An illustration of The Donna Louise Butterflies artwork has now been unveiled.

Taking Flight, to be installed at Trentham Gardens, will feature 5,000 ceramic butterflies and each is on sale as part of an innovative campaign to raise funds for The Donna Louise Hospice for children and young people, in Staffordshire.

Each vibrant blue butterfly has been manufactured in the Stoke-on-Trent Potteries and offers a chance to support The Donna Louise and to own a little piece of the city’s history. Due to generous sponsorship from many businesses in Staffordshire and Cheshire, 100% of the money raised from sales will go directly to the hospice.

The stunning works of art have been made by Johnson Tiles, using clay from Valentine Clays, and glazed at Wade Ceramics.

Partners and sponsors for the project are giving their time, expertise, services and financing to bring the project to life. These include Tile Mountain, KMF Group, Gladman Developments, Trentham Estate, PM Training, Patera Engineering, Johnson Tiles, Wade Ceramics, Valentine Clays, Advanced Packaging, Campbell Creative Consulting, Staffordshire University, Paul Williams, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Cultural Education Partnership, DPD, Red Industries, My Clever Group, QPS, Blakemans’, Rydale Roofing, Franklyn Financial Management, Holdcroft Heating, Mitten Clarke and Envisage.

Meanwhile, a marketing group, encompassing Inspired Film and Video, Miller and Co, Joanne Hine, Howle Communications, Strategi Solutions and Helen Cotton Photography, has come together to ensure the project is viable to as many people as possible, working closely with the marketing staff at The Donna Louise.

Nathan Walton, Director of Income Generation at The Donna Louise, said: “This is a unique collaboration with many companies coming together to work for the good of a much loved and much-needed service, The Donna Louise.

“We are still looking for more sponsors so if you want your company to get involved in this once-in-a-lifetime project, we would love to hear from you.”

The butterflies are now on sale, please go on line to, each purchase includes one free day admission pass to Trentham Gardens, to view “Taking Flight” from the 25 May to 3 November 2019.

More about ‘Taking Flight’

Taking Flight encapsulates the story of butterflies breaking free from a cage – some taking flight and souring skywards, others pouring out in waves whilst some come to rest on the cage…catching their breath.

The butterfly symbolises not only the fragility, beauty and uniqueness of children with short lives, but also tells the story of resilience, endurance, transformation and hope that epitomises the progression of the hospice into services for young adults.

The symbol of the butterfly also encapsulates the heartbeat of Staffordshire’s industrial past and the re-emergence of industry in the region including the ceramics industry.

Taking Flight is about contrasts – contrasts of shape, form and material and how these interact with each other and with the surrounding environment. The installation takes a fragile, organic form – a butterfly – and moulds it out of clay from the earth, introduces the element of fire in the glazing process to create a ceramic butterfly with a sense of motion and fragility that contradicts the nature of the material from which it is formed.

The contrasts continue as the bright blue ceramic butterflies are cast against the hardness of the steel structure that forms the dome-shaped “cage”, and the introduction of further industrial materials such as polished metal and steel mesh is a nod to the region’s industrial heritage.


To celebrate the 5th annual Staffordshire Day on 1st May, Staffordshire Chambers would love it if our members tweet about why they love Staffordshire!

Examples could include a photo with a favourite Staffordshire-made mug, oatcakes (of course!), lovely nature walks, great business connections… This is a chance to be creative and to get Staffordshire trending.

Simply tweet throughout the day on 1st May with the two hashtags #WhyILoveStaffordshire #StaffordshireDay and tag @StaffsChambers for a retweet

We can’t wait to see the tweets!

Pictured is Staffordshire Chambers Chief Executive Sara Williams showing off our fantastic branded Stoke-on-Trent produced mugs, kindly donated by Susan Rose China.

Staff and colleagues at MAX FRANK are giving blood and the NHS are encouraging more people to register too.

