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6 RP

All steamed up about your heating bills? Then call Colin, your FORMER TEACHER KNOWS HIS SUBJECT INSIDE OUT AND WILL OFFER IMPARTIAL ADVICE TO RE-ENERGISE YOUR PROPERTY It’s not so long since the idea of being Green and energy-conscious was the preserve of the beard-and-sandals brigade. And when it came to the home, a bit of insulation in the roof was the extent of most people’s energy-saving efforts. Times have changed, however, and today millions of householders across the UK are wising up to the idea that by saving energy and using renewable power, such as solar, they are not only helping to save the environment but save themselves money as well. But where to start? That’s where Colin Robinson comes in. The boss of independent energy experts Energy Friend, he believes in personally guiding his customers through the minefield of products and jargon to find the solution that best fits their needs. “The idea for Energy Friend came out of my own experience of sorting my house out ,” he says. “I wanted solid, impartial advice but wherever

I looked I was inundated with different opinions. “The government has transferred responsibility to the home owner, but where once information and advice on the subject was non-existent, now we are bombarded with it.” As a former physics teacher, Colin knows his stuff about energy and heat. And with an in-depth knowledge of the market he provides a unrivalled – and crucially, impartial – service to households and businesses alike. “Because we are independent advisors, you’ll get no hard sell from us,” he says. “Our job is to carry out an energy survey of the premises, identify the areas where savings can be made, and if the savings look attractive, provide quotes from trusted installers.” The survey costs just £99 and recommendations can range from simple DIY draughtproofing fixes and



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20 RP

As caravan holidays become ever more popular, it’s essential that you have insurance you can trust The economic squeeze has made the idea of staying in the UK instead of jetting abroad for the summer holidays increasingly appealing. And at the heart of the so-called “Staycation” revolution is the traditional caravan holiday. Hugely popular in the days before budget airlines, caravans and static homes are once again making a comeback – and here in Northumberland we can boast some of the most picturesque sites in the country. However there is a downside to the caravan boom: namely the increased risk of caravan theft, loss or damage.

The downside to the caravan boom is the increased risk of caravan theft, loss or damage. related policy with Cover4Caravans, you will be assigned a dedicated account handler, who will look after your caravan insurance policy, from quotation stage, all the way through to the renewal of caravan insurance policy, 12 months later.

Cover4Caravans are the market leaders in the field of caravan insurance. Based in Southend, their reach extends nationwide and their range of coverage and expertise is unrivalled.

“This same account handler will look after you in the event of a claim and will deal with any adjustments you may need to make to your caravan insurance policy.”

“Cover4Caravans evolved four years ago from Alan Blunden & Co, a well-known and respected family firm of insurance brokers,” explained director Richard Burgess.

With premiums starting from just £60, that represents real value for money. And with an estimated 500,000 touring caravans and 800,000 static caravans currently in use in the UK, it’s clear that the Staycation is here to stay.

“Our dedicated team specialises in touring caravan, static caravan insurance and motorhome insurance. “When you take out your caravan insurance

Tel: 0800 9707 172

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A higher class of education Gosforth Academy Sixth Form is is leading the way in providing the very best in all-round education and beyond for students aged 16-plus Gosforth Academy Sixth Form is a shining example of modern Sixth Form education – a concept which may come as a suprise to Rural Post readers who left school a generation ago. The days of stuffy, overcrowded classrooms and second-rate facilities have gone, swept away by major investment and a new way of educational thinking. Crumbling buildings have been torn down and replaced by state-of-the-art learning environments. At Gosforth there is a new sports centre that is also open to the public., with pupils getting free membership. Staff now rub shoulders with non-teaching tutors employed to provide personal educational and pastoral care. From a previously narrow band of traditional subjects, students can now choose from a fully comprehensive range including law, film studies and dance. It’s no wonder that Gosforth Academy Sixth Form – previously known as Gosforth High School – is much in demand.

