digital change as keenly as it could – we’re still waiting for something new and exciting that has longevity. I believe there is the potential for digital to drive dramatic changes in our region.

DOMINIC MUNNELLY REGIONAL MARKETING DIRECTOR METRO RADIO Here at Metro Radio, digital developments have changed our world; we’ve gone from one channel of entertainment on FM to offering our audiences several touch points for our services. The popularity and growth of digital radio listening has allowed us to launch sister stations and these are increasingly accessed via our mobile phone and tablet apps, DAB radio and online. Alongside these channel developments, digital has also allowed us to get closer to our listeners and for our brands to be more visual. Digital innovations have allowed us to entertain our audiences whenever and wherever they want.

SANDRA TANG MARKETING AND EVENTS MANAGER NEWCASTLE NE1 LIMITED The growth of social media has had the most fundamental impact on the media landscape since the introduction of the printing press – its global domination has been both rapid and staggering, and transcends geographical boundaries – and the key theme is consumer choice. Media landscapes are now constructed by, and for, individuals and it is all a moveable feast. We’re a fickle bunch – but one thing that draws us together is seeking out like-minded individuals via social networks and it is within these online communities that the new media landscapes may form.



Tweet success In a new series of interviews which spotlight influential business professionals, Alexis Forsyth talks to business development consultant Helen Armstrong, founder of networking community #Northeasthour on Twitter.

Can you tell me how #Northeasthour came about?

What makes a successful Twitter chat?

#Northeasthour is a social media networking tool, dedicated to promoting and connecting businesses, causes and events based in the North East region. Originally conceived in August 2012, it was based on the original forerunners, #Scotlandhour and #Yorkshirehour. At the time, it was extremely difficult to find and connect effectively on Twitter with other accounts based locally, and equally, established Twitter etiquette frowned on tweets with the primary purpose of promoting a business, so using a dedicated hashtag at a specific time each week was a targeted way to bring local people together and to raise awareness of local businesses and events.

The success of #Northeasthour lies in a number of factors: despite its size, it operates on a personal basis. The people who participate get to know each other and actively support other accounts as well as promoting their own. We have broad rules both in terms of geographical coverage and what constitutes acceptable behaviour. #Northeasthour is not about any one person; it has no ego, no political or religious bias, and treats everyone with equal respect and interest.

What key milestones has #Northeasthour achieved so far? #Northeasthour effectively became the blueprint for all other online networking hours on Twitter. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who have contacted me via Twitter for advice on how to set up their own networking hour or how to achieve the same success as #Northeasthour. Knowing that week on week, the size of the audience for the hour was sufficiently large to make it one of the most talked about online topics (trending) was a real buzz. For most of 2014, #Northeasthour was recognised as the largest and most successful networking hour out of approximately 100 similar regional hours.

What tips would you give to businesses looking to increase their engagement on Twitter? Twitter is a continual series of concurrent conversations. To increase your engagement within the Twitter community, you have to be focused, targeted and present. It’s all about interacting with other people and sharing information. You need to be proactive in terms of growing your audience and specific as to whom your target audience is. You also need to think carefully about what you’re tweeting, ensuring it reads well and is interesting.

Any Twitter faux-pas businesses should avoid? Social media is relationship marketing where businesses are concerned, so it’s not enough to simply issue repeated statements which are non sequiturs. People use Twitter for entertainment. Nobody is interested in a series of advertising bulletins or an account that doesn’t acknowledge or interact with its audience.


People who use twitter selfishly will restrict their own success. Badly drafted tweets and those overloaded with hashtags are also a real bug bear of mine.

How important is social media to the business community here in the North East? The success of #Northeasthour and the other local networking hours that have followed in its wake have demonstrated just how important and effective a tool social media is for local business. It is an immediate and continuing form of communication between business and customer or potential customer. People of the North East are fiercely proud of their region and social media is an effective way of utilising and amplifying that pride.

In your opinion, are businesses in this region receptive to the benefits that social media can bring? Businesses, in the main, recognise the importance and benefits of using social media for business but like all things, not everyone truly ‘gets’ how to use it correctly. Sadly, even twitter has changed from the time when #Northeasthour came about and seems full of accounts these days just interested in themselves. Despite popular belief, social media is not a fast track to business success. You get out of it what you’re prepared to put in. #Northeasthour takes place on Mondays, 8-9pm and Tuesdays. 2-3pm. For more information, follow @helensarmstrong and @Northeasthour on Twitter.


The importance of mentoring and support to business growth By Alastair Waite, director of business strategy, growth and funding consultancy Altrelli Limited and board member of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum.

n a competitive world, it might seem counterintuitive to some to share business expertise, experience and knowledge outside of their own enterprise. However, those who take that short-sighted view are missing out on something which has proved the driving force of many high-growth, entrepreneurial businesses – peer to peer mentorship. To steal and adapt an old saying, in the business world, no company is an island. The successes of one business have an impact on its clients and suppliers, and as at least one of my peers is fond of saying – “a rising tide lifts all boats”. The business community thrives not on the success of one member, but on the growth and development of many. Peer to peer mentorship is something that is a key element of the work of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, and our members tell us they hugely value the opportunity to work with, and be guided by, people they respect for their knowledge and achievements. It is rewarding for the mentors, as well, who give their time freely to support not only their own mentee, but those they work with and for, by helping them to develop their enterprises. The Entrepreneurs’ Forum encourages such activity through its mentoring programme, something I am proud to lead, and we have seen some encouraging results,


as members flourish with the support of their mentors. This willingness to support peers, as well as those younger or newer entrepreneurs within the business community, is something which provides a great boost to the regional economy by creating strong organisations and industries. With more than 300 entrepreneurial members, in an organisation founded by some of the best known names in North East business, Sir Peter Vardy and Lorna Moran OBE, we at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum know that this is a great time for people to turn to mentorship as a way of developing and growing a business. We believe that by working in collaboration, grasping opportunities and helping entrepreneurs to build businesses that can change the world, we have an incredibly influential recipe. That's why 'together we can take on the world' is more than just our strapline; it’s our call to action. Whatever stage of business you’re at, if you’re looking to make progress then 'speak to people who’ve done it all before' is what all of the entrepreneurs we meet would say. But finding the right person isn’t always that easy. Choosing the right mentor-mentee partnership is key to the success of such activity and we work hard to help get that


match right. However, it is important that the mentee is at the forefront of the decision making. ‘Appointed’ mentors, especially those assigned by business support agencies, which administer funding for such things, have been given bad reviews from a number of fields, with accusations that the recipient of the assistance has vastly more experience that the actual mentor. Knowing the theory of business is one thing, but that experience gained in the real world brings greater value to the process, supporting the learning and development of the mentee and their business. More often than not a mentor should be chosen whose achievements and standing the mentee can aspire to emulate. We are blessed in our region with any number of people in whose footsteps the business leaders of today and tomorrow would be proud to follow. There has never been more willingness to offer such support and with the technology available to communicate meaningfully from any part of the world, the opportunities to benefit from mentoring are vast. The Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s mentoring programme confidentially connects members in order to share knowledge and experience. For more information, visit


Are you actually speaking to your target audience? Asks Rod Findlay, consultant at Your Sport Consulting. any companies go to the trouble of creating a detailed marketing strategy but unfortunately some don’t get the full benefits of their efforts. Often it is because they haven't thought through how their message might be received by their target audiences. When I worked in rugby league, we wanted to understand why Super League crowds didn't match the demographics in places such as Bradford. What we discovered was that the message and images we were using simply didn't resonate with certain groups. This is clearly seen with car advertising, with markedly different adverts for vehicles aimed at males, females or young audiences. This could just as easily be applied to recruitment, with certain job adverts attracting – but also alienating – certain groups. Are your marketing efforts attracting or repelling your target audience?

that particular room had participated in the towel reuse programme? In that instance, there was a 33 per cent increase in towel reuse. That dramatic increase is down to one of six universal principles of social influence: social proof; that is, we look to what others do to guide our behaviour. And this is what the Wetherby services sign was doing. It told me that others binned their litter and those simple three words had a greater impact than the three preceding words alone.


Changing a few words can have a dramatic impact Some time ago, Wetherby Services changed the language of the signs in its car park. Instead of barking an order to take your litter home, the signs became: “Bin Your Litter. Other People Do.” The last three words jumped out when I first saw the signs. The words reminded me of an excellent book – Yes by Robert Cialdini, which is subtitled 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion. (I think the creator of the services sign has read this book.) The start of the book discusses how changing the wording on hotel environmental message cards – asking hotel guests to recycle towels – made a dramatic difference.

Think about images

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

We have all seen the little plastic cards in hotel bathrooms. Apparently, the majority of people do reuse their towels as requested. However, what is the effect of simply changing the wording? When the basic message asking people to recycle was amended to state, truthfully, that the majority of hotel guests had reused their towels at least once during their stay, the number of guests doing so increased by 26 per cent. Going further, what do you think the effect would be of updating the message to state (again, truthfully) that the majority of guests in


Everyone knows the phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Social influence theory would suggest that photos of people similar to your target audience might actually have more impact than, for example, near-perfect catwalk models. Gyms that use pictures of thin people might be sending out a message to overweight, potential new members that they don't belong at that gym. Meanwhile, using images of ethnic minorities can send out a positive message of inclusivity. Rugby league changed its tactics in relation to this, with great effect.

Careful choices for greater effect The messages you send out in your marketing campaigns or recruitment ads are important, and crucially, you need to ensure these attract – and don’t deter – your target audiences. Some companies might have different messages or variations of different products aimed at different consumer groups. If you can only afford one key message then consider your wording and imaging very carefully to ensure it appeals to all.


The importance of personal development Bryony Gibson, managing director of Bryony Gibson Consulting, discusses the crucial role personal development plays in both staff retention and recruitment.

’m a big believer in the importance of continuous development and the phrase “anyone who claims they know all the answers doesn’t really know very much at all”. I think you can always learn from others and it was while recently reading a book called Legacy, by James Kerr, that I began to think in more detail about personal development and the impact it has upon recruitment. Legacy shares an insight into the many leadership lessons businesses can take from the world’s most successful sports team, the All Blacks. It was one of their mantras, “better people make better All Blacks”, that got me thinking as it is a belief that can be transferred to any team situation. Indeed, better people make better employees and, in turn, better employees make better businesses; so I want to pose a question to you as a business leader: what are you doing in your organisation to help your staff become better people? A recent business trends report by accountants and business advisors BDO suggested that the “hiring intentions of UK firms are at ‘sky high’ levels”, meaning UK companies plan to continue boosting job creation in the coming months. There’s no doubt we’re in the middle of a war for talent and it’s critical to every business’ success that it is able to attract the best employees, but it’s no longer simply a question of recruitment by offering the best financial package. The motivations of the modern workforce have changed. Historically it was – and


EXPERT VIEW Bryony Gibson Managing director Bryony Gibson Consulting Tel: (0191) 375 9983 Web: Twitter: @bryonygibson

perhaps still is for some – a clear progression path, defined leadership opportunities and financial perks that drove career decision making, but the very best of generation ‘X’ and ‘Y’ demand so much more from their workplace. Independent and value driven, the top talent in today’s market want to be empowered, feel appreciated and valued by their peers. They seek flexibility and a high level of trust in return for giving their all to an organisation with a clearly defined purpose. The truth is, good people want to be part of a business that takes the time to understand them as an individual. In return for buying into a company’s vision, they want to be supported in their pursuit of personal development, experiences and happiness; which includes learning and self-improvement. All too often it seems organisations are happy to back the development of staff when they see direct and immediate benefits to their bottom line, but when it’s part of a wider plan it’s a different matter. Personal development needs to be a key


part of how every business looks to create a really dynamic and enthusiastic workforce. People change jobs for many reasons and, while the decision is ultimately down to the individual, the majority of deciding factors are firmly under the control of the employer. The best way to retain employees is to understand what they are thinking. If you value your staff, a personalised plan is one way to make sure they feel in control of their destiny and are being supported to grow and progress within your organisation. And it doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive. It could simply be allowing people the chance to volunteer for a charity, to join a committee or professional association, shadow a colleague or find a mentor. It could even be ensuring people are kept up to date with the latest technology, sending them on training programmes or merely sharing pertinent TED talks or setting up a company book share club. Learning and development takes an investment of time and energy. It will sometimes push you out of your comfort zone, but whatever form it takes, by offering inspiration and broadening people's minds you will gain new business ideas. You’ll also improve the quality of your team and their increased enthusiasm will, in turn, help you to differentiate yourself from your competitors and in the eyes of future employees. Contact Bryony for help finding the right tax & accountancy role or recruits on (0191) 375 9983. Alternatively, visit, connect on LinkedIn or follow @bryonygibson


Love what you do

In this month’s Entrepreneurs’ Forum interview, we catch up with motivational speaker Pete Wilkinson.


s a teenager, multi-award winning business performance coach and motivational speaker Pete Wilkinson would jump in his Mini and drive to Leeds to buy towels and bedding. He would load up the car and drive back to his native North East, where he would sell the goods to nursing homes. That entrepreneurial streak remains for Pete, who grew up in The Barnes, Sunderland, and still lives in the city. Having worked for Northern Electric plc and managed his own electrical retail outlet in Washington, Pete now follows his love for business and his boundless enthusiasm for life with his own enterprise – helping others to be the best they can be. Based out of offices in Newcastle’s Clavering Place, his multi-faceted business continues to grow.

courses in their own time. We are going to build a separate brand, rather than it just being me. It’s all about helping people with their personal development. For me, it’s always about the person first and then the business, and the Ministry of Personal Development will be addressing that. The current course we have is fully CPD certified.


How have you grown your business? I’ve invested a great deal and when I look at the per cent of sales over the last three years, the investment I have made is significant. It’s quite funny, recently someone was saying ‘it’s ok for Pete, he’s an overnight success story’, and I am laughing because yes, we are doing really well now, but I’m an overnight success story that was four years in the making and people don’t see that.

Tell us about your business. The business has three main areas. The first is our Performance Partnership Programme and that’s to do with supporting a small number of managing directors over a minimum of a 12 month period. I become their performance partner and support them and their executive team for at least a year, at most it’s probably going to be three years. The second part is speaking, which is made up of workshops and keynote presentations. I will do anything between 40 and maybe 50 or 60 presentations a year. The final part is my online courses and coaching which help me to reach people further afield who need more flexibility and who don’t have to make so much of a monetary investment. They are all interlinked.

How do you ensure your business stands out from the crowd? The big thing is that I do walk the walk and talk the talk, which is a cliché, and you’ve heard it before, but I genuinely do. I’ve seen people who speak about a subject and it is clear that they don’t actually live and breathe what they are speaking about. I’m completely different. So, when I talk about focus and using your time effectively – I’ve done an MBA when I was married with two kids under four and working as a retail senior manager doing a 60-hour week. I’ve completed an iron man triathlon while running a business and doing a 50-hour week. So, I do live and breathe what I do.

What made you move from retail into business support and coaching?

What is your personal motivation? I need to become the very best version of myself and I have had glimpses of what that looks like. I realise that most people just play it far too safe, most people think far too small and most people never really challenge themselves to the degree that I think they should. I am passionate about living a full life, whether that’s with relationships, family time, holidays, business or health. I don’t want to get to a situation where I look back and think I could have done a bit better there.

I got to the stage where I liked it, rather than loved it and that wasn’t really what I wanted to focus on. Five years ago, my wife and I went to Spain and designed the business so that we could focus on helping people. I love business. I was looking through my bookcase recently and there is a book there called The Book of Business, Money and Power. I bought it when I was 16, so I have really always been interested in business; how it works, how people can run a business and how they can improve themselves. I’m passionate about personal development and do a lot of work in that area, so I’m practising what I preach.

What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? I think it takes someone who’s prepared to put their thoughts and ideas on the line and take a risk and look to add value. Even when I was 18-years-old I was entrepreneurial. I used to drive down to Leeds and buy towels and bedding and then sell them around the nursing homes of the North East. My dad always ran businesses, mainly engineering, and my mother was a natural born sales person. I’ve always had an interest in business and I’ve always been a very driven person. The flip side of that, of course, is that when you start to do what you love, you’ve got to get that blend right because I could easily work more and more, but I’ve got to get that work life blend. Now, I’m getting that balance right for me, and my family.

Your business is focused upon your personal brand, but what sort of team have you built around you? I do have a fairly large support team – a financial advisor, an accountant, a marketing guy, a web guy, a design guy and a PA. I also have two formal mentors. One looks after the success mindset for me and the other supports me with building the speaking side of the business. We are just in the process of appointing a third mentor for the online side of the business as well. I’ve had mentors all my life. I always have people who I am supporting and I always have people who support me. It’s just a mindset. I don’t think anybody can become the very best version of themselves without someone to mentor, coach and support them.

Pete Wilkinson is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, a unique group of like-minded people who come together through peer-to-peer mentoring and a series of inspirational events to share best practice, create valuable connections and grow their business.

What’s next for your business? The online part of the business is going to be the greatest area of development. We have also just launched a new business, literally a start-up that is pre-revenue, which is going to be called the Ministry of Personal Development. That’s going to help people remotely so they can do the

For more information, visit


DEVELOPMENT Be bold, says durhamlane’s Jake Spence

Selling to the higher level Jake Spence, director of sales operations at sales performance company durhamlane, answers an all too common question… Q Is CEO or MD level the best place to begin prospecting, or am I wasting my time? I’ve found there is a preconceived notion in sales, that approaching the C-level (CEOs or managing directors) in a sales capacity is often considered a daunting and futile task. The common train of thought among sales people is that a CEO is often too busy or is simply too high profile to respond to a sales exec. This simply isn’t the case. As we say here at durhamlane “be interested to be interesting” – meaning if you target someone via their preferred channel, with an appropriately tailored message, you can – and will – open up dialogue with an interested decision maker. I’ve personally had conversations and referrals from CEOs in businesses that turn over billions of pounds each year, and truth be told, with high value contracts the C-level are now the first people I look to contact. Here’s why: • Due to the preconceived idea that CEOs are out of range, they don’t actually get approached nearly as much as one may assume. This means that when they are contacted in the right way, the response is warmer and better received than

you might expect. • In my experience, I’ve found middle management often shield or protect the C-level from sales interactions, and as we are all aware in the majority of cases, approaching this middle management gate keeper may lead to a conversation, but ultimately they cannot sign off the deal even if they wanted to. • At the top of the business tree, there is no one who has the company’s best interests at heart more, or who has a better understanding of the challenges their business faces, than C-level management. • And, finally, a downward referral from a CEO to a member of staff, carries so much more weight and importance than if contact had initially been made at the bottom of the business tree. Take these points into consideration and be bold, approach the C-Level with confidence. Remember, although high profile, they are normal people who have only become successful by embracing new ideas and change, such as the one you are about to present. However, before you begin do your homework; the C-level contact you will be conversing with will have a strong grasp on their business needs


and areas of concern, and the processes undertaken daily by their teams. Being fully prepared to answer questions that may have thrown or baffled a lesser prepared sales professional will give your C-level contact great confidence and belief in you personally, something which I see as critical in closing deals and developing fruitful long-term business relationships. Your preparation and knowledge also shows that you have the experience and understanding to genuinely deliver something of benefit and value. So, plan your interaction and remember, the time of the C-Level audience is precious so make your interactions relevant, concise, topical and action orientated. Don’t fear approaching the C-Level, follow my advice to C-level prospecting and you’ll not only be selling to the higher level, you’ll be ‘selling at a higher level’ than your competitors dare. For more information on durhamlane’s ‘Selling at a higher level’ training masterclasses and sales consultancy services, visit, email or tel (0191) 481 3800. Follow @durhamlane on Twitter or join its sales conversations on LinkedIn.


Harsh but fair Tackle under performing employees in your workforce with these top tips from Joanne Howe, managing director of Howe Consultancy. n any workplace it’s always good to receive a pat on the back and a well done. It’s one of the things that makes you feel positive either as the person giving or receiving the praise. But what do you do when someone isn’t quite up to scratch? At the time it may seem that the best thing to do is go in and leave them in little doubt about what you think, but stop! It’s a management method that is usually applied to sports and even then, it rarely works. Like most things, you can apply the cause and effect model to this. If you have an under performing employee, they must be performing this way for a reason. This is your effect. To stop the effect you must figure out the cause. Perhaps the employee simply does not know what is expected of them, the workplace may suffer from a low morale level or maybe they don’t know when they are doing a good job because of a lack of feedback? Whatever the reason, once the cause is identified, it is step one of stamping out the effect. There are a number of things you can do to


Joanne Howe, managing director of Howe Consultancy

stamp out the problems which cause under performance. Here are a few things which should help. • Regular constructive feedback. How is an employee to know what is expected of them in the workplace if you don’t offer feedback? Regularly letting them know what they do


well and what needs to be improved should sort this problem. • Team building exercises. Low morale in the workplace can be a real killer of productivity. It’s a fact that if someone is happy and relaxed their work rate will improve, their retention in the job is sustained and they have fewer sick days off. Consider having something like casual Fridays or office gettogethers. • One-to-one meetings. Different from feedback, one-to-ones between you and your employees should be informal but confidential. This is their chance to tell you what’s on their mind, what’s bothering them and how they feel things are going. This will then allow you to further analyse the situation and how to improve it both for the employee and yourself. Good luck with your feedback challenges. For more information, email, tel: 07921 256 981 or visit

BUSINESS Chartwise UK specialises in operator compliance for the transport industry

On the road to success Chartwise UK on how it can keep your business compliant and on the road legally. or decades we have ensured haulage companies, both big and small, have remained on the right track legally in one of the most highly regulated industries in the UK. Now entering our 30th year in the road transport regulation industry, Chartwise UK continues to offer operator compliance services which are vital in ensuring that the haulage industry keeps on trucking. From the large haulage firms such as Eddie Stobart, to the removal and delivery companies helping you move house and deliver your groceries, all businesses running vehicles over 3.5 tonnes must hold an operators licence. All companies with an operators licence must comply with a number of regulations and laws governing the industry and that is where an operator compliance contract with Chartwise can help. So what exactly are operator compliance contracts? Well, these contracts are made up of three aspects: data analysis, driver training and operator licence consulting. Data analysis relates to the monitoring and storage of the drivers records, covering analysis and reporting of the drivers’ hours, working time and rest periods. The reports help ensure that our clients are complying with a number or rules and regulations such as the EU drivers hours laws, the road


transport directive and GB domestic rules. Driver training covers all of the drivers who require the driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification. This qualification is required by all drivers operating a goods vehicle that exceeds 3.5 tonnes. All drivers must complete 35 hours of accredited training every five years to retain their right to drive professionally. This training not only helps our clients meet their legal obligations but has also led to 100 per cent driver compliance in a number of cases. Operator licence consulting relates to the policies and procedures required to ensure compliance. Our team of qualified CPC holders, auditors and trainers assist our clients with the implementation and maintenance of our proven processes. In addition to these processes, our compliance clients benefit from regular audits and on-site support during visits from the authorities. This may seem a lot to take on board, but there is no need to panic. Our operator compliance service means that although there is a lot to understand, we will talk you through all the requirements to keep your business delivering the levels of service your clients have come to expect. Our team of industry specialists includes CPC holders, drivers’ hours specialists and industry instructors who will have you covered every step of the way, ensuring that


you stay legal, roadworthy and on the right side of the authorities. Speaking of authorities, it’s understandable that you need to comply fully with any visits from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). This is the regulatory body that carries out roadside inspections, but they do also carry out full investigations and report all findings to the office of the Traffic Commissioner. This can be a potentially stressful time for any organisation, whether it is your first visit or your 50th visit. This is why we offer on-site support during scheduled DVSA visits for that extra reassurance. But it’s not all about making sure your fleet is roadworthy and your paperwork is in order. At the heart of every business you’ll find people and at Chartwise we realise that the road transport industry is no different. Regular driver and operator training is included in our service as standard. The drivers receive regular toolbox talks to address infringements, driver CPC training to maintain their licence to drive commercially and a number of qualifications including Emergency First-Aid at Work and SAFed. The operators and transport office staff receive regular industry updates, operator refresher training and support from the team. For more information, tel (0191) 491 5032 or find Chartwise on Facebook and Twitter.


Jonathon Coates (care manager) and Rob Armstrong (MTrec director)

Caring for the North East MTrec Recruitment unveils a brand new business that specialises in delivering recruitment solutions to the health and social care sector. ewcastle-based recruitment agency, MTrec Recruitment has ambitious plans for further growth and expansion with the recent launch of a brand new recruitment business – MTrec Care. MTrec Recruitment has been established nine years in June and started with two members of staff and minimal investment. Since its inception, the business has experienced unparalleled growth in the North East by delivering high quality recruitment and training solutions to regional companies in the engineering, manufacturing and warehouse/distribution sectors. The success of MTrec has been developed by providing truly innovative recruitment and training services to its client and candidate base. This has been achieved by providing employer based training services, cost saving ideas, training and developing new workers, hiring the right permanent staff and promoting a very strong internal culture so all of the MTrec divisions work in complete synergy to support all of its customers. The new Care recruitment business will


diversify MTrec into a brand new sector, specialising in delivering complete recruitment and training solutions to the health, social, nursing and independent living sectors. The directors of MTrec, David Musgrave and Rob Armstrong, believe there is a genuine gap in the market to provide a high quality and highly personal service to these areas and to provide a level of quality that has been, until recently, unavailable. Due to his numerous business contacts within the North East, Rob felt it was a natural progression for MTrec to provide a premium recruitment service to many of the care and nursing home groups in the region. Through his various business networks he identified and head hunted Jonathan Coates to manage and lead the new business. “As soon as I met with Jonathan I knew he would be a great fit for MTrec. His experience, combined with his genuine passion and enthusiasm for the industry, made it a very easy decision for me to hire him for the job,” explains Rob. Jonathan is a highly experienced


recruitment professional with a long and successful track record working in the care sector. Since joining MTrec a couple of months ago, he has already recruited an experienced team, developed a new company website, implemented a business plan, launched a new marketing campaign and has started supplying staff to various care organisations. His other aims are to become Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered and commence the provision of independent supported living services. Jonathan says: “I am truly excited and inspired to be working for MTrec and to be given an opportunity to make a real difference in the care sector. We have got off to a great start and my vision for the business is to provide a range of recruitment and training services with integrity, transparency and complete compliance, so we become the market leaders.” MTrec Care is looking to appoint a number of registered nurses, support and care workers for immediate assignments. To find out more, visit, tel (0191) 242 5640 or email




onwood Glass, based in Gateshead, was established in 1985 by Andrew Donnelly’s parents, Ged and Norma, and lays claim to being one of the oldest flat glass companies in the North East. In its humble beginnings, the business carved a niche for itself as a reliable supplier of insulating glass units. Fast-forward a few decades to 2003 and the company had diversified into other flat glass products, including tempered safety glass, decorative glass and processed glass. Branching into these other markets subsequently helped the company to weather the looming recession. With over 20 years’ experience in the flat glass industry and a degree in international business to his name, Andrew now heads up the business with his younger brother Darren, after acquiring control via an MBO in 2005. Since taking to the helm, the brothers have seen the company enjoy national recognition, reaching the finals of The Orange National Business Awards Regional 2009 and being shortlisted in the Glass Company of the Year category at the prestigious G09 Industry Awards that same year. Awards recognition aside, the company’s 30th anniversary is this year’s big talking point for the flourishing family business. Andrew enthuses: “How quickly time flies! This is a significant milestone for us, particularly for our industry, which is very competitive. However, it goes to show with sound management and a keen eye on the market that any business can prosper in tough conditions. I like to think that our longevity in the industry acts as a unique selling point for the business.” Donwood Glass specialises in flat glasses between four and 19mm thick, sourced primarily from the UK. Its glass – which includes clear, tinted and laminated – is used in a range of domestic and commercial applications and is also used architecturally, in balustrades and staircases, for example. Donwood Glass also supplies the bespoke glass furniture market, producing everything from tabletops and cabinets to shelving. Discussing the company’s current focus in more detail, Andrew says: “Our core business is the supply to trade of insulating glass units for windows and, to a lesser extent, a range of flat glassed processed products for interiors. We stock a range of low emissivity glass types which reflect heat back into a building which, in turn,

helps to reduce heating bills.” He continues: “Our customer base is primarily trade coming from the domestic window market, although we do have a few commercial trade customers. We also supply to the general public, particularly for our glass processed products.” Over the years, the business has kept apace of changes to UK building regulations, and as Andrew notes, insulating glass units in 2015 are markedly different from when his parents first launched the company in the 1980s. “Changes in building regulations mean that the company is constantly innovating to stay ahead of the changes which occur in the market place,” Andrew comments. “With further changes expected over the next few years, the company has recently invested heavily inplant to provide the industry with an optimum thermally efficient product.” Looking ahead, the sector remains a buoyant one, with a recent Key Note publication on the window and door market forecasting a 13.3 per cent growth in the industry over the next four years, helped by rising output in the construction industry as a whole. Andrew says: “The industry tom-tom drums are currently beating a positive note!” Honing in on the North East region specifically, Andrew points out that the market here is not as large as that in Manchester or Leeds, where populations are far greater. “There is, however, a vibrancy within our region that is distinguishable from other areas of the country,” observes Andrew. Donwood Glass has recently invested in new machinery to grow the business over the next few years and the medium-term aim is to increase turnover by 40 to 50 per cent. The 51-strong team will look to bolster this optimism even further by focusing on consolidating this growth, and adapting internal processes and systems at the company’s glass work centre in Pelaw, to help sustain these developments. Andrew concludes: “With this growth, we hope to create ten new jobs, hopefully securing the business for the next 30 years!” For more information about Donwood Glass, visit


Andrew Donnelly with his brother, Darren, who co-own Donwood Glass.



