Mitten Clarke are gearing up to run The Potters ‘Arf in aid of The Donna Louise on Sunday 9th June. The firm of accountants support many local charities and love nothing better than a tough challenge.  The team have entered with two relay teams and three staff members running the full race.

The team would really appreciate your support to help reach their goal of £1,100.

This year Mitten Clarke are supporting The Butterflies, recently launched by The Donna Louise. The Butterflies is an inspiring, transformative art installation utilising iconic materials of Stoke on Trent – ceramics and metal. Thousands of ceramic and stainless steel butterflies are set to be put on show at Trentham Gardens. It was inspired by artist Charlotte Thom who used The Donna Louise Hospice for a decade before passing away last year. The installation, called Taking Flight, will raise vital funds for the Trentham-based charity and will be made up of 5,000 ceramic and 10,000 stainless steel butterflies.

If you’d like to donate please click here.

An accountancy firm launched just three years ago is celebrating continued growth after more than quadrupling its team, and its turnover.

Sempar, based in Newcastle under Lyme, has increased its turnover on average £180,000 year-on-year between 2016 and 2019, with the business appointing nine members of staff to support its growing client base. Set up in March 2016 by qualified and experienced accountant Steve Timmis, alongside Aludia Binos, the duo began building the brand with a real emphasis on customer service and client satisfaction, seeing them invest heavily in the organisation’s operations.

Steve Timmis, Managing Director of Sempar, explained: “The last three years have been an absolute whirlwind and while it’s not been without its challenges of course, I’m so proud of the brand and the ethical principles that we stand for.

“We’ve recruited some of the most forward-thinking people in the business and their diverse mix of knowledge, talent and skills has been integral to enhancing the service and value we bring to clients.   Our entire ethos is centred around the needs of our clients and that’s why when we recruit, we’re looking for people who have a natural enthusiasm, and a can do, will do attitude.

“This combined enthusiasm and eagerness to always enhance our service offer has seen us invest heavily in our technology, systems and processes, including the introduction of cloud-based and real-time systems, as well as automation — allowing our team to cut out unnecessary admin and focus on what matters most to our clients.

“The systems we’ve integrated have also revolutionised the way we all work by increasing not only our own, but our clients’ efficiencies, enabling them to view their books and business performance in the most innovative ways and from anywhere in real-time. That, in turn, helps them to make really well-informed business decisions.”

Sempar has also seen three office moves within the Lymedale Business Park, with the team now occupying one of the biggest spaces in the centre. They have also set up a collaborative ‘video suite’ where staff can record end of year account client updates, host video conferencing and create podcasts.

The team has grown to 11, with three high-level reporting managers, a team of five senior staff, two administrative and one personal assistant.

“With our team’s joint experience, we’re also working with more businesses to provide high-level advice and guidance as part of their overarching commercial strategy, supported by the launch of our new migration and advice service to ensure clients are utilising the very best software and technology for their accounting needs.

“It’s a very busy time for us all and we’re hugely excited about seeing the positive impact these investments will have on our existing clients and prospects across the Midlands and beyond,” Steve concluded.

This summer the New Vic Theatre stages the world-first in-the-round production of classic comedy-drama Brassed Off, the powerful story about community spirit in a Yorkshire mining town.

Director Conrad Nelson, whose Much Ado About Nothing – a co-production between New Vic and Northern Broadsides – is currently on tour across the country, returns to the New Vic to direct this new production of Paul Allen’s adaptation of Mark Herman’s lauded screenplay. Featuring rousing music performed live on stage by Crewe’s TCTC Group Champion Brass Band, the productions is on stage from Saturday 1 to Saturday 22 June.

A heart-warming story of triumph in the face of adversity, Brassed Off  follows the troubles of a 1994 Yorkshire mining community whose pit is on the brink of closure. With only the colliery brass band keeping spirits up, sights are set firmly on reaching the national brass band championships at the Royal Albert Hall. With conversations turning to talk of picket lines and redundancy packages, the miners are falling out of tune when Flugelhorn-playing Gloria brings hope to the band and the town.