It caters for 600 students from as far afield as Teesside and Tynedale, as well as looking after the educational requirements of Newcastle Falcons’ young Academy stars. If that seems like a lot – and it’s the biggest sixth form in the North-East - then Post 16 Director Karen Blackburn insists it is one of the Academy’s biggest selling points. “Our size is our strength,” she says. “It allows us to introduce a whole range of subjects, and most run in more than one option block, allowing students to get the combination they want rather than having to make compromises. “We are also able to offer a range of qualifications, from BTECLevel Three to



environment that they can burn wood even in smoke controlled zones where council approval is required to burn solid fuel.” Universal stock all major names: Broseley, Hunter, Villager, Aarrow, Dimplex, Flamerite, Burley, and Franco-Belge. Be Modern have recently introduced a range of DEFRA stoves, while some solid fuel stoves may also be fitted with a boiler to provide heating and / or hot water. As well as being pleasing to the eye – and as warm as toast – Dawn believes the fact that wood-burning stoves can in fact be environmentally acceptable, even in built-up areas, has been crucial to their growth in sales.

“I’ve got a 7KW Defra-approved stove in my house and I love it!” Universal offers a full range of products and services, including gas and electric fires and surrounds, installation, and servicing, . By far their most popular range, however, are gas, multi-fuel and wood burning stoves. With ever increasing gas and oil prices, wood and multi fuel stoves can be an attractive alternative to more conventional systems – and with prices starting from £395 more and more householders are showing an interest. “From selling just a handful until recently, stoves have rocketed in popularity.” Dawn says. “Sales are up tenfold. We’ve had to create additional space for our display of over 55 models – one of the largest displays in Newcastle. “We have 50 Defra approved models – these are extra efficient stoves that are so eco- friendly to the

“As long as they are DEFRA approved, they can be used in smoke-free areas, and if you’re in doubt, we offer a free, no-obligation survey of your house to see what is possible” she says. “I’ve got a 7KW Defra-approved stove in my house and I love it!”

UNIVERSAL FIRES & STOVES Showroom at: 97 Heaton Park Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 5NR

0191 209 9399

30 RP

Why high standards are child’s play for Sarah Fed up with play centres where making fast buck was more important than keeping the kids happy, mum-of-two SARAH CHALHOUB decided to do something about it If you’ve got young children then you’ll know the scene: a gloomy, moth-eaten soft play area, patrolled by bored-looking staff, full of screaming, sugar-crazed and unsupervised toddlers.

With two young children of her own, awardwinning midwife Sarah Chalhoub knew it all too well. And the fact that she’d spent a small fortune at dumps like this made her blood boil. “They were springing up all over the place, and most of them were just in it to make a quick profit,” she says. “They were grubby, unkempt – and I knew that I wanted something different, somewhere that prided itself on its cleanliness, safety and its friendly staff.” Sarah, 32, also wanted somewhere that children would be actively engaged in play, not just dumped in the ball pit for two hours. It was not easy, of course. Not only did she have Daniel, now five, and four-year-old

Rachel, to look after, she also had her own career to consider. “My husband Tony’s job meant we were living over in Whitehaven at the time – but in 2010 we moved back across to the NorthEast and that’s when I decided to take the plunge. “It was a real leap of faith to set this business in motion,” she admits. “But then I’ve always been an entrepreneurial spirit, even when I was a little girl myself.” With the help of her grandparents, Sarah raised enough money to start her own business – and today Space To Play is proving hugely popular not only with youngsters, but their parents too. Situated in light, airy premises at Barrington Business Park, in Bedlington, Space To Play is chock full of the soft play fun you’d expect. There are slides and rope ladders and obstacle courses and lots and lots of plastic balls.




MOIR’S of GOSFORTH 0191 2364871 We pride ourselves on delivering and manufacturing quality glass for all areas of your home or business. We replace misted or broken double glazed units. We manufacture mirrors, shelving and glass screens to your size and specification Windsor House, Brunswick Industrial Estate, Brunswick Village, NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, T NE13 7BA




home improvement and new construction where long life, quality and property enhancement are the top priorities,” he says.

Every installation is guanteed for three years, as well as the manufacturer’s guarantee, covering workmanship and product. The Original Garage Door Company guarantee means that your door will give you reliability and performance from the day it is installed.

“We strongly believe that the installation of garage doors is highly technical and not a job for the DIY enthusiast,” says Bob. “Proper installation is essential to the safety and performance of your garage door. “With the Original Door Company you're not just getting a quality garage door to enhance your property, you’re getting a complete installation and fitting service by expert technicians, making your garage door an asset to your property.”