A Kabuboni coffee farmer

Why adding milk to your coffee is good for business North East charity Shared Interest Foundation explains how it helps African entrepreneurs to grow and diversify their business ventures. inance is crucial for the growth of any business, regardless of the country in which it is based. However, when an organisation is facing serious issues such as falling prices or a lack of equipment, gaining access to credit can become integral to their survival. Fairtrade coffee co-operative Kabuboni in Kenya was recently facing such a dilemma when global coffee prices dropped dramatically. The situation left 1000 farmers without a reliable way of supporting their family. Kabuboni’s accountant, Philip Murithi Agostino, says they knew they were ‘in dire need of funds’ to enable them to diversify. However, they didn’t have the knowledge or the financial evidence required to receive a business loan. Fortunately, Shared Interest Foundation’s Access to Finance project was able to help. Funded by Comic Relief, the programme provides training in financial skills and business planning, and access to fair finance for farmers and handcraft makers in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda and Ivory Coast. To date, the programme has provided training to more than 100 businesses like Kabuboni, and injected £2 million into fair trade businesses. Smallholder farmers, such as Kabuboni members, are responsible for producing over 70 per cent of the world’s food. However, only two per cent of their financing needs are being met


in the developing world, which prevents them from diversifying, expanding and improving their livelihoods. Chris Pay, head of Shared Interest Foundation explains: “When we met the team at Kabuboni, they had already embarked on a campaign to revitalise coffee farming in the area by distributing free seedlings and training their members in crop management. This wasn’t going to be enough to sustain coffee as the sole income source, however, and Kabuboni farmers were keen to diversify into milk production.” Shared Interest Foundation partnered with Fairtrade Africa, based in Kenya, to provide Kabuboni with specialist business training. The co-operative later applied to Shared Interest Society for a business loan, which enabled Kabuboni to finance the cooling plant for its milk production business. As a result, the cooperative’s farmers are now less vulnerable to coffee price fluctuations because they have an additional income. Philip says: “The training has helped us access this finance and subsequently increase the number of female employees as the majority of dairy farmers tend to be women.” Another organisation that has benefitted from the Access to Finance programme is Getting Old Is to Grow (GOIG), a handcraft organisation with 50 employees in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


GOIG was founded in 1991 by a group of 12 retired women, with a mission to help older people in the community, and a vision to pass down their skills to the next generation. The organisation trains young people, especially girls, in handcraft making skills such as design, tailoring, textiles, jewellery, and candlemaking. Shared Interest Foundation has provided GOIG with one to one mentoring and business support to help it gain finance on fair terms. Newcastle-based Shared Interest Foundation has been supporting producers in the developing world for the past 11 years. It has helped improve the livelihoods of over 40,000 individuals by providing business support and training, enabling people to establish, run and grow successful and life changing businesses. Shared Interest Foundation received highly commended at the Charity Awards in 2014 and it is hoped its work will benefit further countries across Africa. Donations received from corporate supporters last year provided funding which was used alongside project funding from a grant making trust, to fund a smaller scale project. A programme for tea and sugar producers in Malawi will run later this year. For more information, contact Chris Pay on (0191) 233 9115 or email


Chris Pay, head of Shared Interest Foundation

Investing in African entrepreneurs North East Times chats to Chris Pay, head of Shared Interest Foundation, to find out more about the charity’s work in Africa. aising capital for growth can be a struggle for any business. Add in a banking system with soaring interest rates, a remote location where there is no local branch manager, and a lack of assets against which to secure a loan and you have a pretty good picture of life for developing world entrepreneurs. Shared Interest is looking to change this. Its Access to Finance project is providing a lifeline for farmers and handcraft makers in Africa, who are unable to grow their organisation through lack of funds. Head of Shared Interest Foundation, Chris Pay, strongly believes that helping to grow sustainable businesses is the best way to fight poverty.


How did the Access to Finance project begin? Shared Interest is a brilliant model of business support which really does change lives. By combining social investment with financial management training, we’re able to help those businesses making an impact in their local community, to develop and grow to the next level. Shared Interest Society uses investment from people living here in the UK to lend to fair trade businesses in the developing world. The aim is to reach even the most marginalised of communities with unsecured lending at a fair rate. The organisation recognised that some communities struggle to apply for fair finance

for a number of reasons. In response, our charity, Shared Interest Foundation began an Access to Finance project, which delivers financial management training and mentoring.

organisations in greatest need of support. Fairtrade Africa represents over 400 fair trade organisations, which between them provide work for more than 860,000 people.

Tell us how this project is changing lives in Africa.

What kinds of challenges are faced by the businesses you support?

The project spans five countries in East and West Africa and has so far provided training to 122 organisations, totalling 30,000 people. Forty-one of these businesses also received mentoring to enable them to apply for loan finance. At the start, we hoped to gain £1 million of new finance for the businesses we supported. We have already managed to double this, and there are some fantastic success stories on our website as a result. You can read Kabuboni’s on the opposite page.

They range from similar challenges to those faced by businesses here, such as lack of cash flow or a need for larger premises, right through to stock being destroyed by natural disasters or coping with HIV/AIDS in the workforce. Throughout all of this, they have to work hard every day to ensure there continues to be a market for their products.

Why did you choose to support fair trade organisations? Fundamentally, we want to support businesses with the most social impact – because this means that our work benefits entire communities. Since Shared Interest Society began 25 years ago, its focus has been primarily in support of the fair trade movement. Our charity was founded a decade ago to support the weaker fair trade businesses. For this particular project, we partnered with Fairtrade Africa to identify


What is next for Shared Interest Foundation? We’re currently seeking funding for a new programme in Malawi, which was recently struck by devastating floods. The worst rains Malawi has seen for four decades hit farmers particularly hard. As an immediate response, we partnered with the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK to raise funds for the replanting of tea and sugar crops, but we’re now working on a programme of support that will enable Malawi farmers to grow their businesses and build a better future for themselves and their families. For more information, visit


Wallers expands with new appointments Law firm Wallers has strengthened its specialist complex team with the appointment of solicitors Vicki Alexander and Amanda Robinson.


icki Alexander has worked at Wallers for over ten years. Having previously qualified as a chartered legal executive, she holds the position of senior manager of the complex team. Vicki will continue in this role as well as taking on her new position as solicitor. She manages a wide brief including contested cases, often involving elements of consumer credit, reputational risk and mortgage fraud as well as actions brought by LPA Receivers. Vicki has taken a number of cases to trial with successful outcomes, as well as settling other cases on terms favourable to the client. Amanda Robinson successfully completed her training contract at the Newcastle-based firm, having previously been employed in various capacities including team leader. Part of her training contract was spent on secondment in the legal department of a leading lender. During her time with Wallers, Amanda has conducted many cases involving complex mortgage repossession litigation, mortgage fraud and appeals. She has built up a very strong working relationship with

clients and will develop this in her additional role as client relationship manager. John Gladders, chief executive at Wallers said: “We are delighted to announce these appointments at Wallers.

Vicki and Amanda are valued members of our team and have both worked hard to earn their positions as solicitors at our firm where they can complement the skills of existing team members and provide the best possible service to our clients.”

Leading tax firm makes key promotion

Law firm completes IK-UK acquisition

Tait Walker claims £16m of tax back


ax advisory firm Evolution LLP has made a key promotion as it looks to the future. Graham Fitzgerald, who has been with the accountancy practice as a director since June 2010, has been promoted to associate member whilst continuing to act as head of education services. With the move to the flagship offices at Wynyard Park House, rapid progression of the business and ambitious growth plans, it's an exciting time for Graham to play a key role in the future of Evolution. Graham said: “I am naturally delighted for my contribution to be recognised. Having led the education and not-for-profit sectors, I’m looking forward to bringing my experience to the wider practice.”

Vicki Alexander, John Gladders and Amanda Robinson of Wallers


egal experts from the North East have completed a multi million pound international acquisition for a Norwegian oil and gas solutions company that is expected to strengthen its UK base in County Durham. Business and commercial property lawyers at BHP Law worked on the deal for IK-Group AS, whose UK subsidiary, IK-UK Limited, is based in Newton Aycliffe. The company has acquired Online Electronics Limited (OEL), a leading global pipeline communications specialist based in Aberdeen with subsidiaries in the United States, Dubai, Singapore and Perth, Australia.



orth East accountancy firm Tait Walker has helped 125 of the region’s businesses claim £16 million worth of tax back through the R&D (Research and Development) tax relief scheme in the last three years. Led by tax partner Alastair Wilson, Tait Walker’s R&D tax relief specialist team has successfully submitted over 300 claims for its clients with a 100 per cent success rate. R&D tax credits are worth £30m to North East businesses every year. This money provides inward investment and financial support to a broad range of innovative companies based in the region.

LAW & FINANCE Senior partner, Eric Brannigan

Going for growth Rowlands has seen an impressive growth curve over the last few years, starting its strong expansion through acquisition during the economic downturn. Senior partner Eric Brannigan discusses the firm’s growth strategy and looks at how other businesses can follow suit. Rowlands has enjoyed a sustained period of expansion, which has gathered speed since the end of the recession. What’s been the secret to this success? The key to Rowlands’ success has been a combination of teamwork, common goals and not being distracted by outside influences. The teamwork element is key. At Rowlands, all the equity partners have the same objectives, and we are all very focused on looking after our clients. Our acquisitions policy has been based on the view that if we decide that we are going to buy something, we are not going to worry about what other people are saying about the state of the economy. It’s important to trust our own judgement – we have been doing this long enough to know what our marketplace is and how it is faring. Various partners have been involved in our various acquisitions, so everybody has played their part in this sustained period of growth.

How can other businesses mirror this growth or position themselves so it becomes a possibility? Businesses need to set realistic targets and then be single-minded in achieving them. It’s important that they trust their instincts and aren’t dissuaded by other people. It’s also vital that they speak to their advisers – the bank, their solicitors and accountants – at an early stage, ideally before they progress with any plans. The input of an accountant is very

important. A business can have a vision of what they want to acquire but their accountant can help them find finance and discuss the tax implications of the different routes for acquiring businesses. At Rowlands, we can also help with finding or targeting acquisitions for them. Switched-on businesses are aware that these services are available from their accountants. My more entrepreneurial clients recognise that they need to work with us as a partnership.

As an accountancy practice, Rowlands has really widened its geographical reach with a number of expansions in the past two years. Is acquisition a good strategy for others looking to strengthen their foothold in particular regions or sectors? With acquisitions, it really depends on the sector the business wants to target. All businesses are individual and there isn’t a one size fits all approach. If the existing company has a good business model, it needs to look for other businesses where it can replicate this successful model. I am a great believer in sticking to the core business and not seeking to expand outside the box.

Rowlands has experience of working with sectors that have seen a lot of change, including agriculture and healthcare. How


are these faring, what is the current outlook, and how are you continuing to help? These sectors are continuing to be very challenging. Our clients in the agriculture and healthcare sectors want us to work closely with them and they recognise that if the sector is challenging, it isn’t generally going to come right overnight. To use an old cliché, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. As advisers, we recognise that we have to be there to support them through the difficult times as well as the good times. At the moment we’re doing an awful lot of handholding and we are expecting that this will continue for some time, subject to any changes of government and government policy.

What three pieces of advice would you give to ambitious businesses looking to make their mark in 2015? The first is to set defined, realistic targets and have a three to five-year plan for your business. Secondly, encourage teamwork within and outside the business – within using the people who have an interest in the business, and externally with your professional advisers. Finally, if you define an area of growth, whether it’s organic or by acquisition, plan your strategy and go for it. Don’t pussyfoot around; the longer you leave it, the less chance it has of happening. For more information, visit

LAW & FINANCE New recruit Paul Johnstone with Collingwood Legal founder Paul McGowan

Collingwood Legal welcomes new partner Specialist North East employment law firm Collingwood Legal has boosted its senior team by recruiting one of the region's most highlyregarded solicitors as a new partner for the practice. aul Johnstone has more than 20 years’ experience of resolving complex and challenging employment-related disputes, and has joined Newcastlebased Collingwood after previously being a partner with Muckle LLP. A graduate of Newcastle and Northumbria Universities, Paul worked in both public and private sector organisations before embarking on his legal career. He has an impressive track record of providing strategic and operational advice around planning, devising and implementing successful organisational change programmes, and is a knowledgeable and skilled adviser as well as an accomplished employment tribunal advocate. Paul Johnstone says: “The exciting vision of how Collingwood Legal is going to build on its successes to date made the decision to join the firm an easy one for me. "Modern law firms have to demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of their clients' operations, business strategies and the commercial realities their clients face if they are to successfully deliver the high quality, expert advice that those organisations need to prosper and grow. "It's exciting to have the chance to contribute to the continuing development of a


fresh, dynamic and innovative modern law firm which has the core values of skill, knowledge, transparency and excellence at the heart of the services it provides to its clients.” Collingwood Legal is a relationship-based practice which advises some of the region’s largest businesses and organisations on all aspects of employment law, as well as a growing number of clients elsewhere in the UK. It is already the only North East firm to have four practitioners recommended for their employment law expertise in the latest edition of the legal industry’s primary reference guide, The Legal 500. Collingwood Legal founder and principal Paul McGowan says: “I've known Paul for many years, and he is passionate about providing an excellent service to clients on all aspects of employment and equality law. "He has a first class reputation for fighting conscientiously to always achieve the best results for clients, and bringing him into the Collingwood team is a real coup for us. "Our industry reputation and client base is continuing to grow both inside and outside the North East, and having Paul on board will further enhance the quality and breadth of services we're able to offer." Discussing in more detail how this will


impact the business from a client’s perspective, Paul McGowan explains: “Over the last four years we've recruited a team of technically excellent and personable lawyers. We pride ourselves on being approachable and candid with our clients. That fits with the way Paul works too. We already work with some of the biggest employers in the region and Paul's arrival provides us with a platform to grow our client base, with clients being confident in the knowledge that they're working with one of the biggest teams of employment specialists in the North East.” Paul McGowan set up Collingwood Legal from scratch four and half years ago with the short-term aim of the firm being recognised as the ‘go to’ firm for employment advice in the North East. “We have seen business grow 50 per cent in the last financial year and have won new business, including a number of long-term contracts,” he explains. “However, we have kept our primary focus on providing excellent client service. Working with Paul will help us with our longer term aim of being recognised as the number one provider of specialist employment advice in the North East and beyond.” For more information, tel (0191) 282 2880 or visit


Look east By Peter Rutherford of Universal Tax Strategies.

EXPERT VIEW Peter Rutherford Partner Universal Tax Strategies LLP Tel: (0191) 374 0333 Email:

o this is not referring to the BBC’s news programme for East Anglia and nor is it an article about investing in China, Vietnam et al. I am referring to the fact that the majority of the European Union lies to the east of us and offers some attractive tax planning opportunities, with stable legal and economic conditions (for the majority of states at least) for the UK resident and expatriate. Specifically, I am thinking of the advantages of pension schemes when it comes to investment and tax planning. We know that there is now a great deal more flexibility in taking benefits from pensions and indeed it is possible to take out the whole fund and pay an amount of tax at your marginal rate, for example 20 per cent, 40 per cent or 45 per cent, after allowing for the tax free element that can be withdrawn. We also have the Inheritance Tax (IHT) advantages whereby funds within a pension are free of IHT on death. If death occurs before age 75, all of the fund may be paid to the nominated beneficiaries tax free. After age 75 the beneficiary will be liable for Income Tax on what they receive from the pension fund. Did you realise that you can have exactly


the same benefits if you transfer your UK pension fund to a Qualifying Regulated Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) even though you live in the UK? Why would you do that? Firstly, to save tax. As the QROPS is, by definition, an overseas pension it means that only 90 per cent of the income received by a UK resident tax payer is taxable. This is confirmed in statute s573-575 of ITEPA 2003. The result is that the 20 per cent taxpayer effectively pays 18 per cent, the 40 per cent taxpayer 36 per cent and the 45 per cent taxpayer 40.5 per cent. This rule also applies to beneficiaries withdrawing funds after the pension member’s death beyond age 75. And there’s more. If the income tax savings are not enough, then there is another significant advantage relating to how much can be in your pension plan. In the current tax year the maximum you can have in your pension pot is £1.25 million and beyond this figure there are significant tax charges (some protections may be claimable). This cap is called the Life Time Allowance (LTA). We know that this will reduce to £1m from April 2016 and was indeed much higher at £1.85m not so very long ago.


A transfer from a UK registered pension into a QROPS is a benefit crystallisation event (BCE8). As such, the UK LTA is not an issue after transfer and charges for exceeding the LTA (25/55 per cent) are not levied, as the fund is no longer held in a UK registered pension. This applies even if the client is a UK resident. Any unused LTA percentage after transfer remains available for ongoing contributions into a UK registered pension. For example, a £800,000 transfer is made to QROPS then that will use up 64 per cent of the standard £1.25m LTA and the balance of 36 per cent remains available. Therefore, unlike some other forms of LTA Protection, the option for further UK pension funding remains available. Tax relief will be available on future contributions. The result is that a much larger pension pot can be amassed and remember it is IHT efficient, too. Clearly there are distinct advantages in moving your pension abroad even if you do not intend to move there yourself. Your investments do not have to move either as you are simply changing the location of the trustees to somewhere like Malta or Gibraltar.


Going for growth North East entrepreneurs are leading the way on high-growth companies, says Andrew Miler, regional director of Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, North East.

EXPERT VIEW Andrew Miller Regional director Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, North East Web:

he UK’s entrepreneurial scene has undergone significant change in the past few years. Even the word ‘entrepreneur’ is a more familiar term within the professional landscape, as we see more and more start-ups emerge, particularly due to recent technological developments breaking down previous barriers to entry and giving business owners access to a global marketplace. Our sixth, and latest Barclays and BGF Entrepreneurs Index tracks the entrepreneurial lifecycle across different UK regions, using data to measure business growth and business exits. It reveals that in the North East there was a 5.3 per cent rise in the number of enterprises in 2014, meaning the number of enterprises now stands at 59,000. Entrepreneurial activity in the digital industry is booming in the North East, hot on the heels of companies in sectors that have traditionally been our heartland, such as energy. New tech start-ups are springing up all over the region, and initiatives like the Jobs and Skills Investment Scheme are enabling digital start-ups to take on more and more trainees, apprentices and graduates as employees. What’s even more encouraging is that


despite a nationwide slowdown in the number of high-growth companies, the North East bucked this trend and saw the number of highgrowth companies actually rise by 25.5 per cent in the year to March 2014, to reach 19.2 per cent of all companies with revenues between £2.5 million and £100m. These figures should serve to inspire the young entrepreneurs of our future, and provide them with the confidence they need to form their own businesses. Now what is important is that we maintain this momentum – particularly when it comes to supporting companies to move from the start-up to the scale-up portion of their entrepreneurial journey. It is critical that we give successful organisations in the North East a platform for sharing their success stories, so fledgling entrepreneurs and smaller businesses can benefit from their expertise and experience. The benefit of initiatives such as mentoring programmes should not be underestimated, nor should the importance of skilling up the workforce of tomorrow to help us secure the talent that we need to continue on this trajectory of growth. We are becoming more dependent on the

successful scale-up of start-ups, as they contribute to employment, skills and economic growth. Small and medium-sized businesses in the North East have a significant impact on the success of this region’s economy, with SMEs providing two thirds of all private sector jobs and contributing to around half of all GDP*. At Barclays we firmly believe that entrepreneurs and SMEs are the future of UK plc and play a vital role in innovation, therefore we must support the management of these businesses effectively. As a result, it is now crucial that we provide these smaller companies in their earlier stages with the correct tools and best practice examples to help them achieve their full potential, and to increase the number of companies achieving high growth in the UK. Find out more about the UK entrepreneurial landscape and how businesses can go from start-up to scale-up by visiting Barclay’s Entrepreneurs Index, available online at lth-management/who-wehelp/entrepreneurs.html.

*Department for Business Innovation & Skills, Business Population Estimates 2011 Barclays offers wealth and investment management products and services to its clients through Barclays Bank PLC and its subsidiary companies. Barclays Bank PLC is registered in England and authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered No. 1026167. Registered Office: 1 Churchill Place, London E14 5HP.



Vertem Asset Management sponsors race day This year’s Grand National race day at Newcastle saw Vertem Asset Management sponsor the full event for the second year running.


he day is a great opportunity for Vertem to advertise its brand and make itself known to both a regional and national audience. It also provides an opportunity for clients and prospective clients to meet and socialise with the full Vertem team, who provide vital functions in the Vertem process but don’t often get the chance to meet the clients they work so hard for. Judging the ‘best turned out’ and presenting winners’ trophies were highlights from the day.


LAW & FINANCE Neil Warwick (centre) with founding partners Ian Gilthorpe and Alan Fletcher

Leading EU lawyer joins Square One Law Founding partners of Square One Law, Ian Gilthorpe and Alan Fletcher, welcome the arrival of equity partner Neil Warwick, who joins the firm’s strategic management team as business development partner.

eil Warwick is a leading EU and competition lawyer who specialises in all aspects of competition law, in particular, state aid and EU structural funding. Neil has had a successful 25 year career to date with Dickinson Dees (more recently known as Bond Dickinson) and is well known in the North East, not only for being a specialist lawyer, but also for becoming involved in the region as chair of Service


Network since 2004; board member and interim chair of Northern Business Forum; board member of the NELEP Business Support Board; and previously chair of Financial Inclusion Newcastle which alleviated worklessness in east and west Newcastle and Street North East (a community development finance initiative to give financial help to small businesses). Neil is also a board member of the strategic European Regional Development Fund


(ERDF) programme executive group for 2007-13 and also a board member of the local management committee of the same programme, being only the third person in the private sector to sit on both boards. In addition, he has recently been invited to now the European Structural Investment Fund (2014-22) – making him the first person to do both programmes with both boards at the same time. Senior partner, Ian Gilthorpe says: “I am

The Square One Law strategy team: Ian Gilthorpe, Alan Fletcher, Andrew Hoyle and Neil Warwick

really looking forward to working with Neil. He is massively committed to the North East and has great energy and drive. We are delighted that he has chosen to join us and help us develop Square One Law. His knowledge and understanding of the region, along with his legal skill set and management experience will undoubtedly help us continue the rapid growth that the firm has seen in the last year.” Managing partner, Alan Fletcher adds: “The firm grew by 68 per cent last year and one of our highlights was winning Insider Dealmakers ‘NE Corporate Law Firm of the Year’, so Neil is joining us at a great time as we look to expand further and capitalise on the excellent progress we’ve made as we approach our fourth anniversary.” Business strategy consultant, Andrew Hoyle comments: “Neil joining Square One Law is a significant development in the evolution of the firm. His experience in both the commercial and public sectors materially strengthen the firm's offering and will allow Square One Law to achieve further growth in the marketplace.” Neil says: ”It has been a big decision to leave Bond Dickinson, as I have genuinely enjoyed my years there and will look back with great satisfaction at the growth and development of my career, especially during the Dickinson Dees era. “I now feel it is the right stage in my life to take on a new challenge. What impresses me

about Square One Law is their totally different way of doing things. When one of their clients needed specialist competition law advice, they approached me at Bond Dickinson and we worked in collaboration to ensure their client had the best advice. From my point of view it was a fresh and positive experience and I can’t imagine any other firm in the region collaborating in such a way, but that is why law firms need a different approach if they are going to offer more value to their clients.” Discussing his career to date, Neil explains: “I am a north easterner, born and bred and care passionately about this region. I went to school at Dame Allen’s, then read law at Newcastle University and was offered a training contract at Dickinson Dees. I was given great experience as a trainee and was seconded to their Brussels office for three months where I became involved in state aid. I was then extremely fortunate to be able to have a second secondment at this early stage of my career and went to NDC (Northern Development Company) for 12 months where I learnt all about inward investment and European grants. This area really interested me and when offered a choice of what to specialise in, I chose EU and competition.” In 2001, Neil became a partner and seven weeks later, he was offered the role of business development partner, which he did for six years, alongside developing his career as a specialist EU and competition lawyer.


Then in 2007 he was promoted to equity partner and full board member of Dickinson Dees and was involved with the merger talks and subsequent launch of Bond Dickinson. “I was ready for a new challenge,” says Neil, “and was attracted to Square One Law because it has like-minded people who are ambitious and committed to the North East. I am flattered to have been offered the business development partner role and look forward to working with the other partners and helping influence the growth of this entrepreneurial business.” Senior partner, Ian Gilthorpe says: “When Alan and I wrote the firm’s first business plan in 2011, I don’t think either of us envisaged that we would grow as fast and be able to attract the quality of clients that the firm now has the pleasure of working with. “We’ve focused our brand so it is all about demonstrating commitment, drive and commercial acumen and the firm now has the critical mass to handle significant projects and to support companies across a broad range of legal work. “Neil will be joining a great team and everyone at the firm appreciates that our growth and success has been completely due to the willingness of our clients to work with us and trust us to consistently deliver the service in a relevant and commercial way.” For more information, visit


Don’t risk crashing your retirement With 61 per cent of 55 to 65 year olds in the north unlikely to seek pension’s advice, Jo Jackson, head of financial planning at Brewin Dolphin, reveals that they could be losing five years of income.