Nelson brings together a talented cast of nine actor-musicians for the production. Martin Barrass (And Did Those Feet, Octagon Theatre Bolton; The Hypocrite, RSC) plays Danny; Howard Chadwick (Hard Times, Northern Broadsides; By Jeeves, Old Laundry Theatre) plays Harry; Andy Cresswell (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Torch; The Cherry Orchard, Young Vic) plays Jim; Clara Darcy (Hollyoaks, Channel4; Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch) plays Gloria; Susie Emmett (Anna of the Five Towns, New Vic Theatre; Abigail’s Party; Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch/Derby Theatre/Salisbury Playhouse) plays Sandra; William Fox (Suicide Kelly, Idle Work Factory film; Peterloo, Mike Leigh film) plays Phil; Natasha Lewis (Miss Littlewood, RSC; Peter Pan In Scarlet, New Vic Theatre/Oxford Playhouse) plays Vera; Nicolas Shaw (Wonderland, Nottingham Playhouse/Northern Stage; Nell Gwynn, Shakespeare’s Globe) plays Andy; and Helen Sheals (Judy and Liza, Liverpool Royal Court and tour; Through The Mill, Southwark Playhouse) plays Rita. The company are joined by members of the New Vic’s Community Theatre Company, drawn from the local Staffordshire area.

Mark Herman’s smash-hit BAFTA-nominated film captured the hearts of the nation upon its release in 1996, with Ewan McGregor, Pete Postlethwaite and Tara Fitzgerald in starring roles. Critically-acclaimed for its role in telling the story of the decline of the coal industry and promoting brass bands and their music, Brassed Off was adapted for the stage by Paul Allen in 1998.

 Tickets for Brassed Off are on sale now from the New Vic Theatre.

Totally Delicious has invested £40,000 in a bid to improve customer experience and makeover it’s food stores at a popular tourist destination. The investment at it’s Trentham Gardens venues will bring a range of benefits for customers. As well as a fresh new look, the company says visitors will also enjoy an improved service.

The changes have been brought in as the business prepares for the huge footfall throughout the summer season.

Following feedback from customers at Trentham Gardens, the Totally Delicious tea room has switched to counter service as part of the revamp to better meet the needs of its customers. Archive pictures from the iconic Trentham Gardens destination have been displayed throughout the tea room and as well as a stunning view of the award-winning attraction, beautiful greenery covers the bar area. The idea was to bring the outdoors garden theme inside.

At the Lakeside Cafe, a short walk away, the focus has again been on enhancing visitor experience with a new menu and reorganisation of the way customers are served.

Managing director Dominic Bowers said: “Our team will be concentrating even more closely on service delivery while maintaining the friendly and welcoming environment we are known for. “Attention to detail is very important to us – from keeping our surroundings fresh and interesting for customers to providing a wider and improved menu choice.”

The two venues were closed at staggered times during a short period to accommodate the makeover and ensure disruption was kept at a minimum for customers.

Both food stores now offer new menus, with vegan options added to the selection available at the tea room. More ready to eat snacks will be freshly prepared and stored to hand in the chillers within the kiosk while at Lakeside, visitors will be able to enjoy a new range of cookies, pastries, salads and fruit pots.

Dominic added: “One of the biggest improvements for customers is a more efficient service, particularly in the tea room. Bringing in counter service means customers are served more quickly and won’t have to wait for their bill to be brought to their table. We also have more ‘grab and go’ items and updated menus.

“Investing this money in our venues keeps them interesting for customers and helps us to continually build on our unrivalled tea room and café experience.”


Online registration for The Donna Louise’s 5k and 10k races closes this weekend (Sunday 12th May).

Runners wanting to sign up for either distance, which will be held at Trentham Gardens on Sunday 19th May, can register online at to ensure their place or call The Donna Louise on 01782 654444.

Runners of all ages and abilities can sign up for the 5k race, which is once around the lake at Trentham Gardens. Participants can run, hop or skip around the course in their own time and fancy dress is more than encouraged – there will even be prizes for the best costumes.For more experienced runners there is a 10k distance (twice around the lake) which is recognised under the UK Athletics Certificate of Course. Race times for the 10k will be recorded using a time chip system with all results available by the following day at

Event Manager at The Donna Louise, Zoë Gregory, said, “It’s just over a week until our Family Fun Run and hundreds of people have already signed up. In addition to our runners, anyone wanting to cheer on their friends and family is also more than welcome.

“All runners and spectators must use the park & ride service from the south carpark at bet365 stadium, where they’ll receive a wristband which will give them entry to Trentham Gardens.”

The park & ride service will be provided by First Buses. The first buses will leave the bet365 stadium at 7.30am and will run every few minutes throughout the morning. After the race, buses will then return runners and spectators to the stadium, from 11am, with the last bus leaving Trentham Gardens at 2.30pm.

There will be limited places available to register on the day, but anyone wishing to sign up for either race is strongly recommended to register online before Sunday or call The Donna Louise on 01782 654444 to register by phone next week.