Units 2 & 3, Foundry Lane, Byker, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE6 1LH 0191 224 0355

40 RP

Sean’s Top Tips Every month Sean Brough from STB Joinery shares his top tips of the trade. This month: how to hang a door. Before buying a new door measure the height and width of the frame to determine the size of the door needed. To enable the door to close smoothly allow a clearance of 3mm at the top and sides and 6mm at the bottom of the door. Doors come in various sizes so choose a door which is close to the size you require, chances are that you won't find a exact fit so buy a door slightly bigger, this will allow it to be cut to size. If the door comes with stiles which are used to protect the door in transit, use a try square and draw a pencil line flush with the bottom and top of the door Remove the stiles with a hand saw, make sure the saw is kept to the waste side of the pencil line and keep the saw perfectly upright to ensure a square cut is made. Use a plane to to finish off removing the stiles up to the pencil line. Plane from the outside of the door inwards to prevent splintering the edge of the door. Place the door against the frame and place wedges (chisels will do) underneath to raise the door by approx 6mm to allow for floor covering. Draw pencil lines on the door allowing for a clearance of 3mm at the top and sides, then trim the door up to the lines. If there is a lot of waste

use a saw and finish off with a plane, work along the grain on the sides of the door and work from the outside of the door towards the middle at the top and bottom of the door to stop the edge of the door splintering. When you are happy the door fits with the right amount of clearance place the door within the frame wedging it until it is in the right position, once you are satisfied take a hinge and hold it in position approx 150mm (6") from the top and 225mm (9") from the bottom of the door and mark the top and bottom of the hinge on the door and frame Remove the door and support it with the hinge side upwards. Hold a hinge in place so that its knuckle projects just past the face of the door and draw round it with a pencil. Do the same on the door frame again with the knuckle projecting just past the edge of the frame ( not the architrave) Cut out the recess for the hinge using a sharp chisel. Cut along the vertical lines first and then make a series of cuts across the width of the marked area to the depth of the hinge. Make shallow angle cuts removing the waste until the required depth is achieved. Repeat for all hinges on both the door and the frame Place a hinge in the recess on the door and using a bradawl make small pilot holes for the screws then fasten the hinge to the door. Repeat for the other hinge. Place the door up to the frame and use wedges to raise it to the correct height, then fit one screw in each hinge flap, remove the wedges and test the operation of the door. When you are satisfied insert all the screws making sure the heads lay flat otherwise the door will not shut properly. 45 Tynedale Gardens, Stocksfield, NE43 7EZ

call Sean direct on 07542 844344



RP “This helps us to determine the correct pressures and chemical cleaners from our machines to apply to the carpet.” The attention to detail even includes the precise measurement of the room with a Laser device to ensure the quote is 100 per cent accurate. It’s this kind of service and expertise that has helped MC&R earn accreditation from a host of industry bodies including the Clean Trust, the Approved Carpet Cleaning Association, and the National Carpet Cleaning Association.


outside the military long before his time was up, completing a series of carpet and upholstery cleaning courses, as well as achieving a graduateship in management, a diploma in logistical management and a health and safety qualification. “I was 19 years old when I joined up, and after spending my life in the Army the prospect of having to retire at the end of my contract was really scary, a massive culture shock like leaving school,” he admits. “But I knew my own strengths; my job as Sgt Major was to ensure that everything from the ammunition to the lads in my company were absolutely spick and span. I had an eye for it. “When I mentioned the idea of setting up my own cleaning business, my mates said I’d be a natural at it!” Kevin believes his cleaning business could provide a trade for ex-Army personnel who, like him, are facing a new life as a civilian. “Army lads are perfectly qualified to do it, and it would be good to get some on board in the future,” he says.

And it’s this recognition, as well as the glowing testimonials from his growing customer base, that gives Kevin the greatest satisfaction. “It shows that we’re not just fly-by-nights, we really are serious about giving the very best service possible,” he says.

For now, however, Kevin intends to improve business by taking on even more courses and qualifications in order to broaden his experience, while never shirking on the personal touch that makes such a difference to his customers.

Indeed it is typical of Kevin’s single-minded determination that he was preparing for life

“I served my country for 22 years,” he says. “Now I want to serve the public.”

MARLOWE CLEANING & RESTORATION LTD Tel: (01670) 714 888 Mob: 07702 883 705

Rural Post  

March Issue

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