EXPERT VIEW Jo Jackson Head of financial planning Brewin Dolphin Email: Tel: (0191) 230 7155

ritain is facing the biggest changes to its pension system in over 100 years, giving millions of people full control of their retirement savings. But is the country ready for it? Our survey and analysis suggests that, not only are they woefully unprepared, but that the taxman could be the biggest beneficiary of a system that hands people responsibility without appropriate training. Sensible use of an ISA, investing in a taxefficient manner and withdrawing a pension in stages could provide as much as five years worth of additional cash in retirement. The state of under-preparedness is such, however, that many could simply throw this extra money away. Our calculator (available at will allow you to work out just how long a pension pot could last compared to life expectancy, depending on whether a retiree chooses to take


it as cash or put it into a low, medium or high risk portfolio. The case studies show the value of sensible tax planning and the stark differences unprepared retirees could face – living over 15 years on the basic state pension, when they could have had a far more comfortable retirement. Our findings come from an exclusive national survey of over 2000 adults approaching retirement, which shows that today’s retirees are in a precarious position as we go through the biggest pensions revolution in decades. Most people are unaware of how long they are likely to live and the importance of tax planning, whilst many are planning to keep their pension in cash and will need some of it to pay debts. Over half of those surveyed are planning to retire without advice on what to do with their pension, whilst someone with an average £163,000 pension pot is likely to run out of

money within five years without advice, and could end up paying an unnecessary £50,000 to HMRC. Staggeringly, 61 per cent of 55-65 year olds in the north have said they would be unlikely to seek any financial advice on whether to withdraw a lump sum from their pension. What lessons can be taken away from this? Those who spend time understanding their options and the tax implications of the changes will end up far better off than those who are simply seduced by the excitement of an initial cash pile. Brewin Dolphin’s unique calculator will allow you to put in any level of pension pot and work out how long it is likely to last in drawdown using various levels of risk, and will show you how long the money will last in cash. The message is clear – in finance, as in motoring, a few driving lessons can make a huge difference.

Brewin Dolphin commissioned survey* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2114 adults aged between 55-65 years old. Fieldwork was undertaken between February 2 and 4, 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The value of investments can fall and you may get back less than you invested. No investment is suitable in all cases and if you have any doubts as to an investment's suitability then you should contact us. Any tax allowances or thresholds mentioned are based on personal circumstances and current legislation which is subject to change. The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily the views held throughout Brewin Dolphin Ltd. No Director, representative or employee of Brewin Dolphin Ltd accepts liability for any direct or consequential loss arising from the use of this document or its contents.



Does the legal Industry need a PR overhaul? Kathryn Taylor, managing partner at Gordon Brown Law Firm, talks communication strategies, brand ambassadors and changing public perceptions. ver a year into my role as managing partner and we’re starting to move out of the recession. Budgets are starting to become more accessible, firms are recruiting – in short, things are starting to look positive. The whole legal sector has gone through challenging periods in recent years, making 2015 an ideal time to bring in fresh perspective and energy. Whilst we might have a good wind behind us, a recurring bugbear of mine is the public perception of our industry, which won’t seem to go away. Frequently featuring in the ‘UK’s least trusted profession’ polls, solicitors are commonly viewed as dishonest. We are often viewed as premeditating and, at worst, corrupt – which I see as an incredibly cruel and unfair interpretation of our profession. Those working in the sector know that a solicitor’s skill set is vast and complex – detail orientated, incredibly organised and skilled in argument and cross-examination – the majority in our profession care passionately about their client’s interests and want to do a good job. So why is it still the case that we don’t have the greatest public perception? What puts


people off using a law firm? In my opinion, one strong reason is that it can be perceived as corporate and faceless. When it comes to this industry, the simple fact is, people buy from people, and a down to earth, no-nonsense attitude and approach is a must – particularly in the North East! So does the public perception of the legal industry require an overhaul? Over the past 18 months, our firm has focused on moving away from being known as ‘just a high street law firm’. We have worked hard as a team to do this by making everyone in the business accountable for marketing their individual departments and areas of expertise, and we are starting to see a shift in perceptions. In today’s transparent world, corporates have never had to be more human and gaining trust is vitally important to our customers – people want to work with organisations that are doing what they consider ‘the right thing’. With this in mind, corporate social responsibility has never been more important to us as a firm and we encourage our team to make time for the local community and causes which lie close to everyone’s hearts.


We have looked at our entire communications strategy, bringing our workforce – our brand ambassadors – to the forefront of what we do. After all, Gordon Brown Law Firm is a business named after a real person, our lawyers have personality so it’s only fitting to fling open our doors and make them real for our customers. A change in perceptions won’t happen overnight, but if you put the customer first, are willing to be open and work as a team, it will start to happen. At the core of our profession lies integrity, ethics and, perhaps most importantly, trust. We have built, and will continue to build our business on relationships – old and new – and keep our people at the core of our business strategy. It’s time for the legal industry to be given the credit it rightly deserves, and I think we all have a role to play in making sure this happens. It’s time to drop the corporate pinstripe suit and get real. For more information about Gordon Brown Law Firm, visit

LAW & FINANCE Joanne Pratt, fund manager at FW Capital

FW Capital – an alternative catalyst for growth Joanne Pratt, FW Capital’s fund manager in the North East, explains why she believes alternative funders can offer small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) a valuable source of long-term growth funding. efore the economic turmoil of 2008, funding sources for small and medium-sized businesses were limited to the banks, asset finance providers, invoice discounters and the odd public sector fund,” explains Joanne Pratt, FW Capital’s fund manager in the North East. “When FW Capital opened its first office in the North East in 2010 to manage the North East Growth Plus Fund, times were tough and many businesses were doing well to keep their heads above water. At the time, FW Capital was one of the few funders in the region offering established SMEs an alternative funding source and we saw a good selection of potential investment opportunities from the types of businesses the fund was set up to back.” Today, Joanne believes that the funding landscape is very different, with more alternative funders now providing established SMEs with much-needed funding that complements mainstream finance. She also believes they’re here to stay: “With numerous alternative funders each offering something different, choosing the right funder is a crucial decision.” She continues: “At FW Capital we encourage businesses to think carefully about the funding they need as well as the provider they choose. Making the right choice can play a critical part in their long-term success and could


alleviate problems raising funds in the future.” In 2013, FW Capital won another contract to manage the Tees Valley Catalyst Fund, a fund set up to help businesses win new contracts by providing them with short-term loan funding for performance and warranty bonds. Originally set up by Tees Valley Unlimited to assist Tees Valley-based businesses, this fund is now open to businesses across the whole of the North East. With an experienced team of investment executives based at its offices in Newcastle and Billingham, FW Capital supports businesses throughout the region by providing finance to facilitate their growth and its collaborative approach ensures that SMEs get a funding package that is right for them now as well as in the long-term, be that debt, mezzanine or equity finance. Joanne explains: “Businesses grow in many different ways and we can now offer short and long-term funding options to ensure they successfully maximise their potential. We also work closely with other funders to come up with the right finance package. “My team has forged close relationships with the businesses we invest in, their advisers as well as other funders.” FW Capital has so far made loans and other investments of over £23 million to 37 established businesses in the North East.

Businesses have used our finance for a variety of purposes including property or equipment deposits, working capital to fund growth into new markets, development of new products, staff recruitment and to take on new contracts. Joanne believes that FW Capital’s collaborative and flexible approach has resulted in some real success stories: “On average, businesses in our current portfolio have seen their turnover increase by 30 per cent*. Others have repaid our investments and attracted further growth funding from new investors. “When we assess an investment application we’re looking for a strong management team as well as robust financials and a credible business plan.” Joanne concludes: “We’re focused on the future viability, long-term success and economic impact of the businesses we invest in and we believe that businesses can best achieve this with a well-structured finance package.” With funding available to support businesses in the North East with short and long-term investment packages from the North East Growth Plus and Tees Valley Catalyst Funds, Joanne and her team are keen to discuss their growth plans with them. For more information, visit or tel (0191) 269 6969 or (01642) 343 494

*This is an analysis of its current portfolio one year following investment.



Support for social enterprises UNW helps secure almost £125,000 for North East social enterprises. usiness advisers at UNW are helping North East organisations tackling social problems, to attract investment and win contracts, after they secured substantial investment from a national fund. Newcastle-based chartered accountants UNW advised official charity of Sunderland Association Football Club, Foundation of Light; older people society Age UK North Tyneside and community resource centre Meadow Well Connected to help them gain close to a £125,000 share of the Government's Impact Readiness Fund (IRF). The new £2 million Impact Readiness Fund (IRF), managed by the Social Investment Business for the Cabinet Office, will allow the three ambitious social enterprises to better manage and evidence their performance and increase their social impact and demonstrate this to investors and commissioners. UNW partnered with Social Enterprise Acumen CIC in Durham to secure £124,111 of the national IRF pot for the North East, with a further £33,625 won for Rotherhambased deaf-led charity Deafinitions. UNW corporate finance team senior


Left to right: Kate Welch OBE DL (chief executive, Social Enterprise Acumen CIC), Jo Powell (senior manager, UNW) and Ken Teears (development director, Foundation of Light)

manager Jo Powell says: “Commissioners and funders need evidence about an organisation's social impact before they will consider appointing contracts or offering repayable investment. Without the right systems and experience, many worthy social ventures


struggle to evidence their impact. “We are delighted our social enterprise experts at UNW have been able to help social enterprises in our region solve this problem by securing them grant funding.” Social Enterprise Acumen CIC chief executive Kate Welch OBE DL adds: “These grants will play an important role in strengthening the social enterprise sector. “Social Enterprise Acumen is delighted to work with UNW and provide their experience and insight to the needs of the social enterprise sector.” Successful charity Foundation of Light was established in 2001 by former Sunderland AFC chairman Sir Bob Murray CBE, with the purpose of using the power of football to change the lives of children, young people and their families. The Foundation, which has its headquarters in the Centre of Light – a bespoke suite of classrooms and offices within the Stadium of Light – also operates from satellite centres throughout Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham. For more information, visit


Public sector rationalisation This month, Andrew Cawkwell – a partner and certified turnaround professional at Muckle LLP – looks at the options available to organisations that rely on public sector funding.


hatever the result of the election this month, we can be sure that there won’t be a sudden loosening of public service purse

strings. Public sector cutbacks will continue to one extent or another as our local authorities look to save money as budgets are restricted. In addition to this, changes that came into force in April saw the requirement for additional contributions to local government pension schemes. Faced with political uncertainty and the need to deliver more for less, it’s vital for those organisations relying on public sector funding to evaluate efficiency savings and manage their resources effectively. When faced with such pressures, the path towards restructuring organisational finances can seem like the only option. But it doesn’t have to be. Getting the right advice at the

right time can help not only to avoid insolvency but to turn things around for the better. Muckle has a wealth of experience in


insolvency and turnaround to help avoid premature liquidation and help reduce deficits. We can help you to explore viable alternatives to help organisations continue. But if insolvency does become inevitable, we can also manage the process sensitively, from start to finish, in order to get the most beneficial outcome. We support organisations to restructure operations. We can help you manage liabilities, transfer assets and recycle cash. Our common sense approach, coupled with the experience of our lawyers, means that we are well placed to guide you through the process – giving you the help you need to turn things around or to make the best of a difficult situation. For more information, email


Home or abroad – where do you turn? Asks Joanne Major of Major Family Law. odern life and the modern world means increased social mobility and opportunities for families to live and work abroad, and to own property in other countries. Many family units have an international element to them, whether by virtue of the nationalities of the parties to the marriage, or because of where they have chosen to work and live. Sadly, when problems arise within the family and relationships break down, it can be hard to know who to turn to for reliable and effective advice. Knowing which local laws and procedures apply and what rights you have can be confusing, complicated and seemingly impossible to understand. It’s not just language that can create barriers to getting the support you need: cultural differences, and lack of expert knowledge can also result in poor or incorrect advice. Getting early, authoritative advice can be a game changer in many situations, particularly where the parties are residing in a country where the relevant laws are particularly prejudicial to one of the parties. Knowing which country’s laws apply and whether there is a choice of jurisdiction can affect a number of aspects to the relationship breakdown, from where to commence divorce


proceedings (and why), to the right to return home with the children, and entitlement to financial provision. What may surprise many people is that for the purposes of family law, anything outside of England & Wales is considered a different jurisdiction and is subject to different laws. Equally, many people believe (wrongly) that once they have moved abroad, they can no longer issue divorce – or other – proceedings in an English Court. In fact, the choice of where the proceedings are issued (known as forum shopping) can be vital, not just because the grounds for divorce vary from country to country, but because the respective laws relating to financial provision and entitlement also vary widely. For this reason, it is not unheard of for couples to spend considerable amounts arguing over which country should have jurisdiction of the divorce proceedings. Within the European Union (except for Denmark), it is the case that the country in which the proceedings are first issued has jurisdiction, and therefore it can become a race to issue proceedings before the other party. Whilst all this sounds extremely cynical, it is a real and relevant consideration for many separating families, and with three times more British people living as expats in Spain than any other EU country, it is particularly relevant for


residents of the Costas. Having recognised this, Major Family Law ensures that its clients have access to immediate and expert advice specific to their individual circumstances. Advice and representation is available from our team of expert lawyers even if the parties are resident abroad, thanks to our use of Skype, FaceTime, video conferencing and other digital means of communication. In addition, we are uniquely placed to offer clients local support and advice on Spanish law thanks to our reciprocal relationship with an established firm of Spanish lawyers which has branches in Madrid, Malaga and Marbella as well as internationally, ensuring that Spanish resident expats can access the advice they need locally from English speaking lawyers in addition to our advice on English law. With a reputation for expertise in high net worth financial cases, and matters involving complex business issues, we can advise on all aspects of family and matrimonial law. Our experience in dealing with cross-border issues and our ability to conduct cases with clients based nationally and internationally make us the first port of call in international waters. For more information, tel (01661) 824 582, visit or follow @majorfamilylaw


North East business growth …driven by equity and loan finance, says Jonathan Gold, founding director of Rivers Capital Partners.

Jonathan Gold, managing director and co-founder of Rivers Capital Partners

don’t need to tell most of you that the North East is a great place to start a business. My job is to try and add to that positive statement; it’s my passion and I’d like to share it with you for a minute. In the last five years well over 1000 businesses have applied for equity and loan finance from our two funds and more than 400 have received investment. Between the North East Angel Fund, Micro Loan Fund and our private investors, our investee businesses have received a total of about £20 million. In fact, the North East has probably had more venture capital and start-up finance invested here per head that any part of the UK. A large amount of this is due to the work of North East Finance in securing £142m of UK government and European capital back in 2009. At the time of writing this, some £122m has been invested by all the Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE) funds in hundreds of SMEs across the North East. This investment has created almost 2000 new jobs and safeguarded almost 3000 across the region. In addition, a further £138m of funding has been leveraged into the region thanks to JEREMIE funding. Most, if not all, business sectors have benefited from fund investments – whether in manufacturing, information and


communications, professional, scientific and technical, services, or administrative and support services. Investment has been spread across the region, although inevitably there have been clusters around our larger urban and industrial conurbations, which includes Tees Valley where we’re also active. Our Funds come from this source, plus the Business Angel investors we have brought along. My message today is to remind everyone we need to shout about the success of these Funds and the work that North East Finance has done in securing and managing the contracts with fund managers, like me, to find the businesses and make the investments. The journey is not over as there is a further proposed £160m package for the region being planned at the moment to build on the current activity next year. These funds are important and I would urge people to support the case for these and the continuity of such investment finance for our regional businesses. Yes, I want to manage more funds, so have a vested interest here but I am passionate about the success of our region. That’s why I came here with my family in 2003 and have built Rivers Capital with my own and partner’s cash as a private venture firm doing what I know best – bidding for and investing cash. We are still very busy investing the remaining £2m of the Micro Loan, one bit at a time into small and micro businesses that just


need simple loans from £1000 to £25,000. The North East Angel Fund is also doing deals and we are working on helping the businesses we already have to make a success of the cash. The Micro Loan process is a simple one designed for businesses needing cash to buy some new equipment or help with working capital. All you need is a good little business, and customers paying you enough so you can convince us you can pay the interest and capital. We make decisions within two weeks of your application and expect to make at least 200 loans this year. The North East Angel Fund is traditional venture capital – money in exchange for shares in your business. Here, we are risk takers and need you to be ambitious to grow. However, don’t just think it’s not for you, we are happy to have an early discussion to help you decide. Indeed for this and the Micro Loan Fund we provide free training courses to help you understand the whole area of raising cash. So, next time someone says they can’t find investment remind them it’s out there, come and see us and put in a good word for North East Finance and the JEREMIE Funds with your MP, Euro MP, Council, LEP and the Government. For more information, tel (0191) 230 6370 or visit


Leathers LLP hosts charity dinner Leathers LLP Chartered Accountants hosted a charity dinner at Kingston Park as part of its 25-year anniversary celebrations.


n July, Michael Leather, joined by a team from the office, will cycle over 2000 miles of the Tour De France, aiming to raise ÂŁ50,000 in support of the William Wates Memorial Trust, which helps disadvantaged children across the UK. The dinner was a great success and raised ÂŁ10,221 towards this target. Team Leathers would like to thank everybody who supported the event. www.howdoyoucelebrate25yearsin




'Silver' divorcees – a growing trend Teresa Davidson, partner in the family and matrimonial team at Ward Hadaway, looks at the key issues facing older divorcees. here has been a large amount of press regarding older life divorces and so-called ‘silver’ divorcees. The experience of family lawyers at Ward Hadaway is supported by the statistics. These show that the age of individuals when they marry is increasing, but also that the proportion of divorcees in the over-60 age group is going up. There may be a wide variety of reasons for this development. Reported reasons include: • Longer life expectancy and the attitude that ‘60 is the new 40’ • The ‘right to be happy’ – particularly once children have grown up and have their own lives • The increased financial independence of women who have their own careers, and increased ability to support themselves on divorce. From a legal perspective, couples divorcing after 20, 30 or 40 years of marriage often have a more secure asset base from which to start their new independent lives. This can mean, however, that the assets being divided are more complex and pensions in particular will be key for older divorcees.


They will have less time, if any, in employment to rebuild their pensions postdivorce and often financial and specialist pension advice is key to ensuring that an individual is going to be protected in their retirement, and that there are no surprises for them.


Careful consideration of pensions is likely to be increasingly key with the new pensions freedoms (which came into effect in April) and which mean individuals who are at least 55 can have much greater access to their pension pots. Financial differences between older and younger divorcees can also mean that if a couple separate in their later years, that it is worth considering carefully whether they should divorce or not. There may be no imperative, such as the impending re-marriage or one or both parties, and the best financial option might be to continue to remain married, but to live separately. At Ward Hadaway our team are both sympathetic and pragmatic and can provide the advice needed to ensure that anyone contemplating such a serious change to their lives has the information to make the best decision for their future. For more information, contact Teresa Davidson on or tel (0191) 204 4350


Admirable ambition, will it work in reality? Vinay Bedi, executive director at UBS Wealth Management, looks at Martha Lane Fox’s vision of making us the most digital nation in the world. was reflecting on the old TMT (technology, media and telecom) bubble the other day, probably spurred on by Martha Lane Fox giving the Richard Dimbleby lecture on the BBC recently. You might recall, Martha was one of the stars of the technology sector during boom time, not least for her flotation of, a phrase that has almost become part of our vernacular nowadays. Martha has become known as something of a guru within the tech industry and she actually used the Dimbleby lecture opportunity to call upon the Government to set up a new national institution to help make us the most ‘digital’ nation on the planet. Her argument was basically that we still need to help educate people from all walks of life about the internet. She went on to quote late activist Aaron Swartz who said that “it's not okay not to understand the internet anymore”. Martha Lane Fox estimates that ten million adults do not have the basic digital skills to enjoy the benefits of being online. I found this figure a bit staggering yet vaguely plausible. I know an awful lot of people of my parents' generation who have made significant efforts


to train themselves and understand the internet. However, the let-down often seems to be when it comes to operating systems, especially from home. Home technology support, the guidance, the simple help, just doesn't seem to be readily available or affordable. How many of you have had a problem with your computer or laptop and not been able to find anyone


who can help you at home without charging corporate rates? How many of you know of relatives with dusty old PCs sitting in the house that they have not been able to get repaired or operating properly? Technology services are almost becoming commoditised for the big players but the at home availability of help, repairs and guidance, just doesn't seem to be there. It is almost as if techies are becoming the new plumbers…you just can't get one when you need one, and when you do, you get seriously overcharged. So, all power to Martha Lane Fox. Let's hope her ideas work; let's hope we really do become the most digitally enabled country on the planet. But let's also be realistic. It's all very well putting all data on to the internet and having the internet embedded in your home appliances. But it is worse than useless if the target market is unable to access or use it! For more information, visit For information purposes only. This feature does not reflect a UBS offer or solicitation of an offer to make any investment.


All change for small businesses Jonathan Waters, corporate partner at Hay & Kilner, on the impact of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act.

EXPERT VIEW Jonathan Waters Corporate partner Hay & Kilner Tel: (0191) 232 8345 Email:

he Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill received Royal Assent on March 26 and brings significant changes to the disclosure requirements of private companies, as well as altering the position of both corporate and shadow directors. Here are a few of the key changes you should consider.


New PSC Register – people with significant control From January 2016, companies will be required to complete and maintain a new public register, setting out those persons with "significant control" over the company. The register is to include personal details (name and address, date of birth), the date on which that person became registerable (i.e. obtained significant control) and the nature of their control or interest in the company. What is meant by "significant control” is – broadly speaking – those having either alone or jointly with others: • More than 25 per cent of a company's shares; or • More than 25 per cent of the voting rights; or • The rights to appoint, remove or control the majority of the board of directors. It also includes those who have the right to exercise “significant influence or control over the company”. Quite what this means is uncertain, and will no doubt be the subject of expert discussion. The spirit of the new register is, however, clear – companies are to disclose who owns and controls them, including whether this is through a trust, nominee agreement or shareholders agreement. It is likely that many of these existing arrangements / agreements were intended to be

private, so companies will need to consider any implications of this register.

that their failure to exercise the right of surrender was due to "exceptional circumstances".

Annual returns

Corporate directors and shadow directors

Companies will no longer need to file annual returns as of April 2016. Instead, companies are to provide a confirmation statement to Companies House affirming that they have delivered all information required for the preceding year. Information which companies will have to supply to Companies House to be able to make this statement will include details of any change to their registered office or the company registers.

The Act requires all directors to be natural persons. No new corporate directors can be appointed, and after the transitional phase of a year, any remaining corporate directors will be abolished. This will impact particularly heavily on group companies, dormant companies and those used by trusts. Finally, the general duties of directors will now also apply to shadow directors.

At a glance

Company books Once in force, companies will have the choice of alternate record keeping so instead of housing the statutory registers in company books, companies can keep the information at Companies House. This will no doubt make life easier for many companies, removing the need to keep and maintain those registers separately.

Bearer shares The Act abolishes the issue of new bearer shares and holders of existing bearer shares will have nine months to surrender these for conversion into registered shares. Companies are obliged to apply to court to cancel any bearer shares not surrendered within the nine months and to pay into court the amount of share capital paid up, plus any accrued dividends. This can be claimed for up to three years by the holder provided they can show

• Implications of the new PSC Register – all persons with significant control will need to be publically disclosed, regardless of whether this is set out in a previously private agreement. • Bearer shares – these will need to be surrendered by holders within nine months of implementation. Otherwise, companies will need to apply to court for cancellation. • Corporate directors – these will be abolished one year from implementation and companies will need to ensure that suitable replacements are appointed, if appropriate. • Shadow directors – will also be subject to the general duties of directors.

Specific dates for implementation are not given within the Act therefore proposed implementation dates contained in this article are based on previous draft Bills and parliamentary discussion.



Investment ready A guide to ISAs, investments and pensions, by Sunderland-based financial adviser Joe Bonallie of Inspire Financial.

EXPERT VIEW Joe Bonallie Financial adviser Inspire Financial Tel: (0191) 516 6326

his month I want to talk about Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs), investments and the changes to pensions that came into effect in April 2015 – the most drastic to date – and what these changes mean. First, a word on investments and in particular, ISAs. While cash ISAs appear to be a good way of saving money for some individuals, it should be noted that the spending power of these savings accounts has greatly dropped thanks to inflation, since they were introduced in 1999. The current low interest rate, which is expected to stay low for the foreseeable future means that some may prefer investing in a stocks and shares ISA as opposed to a cash ISA. Doing so would mean that you would avoid the effects of inflation on your savings. But, as always, there isn’t a one size fits all solution to ISA investments. It’s a good job then that in July 2014, legislation was passed that means if a stocks and shares ISA isn’t for you, or if there is a change in interest rates, you are free to swap back to a cash ISA. It should be noted, however, that the maximum ISA allowance for the 2015/2016 tax year is £15,240. The tax efficiency of ISAs is based on current rules and the current tax situation may not be maintained. Plus, the benefit of the tax treatment depends on


individual circumstances. Although there is no fixed term, you should consider stocks and shares ISAs to be a medium to long-term investment of ideally five years or more. Bear in mind that the value of your stocks and shares ISA and any income from it may fall as well as rise and is not guaranteed. You may get back less than you invest. As I mentioned in my introduction, pensions have seen some of the biggest changes in recent years and there is quite a lot to take in. So I’m going to break down the major points. From the age of 55, you will now be given flexible access to your pension. You can choose one of three options: 1. Take the whole pension pot as one lump sum, 25 per cent of which will be tax free, with the remaining 75 per cent taxed as income at your marginal rate of tax. 2. Take smaller chunks of the pot whenever you like. Again, 25 per cent of each withdrawal will be tax free with the remainder taxed as income at your marginal rate of tax. 3. Take 25 per cent of the pot tax free, with a regular taxable income from the rest (drawdown) which can be taken directly from the pension fund, or purchase an annuity which will provide a secure income for life.


There are a few things to take into consideration – Income Drawdown carries significant investment risk as your future retirement income remains totally dependent on your pension fund performance. You should remember that if you access your tax free cash early, the benefits will be less than if you wait until your planned retirement age. Therefore, pension release may only suit a limited number of people. The change that is likely to cause the greatest dilemma is point three, which does sound a little overwhelming when you look at it for the first time. The big question here is, drawdown or annuity? Choosing drawdown will mean you are given the freedom to withdraw cash from your pot when and as you wish. There is the chance that your money may run out, however, the greater flexibility it offers, enabling you to take what you want year-onyear, may be perfect for you. The alternative is choosing an annuity. This will provide you with a secure, fixed income for the rest of your life. They are suitable for pots of any size, however there are negatives with this option, too. Once you take out an annuity – you are locked into it, you cannot benefit from positive investment returns, and you lose control of, and access to, the pension fund.


Orchestral tax relief – music to our ears? Stuart McKinnon, partner at Baker Tilly North East, profiles the tax reliefs extending to UK orchestras next year.

n the March Budget, the Chancellor confirmed that he is going to extend the tax reliefs currently available to the creative arts of theatre, high-end television, animation, video games and film to UK orchestras. Although the number of people attending live performances in the UK is on the increase, orchestras are having a tough time and have seen their revenues fall by 11 per cent. To help reverse this trend the new tax relief (introduced from April 1, 2016) will give enhanced tax relief for certain qualifying expenditure. This expenditure will be that directly incurred in the creation and development of an orchestral performance. It will, for instance, cover the costs of rehearsal space and travel and subsistence to performances, but not the cost of the performance itself. For profitable companies this means a reduction in their tax bill. For those companies not making money, they can surrender any loss


EXPERT VIEW Stuart McKinnon Partner at Baker Tilly North East Tel: (0191) 255 7000 Email: Web:

arising from the qualifying expenditure for a payment from HMRC; a so called repayable credit. This repayable credit will also be available to companies not within the charge to corporation tax. This could be because they are established as not-for-profit or perhaps charitable. As with all new tax reliefs, there will be anti avoidance measures but they mainly revolve around ‘what is an orchestra?’. The proposed definition is that there must be at least 12 members who usually perform and have at least one instrument from four sections (string, woodwind, percussion and brass). Rock and pop performances are generally excluded but the occasional performance of rock and pop pieces will not preclude the relief. This new relief is a welcome enhancement of the creative arts reliefs which have, by and large, been well received and are seen as carefully targeted to encourage and maintain employment in what many see as our cultural heritage.