In a drive to encourage their team to participate, the company are giving staff a paid hour off from their work to visit their local centre to donate.

Everyday thousands of people’s lives are transformed thanks to blood and transplant donors, partners, campaigners, clinical trial applicants and colleagues. NHS Blood and Transplant are looking for people to be part of this story – and “be part of something special”.

Why give blood?

Giving blood saves lives. The blood you give is a lifeline in an emergency and for people who need long-term treatments. Blood – and its components – are used to treat patients with medical conditions such as anaemia, cancer blood disorders, and those having surgery.

‘Nelson’s Timur Gin’, made by Uttoxeter-based Nelson’s Distillery & School has recently been awarded a Silver Medal in the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

The annual competition is now in its 19th year and according to Forbes Magazine, is quickly earning its own praise as the industry standard. The prestigious competition received over 3000 spirit entries from around the world this year.

Nelson’s Timur Gin, the first in the world to commercially use the Timur pepper ingredient, picked up the prestigious prize in the gin category, the largest category in the competition by far, with over 330 entries.

A highly qualified and trained judging panel, made up of over 40 experts in the spirits industry recognised Nelson’s Timur Gin as an “outstanding spirit that shows refinement, finesse, and complexity”, choosing to select the spirit as one of the best examples of its category with a silver medal. The judging process takes 4 days of highly controlled blind tastings, with each sample evaluated on an individual basis to decide if it is medal-worthy.

The award comes hot on the heels of Nelson’s Distillery & School expanding to a limited company and launching their first rum products.  Nelson’s Distillery & School is the 2016 creation of Neil Harrison, who developed the award-winning Timur gin recipe in 2018. Speaking about his award-winning gin, master distiller Harrison said “we are extremely proud of this spirit. Using the Timur pepper which is grown and consciously sourced in Nepal, we have created a world’s first and only gin with wonderful zesty citrus flavours and a sharp, spicy aroma”.

Of the actual award Greg Kimber, sales and marketing director went on to say “we’re absolutely delighted to have won this award. It’s an indication that our gin is world-class.”
The distillery produces six varieties of gin and two varieties of rum which are distributed globally as well as through UK stockists including Waitrose, Harrods, Majestic Wine plus many independents.



RSM Stoke office are celebrating after two team members have been recognised for their achievements.

As the highest placed student in this District for Corporate Reporting and Strategic Business Management (November), Ross Whitehurst has been awarded the A B Snow and Arthur Bailey Certificate of Achievement, and as the highest placed student in this District for the November case study, Alex Simpson has been awarded the Michael Groom Certificate of Achievement.

The Certificates will be presented at the ICAEW Staffs, Salop and Wolverhampton Annual General Meeting on 21st May 2019.

Synectics Solutions, the Stoke-on-Trent based Fintech, predictive analytics and data services company, has been honoured with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise – Innovation.

The award was made for its outstanding successes in innovation, including the application of technology to save people in the UK hundreds of millions annually from potential fraud.

The Queen’s Awards, which are the highest official UK accolade for British businesses, aim to promote excellence and drive economic growth.

The Innovation category awards companies that go above and beyond in their area of expertise, and is designed for those offering unique innovations. Winners of this category must also show outstanding commercial success.

The name Synectics is based on the noun, meaning a problem-solving technique which seeks to promote creative thinking, typically among small groups of people of diverse expertise. This problem-solving, people first, creative mentality has propelled Synectics Solutions to be recognised as a world-leading pioneer in data driven software solutions that prevent financial crime and mitigate risk.

Synectics Solutions’ Managing Director Carol Shanahan said: “To win an award of this calibre is a fantastic achievement, contributed to by every one of our 360 employees. Of the many awards we have won over the past few years, this is the pinnacle of our work to date.

“Kevin and I started this business 27 years ago, with a core purpose to be a people centred company that always delivers the highest level of innovation and service. We are extremely honoured and proud that this approach, supported by the unique culture that we all embody at Synectics, has led us to win the Queen’s Award for Innovation.

