Staffordshire’s Trentham Monkey Forest have been recognised as one of the leading animal attractions in the UK after officially becoming members of The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).

“The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) is the professional body representing the best zoos and aquariums in the UK and Ireland (BIAZA website).”

“We’re delighted to be part of such a fantastic organisation who support and are committed to conservation, education and research, something that is at the forefront of what we do at Monkey Forest” commented Monkey Forest Director, Matt Lovatt.

The BIAZA website says that “By displaying the BIAZA logo our zoos and aquariums are also demonstrating their dedication to conserving the natural world through research and conservation programmes and to educating and inspiring their visitors to do the same.”

BIAZA aims to support its members to help inspire people in protecting and conserving the natural world. They provide education, training and research, as well as achieving the highest levels of animal care and welfare, something which the Monkey Forest team are very proud of and we’re sure the monkeys agree too!

“We work so hard to ensure our monkeys have the best home, living as naturally as possible and their welfare is our number one priority. The natural behaviour we see from them just confirms how happy they are within their 60-acre woodland home!”

“We aim to educate our visitors about the plight of the endangered Barbary macaques and want to keep spreading this important conservation message that can be transferred to other endangered species too. We hope that our BIAZA membership allows us to spread this message even further” said Matt.

Following an appeal for Easter Eggs from Alice Charity, MyCleverHub, Stoke-on-Trent’s first Entrepreneur Incubator and Accelerator hub, has coordinated an Easter Egg appeal which originally aimed to collect 200 eggs, with the first 100 eggs being matched by MyCleverGroup. Thanks to the generosity of local businesses, over 600 eggs have been collected for children and families who otherwise wouldn’t be receiving an Easter Egg in the coming weeks.

In addition to staff contributions from across MyCleverGroup, there have been further donations from Mitten Clarke, Dains Accountants, Water World, Handelsbanken, Mounsey Surveyors, Beswicks Legal, Pace Ward Insurance, Harrison Carloss, Koch Glitsch, Hobb Computers and KMF Group, each of who helped with this appeal for vulnerable children and families across the Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme area.

Suzi Archer, Entrepreneur Accelerator Manager, MyCleverHub commented:

“As a new arrival to Festival Park, we were keen to engage with our neighbouring businesses, so when we read about Alice Charity’s Easter Egg Appeal we were happy to show our support. We’re thrilled with the response and hope the eggs helped to give local, less fortunate children a happier Easter.”

Jon Dudley, Partner, Dains Accountants mentioned: “Supporting the Easter Egg Appeal was a great way to round off our year of fund raising for Alice Charity. Many thanks to MyCleverHub for organising such a great initiative on Festival Park. There will be lots of happy children this Easter.

Emily Petts, Family Support Director, Alice Charity added: “Alice Charity has received requests for over 2000 Easter Eggs so far. Thanks to the support of MyCleverHub, individuals and local businesses we are confident that we will be able to ensure these children will wake up on Easter Sunday with a chocolate egg”.

Companies across North Staffordshire are being urged to take advantage of a unique programme, set up by Michelin to champion job creation in the region. Michelin Development is keen to see applications to its business support service increase.Subsidised, unsecured loans of up to £50,000 are available for projects with the potential to create quality, sustainable jobs.

One company helped by Michelin Development is Patera Engineering. Based in Fenton the family-run business – founded by Chris Lees in 1988 and currently led by his son Shaun – is going from strength to strength in the construction, structural and custodial sectors.

Two loans from Michelin Development have helped them to move into larger premises, invest in high technology equipment and develop advanced Building Information Modelling (BIM) within the business. This has enabled Patera Engineering to make the leap into top specification projects nationally and internationally, as its reputation for quality, innovation and service grows.

As a result, 20 new jobs have been created over the last 5 years. Shaun Lees said: “Michelin Development has played an invaluable role in helping our business to grow. The process to apply is straightforward and we value the relationship and support we’ve benefitted from over time with Michelin. As we’ve expanded, the money has helped us to really focus on the specific changes being implemented at the time, without an impact on cashflow. Michelin Development is a great initiative for companies and enterprises in our area.”