Property protection BHP Law shares its advice on looking after your assets for the benefit of others.

lthough the general advice is to have an up-to-date Will that specifies where assets are to go on death, property owners may feel it does not offer enough protection. Lydia McCaslin, of regional law firm BHP Law explains: “Family make-up is often complicated and disputes over property when someone dies are not uncommon. “Homeowners may be faced with a situation where there are children from a second marriage, or they may simply wish that the assets they have worked for, such as the family home, be protected for the benefit of their chosen beneficiaries.” In these situations, Lydia recommends that people set up a trust during their lifetime into which their property can be placed. She explains: “Placing your property into trust should ensure that, ultimately, it passes to the people you want after your death, according to the terms of the trust.

benefit, then the trust can be used to protect their intended inheritance.” Homeowners are allowed to remain living in the property that they put into trust and should they choose to move, the money can be used to purchase another property. In addition, the use of a trust can, at times, have additional benefits in terms of the mitigation of care home fees for the elderly. Lydia adds: “On your death, the house or the money from the trust would pass in accordance with the terms of the trust, rather than as part of your estate to be dealt with under your Will. This can often make the probate process less complicated and will hopefully avoid family disputes.”


Lydia McCaslin, of BHP Law

“If you wish to benefit a surviving spouse and partner but also have children from a previous relationship that you would like to


Lydia will be holding a presentation on this topic at BHP Law’s Quayside office on May 13. For more information contact (0191) 221 0898 or email


Sport Newcastle 38th Annual Dinner 2015 The sports charity hosts its annual dinner and awards evening.


port Newcastle celebrated its 38th Intu Annual Dinner in the Banqueting Suite at Newcastle Civic Centre with a glittering array of the future Rising Stars of Sport and an impressive collection of the ‘sporting greats’ to support youngsters, including Alan Shearer, Steve Harmison, Glenn McCrory, Steve Black and Fab Flournoy to name a few. With a theme of the Rugby World Cup, it was fitting that Jonny Wilkinson and Steve Black jointly received the Sports Personality Trophy. Graham Wylie received the Wilkinson Sword for his outstanding contribution to sport and fundraising with the golf seniors at Close House and the Transplant Games.



Cycling towards success An update from Team Leathers as they prepare to take part in the Tour de Force this June, which covers 3344km, to raise £50,000 for the William Wates Memorial Trust.

James Swiers In the last few months the challenge that I've signed up for has really started to test my nerves and has really pushed me to head out on the bike whatever the weather. There's been some eventful group rides (with blood, sweat and tears) but it seems everyone is rising to the challenge.

Chris Smith The past five months have been quite tough, not just in terms of the physical training, but also juggling time commitments. This has, however, been far outweighed by the high points, and I’m really starting to feel the benefits of improved fitness, and a two-stone weight loss.

Ryan Harrison The past five months have been a learning curve – I’m not the fastest puncture repairman in the west but I’m no longer the slowest. I’ve also learnt how important it is to put the right food in your body – two English muffins smothered in Philadelphia don’t sit well 30 minutes before a 60 mile bike ride.

Jonathan Leather

Jonathan Carr

Michael Leather

I’m not going to lie – the last five months have been tough, trying to balance cycling, work, exams and a social life. Despite the difficulty and falling off while out on the Coast to Coast, my confidence on the bike has improved and I am starting to feel I’m on the right track to achieving this huge challenge.

I would say, so far, we’ve really just enjoyed the experience. It has been very surprising how much all of us have taken to cycling as a sport. Before we started, there was only a few of us who cycled or even owned a road bike, but we have all been taken aback by how much we love just getting out on the bike.

Highs and lows: weight down (massively; I’ve had a haircut); miles covered in training – 4840; calories burned in training – 169,000; two tyres, one bike worn out; slowest speed – 2mph; fastest speed – 53mph (clearly that was up hill!). The funniest and scariest moment was riding in the rain because I couldn’t see the tyres for the rain in the road.

Barry James

Neil Matthews

Becky Scott

Saying you are going to do something and actually doing it are two entirely different things. Training is hard, rides are hard, hills are hard, wind is hard, but there’s always that sense of achievement when you’ve finished. That’s what’s keeping me going!

I have spent a considerable amount of time on the cold winter days and nights on the turbo trainer, which has significantly increased my fitness and resulted in some much needed weight loss. The low point was my accident which resulted in a fractured elbow and put me out of action, other than on the turbo, for five weeks.

I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a child, so this was maybe something I should have considered before signing up to cycle over 560km in three days across France. Rides can be hard, tiring and lonely, but equally each ride comes with a massive sense of achievement when you realise just how far you have come.

For more information about the Leathers Tour, visit For general queries, visit



How to get your debtors to pay up By Sharon Smith, senior director at Carr & Co Solicitors.

o, you have issued court proceedings; the judge gave judgment in your favour and even awarded you some costs. Things should be looking pretty rosy, but now comes the hard part: getting the money. The judgment will usually say when the money has to be paid by, but if it isn’t paid in accordance with the order there are a number of options open to you. If your debtor owns their own home you can apply for a Charging Order on their property so that you will be paid from the proceeds of a sale. If you’re unsure what assets they have, you can require them to provide details to the court of all of their assets and debts. It may disclose that they have bank accounts – you can then apply to have payments made directly from these. An order can also be obtained so that regular deductions from the debtor’s wages are paid directly to you; and for debts of more than £750, an application can be made to make them bankrupt. The moral of the story is to, wherever possible, avoid debts arising in the first place through good credit control; have in place terms and conditions which protect you as far as possible and award you interest on monies outstanding.


For more information, visit or call (01670) 351 251.

Termination by email …check the contractual provisions, says Niall Head-Rapson, partner and leading IP specialist at McDaniel & Co.

n the online world we now find ourselves in, often we send emails to place an order or cancel a restaurant booking, believing that action to be sufficiently binding. However, because email has taken over from fax as the usual method of communicating, it does not mean that parties can assume formal notices can be served that way. The recent case of Ticket2Final v Wigan Athletic AFC highlights the need for parties to a contract to comply fully with any formal notice provisions in the contract when they seek to terminate it. In addition, it makes clear that parties should make express contractual provision if they want notices to be validly served by email. Ticket2Final (T2F) and Wigan entered into an agreement where, in return for a substantial fee, T2F would receive advertising opportunities and be able to sell ticket options for Wigan games. Wigan confirmed in the agreement that it had the power and authority to perform its contractual obligations, which included the supply of the tickets to T2F. When the time came to supply tickets, Wigan failed to do so and


T2F claimed for breach of contract and also for misrepresentation. Wigan counter-argued that it had terminated the contract due to late payments by T2F. The contract entitled Wigan to terminate if T2F failed to pay any sums due and the sums remained outstanding for seven days following notice.


However, a formal notice clause in the contract required notices to be given in a prescribed manner. For example, either in writing delivered by hand or first class post to the registered office, or sent by fax. Wigan failed to comply with this clause when it demanded payment before termination but argued that the notice clause did not apply to a notice demanding payment and also that there was an implied term arising from the parties’ conduct that formal notices could be given by email. The judge disagreed and pointed out that one of the purposes of this clause required notices to be served in a specific way, particularly those which might result in the contract being terminated. In those circumstances, the party receiving the notice is in no doubt as to its importance. This case highlights the necessity of complying fully with notice provisions when attempting to terminate a contract. It also makes clear that parties should make express contractual provision if they wish notices to be validly served by email.


Pensions: new landscape, new investment thinking? Portfolio manager Helen Johnson shares key findings from research commissioned by Sanlam Private Wealth.

EXPERT VIEW Helen Johnson Portfolio manager Sanlam Private Wealth Tel: (0191) 300 9242 Email:

he new pension freedoms have caused much discussion, so we thought we would share some of our research and solutions for your pension portfolio. At the end of last year we commissioned some original research to identify the key themes that would be essential to address when we build portfolios for clients in retirement. We commissioned Dr Paul Cox of Birmingham University (also an adviser to the National Employment Savings Trust and a chief examiner for the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment) to undertake this work for us. Although our research showed that income often outstrips expenditure in retirement years, inflation does remain an issue. Whilst recent inflation has been at consistently low levels not only is there a potential for an increase back to nearer the average of recent years (just south of three per cent), the inflation rate that applies to retirees can be significantly higher due to the types of expenses they incur. Unless the plan is to ‘blow out’ the pension fund as quickly as possible (and for a few this may be the right thing to do) then we have to invest for the long-term, using a strategy that


addresses the twin issues of longevity and inflation. Whilst these two key factors tend to demand investment in assets that can preserve and grow their real value, any retirement portfolio needs to be attuned to the needs and preferences of the investor(s). With all of this in mind we modelled a wide range of possible outcomes based on the assets bought and sold, levels of risk inherent in the portfolio, level of income drawn, timing of those withdrawals and longevity of the couple. The results found that when trying to deliver a level of income that is anything other than minimal, there is no ideal portfolio. Some key points did however emerge: • Never find yourself in the position of being a forced seller of investments after a bad first year – at best this means your fund will run out sooner than an investor that has a positive first year • Gilts cannot be considered a safe haven; they were the only asset class modelled to have had five consecutive years of negative returns in our historic data set • Do look at dividend paying equities as these

cashflows reduce risk to overall returns, provided they are not automatically reinvested in the same ‘risky assets’ that generated them • Diversification is good but if this compromises a strategy to generate consistent, distributable income and more stable capital values then for ‘at retirement’ investing this may not be as important as for ‘preretirement’ investing. Our research led us to think about the application of ‘risk profiles’ to a portfolio that, in retirement, has more than one moving part. We concluded that based on our findings and experience of clients’ views a ‘layered approach’ may be more appropriate, where we have developed a three tier model with each layer meeting short, medium and long-term needs in turn, with a focus on higher yielding, quality, global stocks. We believe that each of our client’s retirements are different so we place emphasis on building an investment strategy that suits you and your needs. A bespoke solution blends an individual strategy that directly reflects your own personal requirement for income and your own personal tax situation.

This article is for information purposes and should not be treated as a forecast, research or advice to buy or sell any particular investment or to adopt any investment strategy. The value of investments may fall as well as rise. Investors may not get back the original amount invested. Sanlam Private Wealth is a trading name of Sanlam Private Investments (UK) Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.



Do your research in R&D tax relief claims By Anthony Andreasen, director at RMT Accountants & Business Advisors.

EXPERT VIEW Anthony Andreasen Director RMT Accountants & Business Advisors Tel: (0191) 256 9500 Email: Web:

here's no reason why UK – and indeed North East – companies shouldn't be right up there with the best in the world when it comes to innovative research and technology. Thanks to the Government's research and development (R&D) tax relief scheme for SMEs and an array of grant funding opportunities, financial assistance is never far away. However, while grants and R&D tax relief might both sound like the answer to your funding prayers, they aren't always compatible. They can be combined to provide immediate cash flow and greater returns in the long-term, but SMEs need to take great care that they organise this properly or problems could arise. As things stand, if a given company receives even a penny of notified state aid for any part of an R&D project, it's automatically excluded from claiming R&D tax relief under the SME scheme.


For the SME scheme, R&D tax relief is regarded as state aid itself, and accessing it would push recipients into the much less generous Large Company (LC) scheme. Instead of being able to deduct up to 225 per cent of qualifying expenditure when calculating their profit for tax purposes, they would have to make do with the 130 per cent ceiling level offered by the LC scheme. Even a subsidy from a source other than state aid will have an effect – any parts of the project you've funded yourself can go through the SME scheme, but all subsidised expenditure must go through the LC scheme. Whether you'd be better off with a grant, R&D tax relief or a combination of both depends on two things – your eligible expenditure and the size of the grant on offer. There's a fairly easy case to make for accepting a large grant of, say, £250,000 towards R&D expenditure, but when figures are smaller, the judgement on which route to take can be more finely balanced and the


calculations required need to be more detailed. There are, of course, some exceptions to the rule. Grant funding won't, for example, affect your ability to claim under the R&D tax relief SME scheme if the grant is used to fund an area of the project, such as marketing or commercialisation, which doesn't fall under HMRC's definition of R&D. There are other issues to consider when weighing up the relative merits of grants and R&D tax relief – money received upfront versus claimed retrospectively, very strict versus relatively open eligibility criteria, and an expectation of success versus an acceptance of failure. As ever, when it comes to taxation, there's rarely an easy answer to be found, but with the right amount of careful consideration and appropriate advice, both grants and R&D tax relief can make a massive difference to North East companies' financial arrangements and commercial success.


Cash flow planning Simon Landale, director at Lycetts, profiles the company’s new state-of-the-art financial planning service.

s Benjamin Franklin once said: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” No one knows exactly what is around the corner in life, but most of us have certain goals and ambitions or targets we would like to meet which require financing. This might be sending the children to private school, paying for a daughter’s wedding or taking the holiday of a lifetime. Alternatively it could be the more mundane but necessary lifetime commitments such as planning for a comfortable retirement or deciding when and how to pass things on to the next generation. Whatever your own personal agenda, a new state-of-the-art financial planning service from Lycetts provides an invaluable tool to assist with this process. A short personal assessment of your current financial position, plus your future desires and needs, is all that is required. Using current market data it can be used to accurately forecast income, expenditure, assets


and liabilities throughout your lifetime. This information can prove invaluable in helping to determine the correct timescale to dispose of assets and make other key decisions. It is also


reactive, responding to unforeseen events (such as a sudden change in interest rates or similar) and forecasting the personal impact on an individual. The new freedom and choice in pensions, which came into effect in April, now allows much more flexibility in how pension income is taken for all, with the ability to strike a balance between a basic guaranteed income and additional variable amounts, depending on circumstances as they arise. This service can help you judge this balance so that you save enough while working to make sure the necessities are taken care of in retirement and you can then decide how and when to spend the rest of your pension fund. This new assessment tool is likely to be of interest to anyone with a wish to have more certainty, from young professionals to those nearing retirement. For more information, tel (0191) 232 1151 or email


All change at Waterstons North East-based business and technology consultancy Waterstons Limited unveils its new marketing strategy.


ow celebrating over 21 years in business, Waterstons is set to relaunch its brand and services into the market with a fresh marketing strategy, under the new leadership of Susan Bell. The business has spent two years growing and investing in new people with a diverse range of consultancy and specialist technical skills, expanding into additional office space in Durham. Now Waterstons is about to embark on a new large-scale integrated marketing campaign, the ‘Five Three One’ campaign, which includes a new website and brand identity to reflect the culture and values that make Waterstons unique. Susan Bell, CEO of Waterstons, said: “We’re really excited about re-launching our services and brand into the marketplace. For years our customers have been telling us that we’re one of the region’s best kept business secrets. Following a period of consistent growth we’re now ready to showcase to the wider

business community what we excel at!” Set up in 1994 by Mike and Sally Waterston, from humble beginnings in the basement of their home, Waterstons now has over 80 staff and three offices, including a London base and operates nationwide.

With Susan’s appointment as CEO, Sally and Mike remain directors of the company, but have more time to mentor staff in order to ensure that the values they built the company on are ingrained in the company’s future.

Tech experts hit a six at Durham County Cricket Club

Two business software specialists join forces

French software company launches first UK site


urham County Cricket Club has made its first signing of the new season in a three year deal with technology expert ITPS, which will see the club switch to cloud technology to get a better return on its IT investment and strengthen its data backup and security arrangements. The contract sees ITPS take responsibility for day to day support of the ICT infrastructure of the club and its charity arm the DCC Foundation, including backup of systems and data to ITPS’s new £4 million data centre in Chester le Street, via cloud services.

Susan Bell, CEO and Michael Stirrup, finance director at Waterstons


olutions for Accounting, a Top 10 Sage Business Partner with offices at Newburn Riverside, Newcastle, has merged with customer relationship management (CRM) specialist BluebirdCRM. The merger will complement the range of Sage business software products Solutions for Accounting provides and supports, while positioning the company as one of the UK’s largest resourced providers of ACT! and Sage CRM software. Iain Barker, managing director at Solutions for Accounting, said: “Every business can benefit from an effective CRM system and the team at BluebirdCRM will significantly enhance our capability to support clients in this regard.”



ne of Europe’s leading software consultancies has chosen the North East as the location to launch its first UK site, creating at least 50 jobs along the way. Infotel UK, a subsidiary of Infotel SA (France) listed on the Euronext Paris Exchange, is opening a UK branch in North Shields, which is set to deliver a major boost to the region’s local economy. Eric Fabretti, director of commercial activity, based at Infotel SA said: “We are delighted to be opening an office in the UK and the North East is the ideal location given the region’s impressive technology sector and skills base, which we know first-hand from previous collaboration with software experts in the area.”

TECHNOLOGY Andy Hunter, technical director at ITPS

How secure is your business data? Andy Hunter, technical director at ITPS, shares his top tips on protecting your company’s data. recent report from PWC detailing a cost of between £65,000 and £115,000 for a security breach has seen business owners put IT security firmly at the top of their ‘to do’ list. Even the smallest of businesses is likely to have a website and use smartphones, tablets, apps and social media, with many of them also trading via ecommerce and cloud services as well as coping with mobile working and the issues that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) can present. If you think cyber-attacks are bad news for big businesses like eBay, which in February prompted its 145 million users to change their passwords following an attack, spare a thought for SMEs, who lack access to the resources and expertise of their bigger counterparts. In security terms, it is not a case of if a breach happens, but when it happens. Most businesses underestimate risk when they should be considering how they calculate and mitigate potential security risks, whether they are accidental or malicious. If you don’t know where to start or haven’t got the time or the expertise to do it yourself, the best advice I can give is to find yourself an expert partner you can trust, and who has the experience and the track record to create and implement a strategy that protects your business. Your partner will start by doing a security audit, but meanwhile there are a few key points to take into consideration.


Backup: If you don’t backup your data securely,

preferably holding the data off-site or at least in a combination of on and off-site locations, there is a good chance that you will one day lose it. All the security in the world will not help you in this case. Control: Make sure you understand where your data is stored, and how it is accessed. The safest models involve using data centre services, which are cost effective for even the smallest of businesses. Look for a partner whose data centres are at least Tier 3 and ISO27001certified, to give you confidence that the highest security standards are maintained. This will include multi-layered physical security including 24/7 manning, video surveillance and biometrics access, plus IT network protection using best in class technology such as Cisco’s network security and monitoring tools that detect and block threats before they happen. Consider cloud: The growth in cloud services has made secure ICT affordable, even to small and micro businesses. Cloud simply means any IT resource provided over the public internet or via dedicated private communications links, so you could create an IT model around part public and part private cloud, keeping your data safe in the hands of experts. Policies: Create and implement policies so that your staff understand the important role they have to play in maintaining data security. Even the smallest businesses should have a firewall, anti-virus software and email spam filters, and be updating them regularly to


protect against the basic threats. Mobile working: Customer expectations are higher than ever, and with anywhere, anytime connectivity fast becoming the standard model of business working, you need to balance that availability with protection. Make sure you have a policy on updating company-owned and personal mobile devices such as mobiles and tablets that connect to your networks, and that everyone follows it. Stay up-to-date: Hackers are dedicated to the job and are constantly coming up with new ways to break through your defences. A BBC report estimated that 250,000 variants of viruses are in circulation every day. Most people are familiar with basic levels of threat, such as hackers trying to steal client details and business data or get access to your bank account. But more sophisticated threats are constantly being developed such as invoice fraud, ransomware (which prevents users from accessing their systems until a ransom is paid), website scraping software and cross-site scripting attacks, which see users redirected to fake sites designed to steal their credentials. Your IT partner should be up-to-date on the latest threats and how to protect you from them. My final tip is to be proactive rather than reactive. Prevention is a whole lot easier, and more cost-effective, than cure. For more information visit, email or tel: (0191) 442 8300


Recruiting and retaining the very best talent at Perfect Image People are behind the success of Perfect Image, explains company CEO, Andrew Robson. ’m often asked what the secret to Perfect Image’s success is. The answer is our people. Every day, each person individually lives and breathes our values, creating a culture of cooperation and collaboration, helping us to achieve our vision of bringing business benefits to our clients through the intelligent use of IT. Of course, we couldn’t do our jobs without the latest tools and technologies, but ultimately it is our employees, with their experience and expertise, that allows us to offer our clients an exceptional end-to-end service. As well as the traditional roles you’d associate with an IT consultancy – like software developers and infrastructure engineers – Perfect Image also affords people non-IT related career opportunities. From admin and accounts to HR, there are many challenging and rewarding nontechnical roles at our company. Regardless of job title, at Perfect Image we know that our people are the driving force behind the continued success of the company, and that is why recruitment and staff retention is a priority for us. We want Perfect Image to be a place where people want to work. We recently unveiled the findings of our latest staff survey as part of a company-wide


presentation, and I’m delighted to say that the results were extremely positive. We asked all of our employees if they were proud to work at Perfect Image and a staggering 98 per cent said yes. Reflecting on the comments from the survey, staff highlighted the people, the culture, feeling valued and working with talented people as reasons why they liked working at Perfect Image. The key feature of the findings was that our team valued the career progression, and the training and development opportunities available to them, and this was extremely encouraging. At Perfect Image we want to enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with each and every one of our employees. That’s why recruiting the right people into the team is an integral part of our company strategy. We offer a high quality service and want to help our customers through a consultative process, so as well as hiring people with the right level of skill for their role, we also place a huge level of importance on attitude when appointing. Of course, once we have the right person in place, we then aim to develop and retain this talent within the business. We were delighted that so many of our employees made a positive


reference to the career progression and training and development opportunities as part of the staff satisfaction survey – clearly this is important to our people and it’s great news that we are more than meeting this need. So much so, many members of the team have been with Perfect Image for several years, progressing through the business. For example, William Donkin joined the business as a graduate developer and has worked his way up through the positions of developer and senior developer to be promoted to his new position of team leader. Similarly, Lyndsey Falcus joined the company in 2006 as a receptionist, and since then, has worked her way up while retraining to become our head of service desk. It’s an exciting time at Perfect Image; as well the excellent staff satisfaction results we’re also recruiting to meet the needs of our growing company. It’s a pleasure watching our employees develop and grow – like William and Lyndsey – and I’m looking forward to watching the new recruits enjoy the same journey over the coming years. For more information about careers at Perfect Image, visit:


Technologically savvy pupils from St Aidan’s Catholic Academy in Sunderland

Newcastle firm shows the Calibre of its education expertise Education is rapidly changing and one company delivering the IT systems that will secure the classroom of the future is Newcastle-based Calibre Secured Networks Ltd, which has expanded to new offices as it gears up to target the schools’ market with new resources and additional expertise. nvestment in new premises is driving success for Calibre as it continues to expand under a three-year growth strategy. The ambitious firm, which provides ICT solutions and advice, is aiming to double its turnover within the next year on the back of relocating to high tech office space at The Core on Bath Lane. Operating from the heart of Newcastle’s Science City heralds exciting times for a firm busier than ever before – the future’s also bright for clients who are benefiting from Calibre’s investment in resources, creative talent and future technologies as they, too, go for growth. Underpinning Calibre’s ongoing success is its work in the education sector where it boasts a demonstrable track record of delivering groundbreaking IT solutions for schools right across the region. The pace of change in education is unbelievable, says Steve Nelson, technical operations director at Calibre: “Technology is at the forefront of revolutionising the way young people are taught and engaged in the whole scholastic process – today’s learning environments are exciting, collaborative, innovative and fully interactive.” Nowhere is this more evident than at schools such as Dubmire Primary, St Aidan’s


Catholic Academy and Washington School where Calibre’s technical expertise and understanding of the education sector are delivering real change. At Dubmire Primary School, in Houghtonle-Spring, Steve and his team have taken the initiative, leading the way with a state-of-the-art solution utilising the advantages of the latest cloud network technology as the backbone for new Wi-Fi internet, firewall and platform services that are providing teachers with secure remote access to IT services. Hand-in-hand with this, is a new bring your own device (BYOD) strategy that’s opening up access to learning for the children. But the ultimate testament will be the lasting legacy left by the IT in terms of providing an enhanced learning environment where pupils’ lives are enriched by better, faster and safer access to an abundance of online, digital and interactive learning resources and support wherever they are and whatever time of day it is. IT manager at Dubmire Primary School, Paul Baxter says: “Enriched online services are propelling the school forward to a new age in education and teaching. Everyone feels empowered by the opportunities opening up to us through the provision of fast, reliable and accessible IT services and technology.”


It’s also a vision shared by Glenn Sanderson, head of Key Stage 4 at St Aidan’s Catholic Academy in Sunderland, where a cloud-based wireless network and data storage system has been installed by Calibre. He’s looking at a future where technology will impact more and more positively on school life – and Calibre will be there driving through the application of best solutions and technology. Glenn explains: “We believe that we are in the vanguard of changing the way schools embrace technology and exploit the potential of learning provision through mobile devices. It’s a very exciting time for us and the chance to build with our partner Calibre on something dynamic for the future well-being of the school and the students, is one to savour.” Calibre’s experience and expertise enables it to deliver tailored solutions and flexible payment options for schools and other education providers operating on limited budgets. Packages include cost effective Enterprise Class IT solutions which meet the demanding requirements of the school environment to deliver from the start, scalable, resilient, robust and future proof systems. For more information, visit for a free audit of your current infrastructure.


Data security: is your reputation at risk? Asks Pete Watson, CEO of hosted desktop specialists Atlas Cloud. ith 90 per cent of the world’s data having been generated over the last couple of years and the cost of data breaches almost doubling over the past year, data security is becoming paramount. However, many business owners are unsure of how to make their data more secure and are unaware of the consequences of data breaches. According to a recent study of the Department of Business Innovation & Skills, 60 per cent of SMEs in the UK have experienced a security breach in 2014, with more than half of the respondents expecting an increase in security incidents this year. To minimise the risk of security breaches, businesses require a holistic view of the subject.

should not be forgotten.


Take a look at the inside Whilst businesses generally cater for external threats (hacks, loss or theft of portable devices, for example), they often neglect to address internal security measures regarding employee access, on-site hardware, malicious websites and secure logons.

Expect the unexpected

EXPERT VIEW Pete Watson CEO Atlas Cloud Web:

Considering more than 50 per cent of the worst security breaches in 2014 were caused by staff, this area of security

As highlighted by the recent misfortune of many companies in the Holborn Street fire in London, disaster can occur anytime and when it does it can be costly, with nearly three out of four organisations being at risk of never fully recovering from a disaster. Businesses need to ensure that they have a solid disaster recovery plan in place, which includes knowing where their data is held and how quickly it can be retrieved to get the company back on its feet.

It’s not just about the money Data security breaches and disasters can be costly in various ways. Next to monetary loss (in 2014, the cost of data security breaches for UK SMEs averaged £65,000 - £115,000) and possible penalties in the case of data loss, a company’s image and reputation can also suffer from a security breach and can result in decreased trust of existing and potential clients.

