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.”


Lynne Ingram has joined Freeths Stoke as a Senior Associate in the Employment team. Lynne has vast experience of advising business on all aspects of HR and Employment law having worked in the Staffordshire area for over 15 years. Lynne has a strong reputation for pragmatic and commercially driven advice.

Lynne said: “I am thrilled to be joining Freeths. A couple of things that attracted me to the firm are that they are progressive and undertaking exciting time of growth, however, they are unashamedly committed to the Staffordshire region and have an understanding of the issues facing local businesses. Also, I was attracted to the quality of the lawyers who are committed to thinking differently to achieve the goals of their clients”.

Jake Wilkie has also joined the Employment team as a Solicitor after having completed his Training Contract with the firm. Jake started his career at Freeths working in the Stoke offices’ Commercial Property team in 2014 and went onto his first and second seat in the Manchester and Derby offices. Jake then returned to Stoke for his final seat in Employment.

Jake said: “I am extremely proud to be working with Peter and the Employment team in Stoke and very fortunate to be working for such a forward thinking, expanding firm. Its national corporate values, such as “doing the right thing” are championed through various local partnerships and are advocated by all lawyers in the office. I am excited to develop my skills under Peter’s and Lynne’s guidance and to develop relationships with the prestigious local clients they both represent”.

Peter Gavin, Managing Partner of Freeths’ Stoke office commented: Despite some recent setbacks, business in Stoke-on-Trent and the Staffordshire area continue to thrive through difficult economic times. There is a high demand for good quality, practical legal advice at realistic rates from lawyers who know the area and the challenges faced by local businesses. The addition of Lynne and Jake continues our plan to strengthen the Stoke employment team and to provide the full range of HR and employment law services.”

Freeths LLP is a top 50, full service commercial law firm. With 13 offices across the UK, Freeths has a presence in the majority of the major cities. Staff numbers have increased to 890 including 195 partners & directors in recent years.  The Legal 500 2019 states “Delivering ‘excellent service all-around’, Freeths LLP is praised for its outstanding depth of knowledge’”.

Microsoft Gold Partner, the 848 Group, presents their highly-anticipated event focussing on Digital Transformation!


If you’re hearing all this talk about Digital Transformation, but aren’t sure what it is, or how it will benefit your organisation, then this is the event for you!

Join us on the 10th May, at the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce where Enterprise Architect; Andy Mallett, Account Director; William Nelson, and Senior Functional Consultant; Dominic Ryder, of the 848 Group, will present Digital Transformation, Business Changing IT. The event will offer insight in how technology can empower your workforce, enhance customer service, transform your products and services, as well as optimise your sales!

Mark Trimmer, Business Intelligence expert will also be attending as a guest speaker to offer insight on how advanced data analytics can drive your business forward.


It’s completely free to attend! You only need to register!
Simply, and complete the form on the page!


“Digital transformation is more than buying new technology or moving to the cloud. It must be focused to allow the effective use of technology to empower people to deliver improved customer value through more efficient processes.” – Andy Mallett, Enterprise Architect and Solutions Director.


848 Group have significant experience in providing solutions, services, consultancy, and technologies, to SMBs and Enterprises across the UK, and further afield. We have over a century of combined experience! Over the years, they have received many accolades for their impressive work, including Gold and Silver Microsoft Partner status. As well as forming partnerships with many other high-profile providers, including, Deloitte, Ricoh, and Veeam.

Staffordshire has started the new financial year on near full employment, statistics published show.

Just 1.6% of the local population is claiming out of work benefits, lower than both regional (3.3%) and national (2.6%) averages.

County council leader Philip Atkins said major new developments this year would further boost employment opportunities. He added: “It is good news that we have started the new financial year with near full employment and our focus continues to be on supporting the creation of better paid, better skilled jobs for people in Staffordshire.

“In June we will start work on the western extension at i54 South Staffordshire – a huge project which will result in hundreds more jobs being created. The success of the current site has been huge and is now nearly fully occupied.”

“Meanwhile we now have full occupancy at the county council-developed Four Ashes Business Park and the first business will be moving on to Meaford Business Park, where we laid the foundations for the on-site development.

“Working with the local enterprise partnership and other partners, our efforts remain to ensure we are attracting the right type of business in the county and that people have the skills needed to take advantage of the better paid job opportunities.”


Middleport Pottery has been used as the distinctive backdrop for episode filming of ‘The Strongest Man In History’.

The US film crew were joined by North Staffordshire’s Eddie Hall and three co-stars performing a series of challenges inspired by legends and real moments in history. Middleport Pottery was chosen for it’s rich pottery heritage and canal side setting with four watch towers being built to re-enact a prank by 18th century strongman Thomas Topham.

The TV show will be aired in the United States later this year.

JCB has secured a major deal with Plant Hire UK for new fleets of Loadalls and compact excavators worth almost £17 million.

The deal will see the leading UK hirer strengthen its construction machinery line-up by purchasing 300 new JCB Loadalls and 50 compact excavators along with site dumpers and tandem rollers.  The new machines will be put to work by contractors on construction and civil engineering projects across the country and will add to Plant Hire UK’s vast fleet of JCB machines.

Plant Hire UK Managing Director Graham Jones said: “As the construction sector goes from strength to strength this investment in new JCB Loadalls and compact midi excavators ensures our customers are guaranteed the highest specification machines with outstanding safety features and telematics support as standard.”

JCB Group Managing Director of Global Key Accounts Yvette Henshall-Bell said “Plant Hire UK has a reputation for delivering the best machines and market-leading service, which perfectly complements the JCB ethos. As the world’s number one telescopic handler, the Loadall has a proven track record that construction firms trust implicitly, while our compact excavators are hard-working on-site machines.”

The machines are supplied and supported by Gunn JCB. Managing Director Paul Hartshorn said: “Plant Hire UK is one of our largest and most successful customers. Gunn JCB depots are perfectly located to support the ever-growing number of machines as Plant Hire UK has continued to invest in its fleet.”