“Our innovative technologies make a unique contribution to our UK, European and North American customers. These innovations now prevent £150 million annually in potential fraud losses for the UK government through our work with the Cabinet Office for the National Fraud Initiative, and even bigger savings have been made through our collaborative work in the private sector. Here, our advanced technology and ability to bring organisations together for a common purpose helps identify organised criminal gangs, prevents low level frauds, and makes predictions to block financial crime.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “These prestigious awards help shine a light on all that is great about UK business today. I am extremely impressed to see such a wealth of talent and innovation from across the UK being recognised today by Her Majesty The Queen.

“These awards recognise the innovative products and services being provided by British businesses that are in demand across the world, as well as the sheer determination and hard work that comes with starting and running a business.

“Many of these winners are small businesses – the backbone of our economy – and we are backing them to grow, increase their productivity and create more jobs and opportunity across the UK through our modern Industrial Strategy.”

Ruth Smeeth MP, Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North added: “I’m absolutely thrilled that the work of Carol and Kevin Shanahan and Synectics Solutions is being recognised. The Queen’s Awards is an incredible achievement for any company and is especially important for my constituency given the high-quality jobs and growth that Synectics Solutions brings to the town of Burslem.

“This achievement also represents the far wider contribution that Synectics Solutions makes to the community. The Synectics team have put so much time and energy into supporting the local community.

“I know from my own work with Carol and Kevin just how committed they and the whole Synectics family are to helping the local area. Whether it’s their work with the local football club or supporting the Fit and Fed project delivering holiday clubs for children across Stoke-on-Trent, Carol is community champion in the truest sense.This recognition is richly deserved.”

Jeanette Pickup is re-acclimatising to work back at Leek United after the challenge of a lifetime on the world’s highest mountain.

Customer Assistant Jeanette has just returned from a gruelling but rewarding trek to reach Everest Base Camp – in aid of the hospital unit that saved her life.

She joined an expedition climbing up to seven hours a day, eventually reaching Base Camp at an altitude of 5,364 metres. And after testing her mind and body to the limit, Jeanette has also reached the peak of personal fundraising – with almost £4,500 for the Acute Stroke Unit at the Royal Stoke University Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent.

In April 2016, the Unit treated Jeanette after she collapsed with a serious stroke at her home. Since then, she has fought to regain her health, strength and fitness – and decided she wanted to challenge herself to the limit as a way of thanking the hospital for saving her.

“The trek was nothing short of life-changing – utterly amazing,” said Jeanette, 47, of Stockton Brook, Stoke-on-Trent. “To be climbing in sight of the ice boulders and glaciers, day after day, is something I’ll never forget.

“The trek certainly wasn’t without its extra challenges; the higher we got, the more basic the tea-rooms we stopped at became – and we were having to crack ice just to use the toilets…which were usually just holes in the floor!” said Jeanette.

“Having survived something that could have ended my life, I think I came out of my stroke mentally stronger. Now that I’ve achieved what I set out to do on Everest, I want to be able to say a final, proper ‘thank you’ to the hospital for the fact that I was there to do it all…”

Jeanette is still collecting donations via her special Virgin moneygiving page, and expects her final total to be around £4,500.

Leek United Operations Director John Kelly added: “Jeanette has taken ‘going the extra mile’ to the absolute extreme; we’re all tremendously proud of her and what she’s achieved.”

Open College Network West Midlands really went to town with the launch of their new Leadership Framework training package on 26 March 2019 at the impressive Hotel du Vin in the Centre of Birmingham.  This was to mark over 35 years serving the West Midlands providing a wide range of qualifications and other accreditation services across industry sectors.