Telling the Concept story Print solutions business Concept Group talks us through its recent re-brand and its foray into the world of video content. oncept Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox, providing brand leading products and technology – tools that enable companies to share information more easily, simplify business processes and focus on what really matters: their business. In early 2014, we decided that our branding and website no longer reflected our innovative company. Embarking on a partnership with a local creative design agency, we took on ideas more closely aligned with our vision; it's about 'making a mark' and using vibrant images that have energy and reflect our business and its people. This refresh would provide a strong visual identity, which is more than just a logo, and use colours that instantly communicate the world of print. Telling the Concept Story – what better way to do this than through video? This two-fold approach works extremely well with an animation reel – a film based on motion, and infographics telling the story of Concept Group from its origin through to the future visions of the company;


Concept Group filmed a video to communicate its key messages

showcasing our forward thinking, solutions driven approach. Complementing this, a video focusing on our people, which adds an authentic quality and captures the character of the business. The website was a big challenge for us. We


needed to simplify things and make it easier for businesses to find information on our products and solutions, yet at the same time ensure that our visual identity was at the heart of the new site. The new website does not in any way replace the direct, responsive customer service that we have been known for throughout the industry for over three decades. Our goal in launching a new website and video content is to provide another access point and online resource for companies and individuals to learn more about our product solutions and how we can help them in their everyday work experiences. The new site offers direct links to product information, service offerings and YouTube pages where company and product updates will appear on a regular basis. We are very proud of the new website and we hope it provides a useful, informative portal for our customers to get to know Concept a little better. For more information, visit


State of the art Natalie Welsh and Tom Lainchbury look at what’s new in the world of technology and gadgets.

MICROSOFT SURFACE 3 icrosoft’s latest venture into the booming tablet market sees the release of Surface 3. Mobile and efficient, Surface 3 combines the portability of the tablet with the power of a laptop. Powered by the new quad-core Intel® Atom™ x7 processor, Surface 3 is a quick and responsive


tablet but its 10 hours of video-playback battery life make it efficient as well as effective. The 10.8-inch ClearType HD multi-touch display contains stereo speakers with Dolby® Audioenhanced sound for crystal clear audio, providing an excellent cinematic experience. Featuring a USB port and an integrated Kickstand, with the ability to run desktop


software, Surface 3 is also the perfect productivity device for school, home or on the go. Surface 3 ships with full Windows 8.1 and can be upgraded to Windows 10 for free when it becomes available. Available to buy from May 5, Surface 3 packs performance and value into an elegant, lightweight design. Priced from £419.

HTC ONE M9 he M9 is the most personal, intuitive and powerful smartphone from HTC yet, while continuing the design heritage for which the HTC One is known. As ever, The HTC One M9 boasts the iconic all-metal unibody design, but introduces a new scratch resistant, dual finish that is as distinctive as it is durable. The main camera features an incredible 20 megapixels that pick out every detail, and a sapphire cover lens that protects from scratches. The HTC One M9 is available in dual-tone silver and rose gold, single-tone gunmetal grey, single-tone gold and dual-tone gold and pink, priced from £580.


NIKON 1 J5 he new Nikon 1 J5 offers an enticing combination of portability, versatility and performance. Featuring a blazing fast continuous full-resolution shooting frame rate at 20 framesper-second (fps) with full Autofocus, a new 20.8megapixel Backside-illuminated (BSI) 1-inch CX-format CMOS sensor, EXPEED 5A image processing and a slew of creative modes, the J5 packs advanced performance into an intuitively designed and compact body. Users can also utilise the experience of Nikon Snapbridge, whereby users seamlessly shoot and share stunning photos from the camera to a compatible smartphone or tablet via built-in Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication technology. Priced from £349.


APPLE WATCH pple’s very first wearable device is designed to reflect a wide range of personal tastes, styles and preferences. Just because it sits on your wrist doesn’t mean it can’t connect you with your favourite people – the watch can send alerts, notifications and even your heartbeat alongside the ability to email and text. The innovative watch also shows how active you’ve been throughout the day. The device is customisable with over 200 watch faces and comes in three distinct collections: watch, watch sport and watch edition.




Newcastle digital agency DDCA doubles in size Creative communications agency DDCA is aiming to reach the £1 million turnover milestone this year.


ewcastle-based digital agency DDCA, which was founded by managing director Danielle Dunn four years ago and now operates out of premises in Ouseburn's flourishing creative quarter, reported a 50 per cent growth in sales to £600,000 last year. DDCA's growth in accounts across sectors such as leisure, beauty and fashion, also led it to bolster its established team by bringing in four new people over the last 12 months, bringing current staff numbers to 12. Whilst many university leavers are struggling to find work, the company bucked the nationwide trend by employing four graduates in just one year, while two student placements led directly to full-time jobs with the company. DDCA managing director Danielle Dunn said: “We have undergone a period of rapid growth and we put that down to understanding the needs of our clients, ensuring we go above and beyond in fulfilling their business aims and objectives by delivering a quality bespoke service.

“It's crucial now that, as an agency, we take this growth and enjoy a period of bedding in the enlarged team we

have and cement the reputation we have carved out in design, digital and creative communications.”

Balamory actress launches Scattered Pictures

Successful first quarter for Press Ahead

A new home for Harvey & Hugo


ewcastle-based actress Kim Tserkezie, who played Penny Pocket in the hit CBeebies series, Balamory, has formed her own TV production company, Scattered Pictures. Discussing her new venture, Kim said: "As a disabled actress it has been difficult to find exciting character roles removed from the stereotypical portrayals of disabled people. I decided that if the roles weren't there then it was up to me to create them."

Danielle Dunn set up DDCA four years ago


ress Ahead, which offers a fully integrated range of marketing services, including marketing strategy, PR, creative design, media buying and social media support from its Sunderland base, has experienced strong growth in the first three months of 2015, having secured several new business wins across its full suite of services. New additions to its client portfolio include Redcar & Cleveland College, not-for-profit housing provider Four Housing and The Great Annual Savings Group.



R and social media agency Harvey & Hugo, which specialises in press releases, and online and content marketing, will be the first tenant moving into Business Central Darlington this month. Managing director Charlotte Nichols said: “We love being in the centre of town, however wanted to move to a more modern and social office space and we were really impressed when we saw the plans for Business Central. We’re all really excited to move in and to work while enjoying the fabulous views over there.”


In the boss’s chair

Jim Richardson Founder of Sumo Briefly, what has been your career to date? I graduated in the 1990s with a degree in Design and I spent the first couple of years of my career working on national and international brands for leading design agencies in Scotland. However, by the time I reached 24, I had decided I wanted to open my own agency and I moved back to Newcastle to launch Sumo. The company quickly grew from me, to a team of fifteen; attracting blue chip clients like Novartis, Barclays and AstraZeneca as well as some big names from the world of culture, such as the BBC, National Trust and the National Gallery.

Why did you decide to start Sumo Design?

imagination to the job, however, I think the desire to keep learning and be curious are essential for someone who runs a creative company. I am fortunate we work with some brilliant clients which allows me to approach projects not only as an opportunity to bring my experience to the table, but to also to learn from them.

What's been your highlight in your role? My career highlights tend to revolve around our clients doing well; a launch campaign that exceeds expectations, increased market share and sales or watching web traffic surge as the result of one of our campaigns. I am a very competitive person so helping clients get great results gives me a big high.

Cutting my teeth at some of the top agencies, I quickly realised that good design involved much more than creating pretty pictures. To deliver outstanding work that met client objectives and produced results, designers had to apply strategic thinking to the design process – this was what I believed Sumo could bring to the North East. Fifteen years later and our ethos of producing meaningful design seems to have resonated with our clients locally, and this has enabled us to build a client base which extends across the UK and further afield.

What's been your biggest challenge?

What skills and attributes do you need to do your job?

I have seen a lot of changes in the design industry across the last 20 years, most recently the shift from specialist, niche creative agency to the growth of the generalist marketing company.

Every good designer needs to bring creativity and

I think our Newcastle location can have its challenges, especially for clients in London. But, we turn this on its head and play to our ‘northern’ strengths. Our clients appreciate that we are grounded, real people much like the customers they are trying to reach and engage with.

How has the design industry changed since you began in the industry?


Increasingly, more and more companies consider themselves to be brand experts and we are pitching against marketing agencies, PR companies and even print companies. Fortunately, only a few agencies in the region understand branding and most smart clients know the difference between what we do and commissioning a £800 logo.

What makes Sumo Design different? I think there are a few qualities that have helped us stay at the top of our game for the last 15 years. First and foremost, we have remained true to our founding principle and we continue to challenge both clients and ourselves to produce intelligent design that not only engages audiences, but prompts action. We also know exactly who we are and where our skills lie – where others try to do everything we are proud to be specialists. But, above and beyond this, Sumo has a curious nature and we just love doing what we do.

What are your short and long-term plans for Sumo Design? When I initially set up Sumo, my ambition was to work with smart people to create intelligent design for brave clients. This is still my guiding principle and I am confident this philosophy will continue to drive Sumo for the next fifteen years. For more information, visit


extraordinary business times – extraordinary communications NORTH EAST TIMES SPEAKS TO TWO OF THE NORTH EAST’S MOST EXPERIENCED PR ‘BEDFELLOWS’. The last 15 years have seen some extraordinary changes in media technology and the tools we regularly use. Digital technology has driven dramatic changes in both personal communications as well as in business. Web-based technologies have altered the way we’re doing business and nowhere is this more profound than within PR, marketing and advertising. At the forefront of adopting and adapting to these changes in communications in the North East is MHW PR. This business-to-business PR consultancy was established in Newcastle by directors Wayne Halton and Ian Watson, and is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. While the internet was a strong and growing presence back then, marketing for many businesses was still largely done via traditional print press, newsletters, events, telephone and email. Things we now take for granted did not exist in

2000 – ‘search’ or SEO was in its infancy. LinkedIn didn’t launch until 2003, and both Skype and WordPress saw initial releases that same year, too. Facebook soon followed in 2004 but took several years to gain common usage. In 2005, YouTube emerged, with Twitter appearing in 2006. And then there are the hardware developments – from the iPhone to the iPad – first released in April 2010. North East Times catches up with Wayne (WH) and Ian (IW) to talk about these extraordinary changes and to find out more about the growth and evolution of MHW PR during this period. You’re celebrating your 15th anniversary – what does this milestone mean to you? WH/IW: A mixture of relief and great personal pleasure; we’ve survived! It’s been a largely enjoyable journey, with a few difficult periods along the way. We’ve lived through an extraordinary time


of media and communications change, which have stimulated and excited us. Since 2007 we’ve had to manage our business through the deepest post-war recession we’ve all known. There were a few casualties during this time. But today, our anniversary year, sees us managing growth again – with many reasons to be optimistic about the future. Going back to the start, why did you set up MHW PR? WH/IW: It was the desire to do it for ourselves (as like-minded colleagues). We had ambition and wanted a business to drive and develop while also being a little more in control of our own destiny. Originally we had a third director on board, Alasdair Mitchell, who later left to pursue other interests. We all understood the importance of integrated

communications and wanted to focus on business to business work, while also being able to cherrypick interesting, good quality consumer jobs. On reflection, what have been the standout moments during the last 15 years? WH: There has been many. Buying our own building was a milestone; breaking through the £1 million barrier after a few years’ trading was a thrill – which we then repeated for two more years. New business wins are always exciting and enjoyable and it’s good to see we’ve been on a winning run these last couple of years. IW: We’ve been lucky to have retained the support of a number of loyal clients who have been with us since our first days in business. We’ve developed by doing more for them as they have grown and done extraordinary things themselves and have added a host of new companies and organisations along the way. How does MHW PR continue to make a mark within the PR and marketing sector? WH: We stick to our strengths – key industry sectors and key areas of delivery expertise. We’re challenging by nature, while also taking a practical and analytical approach to client tasks; understanding their customers and the best way to

influence them. We exploit our experience and expertise – things many rivals can’t match us for. IW: As ex-journalists we have always understood the importance of the story and the power of the message. Now that good content has become central to all PR campaigns, we can apply all our years of experience to the task in hand. What does MHW PR offer that rivals don’t? WH: We have a great understanding of the media – old and new. As a former press journalist, I’ve worked with different media channels for almost 30 years. We listen to clients, analysing their situation and problems to develop appropriate plans. Many rivals can be a little too focused on the tactic; we take a more holistic approach. IW: In the corporate world, reputation and effective market presence aren’t things you can gain overnight. Taking a consistent and sustained approach is fundamental to building brands and awareness, so we work hard to build long-term relationships with clients and the media. As part of this, we are continuously looking for opportunities on behalf of our clients without waiting to be asked to do it. What are the trends and challenges facing the sector in 2015?


WH: Making sense of the plethora of communication channels. You need to be aware of the changing landscape of tools and tactics; while never losing sight of the fact that, ultimately, people do business with people – we all engage with brands and communications at a human level, often forgotten by tacticians and technology geeks. IW: Digital communications gives companies more opportunities than ever to engage directly with key audiences, track responses and evaluate results. Identifying what works best for you, taking brave decisions and ensuring activities are properly resourced will be crucial. What continues to get you up in the morning? WH: Genuine interest in what I do, what our clients are doing and the fascinating and ever changing media channels. And never forgetting the need to still pay the bills. IW: I’ve always enjoyed the variety of what we do. No two days are the same in terms of the news, information or issues we have to deal with – and we work with clients in a wide range of sectors with different priorities, products and personalities, so there’s plenty to keep you on your toes. For more information visit


The drive to succeed JAM Marketing’s Jackie Marston on the positive impact of apprentices and interns.

EXPERT VIEW Jackie Marston JAM Marketing Tel: (0845) 900 2127 Email: Web: Twitter: @JamMarketingUK

ecently, I wrote in this column that seeing a plan through from initial idea to completed product is one of the best feelings and biggest thrills of working in marketing. Don’t worry, I haven’t changed my mind in such a short time – it still is, but it’s just one of a number of things that puts a smile on my face about what we do at JAM. A feeling that’s just as good is seeing apprentices and interns growing and learning. Apprentices and interns can be a valuable asset to companies. They bring a willingness to learn and impress that can be hard to find elsewhere. It’s almost as though they have something to prove and their progress shows in their work. While some people may take constructive


feedback as criticism, many apprentices take it all in like a sponge and really knuckle down to better themselves, improving on what they do well, while learning new skills which will then be developed further. To see them listening, taking on advice and improving day on day really is something special. With that said, at JAM Marketing we have had a number of interns over the years and each has brought something different to our workplace. They all have one thing in common though – a determination to improve themselves and that, of course, has positive knock on effects for us at JAM. We brought in Ashleigh, our current apprentice, this January. Again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, that


willingness to learn is already shining through and can – and should not – be underestimated. Even after three months, I can see the improvement in her. What’s more, we have her with us until January of next year, if not beyond. Some come back into our office every time they have a break from school, university or college and we always welcome them with open arms. Adam Eley has been with us for over 18 months now and is a Jammy Dodger through and through. The impact of an intern or an apprentice is something that all companies should take on board and is certainly something that cannot be rated high enough. In fact, sometimes the only downside is seeing them leave…



#PRStack: Pick and mix PR tools under one roof Sarah Hall, managing director of Sarah Hall Consulting Ltd, the PR and marketing consultancy that builds profiles and profits, looks at a brand new web directory aimed at simplifying PR tools and identifying the best on the market.

reelancer or small to medium sized PR consultancy, we all want to find the tools that will help us do our job optimally and efficiently. With so much choice on the market, it can be hard to know which tool suits which need best – and getting it wrong can potentially be costly. Vendors don’t help the situation touting features and cost, over benefit and outcomes. Help is at hand. A crowd-sourced project led by Ketchum chief engagement officer Stephen Waddington aims to simplify the market and map out what’s available according to modern workflow.


You can now find the needle in the... #PRStack launched in early March and has already been well received across the industry. It’s an app designed by the team at Prezly that allows practitioners to search for tools according to the goal of a campaign. The project maps tools against four areas of practice consisting of publicity, influencer relations, owned media and community. It generates a list of tools at the

push of a button. If you need a tool that crosses over these areas, that’s not a problem either as #PRStack lists each one under goals. So, should you need to find a tool or app that can help with planning, insights, management or content right through to channel, monitoring and analytics, it is quick and easy to see which ones crop up.

Tool up swiftly, cheaply and simply A strong point of #PRStack is that it’s easy to navigate and incorporates free tools as well as those requiring a monthly subscription, so there is something for everyone, no matter your business size and budget. Founder, Stephen Waddington says: “I kicked off this project because I wanted to try and make sense of the market for tools, and continue to understand how public relations practice is changing. “It turns out that lots of other practitioners feel the same way and jumped on board. We started with around 50 tools, and there are now more than 200.”

No need to blame your tools No doubt due to the newness of the site, one


of the features that is sure to prove most useful is currently under-utilised. As the saying goes, only bad workmen blame their tools. But let’s face it, not all of them always pass muster. #PRStack has thought of that, too. It allows users to ‘favourite’ the tools they like, which has already started to give an indication of the most popular on the market. Tread carefully here however – as with many websites that allow you to rate products and services, it’s hard to know whether those who’ve done so have a commercial interest or not.

Play your part #PRStack is a fantastic and free new resource and is well worth a look. What’s more, it continues to evolve and ongoing contributions are welcomed for the web tool directory. If you know and use a tool that is missing why not add it to the Google spreadsheet that feeds the site? For more information, visit or follow her on Twitter @Hallmeister



Ask Silver Bullet Managing director, John Dias, answers your marketing queries. Q My company is considering exhibiting our products at a major trade exhibition – what advice would you give and what do we need to consider? Trade exhibitions are a very important and potentially highly profitable part of the marketing mix for most B2B companies, but they need to be carefully approached. If I could give just one piece of advice, it would be to exhibit properly with support collateral – or don’t do it at all. There is nothing more disheartening for your exhibition staff or visitors than a boring stand with uninspiring products and literature. So, let’s look at the decision to exhibit in the first place. You’ve researched the available exhibitions and found one whose visitor profile matches your existing and potential customers. You’ve taken a look at the visitor traffic from the previous year and spot that your competitors are regular exhibitors, too, so it’s looking good, but you now need to cost it up to justify the expense. Exhibitions can attract many of your potential customers, but one of the things you need to consider is what would be the alternative cost of reaching these clients using other marketing methods and does the exhibition offer better value, with potentially greater return on investment? Decide on your budget from the start, as you will have a number of elements competing for limited resources. The main considerations are the exhibition

space, the cost of producing a stand, personnel costs (including accommodation and travel), entertainment costs, advertising campaign costs, stand gifts or ’freebies’, pre-event invitations and marketing, and perhaps most importantly, the post-event follow up campaign. The exhibition space you choose should be considered very carefully – if it’s just poorly located spaces that are left, walk away and consider a different exhibition or even a different year. What size you need depends entirely on your products, what you intend to do on your stand and your goals for the exhibition. If you’re launching a new product – and trade exhibitions are ideal for this – you’ll probably need some extra space. Then there’s your actual stand – it needs to be interesting, attractive to visitors and reflect the values of your organisation. Look to luxury brands such as Aston Martin for inspiration, and although most organisers are juggling a very different budget, aim for the best. Some of the most successful stands encourage visitors to interact in a fun way to start a conversation – remember that there are more interesting ways to engage with visitors than the conventional business card prize draw. Most stands can be used again, too, so the initial cost can be spread over several events. You’ll then have to consider who will attend the event on your company’s behalf, where they will stay and who will fulfil their role in their absence. It’s all additional cost, but you need great people to reflect your brand and sell your products, so ensure your exhibition rep


is fully trained. Exhibiting is a complete waste of money though if no one knows you’re there, so you should think about the pre-event online and offline options to market your stand. This could include the exhibition catalogue and website, online and offline trade magazines, social media, personal invitations and PR. Having now attracted your visitors, what are you intending to sell them? Organise your product literature, marketing collateral and giveaways or ‘freebies’ well in advance. If you’re considering corporate hospitality, book this early – you won’t be the only company looking to entertain clients. The event may have now finished but your work is only just beginning. Following up on the leads, contacts and enquiries you attracted on the day is absolutely crucial and is best done as quickly as possible. Finally, on to the debrief. Collate all your costs and measure this against your potential sales – was the event worth the effort? Discuss what went well; what could be done better next time and what went badly, so that you learn for your next exhibition. If you are considering exhibiting, simply want to know more about integrated marketing or have another marketing question we can help with, talk to us. Email your questions anonymously to or tweet (not so anonymously) @SilverBulletPR and use the hash tag #AskSB


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

Burton, £70

Office, £64.99

House of Fraser, £20

Next, £13

ith summer just around the corner, it’s finally time to lighten up! If the thought of sweating it out in a suit fills you with dread, ditching the waistcoat and tie and opting for thinner layers, such as a casual t-shirt worn underneath a waistlong blazer, is a great way to not only keep cool, but still remain smart in the workplace. Mixing pastel powder blues with soft shades of pink or purple, meanwhile, injects brightness into your look. Perfect for your work wear wardrobe, this season’s trousers offer the best of both worlds; tailored for added smartness and cropped at the ankles for a laid-back, summery feel. Finish with seasonal accessories, such as sunglasses and a pair of suede shoes, to pull together this breezy, easy-to-achieve look.

W Marks & Spencer, £49.50

MODEL ATTIRE J by Jasper Conran jacket, £99 J by Jasper Conran t-shirt, £20 Trousers, £40 Red Herring sunglasses, £14 Marine plaited elastic belt, £18 George Gibson Hammond & Co shoes, £95 All from Debenhams’ High Summer 2015 Collection

Matalan, £6



Summertime Step into summer with the latest menswear trends from Jeff Banks at Dalton Park. here is more than a hint of dapper in ‘smart dressing’ this summer. Designs for office and formal occasions are finetuned towards cut, fit and fabric for debonair flair, rather than flamboyance. A good formal look needs to be simple but strong and, at Jeff Banks, Dalton Park you’ll find a whole range of tailored co-ordinates to create a striking look. Choose a jacket in relaxed or slim fit, depending on your style. Either way, block colours such as dark navy, dark and light grey are mainstay choices, but this season sees new muted check designs, as well as pinstripe. Lengths can be longer or cropped – both are equally smart. Waistcoats are not essential, but they do add a smart dimension to any suit. Choose one that matches, or go for silk fronted for special occasions. Trousers must co-ordinate but you can choose a variety of fits including regular, narrow or tapered leg, depending on your look, and wear with a belt. As for shirts, this summer favours lighter, pastel shades. The look is still formal, but moderated with lilac, cream, dove grey and powder blue colours in classic, slim or fitted styles. Ties follow suit with yellow, light blues or stripes and here it’s fine to clash with your shirt. And don’t forget that last dapper touch – the handkerchief in your top pocket.


Two-piece suit (trousers and jacket) priced at £259, now £179 Special offer available which includes jacket, trousers, shirt and tie for £169 Waistcoat priced at £65, now £45


cool asual goes smart this summer. The easy-fit gives way to toned-down tailoring, creating a polished, confident look for the season. The good news is that you only need a few key components from Jeff Banks at Dalton Park to create the look. Start with a slim, single-breasted jacket in a mature colour such as navy, lighter petrol blue or textured camel. Fabrics are generally lighter with wool/silk blends, woven cotton and linens. The key is to mix and match. This summer it’s all about colour clash, so don’t go for coordinating trousers. Choose coral, saffron, ivory – even pink is ‘men friendly’ this season. You’ll find plenty of choice in relaxed chino styles with turn-ups, but wear with a belt to keep up appearances. For a clever twist on smart, this summer sees the slim jacket teamed with shorts – and it works! A light textured jacket paired with smart cotton knee-length shorts and a casual knit or tshirt makes great weekend style and could be worn to the office, too. Shirts get vibrant this season. Florals and patterns are favourites, but designs are discreet rather than overblown. Layer two contrasting shirts and wear with shorts for holiday style or choose a statement tie in clashing stripes for a striking business look.


Blazer priced at £185, now £129 Jumper priced at £45, now £30 Shorts priced at £40, now £28

Jeff Banks, Unit 91, Dalton Park Outlet Shopping Centre, Co Durham, SR7 9HU, tel (0191) 526 6374



Howard Russell expands following latest contract wins Independent North East construction firm, Howard Russell, has taken on three new members of staff following new contract wins of £2 million.


oward Russell, which tripled its turnover last year, has recruited three new staff to assist in project and site management following its appointment as main contractor on building projects for Bon Coeur Fine Wines, ITV and Gestamp Tallent Automotive. David Varty, sales director at Howard Russell said: “Last year was our most successful year to date, we completed a number of high profile projects and recruited five new staff to help manage the increase in workload. We are pleased to announce a strong first quarter to 2015 which has led to further job creation taking our total workforce to 26.” The new recruits will assist in delivering Howard Russell’s latest contracts, which include the conversion of a former agricultural building in Masham, North Yorkshire on behalf of wine merchants, Bon Coeur. The project will create a bespoke fine wines establishment consisting of sales area,

Howard Russell has welcomed new additions to its team

tasting area, offices and boardroom, kitchen area, large function room and a large wine storage facility. The team are also working on an

extension of a large car manufacturing plant for Gestamp Tallent in Newton Aycliffe and the refurbishment and fit-out of ITV’s offices in Gateshead.

A five-figure refurbishment for local business centre


North East business centre has undergone a major refurbishment to accommodate some of the region’s growing small businesses. The Pinetree Centre, which is based in Birtley, has invested £36,000 into refurbishing and improving the building with new carpets, office space and ceilings following a small fire which

caused smoke damage throughout an entire floor. The Centre is currently home to 28 businesses and offers support and competitive tenancy rates for small to medium sized enterprises, specialising in start-up companies. Office manager Laura Goldston said: “We have invested in a new and

improved centre to provide the best environment for businesses to thrive and grow. The whole building has had an overhaul, with one floor in particular benefiting from a complete refurbishment in order to provide better office space as well as a professional environment for our clients to grow their businesses in.”

Naylors completes project for Isos Housing


he building consultancy team at Naylors Chartered Surveyors have completed a series of refurbishment projects amounting to £550,000 for social landlord, Isos Housing, delivering the works on time and within budget. Isos, a not-for-profit housing association, instructed Naylors to carry out works to a

diverse portfolio of residential properties including: 30 flats at Summerhill Terrace in Newcastle, 15 flats within a listed building on Grainger Street in Newcastle, four tower blocks and a day care centre at St Oswald’s Court in Felling and the Old Customs House in North Shields. Phil Garner, building surveyor at Naylors


said: “This has been a great project for our building consultancy team, which has completed construction projects totaling over £3 million during the past 12 months. Isos is one of the largest housing associations in the North East and we are delighted to be one of their approved partners.”


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

Robyn Peat Managing partner – George F White, Land and Property Specialists




started my professional career in Oxford and returned to County Durham in 1989 to join the second George F White office in Wolsingham. At that time, the rural surveying business was still very traditional, with tweedwearing professionals advising individual farmers in predominantly landlord and tenant work. We employed six people and operated with no technical equipment; only basic word processors, no photocopier and no mobile phones. We had to ring clients at night when they returned from the fields doing their work.

oday, things are very different. George F White currently has seven offices throughout the North East and employs 120 people. There are more statutory rules and regulations and our nationwide clients are business people with rural interests; they have more commercial and sophisticated requirements and we have adapted to meet those needs. We are a multi-disciplined business, maintaining our expertise in rural land and strategic business management but also have a variety of high-level skills in, for example, planning and development, energy and architecture. We use the most up-to-date IT to deliver a one-stop, collaborative approach to offer a rounded package of experience and expertise to our clients.

he future offers exciting challenges in adapting to the needs of our clients in property and business. We will continue to diversify to anticipate our clients’ needs and service their commercial aspirations. Technology will adapt, grow and change exponentially. Where people are, where and how they work and operate will become less important. This will make the team approach to work more challenging as a result but successful businesses will be those who recognise that it’s still all about people. We are a people business doing business with people.