With HM The Queen’s approval, Mr James Thomas Leavesley DL has been appointed as the new Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire.

Mr Leavesley will support Mr Ian Dudson the Lord-Lieutenant in his duties. He will also stand-in for him when he is absent or otherwise unable to act.

Mr Leavesley was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant in 2011 and has undertaken a key role in the promotion and recognition of the business and enterprise sector within the county. He has been the Chief Executive of the Leavesley Group of companies since 2000 and is married with a son and a daughter.

Mr Leavesley replaces the current Vice Lord-Lieutenant Mr Graham Stowe CBE DL, who has retired from the post at the age of 75. Mr. Stow was originally appointed a Deputy Lieutenant in 2009 and then Vice Lord-Lieutenant nearly 3 years ago. During this time he has been actively involved in Royal visits, Honours investitures and the presentation of Queen’s Awards as well as numerous other activities on behalf of the Lord-Lieutenant.

Mr Dudson said that he very much looked forward to working with Mr Leavesley and warmly welcomed him to the role.

He also paid tribute to Mr Graham Stow’s huge contribution to the County during his time as Vice Lord-Lieutenant saying: “I have greatly appreciated Graham’s help undertaking engagements and particularly his support and advice over the last 3 years.

“I have known him personally as a friend since he was the Chief Executive at Britannia Building Society. He has contributed such a huge amount to the County over the years and I know that the entire Staffordshire Lieutenancy will want to join me in wishing him a long, happy and healthy retirement.”

Speaking about his appointment, Mr Leavesley said: “I was born & bred in Staffordshire and I am very proud of my county. Staffordshire is a wonderful county with a rich and diverse history stretching across the remote rural areas to the busy cities and towns. It is recognised for its world-renowned pottery centre, beer industries and many tourism attractions, but it’s important to remember its beautiful landscapes and convenient connections making it an ideal central business location.

”Staffordshire has given me a great deal and I’m honoured through this appointment to have the opportunity to give something back. I’m now very much looking forward to celebrating the achievements of Staffordshire’s residents and businesses in the years to come.”

In celebration of Staffordshire Day on 1st May, Freeths LLP were pleased to host a breakfast morning at Poveys Oatcakes who have been producing traditional Staffordshire Oatcakes for over 25 years, using a special secret family recipe. Staffordshire Day was the perfect opportunity to celebrate everything Staffordshire and what better way than to celebrate than with the city’s famous delicacy – the oatcake! Delegates were treated to an insight into how oatcakes are made as part of the World’s Biggest Oatcake Morning in aid of The Donna Louise Trust.

The event was part of Freeths “Stoke Business Spotlight”  – a regular event where the team partner up with other local businesses to showcase their business. The aim is to highlight and celebrate everything which is good about our supportive business community and to encourage new businesses and interest to the city.  Each event also features a charity fundraiser in aid of The Donna Louise Trust.

Peter Gavin, Managing Partner of Freeths’ Stoke Office said; “we have many excellent businesses like Povey’s Oatcakes in North Staffordshire. We hope that these events will encourage them to showcase their talents and shout out loud what a fantastic place it is to do business.”


Trentham-based Acacia Training has funded the installation of an Auto External Defibrillator (AED) at a support centre for armed forces veterans in Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre.

The life-saving equipment means that people visiting the Tri Services and Veteran Support Centre in Hassell Street, will have quicker access to urgent defib treatment in the event of a cardiac arrest. The equipment will also be available to help anyone in nearby shops, restaurants or offices.

The AED machine will be installed to mark this year’s #StaffordshireDay celebrations to show support for armed forces personnel in Staffordshire. 

Acacia Training funded the £2,000 installation after signing the Armed Forces Covenant, which pledges the company’s support to services personnel past, present and future.

Acacia Training director, Victoria Sylvester, explains: “Two of our valued team members at Acacia are RAF veterans who now deliver mental health first aid training to our customers. Through working with them, we have developed a much better understanding of the support that needs to be there for anyone leaving the forces. Homelessness, addictions, physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder and unemployment are just some of the challenges that can be faced.

We have committed to several actions as part of our pledge to the Armed Forces Covenant. One of those was to raise funds and support charities who do fantastic work to support our country’s veterans.

She adds: “The Tri Services and Veteran Support centre has helped more than 2,800 people with things like finding homes, getting appropriate mental health support, and providing a friendly and understanding place for them to go.