The event was attended by over 60 delegates from the world of business and education who came to see the Leadership Framework being showcased by ‘The Governor’ Dr Karl George MBE, Managing Director of The Governance Forum (TGF).  Karl is an established author, international consultant, conference speaker and community champion and he had the audience totally engaged in an enthused, fun packed and dynamic demonstration of how the Leadership Board Game (a key component of the Leadership Framework package) is an interactive, team based educational tool providing participants the opportunity to perfect their leadership knowledge and behaviour.

Open College Network have worked in collaboration with TGF to develop The Leadership Framework, which is based on over 20 years of research with the premise; ‘How can you lead others until you’ve mastered leading yourself’ and goes on to include the seven steps to be an effective leader.

Open College Networks Chief Executive Christine Assheton and Chair of the Board of Trustees Chris Morecroft opened the formal proceedings with heart felt and inspiring stories detailing the history of Open College Network and how the Awarding Organisation has been able to achieve its vision by transforming lives through widening participation in education – not to mention the ceremonial cutting of a very impressive company cake to mark the occasion!

Delegates were also treated to two inspirational key note speakers, Mark Tonks and Professor Ronder Mann, who gave fascinating insights into the value and importance of good leadership, particularly in the current challenging times.

The launch event was also a great social occasion with drinks, canapes and networking flowing freely throughout the evening.   Delegates were also shown a short video showcasing the Leadership Board Game in action with testimonials from some of the first people to experience this new innovative and engaging training package.  The event launch was also filmed on the night and can be viewed on our You Tube Channel.

For further information about The Leadership Framework contact Open College Network on

01902 624230 or email

Motor vehicle students at Stoke on Trent College are learning their trade on the latest road cars thanks to the generosity of local automotive company, SYNETIQ.

Trainee vehicle technicians at the college are developing their practical skills on a range of current models and static engines donated by SYNETIQ, as part of a new partnership. The company, which has a base in Hurleston, is the leading vehicle recycling company in the northwest and also specialises in repairable vehicles and safe car disposal across the UK. Each year it supplies Stoke on Trent College with around ten modern road cars from a variety of ranges, models and styles.

The students work on the vehicles in the Stoke on Trent College automotive workshops, which has ten vehicle ramps, modern diagnostic equipment, automotive body repair and paint facility, Heavy Vehicle and dedicated Hybrid vehicle training areas, they also train on the static engines supplied by SYNETIQ. Motor Vehicle Team Leader Sharon Roberts said: “We were delighted to receive the latest delivery of cars from SYNETIQ. The vehicles are typical of the road cars which come into garages for repair or service on a daily basis. By introducing our students to current technology and systems we are able to give them relevant skills which prepare them for the world of work.”

Director of SYNETIQ, Mark Schofield, said: “We actively support Stoke on Trent College Automotive department because the next generation of motor vehicle technicians are the future life blood of our industry. Our partnership with the college is also part of our wider engagement with our local community.”

SYNETIQ has significant scale and capacity, operating 16 fully licensed and accredited sites across the UK, with a fleet of over 120 collection and delivery vehicles and having processed 100,000 vehicles in the last 12 months. SYNETIQ has over 54,000 registered auction customers and sells in excess of 51,000 vehicles and 260,000 parts per year.

Leek United Building Society has appointed Rob Broadbent as its new Finance Director.

Rob has over 15 years’ experience in financial services, including positions at Board and Executive level.His most recent role was Chief Risk Officer at Wesleyan Bank, an organisation which he originally joined as Head of Finance in 2013.

Prior to that, Rob gained considerable and wide-ranging experience in a succession of other senior positions, which included two years as Financial Controller for Al Rayan Bank, followed by a similar role at Melton Mowbray Building Society. Born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Rob, 42, gained a B.Sc. in Physics at Durham University, before qualifying as a chartered accountant.

Rob said: ”I am passionate about the value that a modern mutual can bring to its members. Leek United is a financially strong and ambitious regional building society, creating a great canvas on which to work and build for the future.

“I look forward to working with the team at Leek United, to ensure the Society continues to provide great value products and services to its members, rewarding career opportunities for its employees and support to the local community.”