TIMELINE 1986: Graduated from The Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester 1989: Joined George F White 1992: Became senior partner in George F White’s Wolsingham Office 2015: Became managing partner




The Silverstone team, who are working with Pulman on multiple building projects

Silverstone Building Consultancy drives forward Pulman's investment programme Silverstone Building Consultancy has provided a full range of building surveying and project management services to Pulman Motor Group to assist it in rolling out a major investment programme that is set to revitalise its Durham-based car showrooms.

he motor group initially instructed Silverstone to survey an industrial unit on Abbey Road in Durham with a view to opening a ‘pop-up’ retail concept to launch its newly acquired ŠKODA franchise. Silverstone undertook the initial building survey to assess feasibility and provided subsequent advice to Pulman on the conversion of the unit into a temporary retail outlet. Silverstone negotiated some essential repair works with the landlord and prepared a Schedule of Condition on behalf of Pulman to protect it against any potential dilapidations claims after the lease term. Pulman signed up to a short-term lease on the property and Silverstone carried out a refurbishment of the premises. Richard Farrey, director at Silverstone Building Consultancy explains: ‘Within a tight timeframe of just six weeks we managed to convert a former industrial unit into a quality temporary dealership to allow Pulman to start trading under their new ŠKODA franchise and establish the brand in Durham. ‘Pop-up’ retail spaces are becoming increasingly popular and provide retailers with the opportunity to take advantage of flexible, short-term leases and build brand awareness before making a longerterm commitment.” Pulman has now acquired a greenfield site in Durham where it will build a new £2 million ŠKODA retail concept to replace the ‘pop-up’


Pulman's Volkswagen car showroom in Durham

facility, which will have the capacity to accommodate nine display vehicles as well as workshop space and a fully serviced café which will be open to the general public. The construction of the new car showroom will be project managed by Silverstone, who has become a trusted adviser to Pulman. Silverstone has also been instructed to project manage a £500,000 refurbishment of Pulman’s flagship VW car showroom on Abbey Road in Durham. The 15-year-old car showroom is undergoing a full refurbishment to upgrade all internal and external elements of the building to bring it in line with the new VW corporate branding.


Silverstone’s role in the refurbishment project has entailed liaising with VW to ensure the brand agreement is in place, preparing specifications, liaising with planning, advising on building regulations, appointing a professional team and tendering the works. Robertson Construction was appointed as main contractor on the VW development last month and Silverstone is now managing the client and contractor relationship through to project completion. Richard Farrey says: “We have worked closely with Pulman to assist them in all aspects of the refurbishment project, from the initial planning and design stages to managing the day-to-day communications during the building works phase. Our role is fundamentally to ensure the project meets the client’s objectives and is completed on time and within budget. The project is due for completion in July and it has been carefully planned to ensure Pulman can continue trading as normal during the refurbishment.” Pulman launched its first retailer in Durham in 1998 starting out with 17 employees, it now employs over 160 people. The new ŠKODA retailer will bring its total number of showrooms to four. For more information about how Silverstone can assist your business tel (0191) 231 4263 or visit


Get real about the rural north Willy Browne-Swinburne from Rural Solutions talks about the burgeoning tourism industry in the North East and the value that it brings to the region. was once told by an eminent land agent in Northumberland, that tourism business was not really sustainable in our part of the world. What this man says normally makes sense and to be honest I believed him. As a bit of an old stick in the mud myself, I have always felt rather repulsed by the idea of hoardes of non Northumbrians invading our lands. Perhaps it is in my blood? Perhaps my Jacobite genes make me feel protective, even defensive, about rural Northumberland? In fact, that eminent land agent was talking nonsense and I was a fool to agree. The numbers are very interesting and prove that not only should we be encouraging tourism in our countryside, we should be milking it for all it is worth. There has never been a better time in the North East to consider nontraditional and tourism related business in the countryside. In 2014, 8.9 million people visited Northumberland and 78 per cent of these were from outside the North East region. With that came over £700 million – an invasion, I think, that’s worth celebrating. What also makes interesting reading in the


Northumberland Destination Management Plan (published by Northumberland Tourist Board) is the ranking of attractions in the county. Barter Books in Alnwick is rated first, followed, unsurprisingly, by Alnwick Garden and the top five far outweigh the World Heritage site and most famous of our assets, Hadrian’s Wall. Tourism in Northumberland is the fastest growing employment sector in the North East producing more than 2000 new jobs in the last five years. It is in fact the second most important employment sector in Northumberland employing directly over 13,000 people, that’s over 13 per cent of the total employed population in the county. All of this is set to accelerate further and the target is to increase visitor numbers by 5 per cent and increase that spend by a further 6 per cent, which translates as £42m by 2020. The opportunities abound, but beware. Understanding the market properly and investing in data that identifies the gaps that could shape a new tourism offering is key. Assuming that something will be of interest and generate traffic is a dangerous trait. Hadrian’s Wall, is the ‘elephant in the


room’ here. It has had a huge amount of money spent on its promotion over the last 20 years but still seems to underperform. Why is this? It is unique and vastly important both culturally and historically, and on the right day it is very beautiful. The answer is simple (and I am a little nervous saying it) – I find it quite boring. I visited Hadrian’s Wall on numerous occasions throughout my childhood and now take my own children there, so I can completely understand why it doesn’t appear to stand the test with kids. Northumberland needs good ideas and good businesses to meet these targets. I suspect the quality of children’s attractions and the quality of our food offering, although improving, still has a long way to go. Good ideas for tourism business in the rural sector, based on solid thinking and powerful evidence is our speciality and rural Northumberland is an ideal place to use it. For more information, contact Willy Browne-Swinburne on or contact the Rural Solutions Team on tel (01756) 769 199


Business rate review deferral to cost northern firms £2.3bn By Neil Hart, director at Bradley Hall. radical shake up of the business rates system is long overdue. Successive Governments have dithered over changing the archaic system, which reflects a reality that bolted a long time ago. Under the current set up, business rate valuations are linked to the market as it was back in April 2008, before interest rates plummeted and the economy nosedived into recession. In effect, this means that the vast majority of businesses are paying over-inflated rates that don’t reflect the market as it is today. This is called the antecedent valuation date. That situation is set to continue for some time yet because the Government has deferred the business rate revaluation – originally scheduled for this year – until 2017. That has caused outrage among the business community, with many firms postponing plans to move to bigger premises to avoid paying even higher rates. Others have decided that the cost is too prohibitive to rent or buy a property at all, instead preferring to run their business as a purely online operation. The impact of the two-year deferral has been laid bare in a new report which says that Northern-based businesses stand to lose a


staggering £2.3 billion during the period. In contrast, the study – which was conducted by a national research company – forecasts that London-based businesses will save £1.5bn as a result of the deferment. It also predicts that the uniform business rate (the percentage at which you pay rates against the rateable figure) will rise from 48p to 51.2p in 2017 – meaning more expense for firms. The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) should


be given sufficient resources to carry out regular revaluations without any interference from the Treasury, which rakes in an estimated £25bn from business rates each year. Politicians need to fast-track this revaluation and then commit to shorter revaluation periods than the current five-year span. Ideally, business rates should be reviewed every two or three years. They should also be calculated using the Consumer Price Index rather than the Retail Price Index, which includes housing costs and therefore inflates the rates to unacceptable levels. The current system doesn’t incentivise businesses to invest in property and needs to be looked at as a priority. A vibrant property market is vital to the health of the local and national economy. Business rates shouldn’t be kicked into the long grass by politicians. Companies – and the property sector in particular – deserve much more than that. For more information, visit or call (0191) 232 8080


Portland’s Easter reception Portland Consulting Engineers hosts a drinks reception to thank its clients and project partners.


s award-winning specialists in civil and structural engineering, Gateshead-based Portland Consulting Engineers (Portland) continues to go from strength to strength, the consultancy recently celebrated that ongoing success with its annual Easter event. More than 100 guests from the region’s key companies spanning the commercial property, social housing and education sectors, joined Portland’s directors and staff at Tiger Hornsby on Newcastle’s Quayside, for an informal and relaxed drinks reception. The event, which is well established in the industry’s social calendar, is Portland’s way of thanking clients and project partners for their continued support and opportunities to demonstrate their expertise and innovative way of working.


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

How does your garden grow? Wynyard Hall reveals plans to open an historic walled garden as part of a £5.3 million investment.


investment. Established by the Hall’s owners, the Marquises of Londonderry, and designed and planted by award-winning Royal Horticultural Society landscape architect, Alistair Baldwin, The Walled Garden will open to the public on August 4. The £1.6m development, which will

contain more than 3000 roses, will sit within the hotel’s 150 acres of grounds and also contain a state-of-the-art visitor centre and shop and café, serving locally sourced goods and produce. The garden’s arrival, which will create 30 new jobs, is the second stage in a rolling programme of work to create The Gardens at Wynyard Hall, which will eventually cover four acres and be one of the largest rose gardens in the UK. Wynyard Hall owner, Sir John Hall, said:

“When I was a lad, I used to watch my father grow roses in the little strip of garden in front of our cottage. There and then, I decided that one day I would have one of the most spectacular rose gardens in the country – and this is just the start.” “The walled garden will be breathtaking,” added Alistair. “Visitors will see a dazzling display of roses, in a design that plays tribute to the ancient heritage of the walled garden, yet takes it firmly forward into a new stage of development.”

Pub of the year

Official partner

International flair

ynyard Hall, County Durham, will be unveiling its very own walled garden this summer, as part of a £5.3 million


eal ale enthusiasts have voted The Bodega, on Westgate Road, Newcastle,‘Tyneside Pub of the Year’ for the second year running. The pub, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, was voted first place by over 1600 branch members in the CAMRA Tyneside & Northumberland Pub and Club of the Year Awards.


orthumberland-based water business, Marlish Water, has become an official partner for Newcastle Racecourse. The family-owned business, which operates from a farm in Marlish, near Hartburn, and bottles spring water drawn from the Northumberland Hills, has agreed a deal to supply bottled water throughout the venue’s bars and hospitality areas and across the Gosforth Park estate.



he National Glass Centre, Sunderland, has launched a new spring menu at its Brasserie. Designed by chefs from 1879 Event Management, it includes an extended range of dishes from around the world, from the UK to Italy and Mexico, all the while using ingredients sourced within 50 miles of the restaurant.


Evolution Emerging headliners Hyde and Beast, and Lisbon

The Ouseburn Valley is a popular place to live, work and play.

Live music and living on another level The Ouseburn Valley continues to flourish thanks to a new partnership between developer, Carillion Igloo and music development agency, Generator. he recent resurgence of building projects, often in neglected areas, produces multiple economic benefits through the reanimation of city corners with thriving, creative business ecosystems. Downsides include the closing of much loved music venues as developers seek to ensure the attractiveness of their offering by quietening noisy neighbours. Ouseburn Valley developer, award-winning Carillion Igloo, has taken the opposite tact by embracing the strong cultural offering synonymous with the area: it has partnered with Generator, one of the UK’s leading music development agencies, in growing May’s Evolution Emerging event. An unusual alliance at face value, but dig a little deeper and find that the two share a lot more in common than location alone.


Laying cultural foundations Recognised as the cradle of Tyneside’s Industrial Revolution, the Ouseburn is now a vibrant place to live, work and play, with a strong sense of community. Generator’s office sits directly above the Cluny, one of the city’s premier music venues and central to the infrastructure that supports the region’s emerging artists. In the recent bid to attract the 6 Music festival to Tyneside, Generator CEO Jim Mawdsley was proud to show what the Ouseburn had to offer: “The 6 Music and live events team from the BBC fell in love with the Valley, why wouldn’t you? The Cluny was clearly a lynchpin venue but once they’d seen it alongside the Cumberland and Star and Shadow, it was pretty much a done deal.”

Always looking to the future

Growth plans without growth pains

Both partners are also dedicated to building the Ouseburn’s future profile and celebrating its unique features by unveiling and promoting new exciting projects. Carillion Igloo is bringing sustainable homes to Newcastle for the first time, bearing unique features that will promote this sense of community living. Its latest development, the Malings, reflects this approach cconsisting of 76 low energy, eco-friendly homes. As David Roberts, director and deputy chief executive of Igloo explains: “It was always our intention to create a development in keeping with the Ouseburn Valley that plays its part in the continuing revitalisation currently enjoyed by this area of the city. We need to be building homes for people who will thrive on the spirit of the valley and everything it has to offer.” Generator has steadily grown its annual Evolution Emerging event, established originally as a warm-up to the Evolution Festival, which also took place on the mouth of the Ouseburn. Its sole purpose is to promote the region’s finest emerging artists alongside a handful of acts enjoying, or on the brink of, national recognition. It truly is a festival of all that is new and great in North East music. This year an expert industry panel has selected 40 bands and artists to play over nine different locations across the Ouseburn Valley. Event headliners, Sunderland’s Hyde and Beast will be joined by first-class emerging artists, including Lisbon and Shields who are developing a growing national reputation.

It doesn’t end there. Both companies have ambitious future growth plans for their respective projects that will continue to enhance Ouseburn’s reputation. Carrillion Igloo will be launching the second phase of The Malings on June 12 consisting of 25 more dwellings, with a further 17 completing towards the middle of next year. This will be followed by housing and workspaces on Lower Steenbergs Yard in 2017 and the transformation of Malmo Quay, next to Mariners Wharf. Generator, too, has growth plans for Evolution Emerging with a desire to make use of the few open spaces the Valley has to offer and build the festival with outdoor stages complimenting the existing venues. This demonstrates an ambition to make this the trailblazing festival of new music in the north of England. David adds: “We have always been committed to preserving, and enhancing where we can, the cultural heritage that we know and love in the Ouseburn. It is part of what first attracted us here ten years ago when we initially began planning development in the Valley. It is in this tradition of nurture and celebration that we are delighted to have formed a partnership with Generator to support its Evolution Emerging music festival.


For tickets and information on Evolution Emerging visit For more information on the Malings visit

LEISURE & HOSPITALITY Sunderland players John O’Shea and Wes Brown promoting the club’s Weibo account

World wide wearside Kate Smith, digital communications officer at Sunderland AFC, discusses the role of social media at the club. hen Jermain Defoe sealed his January transfer window switch to Wearside back in January, the news was instantaneously conveyed across social media channels as fans, journalists and fellow footballers offered their opinion on the striker’s move. Social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook provide a forum where people can have their say on whatever is going on in the world and they provide a fascinating platform for individuals from all walks of life to find common ground and engage with one another. Defoe’s move whipped Sunderland’s social channels into a frenzy, with almost four million users viewing the club’s Facebook page and another 500,000 fans taking to Twitter to find out more about the deal. Not only do the club’s various social channels keep fans updated with breaking news and offer behind the scenes access to their beloved Sunderland AFC, they also open up international communication strands that perhaps didn’t exist before. Within moments of the Defoe deal being announced, a fan sitting on a dinner break in Castletown was able to compare notes on the


former Toronto FC front man with a supporter logging on at breakfast time in Canada – and just for good measure fans in the capital, who watched the England international for years at Tottenham, could also jump in and give their verdict. As well as playing a key role on major events at the club, social media also plays a pivotal role on a matchday. Football fans check Twitter more than any other social media network on the day their team is playing, checking on average 8.4 times per day, while more than 40 per cent of fans with social media accounts use them to keep up with the action and scores during the game. At the turn of the year Sunderland AFC hit the milestone of one million followers across all social channels and this continues to grow on a daily basis. We know that all those one million fans won’t be able to make it to the Stadium of Light to see the team play, but one of the great advantages of these channels is that the club can connect directly to, and engage with, these fans and bring them closer to the club and communicate on a more personal level. The Black Cats have all areas covered when


it comes to ensuring fans are catered for, with a presence on every major social network including a presence in China with the launch of a Weibo page, highlighting the club’s international ambitions. Over on Facebook, fans can enjoy the Daily Goal feature, quite simply a video clip from the SAFC archives of the most memorable strikes. On Twitter, followers regularly take a trip down memory lane with the very popular ‘On this day’ posts, something emulated by many clubs. Those who want their football fix through the medium of photographs can head over to Instagram and for special behind the scenes access, the club now has a YouTube channel, where you can relive Ellis Short’s Ice Bucket challenge, which has already been viewed by over 160,000 people around the world. The latest addition to SAFC’s digital family is the brand new social hub. The hub literally is the one-stop-shop for all of the club’s social activity and allows fans to see posts, tweets and photographs in one place. If you’ve not already visited the hub head to and join the ever growing online red and white army.


Golf Course Guide:

Ravensworth Golf Club Location

Longest Drive

Situated in the village of Eighton Banks, just off the A1 around 10 miles north of Durham City and just south of Gateshead.

Hole 3, ‘Peggy’s Bank’, is a 502-yard par five with a water hazard running across the fairway 270 yds which comes into play for the longer hitters.

Setting Toughest Hole Overlooking the Angel of the North with views across the surrounding valleys.

Length of course White tees 5913 yds. Yellow 5644 yds. Red 5183 yds.

The 465-yard par four twelfth, ‘The Bridge’ has been stroke one for a number of years; a great test of driving ability to set up a chance to reach the green in two. A four certainly feels better than par here.

Signature Hole

Course type Ravensworth is a well-established Parklands course built in 1906 by JW Fraser and further developed by Dr Alister MacKenzie. Relatively short by today’s standards, it is a good test for golfers of all abilities and its fast running greens provide a good challenge.

Hole 5 ‘The Island’ is a 191-yard par 3 played from an elevated tee down to a plateaued green heavily protected by bunkers. Longer hitters may get there with an iron but many will need a rescue club or wood.

Course Record


Louis Fraser (64)

18 hole golf course with club shop, putting green, practice nets, buggy hire, restaurant and bar.


which, for many years, has been one of the premier scratch golf competitions in the North East. Before the days of air travel, the Ravensworth Bowl was one of the main stopping off points for professionals on their way to the Scottish Open. Ravensworth holds Open competitions all year round to cater for members and visitors.

A word from the Club Manager Ravensworth offers quality golf at affordable prices. A warm welcome awaits visitors on the course, in the club shop, club house and restaurant. We pride ourselves on our friendly welcome and can assure you of a good day at Ravensworth.

Contact Tel: (0191) 487 6014 (option 1) Email: Web:


The club is the home of the Ravensworth Bowl


Green Fees weekday summer £16 Monday and Wednesday Special (Max 4 Ball) £12 per person Weekend summer £20-£25 Discounted rates for visiting parties of 16 or more


The Hampton by Hilton team, headed up by Paolo Franchi

A peek inside Newcastle’s newest hotel… Two months on from its launch, Newcastle’s Hampton by Hilton hotel has already welcomed hundreds of guests through its doors. We go behind the scenes to find out more about one of the city’s newest hotels. he Hampton by Hilton Newcastle, which is located opposite Central Station, is the first of Hilton Worldwide’s mid-priced hotels to open in Newcastle, providing accommodation for both business travellers and people visiting the North East for short breaks and holidays. The eight-storey hotel is located on the previous Baron House site, which has undergone a multi-million pound makeover over the past few months to transform it into a modern and stylish place to stay. The hotel’s general manager is Paolo Franchi who has previously worked at the Quality Hotel Boldon, near Newcastle, at Close House Hotel and Golf Resort and at The Copthorne Hotel in Newcastle, where he began his career aged 15. Paolo says: “It’s been a real thrill to be a part of the new team here at Hampton by Hilton Newcastle. We’ve worked together with the architects, designers and contractors to bring the hotel to completion and now we’ve opened the doors and are thoroughly enjoying meeting all the guests who have been amongst the first to experience a stay here. “This area of the city has benefited from real investment and redevelopment, with the station itself now providing a beautiful gateway to the city for everyone who arrives here.” The building boasts impressive views across


the city from its 160 bedrooms, with landmarks such as St James’ Park, the Metro Radio Arena and Sage Gateshead within walking distance. Guests arriving at Newcastle Airport also have an easy journey to the hotel, with many arriving by Metro at Central Station. The development of the hotel led to the creation of 60 new jobs, with the team of staff already becoming well known for their personal and friendly service. Paolo explains: “The reviews we’ve had from guests, both in person and online, have been fantastic and I’m so proud of the team here for the first-rate experience they’re providing to people. “Newcastle is known as a friendly city and we want to make sure we live up to that reputation as well. We even have multilingual staff so we can provide the best welcome possible to business travellers and tourists coming to us from other countries.” Paolo’s team has already catered for an array of visitors to the city, including conference delegates, British tourists, families, visitors from overseas and even a few famous faces. The hotel has also arranged a number of agreements with large North East businesses to provide accommodation for their corporate guests over the coming months. Hotel facilities include a 24-hour business zone where guests can take advantage of free


Wi-Fi, meeting areas and workspaces. There is also faxing, photocopying and printing services, a gym, a bar and a dining area, with the bar and dining area available for nonresidents to use. The location, over the road from Newcastle Central Station, means the business zone is a convenient space for business meetings, whether it’s a catch-up over a coffee with colleagues or a space for conference delegates to meet. Visitors to the hotel can take advantage of Hilton’s award-winning customer loyalty programme, Hilton HHonors. Points can be redeemed for a range of rewards and experiences. Phil Cordell, global head, focused service and Hampton brand management, Hilton Worldwide, adds: "The United Kingdom is the fastest growing market for the Hampton by Hilton brand in Europe. We have seen strong growth in the region following increasing demand from travellers for high quality affordable accommodation whatever country they visit.” Hampton by Hilton hotel is part of Hilton Worldwide’s UK portfolio and is managed by Interstate Hotels & Resorts on behalf of Baron House Hotel Limited. For more information, visit


Left to right: Marjorie Brenikov (Brenikov Training); Andy Brown (Newcastle College); Von Clark (Job Centre Plus); Tom Aust (Gateshead College); and Jane Klotz (Crowne Plaza Newcastle)

Jewel in the crown for customer service The Crowne Plaza Newcastle – Stephenson Quarter hotel, set to open this summer, promises to raise customer service levels. he much anticipated Crowne Plaza® Newcastle – Stephenson Quarter hotel aims to take customer service levels to a new standard in the region when it opens this summer. With construction well on schedule for the completion of this impressive, seven-storey, 251bed hotel located adjacent to Newcastle Central train station, these final months are being devoted to recruitment and training. It was always the intention of Clouston Group, the owner and developer of the hotel – operated under a management contract with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) – to ensure the venue became a beacon of best practice, bringing together specialists from education and training to establish a world-class workforce. Michelle Percy, managing director of Stephenson Hotel Ltd and director of Clouston Group, was instrumental in pulling together a unique private and public sector partnership for the project. This comprises Job Centre Plus, Gateshead College, Newcastle College and Brenikov Training, specialists in the hospitality and catering sector. Michelle explains: “Crowne Plaza Newcastle will not just be a physical asset that the city can be proud of but will also be a beacon of outstanding customer service. While we have some good examples around the city, we want to raise the bar and act as a catalyst for further improvements in customer service across the board. “Our ambition is to exploit the talent that exists in the region and showcase it to the rest of the country and beyond.” IHG, parent group of Crowne Plaza, embraced the vision and ambition of Clouston Group and has confirmed it will establish Newcastle as its 200th IHG Academy in Europe.


Jane Klotz, HR manager at Crowne Plaza Newcastle, explains: “For our site to be named an IHG Academy is a big coup for us, our partners and the wider city. It shows the commitment to raising the standards of training and customer service. “The Academy is a core pillar of IHG’s corporate responsibility strategy. It helps improve employability and create apprenticeships and local job opportunities around our hotels. “Our Newcastle Academy programme will not only provide skilled, motivated and engaged people for Crowne Plaza but also create a talent pipeline for sister hotels within the Newcastle and wider area.” Jane adds: “We’re looking for people with the right attitude and right personality as well as with drive and passion to deliver great customer service. We’re holding a recruitment Open Day at the Boiler Shop to complete the recruitment needed for our opening phase.” Once complete, the stylish Crowne Plaza Newcastle – Stephenson Quarter will add a major new business conferencing and banqueting facility to the city. “We will be offering the largest single conferencing and banqueting space in Newcastle city centre. The unique Stephenson Suite will be a stunning space for business events and exhibitions,” explains hotel general manager, Andrew Fox. This main conferencing suite – uniquely shaped – will seat and cater for around 400 people. The hotel will also offer eight adaptable meeting rooms that can accommodate small seminars of 12 people, up to large private meetings of 32 and delegate meetings of 100. Combining the large conference suites and meeting rooms – along with the possibility of using the nearby Boiler Shop space – the hotel


can provide more space to become an ideal venue for a wide range of exhibitions. The range of purpose-built, flexible meeting rooms, the high AV spec along with special breakout areas also come with the IHG hallmark of a dedicated meetings director for business events. The hotel and luxurious bedrooms have been carefully designed for both a regional business market along with individual corporate travellers visiting Newcastle. All rooms will be elegantly equipped but the hotel also features extra business benefits such as high quality double showers, a Club level and lounge. There will be 14 luxury suites, four with separate lounges, but all with balconies providing great ‘blue sky’ panoramic views and ‘fresh thinking’ air! Wireless internet access will be complimentary to all guests and there is individual Wi-Fi signals for each bedroom to prevent any black spots. Conference delegates and business travellers can take advantage of the hotel’s ‘retreat-style’ leisure club and relax and rejuvenate with a swim, steam room and treatment. After a busy day, the restaurant and bar will provide a perfect place to either network or unwind with colleagues and friends. The chic brasserie will encourage informal, relaxed dining and entertainment. Meanwhile the gin-led cocktail bar will provide a different space for entertaining. Anyone interested in more information about the hotel, its facilities and bookings should contact Amanda McBride on A recruitment Open Day is to be held at the Boiler Shop in mid-May; please check the Facebook page for details.


A new lease of life for St Mary’s Mike Grahamslaw visits St Mary’s Inn, a pub and B&B with Northumbrian tradition at its heart. ollowing an unusually hectic week at work and with my son, Jack, nicely settled back at Liverpool University and my daughter, Holly, enjoying a sleepover at a friend’s house – my wife, Lisa, and I decided to spend some time at the newly converted St Mary’s Inn near Morpeth. Set in a quiet location on a private estate close to Stannington village in south Northumberland, this converted B&B and pub occupies the site of the old St Mary’s Hospital. Built at the beginning of last century, the hospital closed in 1996. Carefully re-designed to offer space and tranquility, some of its buildings have since been converted into housing. St Mary’s Inn, meanwhile, has taken up residence in what was formerly the hospital’s administration building. With its colourful red brick exterior, contrasting window mouldings, handsome clock tower and arched doorway, it is a very striking building indeed. After a short drive, we checked in and were


shown to our bedroom. The emphasis here is on simplicity with a pale décor, large windows and soft carpets – just the setting for some much-needed R&R. After unpacking, we headed off to explore the building and stumbled upon the bar. It would have been very rude not to sample its delights, so we settled for a quick pre-dinner drink. As a pub aficionado, I was in my element. The pub serves four real ales, including the custom-made St Mary’s Ale (which I sampled). There was so much beer on offer but so little time to sample it – I tried my best though. After a quick snooze back in our room we headed to the dining room, a cosy and welcoming space boasting an open fire. The pub’s menu is both varied and interesting. St Mary’s Inn prides itself on using local produce whenever it can and its dishes are well presented, hearty and plentiful.