We hope it helps them to have this potentially life-saving medical equipment in their centre if their visitors or someone nearby suffers a sudden cardiac arrest. We are proud to have worked with Tri Services and the charity AEDDonate to get this AED installed.”

James Russell, Head of Community and Education at AEDdonate concludes: “There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year. The overall survival rate in the UK is less than 1 in 10.

However, there is a 50-70 percent increase in surviving a Sudden Cardiac Arrest with an AED and CPR within 3-5 minutes. That’s why it’s so vital that we increase the number of defibrillators in our communities and why this new machine will be one of the first to be installed as part of our ‘Staffordshire1000’ campaign, which aims to get 1,000 more community access defibrillators across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent.”

For more information about the local support on offer to armed forces veterans, please visit

Visit to find out how to support the ‘Staffordshire1000’ campaign.

Acacia Training is a family business based in Stoke on Trent, providing apprenticeships and training across the UK. Specialisms include health and social care, early years education, beauty, dental nursing and mental health first aid. Visit


James Eyre-Walker, Managing Director at Howsons, is proud to have been elected as an Associate of the Academy of Experts.

Expert witnesses are used extensively by solicitors in court cases requiring expert evidence to assist the courts in understanding and resolving technical issues. Even when acting as a partly appointed witness, the expert’s primary responsibility is to the court. James has been acting as both a party appointed expert and single joint expert for a number of years. James said; “After 35 years in the profession, specialising in accounting, financial reporting, audit and business/share valuation.”

“I feel that my accumulated experience puts me in a strong position to assist solicitors and the courts on technical issues within the scope of my expertise.” He has been keen to develop this aspect of his professional work.

Currently, James is involved in two cases. The first is a divorce settlement in which the husband’s business interests had to be valued. In this case, James is acting as a single joint expert. In the second case, he is acting as a party appointed expert over alleged illegal dividend payments. “These two cases are very important, he says, “but reflect the breadth of expertise I can bring to court cases.”

Howsons are keen to link up with local firms of solicitors who may now, or in the future, need expert witnesses on business/share valuation matters and/or cases involving accounting, financial reporting or audit.


Vehicle management and supply specialists Adept Vehicle Management is forecasting potential “game-changing” business growth after winning acceptance onto the Crown Commercial Services framework for supply of Fleet Management Services.

The successful tender gives the North Staffordshire company access to around 2,500 public sector car and commercial fleets in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with a potential total fleet size of over 125,000 vehicles.

“It is a fantastic opportunity and puts our business in a position for potential high growth,” said Director Mark Pedley. “We are one of the smaller companies invited onto the Crown register and we are confident that this could be an advantage. At Adept, we have built our reputation on supplying industry leading levels of service to our customers.

“We are determined to maintain this reputation as we grow and we believe Adept’s offer is an attractive one for organisations who procure vehicles through Crown Commercial Services.”

Crown Commercial Services, founded as the government Buying Agency in 1991, is an executive agency and trading fund of the Cabinet Office of UK Government. It is responsible for improving government commercial and procurement activity.

The Government says CCS plays an important role, helping the UK public sector save money when buying common goods and services and adds: “We are the biggest public procurement organisation in the UK. We use our commercial expertise to help buyers in central government and across the public and third sectors to purchase everything from locum doctors and laptops to police cars and electricity.”

Crown Commercial Service supports the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring common goods and services. In 2017/18, CCS delivered £354 million in commercial benefits including savings from central government, and £247 million for the wider public sector – helping to deliver world class public services that offer best value for taxpayers.

From their base in Chesterton, Adept have pioneered unique levels of customer service for companies requiring a vehicle fleet. They have developed a system to embed a manager into the client’s team ensuring their specific service needs are met and this is complimented by Adept’s bespoke Fleet Check and Tracker systems which ensures standards of all cars and vans are constantly high and monitors metrics such as safety and fuel efficiency.

The company is owned by experienced motor industry specialists Mark Pedley and Carl Cumbo. Carl said: “Acceptance onto the Crown Services Framework opens many doors into organisations such as hospitals, schools and colleges, the emergency services and many more public bodies, but there is much hard work still to do as the Framework gives us access and we then need to ensure we win at least our share of the contracts available.

“Getting this recognition was tough and we re extremely proud of the effort our team has made to ensure we meet all framework requirements. Success in pursuing contracts could see us managing thousands of vehicles in the next three to four years, taking Adept to new levels as a business.

“This opportunity will open many doors for our business for example we are currently in dialogue with housing associations as well as Central Government on fleet and driver management solutions.”