I kicked off with the very tasty black pudding with crispy potato and a duck egg while Lisa sampled the mushrooms on toast, an unusual choice for her. I followed this with the obligatory flat iron steak while Lisa tucked into beer battered fish and chips. Both were absolutely spot on and smile inducing food. Following a short break to aid the digestion, we somehow managed to squeeze in a delightful rhubarb pavlova and sticky toffee pudding. After a great night’s sleep, followed by a freshly made full English breakfast, we set off for home feeling suitably re-energised and ready for another fun-packed week. I must look for another suit though, as this one seems to have shrunk somewhat! St Mary’s Inn, St Mary’s Lane, St Mary’s Park, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 6BL, tel: (01670) 293 293, web


Official launch of Chez Mal The Malmaison Hotel, Newcastle officially opened its brand new Chez Mal Bar & Brasserie last month after significant investment into the property.


substantial refurbishment has been undertaken by the Malmaison, including the bar, brasserie and bedrooms as well as the public areas of the hotel. The Malmaison is renowned for being one of the most classically beautiful buildings on the Quayside and with the brasserie now at the front of the hotel, diners can enjoy unrivalled views across the River Tyne, Millenium Bridge and Tyne Bridges. The Chez Mal Bar is located at the back of the hotel featuring an ultra modern New York ‘loft style’ setting. Former TOWIE star and finalist in Strictly Come Dancing Mark Wright wowed the guests at the opening night with a DJ set.


Credit - I AM VIP


A unique character Meet Adam Green, general manager at Hotel du Vin & Bistro Newcastle, who took up his new role just three months ago. Alexis Forsyth catches up with Adam to talk North East hospitality, world-class wines and following your dreams… Tell me about your role at Hotel du Vin & Bistro. I oversee the hotel and bistro operation ensuring the team continues to exceed guests’ expectations, whether they are staying in the hotel, or passing by for a drink in the bar. Every day is different and that's the beauty of the role. One day I can be planning the launch of our new al fresco menu and another day welcoming VIPs and first time guests to the hotel.

What originally attracted you to this position? Having worked for various brands across the world, Hotel du Vin offered me the opportunity to realise my dreams and to work for a company I'm proud of. Newcastle Hotel du Vin is a real hidden gem – it's an exclusive retreat on the edge of the city centre.

What's been your personal highlight so far? Our monthly wine dinners are always a highlight. A bespoke five-course menu expertly matched with five wines chosen by our host ambassador from a chosen vineyard or region. It's about making wine more accessible and showcasing what we do best: great food and

great wine delivered by our passionate team.

What's the best thing about working for the Hotel du Vin brand? All of our hotels have unique character. The company has a passion for excellent service, matched with world-class wines and carefully sourced food. A passion for hospitality runs through the blood of each team member and provides guests with a truly unique experience.

How does your current role compare to your previous jobs? My passion has always been food and beverage and Hotel du Vin more than matches that. My career has covered all facets of food and beverage management – from interning in a 1000-bedroom resort in Orlando to running bespoke dinners onboard yachts in Antibes. The offering at Hotel du Vin is equally varied, from private weddings to afternoon teas. At the moment I am really excited to introduce our new al fresco menu which will be perfect on our private terrace.

Did you always want to work in the hospitality industry? Most kids want to become a footballer or an astronaut when they're older but for me it was a


hotel manager – although I still think I could have been the next Pelé! It's an ambition that has taken me overseas and around the UK, working with some fantastic people in amazing properties.

How does the hospitality sector in the North East fare against other regions in the UK? Much to the envy of other regions, delivering amazing hospitality comes naturally to the North East; it’s part of our DNA. It's great to see a culture of fantastic food and drink embedding itself throughout the region. This is highlighted by events like the forthcoming Rugby World Cup, or Newcastle being voted the UK's favourite destination in last year's Guardian and Observer Travel Awards.

What are your long-term career aspirations? Having travelled around the world it is great to come back to a hotel brand and a city that I love. This is my first hotel general manger position so I intend to establish myself and lay down some roots in the city. Like Newcastle, the hospitality industry is always evolving, so I am sure many exciting opportunities lie ahead. For more information about Hotel du Vin & Bistro Newcastle, visit

LEISURE & HOSPITALITY Staybridge Suites offers a mix of stylish studios and one bedroom guest suites

A four-star hotel stay with a difference Mike Grahamslaw checks into Staybridge Suites in Newcastle. n accredited four-star hotel in its own right, Staybridge Suites, situated on Buxton Street in central Newcastle, offers a different concept to your standard hotel. Its 128 stylish non-smoking studios and one bedroom guest suites offer flexibility for both long and short-term stays. Ideally suited to those with long-term business commitments in the city, this aparthotel provides guests with a home-from-home environment. The accommodation offers a fully-fitted kitchen with all the mod-cons, including a stove, microwave/grill oven, toaster, refrigerator, cooking utensils, tableware and, of course, a dining area. It’s worth noting, however, that a complimentary breakfast is available, with complimentary tea and coffee available 24 hours a day. Each suite also includes a versatile workspace comprising a desk, lamp and telephone with voicemail facility. For added convenience, free high speed Wi-Fi is also available. However, if you don’t want to work from your room, Staybridge Suites has its own on-site 24/7 business centre.


Public areas include a bright and airy lounge, which is perfect for socialising with work colleagues, friends and families. Plus, Staybridge Suites guests have a longstanding invite to an after-work midweek reception. Guests can enjoy an assortment of complimentary drinks and snacks and can even stock up on groceries at its 24-hour pantry – ideal for preparing a private dinner back in your own suite. Guests also have use of the Den, which is filled with a range of books and board games. For the more energetic, Staybridge's free inhouse fitness centre boasts a rower, treadmill, free weights and a stationary bicycle. Staybridge Suites has an onsite complimentary laundry room and also offers a same-day dry cleaning service. Housekeeping services are offered daily, with weekends on request, matching with its four-star rating. Staybridge Suites also boasts a fantastic location near the Quayside and is just a 15minute walk from Eldon Square shopping centre as well as the city’s vibrant mix of bars and restaurants. Newcastle and Northumbria Universities are also on its doorstep, with other nearby attractions including the iconic


Millennium Bridge, the BALTIC and the Sage Gateshead. With regards to transport links, Newcastle Central Station is just a ten-minute walk away and Newcastle International Airport is 15 minutes away by car. All in all, this is an ideal venue for business executives, especially those after a flexible and cost-effective four-star base from where they can check out local business opportunities. Whilst not something I would normally try, this city centre facility intrigued me enough to take my wife, Lisa, and daughter, Holly, for an overnight stay. I'm pleased I took this opportunity to try out the accommodation for myself, as I’m often asked for advice on where to stay in the city. Indeed, all the Grahamslaw clan thoroughly enjoyed the Staybridge experience and we would be inclined to make a return visit in the future. Staybridge Suites Newcastle, Buxton Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6NL, tel: (0191) 238 7000, web:


Rockliffe Hall provides the backdrop to a variety of events over the coming months

It’s a spring thing at Rockliffe Hall Upcoming highlights from the five-star hotel’s events calendar… t’s time to shake off those winter shackles as spring has well and truly sprung – and there’s even another Bank Holiday to plan for! Rockliffe Hall in Hurworth, County Durham has unveiled a line-up of events to put a spring in your step. From dancing with the stars to new treats from the spa – it’s time to get out and about.


Spring into summer or enjoy a sweet treat Rejuvenate the body and re-energise the soul with Rockliffe Hall’s award-winning spa, which has some new special offers to help you do just that. Spring clean your mind, body and skin with a spa break, spa day or maybe even a ‘quick fix’. End your weekend in style with a brand new ‘Stay Sunday Spa Monday’ short break where you’ll enjoy delicious food, full use of the extensive spa facilities and a relaxing treatment, and as an added bonus, you won’t have to dread Monday as you can spend all day spa-ing. If it’s quick fix you’re after, then the Magical May Twilight is ideal. Drop by after work and relax in the spa with a glass of fizz followed by dinner in the Brasserie. Or maybe you fancy a sweet treat? What could be better than switching off midweek with a relaxing brunch, time in the spa and a perfectly polished manicure? And to end your Sweet Treat Midweek spa day, indulge in cakes and coffee.

Going live at Rockliffe Hall New for 2015 at Rockliffe Hall are a range of live music and theatre-style events. West End spectaculars, Broadway plays and X Factor stars have already proved popular. Every Friday and Saturday night in Rockliffe Hall’s Clubhouse, local singers and musicians entertain, with well-known local names such as Val Boyers, Jamie Farrell and rising star Jodie Nicholson. There’s a host of events to enjoy in the Rockliffe Suite too including, on June 12, a chance to step back in time and savour the music of The Beatles. The Counterfeit Beatles are one of the bestknown Beatles tribute bands, having headlined the main stage at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival in front of 80,000 people – with Coldplay, Elvis Costello and Primal Scream also on the bill – and also having starred in the famous stage production, Beatlemania. Now the band will be taking to the stage at Rockliffe Hall, complete with psychedelic guitars, full 60s costumes and favourites from the early days of Love Me Do and I Wanna Hold Your Hand to Hey Jude, Back in the USSR and All You Need is Love. For something completely different, how about a murder mystery? On May 23, you can play detective as a ‘Phantom of the Opera’ style Murder Mystery night arrives at Rockliffe Hall.


Expect affairs of the heart, shocks aplenty and a little corruption, too.

Calendar Girls Everyone has heard of the Calendar Girls and now Take That star, Gary Barlow is turning their story into a musical. One of the original Calendar Girls, Angela Baker, will be joining the ladies who lunch at Rockliffe Hall to share her unique experiences from when it all began in 1998, through to the making of the calendar and raising millions for charity. But if you’re a lady that’s too busy for lunch, how about front row seats for an elegant evening of food and fashion at Rockliffe Hall? Fresh from London Fashion Week, celebrity manicurist, Laura Maddock, will be showcasing the latest nail trends while gracing the catwalk will be stylish inspiration for the summer from Leggs of Darlington. Rockliffe Hall’s hair and beauty experts will also be on hand to demonstrate their skills and share their trend predictions. Add to these events a special Royal Ascot day on June 20 and a Michael Bublé tribute on June 24, as well as wine dinners in The Orangery, and there really is plenty to get you set for spring and summer at Rockliffe Hall. For more information, visit


The perfect mix North East Times catches up with Holiday Inn Washington’s sales office manager and head chef to find out what’s new at the hotel this spring. ales office manager, Michelle Christie and head chef John Pyburn are both very passionate about the hospitality industry, having worked for Holiday Inn Washington for eight and 19 years respectively. “The hospitality sector is great to work in as you get to meet a great range of customers from all over the world,” enthuses Michelle. “The wedding side of the industry is also fantastic as you get the chance to be part of many people’s special occasions and help them in the planning stages, which gives you a great sense of pride.” John adds: “I enjoy a busy and fast paced environment, working closely with others to meet customers’ expectations. The most fulfilling aspect of my job is ensuring our guests have a memorable stay, providing a high quality of service from dinner through to breakfast. Another highlight is working closely with my kitchen team and giving them the opportunity to show our customers the high standard of food we provide at the hotel.” The enthusiasm showcased by both Michelle and John is a perfect fit with Holiday Inn, which places friendly customer service and a casual, comfortable atmosphere at the centre of its brand. The hotel in Washington offers a mix of 136 well-appointed bedrooms to suit business and leisure guests, incorporating standard, executive and family, which Michelle describes as “excellent quality and value for money”. It’s not just about the amenities on offer; its


staff are also instrumental to the hotel’s success, as Michelle explains: “The amount of comments and feedback we receive regarding the team is phenomenal. They all say how polite and friendly the staff are; how nothing is ever too much trouble and that they are a credit to the hotel. I believe this is what makes us stand out from other competitor hotels.”

explains Michelle. “We now offer some exciting packages called Confetti & Champagne, Hearts & Kisses, Dreams & Delight, Wedding Bells & Diamonds and our Winter Package – all of these packages can be adapted to suit a couple’s individual needs.” The hotel also boasts seven acres of grounds – an idyllic backdrop for wedding photographs.

Corporate facilities aplenty

British cuisine on-site

Holiday Inn Washington boasts a range of modern facilities aimed at corporate clients looking to host meetings or conferences. The hotel has nine meeting rooms in total, all equipped with wireless internet and AV equipment, which can accommodate everything from a small board meeting to a theatre-style event for up to 100 delegates. Plus, all of its Syndicate meeting rooms have recently been redecorated. Along with ample free parking, the hotel’s location is convenient for Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham and the town of Washington itself, and is well placed for accessing major routes across the region.

As for the hotel’s food offer – The Traders restaurant is a contemporary and stylish dining space that also features an outdoors patio area. A separate bar and lounge can also be found on the ground floor of the hotel. Discussing the cuisine on offer at The Traders, head chef John says: “We offer a wide range of dishes on our main restaurant menu. We also host themed nights and offer our signature dishes through our specials boards, including Shepherd’s pie and lemon sole with salsa verde.” He adds: “We use regional ingredients and produce where we can, including locally caught fish. “We launched an exciting new menu at the end of April which offers fresh, light dishes that tie in perfectly with this season. We now offer a range of healthy specials, including low fat salads, too.”

Picture perfect weddings Along with its business clientele, the hotel also caters for brides and grooms-to-be. “We have re-launched our wedding packages,”


For more information about Holiday Inn Washington, visit


The future of hospitality Sam Doyle, area sales manager for Sodexo Prestige at Newcastle United and Tyne and Wear Archives & Museums, looks at how hospitality has changed… here’s no doubt that in recent years, the hospitality industry has changed beyond all recognition. With public sector budgets slashed and those looking at corporate hospitality wanting more bang for their buck, providers have had to be astute to weather the storm. For Sam Doyle, area sales manager for hospitality at both NUFC and Tyne and Wear Archives & Museums, the challenges that the industry has faced in recent years have really been a case of survival of the fittest. Sam explains: “We’re lucky in the fact that we have such high profile venues which are extremely versatile, meaning that we are able to accommodate events and meeting, catering for a handful of people up to 1000. “Being unique is definitely a strength, coupled with a reputation for being able to provide what a client wants.” And what clients seem to now want is a onestop-shop where a venue will not only provide the


Area sales manager, Sam Doyle

food, but will also support the client in suggesting décor, theming, entertainment and anything that adds the ‘wow’ factor.


“Adaptability is the name of the game now,” says Sam. “It’s being able to offer clients a whole host of solutions which makes their lives easier and they feel confident that you are able to deliver. “Both private and public sector business is more answerable than ever before so it’s important as a venue that we are able to show good value, while at the same time providing a first class service.” Hospitality, generally, is seeing a change in the way people want to hold events, often looking for less formal dining options rather than the standard sit down, three course dinner. Sam adds: “Listening to our customers is at the heart of all we do. It’s important for people in our industry to talk to the client and look at what they want and come up with the solution that meets their needs.” For more information, visit and


Pronto is a new addition to Blyth’s restaurant scene

Get along to Pronto – and make it quick Mike Grahamslaw enjoys hearty Italian and Greek fayre at the newly opened Pronto restaurant in Northumberland. n the evening before my son, Jack, returned to university, the Grahamslaw clan and my niece, Erin, planned a farewell supper to send him on his way. We decided on a new Greek and Italian restaurant called Pronto. Situated close to Blyth's main shopping area with lots of parking nearby, it had opened just five weeks previously but had already received some rave reviews on TripAdvisor, not to mention over a thousand likes on Facebook. Clearly, it’s ticking the right boxes for a lot of people. Run by George Liakris (an old friend from our family favourite restaurant, Amici's in Forest Hall) we were greeted on arrival by Alexa, George's wife, who showed us to a family-sized table. Over drinks, we soaked up the contemporary surroundings, complete with high ceilings and wooden beams which give the restaurant a lovely airy feel. With an open plan kitchen in view and a wood-fired pizza oven, the delicious smell of good Italian cooking pervaded the air, which really got the digestive juices flowing. The menus arrived, but typically, our personal choices chopped and changed before we finally ordered. We settled on potato skins, garlic bread and bruschetta to start – the latter served on wooden boards – which I shared with the girls. Meanwhile, Jack dug into his favourite – mussels with a garlic, red wine and

chilli sauce. Jack described this as the best mussels-based dish he had tasted in a long time. We then moved on to our main courses. The girls all opted for variations of half pizza/half pasta. We all agreed that the food was fresh and tasty, and way above standard Italian fayre. The pizzas had a distinct taste, thanks to being cooked in the wood-fired oven. The texture of the base (always a good barometer of expertise in the kitchen) was exceptional. I opted for gamberoni catalana, a wonderful dish consisting of king prawns with onions, peppers, taco sauce, chilli and rice. This delivered a delightful kick, which is an absolute necessity for this chilli monster. Across the table, Jack waded into peppered steak with all the trimmings. Totally replete, we rounded off the fantastic meal with coffee while making a mental note to leave room for a dessert on our next visit. The sizeable portions served at Pronto leave little hope of that though, unless we skip the starter – but with food this good, there’s not much chance of that either. Pronto is a fantastic addition to the North East restaurant scene and deserves to win wider acclaim in the months ahead. The food is simply superb and we all agreed this was one of the best meals we have had in a long time.


Pronto Restaurant, 10 Bowes Street, Blyth, Northumberland, NE24 1LQ. Tel: (01670) 797 034



Business lunch

Twin Farms Alexis Forsyth ventures out of town for a leisurely mid-week lunch. aving over indulged over the Easter weekend, I continued along a similar vein by enjoying a three-course business lunch on my first day back to work. My destination? Twin Farms – a food pub that’s part of the Sir John Fitzgerald chain and which counts Café Royal, The Manor House and The Ridley Arms among its extended family. The pub is located a short distance from Newcastle Airport, with road and Metro links nearby, which means Newcastle city centre and other hot spots along the A1 are within easy reach. Newcastle Falcons’ rugby ground, the backdrop to many a corporate soiree, is also visible from the pub’s car park. All in all, it’s a good ‘mid-point’ you might say, for bringing business acquaintances together over lunch. Location credentials aside, what will diners find when they step inside this farmstead building? Exuding a distinct home from home charm, Twin Farms has all those endearing features you would expect. I’m talking wooden beams, plush upholstery, real coal fires, tartan curtains and ambient lighting. Let’s now shift the spotlight onto the food… You’ll find what the pub describes as ‘modern, home-cooked’ dishes which champion local produce. My crab, apple and caper berry salad, rested on a slice of toasted brioche, was a prime example. This delicate and stylishly presented creation was


light, fragrant and colourful – a perfect springtime starter. My colleagues, meanwhile, got their lunch underway with a more hearty combination of ingredients. The tasty black pudding patties, served with Northumbria cheese hash browns and salad cream dressing; and the crispy Tempura king prawns, accompanied by Asian ‘slaw and zingy chilli and soy dipping sauce, were both very satisfying. With a tantalising mix of main courses on offer, from house favourites like crispy duck leg; and chicken, cider and ham hock pie, to steaks, grills and skewers featuring locally sourced Blagdon Farm sausages and Broom Mill Farm bacon chops – you might find yourself, like me, mulling over your selection for quite some time. You can’t beat a seafood classic like battered cod and chips though, and this choice did, thankfully, comfortably hit the mark. The flaky white fish was encased in golden batter, served alongside thick-cut chips boasting extra crunch and flavour thanks to being cooked in beef dripping. There was also the standard helping of mushy peas, with tartar sauce on the side. The rack of lamb was one of five dishes on the specials menu. The lamb arrived perched on a portion of ratatouille and sweet potato fondant. The highlight, however, was the rich rosemary and redcurrant jus, which married all the ingredients on the plate together perfectly.


Opting for a house favourite – my other colleague chose the pan roasted belly pork. The pork was teetering on the dry side, but the dish – served with black pudding stuffing, mint pesto, fine beans and crackling – was excellently executed otherwise. The swede gratin, layered with smoky bacon, lifted the whole dish and contrasted well with the sage and onion sauce. We rounded off our lunch with three delightful desserts. My Mississippi mud pie was lusciously soft. Oomph on the flavour front came courtesy of the salted caramel ice cream and a decorative zigzag of toffee sauce across the plate. As for my colleague’s rhubarb and custard crumble tart, this was beautifully presented; the tart’s flavour enhanced by tangy dots of vanilla and rhubarb, and a scoop of pungent ginger ice cream. My other colleague’s sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream was equally as pleasing. Admittedly, Twin Farms might not instantly spring to mind when considering a leisurely business lunch, but it’s a real gem of an out of town destination. What’s more, it also boasts an outdoors terrace, which means sunshine-filled business catch-ups are afoot when summer (finally) arrives in our region. Twin Farms, 22 Main Road, Kenton Bank Foot, Newcastle, NE13 8AB. Tel (0191) 286 1263,

Crab, apple and caper berry salad

Tempura king prawns

Black pudding patties




Pan roasted belly pork

Crispy battered cod

Rack of lamb




Mississippi mud pie

Sticky toffee pudding

Rhubarb and custard crumble tart






Academic heritage and success in the heart of Newcastle SACRED HEART HIGH SCHOOL FOR GIRLS HAS BEEN DEVOTED TO THE EDUCATION OF WOMEN SINCE 1905. HERE, HEADMISTRESS MRS BATH TELLS US MORE ABOUT THE SCHOOL’S VALUES AND ITS SUCCESSFUL APPROACH. Sacred Heart High School is part of a worldwide network of schools founded in the 1800s by St Madeleine Sophie Barat, eight of which are in the UK. The network stretches from Hammersmith to Rome and New York City to Mexico City. Our family of Sacred Heart schools was established after the French Revolution with the foremost intention of educating girls – the women of the future – who would make society a better place for everyone. This burning ambition of our founder is still what drives our school in Fenham today, as we strive to provide a world-class education for the girls in our care – something we are very successful at achieving. A LONG TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS

Sacred Heart has been an Ofsted Outstanding school since 2007 and is one of a handful of schools in our region to remain Outstanding under the new inspection framework. Our results consistently place us in the top 100 of state funded schools nationally. Indeed, in the recent Times league tables, Sacred Heart was the top performing state school, achieving better results than some independent schools. This year’s GCSE results have been the best ever with 82 per cent of our students achieving five or more A*-C grades including English and Maths at first entry, and this in a year of examination turmoil where results fell dramatically. Almost one in five girls also gained eight or more A*/A grades which is a fantastic achievement. Nationally, only one in five grades are A*/A, but at Sacred Heart this is now more than one in three, at 35 per cent.

world of work. We believe this approach works particularly well and our results are testament to this. THE WHOLE CHILD

The education of the ‘whole child’ is integral to our Sacred Heart philosophy. As we live in society with others, relationships are a vital part of this education. Much time and emphasis is placed on fostering good relationships, and showing consideration and respect for others. We also provide a vast array of extra-curricular activities for our girls to experience. Indeed, many of our students participate in sport at regional and national level. As well as a packed programme of after school clubs, we run Duke of Edinburgh to gold standard, with expeditions taking place throughout the year. We want our school to provide life long memories for our students and as a result, we run annual trips to destinations such as Barcelona, Bergamo Italy, and the French Alps, with charitable expeditions to Morocco and Uganda. Sacred Heart prides itself in its commitment to the performing arts, which means students can access fabulous facilities for music, dance and drama. Each year our students participate in a wonderful music evening at Northern Stage and this year the Royal Shakespeare Company will stage Henry Vth on our school stage using some of our students as actors.


Again our results at A level are superb. Students achieve both the highest grades and highest proportion of AAB grades at A level within state schools in the city. Last year 25 per cent of grades were A*/A, one in five students achieved two or more A*/A and better than one in three achieved two or more A*-B. This ensures that our students leave us for Russell Group Universities to follow high tariff courses such as medicine, architecture, computing, dentistry and economics. This year, three of our students have secured places at Oxbridge, whilst others are heading for local destinations such as Durham and Newcastle with whom we have forged close links. Other popular university choices include LAMDA, LSE, Imperial and UCL. Our newly extended and refurbished Sixth Form centre offers superb facilities for study, which rival university campus facilities and enable our students to flourish as they prepare for their examinations and the adult world beyond. Whilst our school is single sex in years 7-11, in the Sixth Form we welcome boys from our partner school St Cuthbert’s, and so both genders are able to work together and share in common events that will prepare them for either higher education or the



Do you have to be a Catholic to join Sacred Heart? No. Whilst many of our students come from Catholic families, a large proportion are not and are from families who want their daughters to be educated in a faith setting. Each year about 25 places are reserved for girls who have a talent for the performing arts and want to attend a school that will enable them to develop their talents further. All of this is clearly set out in our admissions criteria, available on the Sacred Heart website. Can I visit Sacred Heart during the school day? Yes. As well as official open evenings for prospective Year 7 parents and Sixth form, we run visits throughout the year, where parents are welcome to see the school in operation and ask questions to the senior leader who will conduct the tour. If you would like to visit Sacred Heart, contact Margaret Heron on tel (0191) 275 1910 or email Sacred Heart Catholic High School, Fenham Hall Drive, Fenham, Newcastle, NE4 9YH.

The school is single sex in years 7-11, but welcomes boys from St Cuthbert’s in the Sixth Form



News from Dame Allan’s Schools A round up of the latest highlights from the independent school. National champions – again! For the second consecutive year Dame Allan’s Schools’ Under 15 girls’ squash team has been crowned national champions. The five strong team won the 2015 National Squash Championships in Manchester after beating Kenilworth 3-2 in the final. Laura Neill, aged 14, captained the victorious team with the youngest member just 11-years-old. The team’s journey began months ago with successful regional rounds qualifying them for a place in the finals. Laura and three of her team members also joined the Under 19 girls’ team on the court; they played extremely competitively and finished runners up, losing out on their second title to the highly ranked British players in the Wycliffe School team. The successes didn’t end there with the Under 15 boys’ team also winning the trophy competition. Jane Dennis, sports coach at Dame Allan’s Junior School and squash coach at The Northumberland Club, is delighted with the results: “We are thrilled to have won the national title for a second year, it underlines how strong our squash team is and it is a fantastic achievement for our talented and dedicated pupils.” Dame Allan’s has also been enjoying rugby wins including the Under 18 team winning the Keswick Sevens and the shield at Austin Friars, the Under 16 team winning the

Northumberland County Sevens and the Under 14 team winning the County Cup against Queen Elizabeth High School, Hexham with an impressive 51-0 score. Additionally, two Sixth Form pupils at Dame Allan’s Schools were named Rising Stars of Sport 2015 by Sport Newcastle earlier this year.

Students try out professions in National Careers Week Students at Dame Allan’s got an authentic taste of careers in law during National Careers Week 2015. A group of lucky Sixth Form politics pupils took part in a mock trial at Northumbria University and were given a talk by Kevin Kerrigan, dean of the Business and Law School, who discussed the wide range of careers which result from a law degree. The students made use of the real life courtroom at the university, which has been used as the set for a host of TV programmes, after it was removed from Bedlington Magistrates Court. The workshop involved students acting out the trial of an assault case by taking on a number of roles including lawyers, clerk, police officers, jury and witnesses. The pupils were also joined by renowned law professional Tony Storey who led proceedings, acting as the judge. The aim of the workshop was to introduce


pupils to different careers in law, in a fun and interesting way. Millie Scott, 17, a Year 12 student took on the role of clerk. She says: “Acting out the trial was a lot of fun and really helped me to understand who has what role in law. I am interested in pursuing a career in law and the trial gave me a taste of what it would be like.” Kevin Kerrigan told the students: “There are a number of different careers in law and we are always pleased to be able to offer our facilities to inspire young people. What you should take away from this experience is not only that the law is interesting and challenging, but that it is also about helping people.” Principal at Dame Allan’s Schools, Dr Hind says: “Our pupils had a brilliant time at the mock trial. We know how important it is for them to be supported in their career choices alongside their academic studies and this was a very beneficial exercise in an authentic setting. We would like to thank Northumbria University again for their hospitality.” The workshop was part of a packed careers week at the schools which included business and finance lectures, workshops on the world of work and a ‘Focus on Engineering’ day at engineering firm Sevcon, a global company based in the North East, to learn more about the role of an engineer. This will build on the recent donation by the Reece Foundation. For more information, visit


Character-first philosophy attracts awards Gateshead-based Emmanuel College receives four accolades in just three months. t is 25 years since Emmanuel College opened its doors to a new kind of state education – one that values character ahead of qualifications; sportsmanship over winning and service before self. It has proved to be a winning formula, with the Gateshead school maintaining an outstanding judgement from Ofsted throughout its entire history, one of very few to achieve this. Its silver anniversary got off to an awardwinning start with four significant accolades in three months:


• A Schools, Students and Teachers Network (SSAT) Educational Outcomes Award for progress, putting Emmanuel in the top ten per cent of schools nationally for the valueadded progress made by pupils between key stage 2 results at primary school and GCSE results at 16; • A national Pupil Premium award for the gains made by students from disadvantaged backgrounds; • A national Character Award presented by the Secretary of State for Education for personal development initiatives and leadership opportunities to prepare young people for life in modern Britain;

Emmanuel is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year

• And an SSAT award for attainment at GCSE that puts Emmanuel in the top ten per cent of non-selective schools nationally. The awards for the progress of students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are particularly encouraging for a school that does not select on ability and draws the majority of its students from inner Gateshead.


Sue Williamson, chief executive of SSAT, congratulated the college for its exceptional achievement: "These results are testament to the commitment and hard work of the students, teachers and leadership team at Emmanuel College, and show what can be achieved when skilled teachers have high expectations and ambition for every young person." Emmanuel has never chased the prizes, never made high exam results its primary goal and never put its own reputation above the needs of each individual student. The reasons for its success are numerous, but principal Jonathan Winch highlights the underpinning Christian ethos and core values, the partnership between staff, students and parents, and students’ self-discipline, hard work and concern for others. Embodying this, the college is marking its 25th anniversary by raising £25,000 to open a chain of schools in South Africa for some of the world's poorest children as it aims to leave a lasting legacy in education, both at home and overseas. For more information, visit


What’s on

MAY 9 – RICH HALL’S 3.10 TO HUMOUR Whitley Bay Playhouse. Opinionated, observant and deadpan, Rich Hall is the kind of American we Brits like: a grouchy one. A regular on Saturday Night Live and the Late Show with David Letterman he may be, but the man credited by Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening as the inspiration behind iconic bartender Moe Szyslak has become a British institution too, from his Perrier Award-winning breakthrough at Edinburgh Fringe as country music singing redneck convict Otis Lee Crenshaw in 2000 to his current incarnation as a regular panel show favourite (only Alan Davies has won more episodes of QI) and documentary presenter for the BBC (the resurfacing on YouTube of his acerbic takedown of Jeremy Clarkson, from the road movie documentary Continental Drifters was perhaps the only good thing to come out of the recent Top Gear debacle). Tickets £16.

MAY 19-23 – THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS Theatre Royal, Newcastle. Arm yourself with a pack of tissues or two and prepare to be stirred, stunned and heartbroken as the world stage premiere of John Boyne’s bestselling novel makes its Newcastle debut at the Theatre Royal. Set during World War II, the emotive tale of an unlikely friendship between two innocent boys is seen through the eyes of Bruno, the nine-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and devastating consequences. Despite the controversy and criticism levelled at Boyne’s fictional fable, not least of all by Holocaust survivors, the appeal of this simplified history lesson endures – the 2008 British-made movie grossed $40m worldwide – and the stage incarnation brings it to a wider audience still. Tickets from £13.50.



Sunderland Empire. Impoverished by a string of flops, New York producer Max Bialystock recruits timid accountant Leo Bloom to help him pull off Broadway's greatest scam. Together they aim to produce the worst show ever and run away to Rio with millions... but they soon learn that show business can always find a way to kick you in the teeth. Based on Mel Brooks' much-loved Academy Award winning movie, the show that puts the comedy back into musical comedy has taken Broadway and the West End by storm, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards and three Olivier Awards. From the producer of sellout successes Midnight Tango and Dance ’Til Dawn, the director of Top Hat and starring comedians Jason Manford and Phill Jupitus, The Producers is filled with fabulous costumes, glamorous dancing girls, and hysterical show tunes (including the classic Springtime For Hitler).Tickets from £12.90.

Dance City. “The body is the frontline” – this is the provocative premise for a characteristically highly charged and thought provoking piece from world-leading female choreographer Rosie Kay, whose reputation for strong, intelligent work, interesting subjects and exciting collaborations is upheld here with a visceral work that provides an intimate view of the training that prepares our soldiers for the sheer physicality of combat and the impact conflict has on the bodies and minds of everyone it touches. A visceral 'tour de force' of the senses with powerful physicality, moments of humour and honesty inspired by input from serving and former soldiers, 5 SOLDIERS delivers Kay’s trademark style of intense physical and athletic dance theatre in a work that received not only audience and critical acclaim for its debut performances in 2010 and 2011, but has been endorsed as ‘getting it’ by its military audiences. Tickets £12.50.



Riverside Newcastle. When Edinburgh schoolboys Kayus Bankole, USraised by Nigerian parents, and Liberian-born Alloysious Massaquoi met Graham ‘G’ Hastings at an under-16s hip-hop night, they discovered they had more in common that the fact that all shared a name with their fathers: music, and its possibilities. Now, as the trio enter their late twenties, it’s still the music that unites them although their sound - a genre-smashing, politically aware, socially engaged sonic stew of riff-heavy immensity, leftfield electronica and psychedelic hip-hop - remains stubbornly difficult to define. Continuing to cement their reputation as a fierce live act, 2014 was a breakthrough year to say the least, with TAPE TWO winning Scottish Album of the Year and the follow-up Dead beating 14:1 odds to become a surprise winner of the Mercury Prize. On course to top last year’s relentless 140-date tour schedule in 2015, they’re on the road again with a new album already, White Men Are Black Men Too.

Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle. A household name he may not be, but as street credentials go Joe Bataan’s are pretty much unparalleled. The originator of the New York Latin soul style that anticipated disco. Born in the Bronx to a Filipino mother and African American father and brought up among Puerto Ricans, Bataan’s musical experience began in the 1950s with street corner doowop and (after a couple of prison stints) in the late 60s era of boogaloo and Latin soul that anticipated disco, became a leading innovator in the blending of African American and Latin Caribbean styles. He went on to found the Salsoul record label in 1973 and in 1979 his song Rap-O, Clap-O became one of the first rap records to enter the European market. All this, up close and personal, with an eight-piece band? Hoochie Coochie does it again… Tickets £20.



Before embarking on a fat loss plan, address your gut health

Whatever your diet, respect your ‘micro-biome’ Don’t compromise your gut health, says BeFit’s Antonia Pellegrino Freeman. aleo, primal, vegetarian, vegan, calorie counting, tracking macro nutrients, low fat, high fat, ketogenic, low sugar… There are so many diets in the media – it’s no wonder that people are confused. In my experience, people focus too much on calories, macros and meal times, but ignore the most important thing: gut health. I recently attended the online Healthy Gut Summit, hosted by top nutritional experts and functional medicine doctors in the USA, including Dr Leonard Smith, Dr Mark Hyman, Dr Tom O’Bryan and Donna Gates. The buzz word was ‘micro biome’ – basically, our internal gut ecosystem. To put it crudely, we have trillions of bacteria in our micro biome. The small intestine alone is around 23 feet long. We need a lot of the so called ‘good bacteria’ to balance the system. Many of our diets are rich in sugar and this actually feeds the ‘bad bacteria’. Nowadays, it is common to find many people in our society with gut dysbiosis (poor gut health), leaky gut, yeast overgrowth, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and food sensitivities, to name a few. If your gut is imbalanced and unhappy, it can cause a whole host of issues. Wind, bloating, stomach cramps, brain fog, joint pain,


constipation, diarrhea, fat gain or fat loss, and skin problems are just a few signs of a compromised gut health. Many people want to drop fat from the abdominals, muffin top and legs but if your body is internally stressed or toxic then fat loss will not be the body’s main priority. Before you embark on a new diet or fat loss plan, you should address the health of your micro biome. Consult your GP first to see if they can run tests for you, if gut health is something that you are concerned about. Here are a few tips that may help you with your gut health. • Discover your food sensitivities – I use a system called Health Kinesiology to muscle test foods. • Hydrate with filtered water – the gut needs water to move the toxins along. • Limit exposure to toxins such as processed food, additives and sugar. • Eat good fat such as coconut oil, grass-fed organic butter and omega 3 fish oil. • Limit gluten (wheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats) as these can be inflammatory to the gut. • Eat high quality protein such as eggs, freerange chicken, wild fish and grass-fed meat. • Increase fibre. Eat your greens, aim for


around eight portions of fibrous veggies a day. Try adding chia seeds or flax seeds to shakes and smoothies. Fibre helps with gut transit and detoxification. • Take a probiotic, especially if you have been prescribed antibiotics as these can kill the good guys too. Aim for a multi strain capsule rather than the supermarket yogurt alternatives. These can be loaded with sugar which can feed the ‘bad bacteria’. You can also make your own kefir (a cultured dairy product) from starter kits available online. • Supplement with a digestive enzyme (consult your GP if you have had hiatal hernia or ulcers). If you have a history of such then aloe vera juice may help digestion. • Take glutamine, a great immune boosting amino acid that gives TLC to the gut. • Get a zinc test to see if you are absorbing nutrients. At BeFit, we can do a simple zinc test. Zinc is important for the immune system as well as muscle building and nutrient absorption. Having a bio-signature or bio-print assessment is also a great way to find out what your fat stores say about your gut health. To see how you can be healthy from the inside out, tel (0191) 213 5300

A DV E R TI SER ’S AN N O UN CEMEN T Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital is located in the suburb of Jesmond

Making private healthcare easy Swift, affordable healthcare at Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital. t Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital, we offer pay-for-your-self private healthcare for patients who do not have private medical insurance. Our hospital, located in Jesmond, specialises in a wide range of surgical and non-surgical treatments, provided by some of the region’s top consultants. More and more people are investing in payfor-your-self private healthcare, to ensure they receive the best possible treatment as soon as possible. At Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital, we offer daily clinics providing our patients with a wide selection of appointment times to suit their needs. We understand that patients are scared and nervous when visiting our hospital, however our nursing staff – guided by our hospital matron – work around the clock to ensure our patients’ comfort and safety. All of our 39 rooms are private and equipped with TV, Wi-Fi and their own ensuite facilities. We have flexible visiting hours


and complimentary hot and cold beverages for friends and families. Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital specialises in a wide range of services including: hip and knee surgery, gynaecology, ophthalmology, general surgery, foot and ankle surgery, varicose vein surgery, spinal surgery, cardiology, shoulder and elbow surgery, ear, nose and throat ENT surgery, urology, cosmetic surgery, oral surgery, dermatology, neurology, breast care, weight loss surgery, gastroenterology investigations, imaging (including MRI and CT), and physiotherapy.

The Nuffield Health Promise Our unique promise on your hospital treatment guarantees all-inclusive pricing, no time limits on your aftercare, and a commitment to meet any comparable price*. Giving you peace of mind when you pay for yourself.

Recovery Plus Recovery Plus is Nuffield Health’s flagship recovery programme, available free of charge to our private patients at Nuffield Health hospitals. It is an optional enhanced recovery pathway that starts after you have finished your post-operative physiotherapy, and enables you to continue your recovery at a Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Gym, at no extra cost. Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital is here to enable you to get the most out of your life by improving not only your health but your overall wellbeing. We promise to guide and support you through every stage of your treatment at Nuffield Health Newcastle Hospital. You will be looked after throughout by the same consultant who will visit you following your operation to discuss your surgery and aftercare. For more information, contact the hospital customer services team on tel (0191) 543 8870

*Not including private patients units at NHS hospitals. Local area defined as within 15 miles of the Nuffield Health hospital. We will match against written quotes only. Promise is valid for patients paying for themselves. Where possible, we promise to assist you to receive any follow up advice, treatment or care that is clinically required from your consultant for as long as you may require it. If a prosthesis is used as part of your treatment this is guaranteed for the manufacturer’s official lifetime of that prosthesis. ‘Clinically required’ indicated where further intervention and/or monitoring of a patient’s condition is deemed necessary as a direct result of surgical intervention.



Behind the wheel by Jessica Laing.


PORSCHE BOXSTER SPYDER ntroducing the new Porsche Boxster Spyder – the range-topping sports car that’s kicking off the start of the 2015 convertible season. Described as ‘extremely agile, with consistently lightweight construction’, the mid-engined sports car retains the unique, athletic character of the original Spyder, yet offers more power than ever before seen in a Boxster. Externally, the model boasts a host of striking features, employed to provide added sportiness and a unique, lightweight feel on the road. Complementing its Bi-Xenon headlights, SportDesign exterior mirrors and 20-inch wheels are its black rollover bars, distinctive rear spoiler (which deploys automatically when the model reaches 74mph to reduce lift and increase stability) and its hood which, compared to that of its predecessor, has been redesigned to become more suitable for everyday use. Simply unlock electrically and stow away by hand beneath the rear lid, without compromising luggage compartment space.


Effective cooling, meanwhile, is achieved through the model’s large air intakes, including a middle intake that directs air upwards through the vent in front of the luggage compartment lid to reduce aerodynamic lift on the front axle. A net-

F.Y.I. Power: 375 bhp at 6,700 Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds Top speed: 180 mph CO2 emissions: 230 g/km Max torque: 420 Nm Fuel tank: 54 litres Price: From £60,495 (UK recommended retail price)


type wind deflector is also available at no extra cost. Despite not offering drivers features such as air conditioning and radio as standard (although these are available as options), Porsche promises that every kilo it has taken out of the Boxster Spyder has only a positive effect on its performance. Internal highlights include a striking white centre console, a small sports steering wheel (a typical feature of racing cars), motorsport-style seating and luxurious black Alcantara material throughout – a great contrast to its white trim strips on the dashboard and centre console. Sports seats Plus, with electric backrest adjustment, are also available at no extra cost and drivers can also take advantage of the ‘Spyder Classic interior package’, which offers Garnet Red leather and GT Silver Metallic trim strips, reminiscent of the racecars of the 1960s. Available to order now from Porsche Centres. Launching in July 2015.

MOTORS Mark Squires (chief executive, Benfield Motor Group), Paul Liddell and Neil Fox (general manager, Audi Sunderland) at the launch of the new Audi Dealership site

A visual of how the new Audi dealership will look

New Audi development for Wearside Benfield continues its expansion in Sunderland with a new £5.7 million Audi dealership. ne of the North East’s largest motor groups, Benfield is continuing its expansion in Wearside with the announcement that it is building a new flagship £5.7 million Audi dealership in Sunderland. Benfield, which recently completed the building of a new £5m Ford retail outlet on Newcastle Road, is now building a stunning 12 car Audi showroom on the same site as part of its £20m capital investment programme to improve its retail facilities for customers. The 30,000 sq ft Audi development is due for completion in the autumn and will feature a roof top car park, a 16 bay workshop with advanced diagnostic technology and the latest customer service facilities. The family owned business is proud to be bringing such a prestigious development to the region. Mark Squires, Benfield’s chief executive, says: "I am enormously proud to announce this new


Audi development here in Sunderland. “This commitment by Benfield underlines our commitment to Wearside and the proposed stunning modern design and beautiful car showroom will provide unrivalled customer service and aftersales facilities. Once complete it will be one of the most impressive motor retailing sites in the North of England. “Audi's leadership in the prestige car market continues at pace and by announcing this development we are making a powerful statement of what the brand represents - stunning design, and the latest in technological innovation - coupled with genuine desire to deliver a world class experience for its customers.” He continues: "Customers will love the new showroom facilities, roof top car park, our customer lounge and the all-new Audi car configurator room as well as the biggest choice of approved used Audis we have ever been able to offer across the region.” The new development will replace the present


Audi dealership on Stadium Way and the new state-of-the-art showroom has space for a 12 car display area and there is also a large used car display area. The overall development includes a full aftersales facility, a 16 bay workshop with advanced diagnostic equipment, dedicated customer car parking, a private lounge area to configure your perfect Audi and a ‘Quattro Lounge’ with free Wi-Fi and refreshments. Benfield Motor Group employs over 1500 staff and has 30 retail outlets throughout the North East of England, Yorkshire, Cumbria and south west Scotland across a portfolio of 12 car retail brands. Benfield Motor Group is an independently owned family business founded in Newcastle in 1957 by John Squires Senior and developed by John Squires Junior; the present chairman. For more information, visit


Suzuki Vitara More than 25 years after the original model’s debut, Suzuki introduces the Suzuki Vitara – the all-new, five-door compact SUV, built with personality in mind. n sale in the UK since last month, the all-new Vitara Suzuki – which arrives in SZ4 (£13,999 OTR), SZ-T (£15,499) and SZ5 (£17,999) grades – boasts smaller dimensions to meet contemporary needs, advanced safety and connectivity equipment and personalisation options, allowing drivers to express their own style and preferences. Specification highlights for the SZ4 include 16-inch alloy wheels, seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag), DAB radio with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, Cruise Control with speed limiter, auto air conditioning and projector headlamps. The SZ-T, meanwhile, offers drivers 17-inch silver painted alloy wheels, rear privacy glass and a smartphone link audio and navigation system, while the SZ5 adds suede seat fabric, keyless entry, a panoramic sunroof, Radar Brake Support and ALLGRIP intelligent four-wheel drive as an option. Six-speed automatic transmission will also be available for SZ5 models from summer 2015. Diverse exterior colours and a range of design details enable owners to specify


Vitara to their individual tastes. Externally, customers are able to choose from ten body colour possibilities, including two new shades – Atlantis Turquoise Pearl Metallic (pictured) and Horizon Orange Metallic – and five dual-tone combinations. Internally, owners have the opportunity to tweak a number of elements, including the instrument panel trim and ventilation louvre rings (available in turquoise, orange, white or piano black) and the model’s centrally located clock (available in carbon or ‘kanji’). Available as a £500 option, owners can also further emphasise their Vitara on or offthe-road credentials by choosing from two packages: the ‘urban’ package, which adds sophistication through chrome-plated fog lamp bezels, body-side mouldings and a roof spoiler, and the ‘rugged’ package, which emphasises the model’s SUV personality with front and rear skid plates and loading edge protection. When it comes to power, the Vitara is available with a 1.6-litre petrol engine or a 1.6-litre DDiS engine. Drivers opting for the petrol engine can expect excellent fuel


economy and high output and torque thanks to friction reductions and weight savings. The diesel engine, meanwhile, achieves powerful performance and low emissions due to a new EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) system and an electronically controlled VGT (Variable Geometry Turbocharger). While four-wheel drive is typically seen as detrimental to fuel economy and emissions performance, Suzuki’s ALLGRIP system enables CO2 emissions that are remarkably low for a four-wheel drive SUV, with figures of 130h/km with five-speed manual transmission and 131g/km with six-speed automatic transmission. Safety-wise, the Vitara features a comprehensive list of active and passive safety equipment to complement its light, impact-absorbing body, including ESP (Electronic Stability Programme), TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) and Adaptive Cruise Control (available on SZ5 models) for more relaxed driving.


Introducing the Volvo XC90 The most luxurious and intuitive Volvo yet, the XC90 promises to deliver comfort in all conditions. Tom Lainchbury profiles the new car… he new Volvo XC90 has been designed to have a modern and elegant look, with its sleek and slimming lines. As you might expect from an SUV, however, the XC90 is a large car, and it retains the muscular look of the previous model. The new 4950mm long body accommodates seven seats – six of which can be folded away to create a fully flat loading floor. All seats have plenty of space and provide a good view out the window due to their ‘theatre’ positioning and the glassy sides of the car. Even with seven seats, there is an impressive amount of luggage space at 451 litres, and the many folding and sliding options of the seats mean that this can be expanded into a huge 1951 litres. As a result of Volvo’s unconventional decision to limit its engines to four cylinders, the XC90 D5 features a 2.0L engine, delivering 222bhp. The T6 petrol version has turbos and superchargers to push the bhp up to 320, but both options remain economical, justifying Volvo’s decision to go with the smaller engine size. This engine size also means that it is cheaper to make, and the money can be spent elsewhere. One place it would seem this money has been spent is in the cabin. The interior combines materials such as soft leather and wood, with handcrafted details and


cutting-edge innovations, resulting in a modern, uncluttered design. Featuring a tablet-like touchscreen centre console with voice recognition, interacting with the XC90 is as easy and as intuitive as ever. The model also features a top of the range sound system, delivering high definition music, and can be turned into a Wi-Fi hotspot for internet browsing. Being an SUV, the XC90 also features AllWheel Drive (AWD) to help in any sticky situations. AWD is an electronically controlled system that distributes engine power between the front and rear wheels quickly and automatically, depending on which wheel pair has the best grip at the time. The system helps enhance stability, reducing understeer and oversteer, and contributes to increased driver control and a comfortable ride. The XC90 is four wheel drive, but there’s no mention of off-road adventures from Volvo. The XC90 comes equipped with huge 20inch wheels as standard, which coupled with optional air suspension provide an incredibly smooth ride. Road noise is minimal, which reinforces the luxurious feel. The model is also equipped with PreTension, which improves take-off speed and delivers higher traction on slippery surfaces. The tailgate is divided into an


upper and a lower section, making the Volvo XC90 a very flexible and versatile car in everyday usage. Volvo is renowned for its safety, and the XC90 is no different. Featuring industry leading safety technology and design, Volvo demonstrate an unrelenting commitment to your safety. The company is working towards the vision that by 2020, nobody should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo. Built like a passenger car with highly efficient deformation zones, the XC90 features a low centre of gravity and advanced systems to help minimise the risk of personal injuries. The exterior of the vehicle absorbs incoming collision forces so that the passenger compartment remains as intact and undamaged as possible. A gently rounded front and an extra beam below the front bumper help reduce the risk of injury to other road users. Designed to rival other high-end luxury SUVs including the ever-popular Range Rover, the XC90 has a competitive price, starting at £45,785. This is a step up from the previous model, but then again, so is the car. For more information about the Volvo XC90, visit


Sales manager, Barry Fearon, with the all-new Mondeo model at Jennings Ford’s branch in Gateshead

All-new Mondeo and Focus models appeal to retail and business customers It’s not just retail customers being steered towards competitively priced, top quality motors at Jennings Ford, part of the Jennings Motor Group. ord’s latest sleek and striking models – the new Focus and all-new Mondeo, have been generating sales from business and fleet customers who are taking advantage of competitive deals and finance packages available at Jennings Ford’s Eslington Park dealership in Gateshead and the Yarm Road branch in Stockton. The new Ford Focus was officially unveiled at Jennings Ford showrooms towards the end of last year, which was followed by the arrival of the allnew Ford Mondeo at the beginning of 2015. Both models have been appealing to retail, business and fleet customers who are taking advantage of a number of competitive deals, in addition to finance offers at the group’s network of Ford dealerships across the region. Barry Fearon, sales manager at Jennings Ford in Gateshead, says: “The all-new Mondeo, which is the most recent addition to the Ford family, offers cutting-edge styling combined with state-ofthe-art technologies resulting in a powerful car with exceptional performance and efficiency. “Business customers are currently taking advantage of a contract hire agreement, which includes a monthly rental payment from £225 + VAT for the 2.0 Mondeo TDCi ECOnetic Zetec model. This is a very attractive and popular deal with our customers.” In addition to the Zetec trim level, customers can also take advantage of a Style and Titanium derivative, as well as Ford’s first electric vehicle –


the Mondeo Titanium Hybrid, which is currently available at the group’s Stockton dealership and will be available at Middlesbrough and Gateshead branches later this year. Standard specification on the all-new Ford Mondeo includes SYNC 2 with 8-inch colour touchscreen, emergency assistance, 16-inch alloy wheels, Ford DAB audio, Thatcham category one alarm, Ford EasyFuel, dual zone electronic auto temperature control, cruise control, poweroperated front windows, ISOFIX attachments for child seats, electric parking brake, hill launch assist and LED tail lights, with chrome roof rails and tonneau cover both available on the estate model. Vehicles fitted with low C02 ECOnetic powertrains come with 16-inch alloy wheels fitted as standard. Customers opting for the top-of-the-range Mondeo Titanium model benefit from a number of additional extras including, 17-inch alloy wheels, ‘Ford Power’ starter button, sports seats, Ford DAB navigation system, automatic headlights with auto high/low beam, rain sensing front windscreen wipers, traffic sign recognition, lane keeping aid, auto dimming rear view mirror, ambient lighting and TFT instrument cluster display. Meanwhile, the new Ford Focus offers a number of new powertrains, an updated interior/exterior and an array of new technology. The model, which comes with a choice of six


trim levels including Studio, Style, Zetec, Zetec S, Titanium and Titanium X, offers a range of stateof-the-art petrol and diesel engines, delivering the perfect balance of power and fuel-economy. Standard specification includes air conditioning, MyKey, electric heated door mirrors, Hill Start Assist, Electric Front windows, steering wheel audio control, Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control and Emergency Brake Assist and three years Manufacturer’s warranty. Business customers can take advantage of a monthly rental payment from only £175 + VAT through a contract hire agreement, for the new Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi Zetec, five door (120 PS) model. Jennings Ford dealerships provide the full model line-up, with everything from the Ford Ka, Fiesta, Fiesta ST, new Focus, Focus ST and new Mondeo, to the C-MAX, B-MAX, S-MAX, Kuga, Galaxy and the EcoSport, on display and available to test drive. Customers’ after sales needs are also catered for with service, MOT, accident repair centre and parts departments available at every dealership. For more information about the range of products and services available at Jennings Ford, contact Gateshead on (0191) 460 7464, Stockton on (01642) 632 200, Middlesbrough on (01642) 240 055, or visit


Get to know me ...

Andrew Love Senior manager at Allied Irish Bank

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a vet as I had a love of the outdoors and the countryside. It was a romantic idea rather than reality!

My first job was actually with Allied Irish Bank (AIB), 30 years ago. I had written to both the Police and the Bank and, after much consideration, and parental pressure, decided the Bank was the way to go. Funnily enough, I now have several friends in the Police and they all seem happy!

I'd tell my 18 year-old self to listen to advice and always have a goal and ambition looking five years ahead.

I'm inspired, undoubtedly, by explorer

Sir Ranulph Fiennes - an unassuming leader with wonderful inner confidence.

My favourite book is currently Guy Martin's autobiography – a resilient, passionate, driven and fun man.

One of my greatest achievements is leading my team at AIB through the recent recession. For many, it was a first in their careers and, despite its severe causes, was a super self-development experience for all. I'm proud of how we coped with change and how we restructured our business and progressed again.

When I need a helping hand, I turn to my wife Sharon, who is a great sounding board. For work, I call a trusted colleague. But if I'm really up against it, I like to escape to the hills with my spaniel, Murphy – he listens well and doesn't disagree!


In my spare time I love mountain and road biking. I'm also a massive rugby union fan and have enjoyed watching my son captain Melrose Wasps this year.

In five years time I would like to be leading our business in Newcastle, delivering real relationship banking and partnering some of the North East's top owner managed businesses. I hope our reputation for honesty, quality service and resilient support continues.

North East Times Magazine - May 2015  


North East Times Magazine - May 2015