Shaun adds, “It really works and I’d strongly recommend that business leaders investigate the opportunities the fund can offer.”

Mike Cole, head of Michelin Development, is keen to hear from other businesses looking to gear up for the next stage of growth. Mr Cole said: “Our message to businesses is not to miss out. We have the funds in place, but we need to receive applications to deliver this support and investment in our community. The companies we can help know their markets and figures. They just need a little extra support to move along on that growth journey, and that is where we can step in to help.”

To find out more visit www.michelindevelopment.co.uk

Purple Sprout has expanded its growing team with a new member of staff.

Mathew Haining, from Wolstanton, has joined the team as a web developer after previously working in the education sector.

The 27-year-old said: “I wanted to work on more varied projects and I was looking for a role which would allow me to be more creative. Purple Sprout has a really creative approach and the team have made me feel very welcome.

“It’s an exciting time for the company because we’re growing fast and I’m looking forward to working on some big, exciting projects.”

Mathew’s appointment follows a successful pitch by the agency to deliver a marketing strategy for property management company Unitas, and seven other client wins since January.

David Mellenchip, acting managing director, said: “We’re really impressed with the work Mat has done so far and he’s fit into our team right away. We’re seeing more demand for websites and SEO and Mat’s skills will help us meet this demand.”

 

Software development company, Langley Foxall Ltd, are celebrating their exponential growth by launching a new website and expanding their range of offerings for customers.

The Stafford based company has recently realigned their branding and are moving forward with ‘exciting new prospects in mind’ according to their Marketing Manager.

Since being founded by Nicholas Langley in 2013, Langley Foxall have experienced rapid growth year on year and now boast a team of 20 talented individuals just over 5 years later, even opening a sales hub in Manchester.

The company has recognised there is a high demand for custom software after seeing first hand the frustrations of running a business with industry standard tools. “As we make headway in the industry we decided to realign our branding accordingly, it has been in the pipeline, but celebrating our growth by providing more offers for our customers seemed the perfect course of action for Langley Foxall” states Nicholas Langley, Managing Director.

The company states ‘many businesses start with the belief that you are doing something different within your industry, or to a better standard’.

“Yet you are limiting your capabilities and adapting your vital (potentially unique) processes to suit industry standard software. This has been known to cause issues such as; bottlenecking, long (sometimes even paper based or spreadsheet assisted) processes with the use of multiple systems failing to communicate effectively with each other forcing duplicated tasks.”

Langley Foxall have been helping companies all over the UK to solve these issues and will continue to do so as they grow from strength to strength.

The company is considered by many to be a leading force in this area of their industry and with that, they are focusing heavily on code based standards.

Drivers are being urged to prepare for the introduction of the Birmingham Clean Air Zone (CAZ) by checking to see if their vehicle will be subject to the charge.

The CAZ will be introduced in January 2020 as part of a concerted effort to improve the city’s overall air quality, as well as reduce emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

To help businesses and city centre drivers plan, the Business Breathes website, which has been launched as part of Brum Breathes, Birmingham City Council’s air quality campaign, has advice on which vehicles will be subject to the charge.

The authority has announced a package of measures that will help businesses and individuals affected by the CAZ, after it was allocated £38 million from the Clean Air Fund for support measures. This includes almost £15 million to help taxi drivers to upgrade to cleaner, greener vehicles.

Commercial vehicles – buses, coaches, Hackney cabs and HGVs – that do not meet the criteria can use retrofit technology that is approved by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme. This could be installing exhaust-after-treatment systems, which reduce harmful particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions, or having re-power system, which replaces the non-compliant engine with a new, cleaner one.

The council has also said it will introduce a range of exemptions for eligible businesses and individuals – including residents living within the CAZ, those travelling to a place of work that is in the CAZ and commercial vehicles registered in the CAZ – to give them additional time to change to compliant vehicles.

However, for those not exempt, the most polluting cars, taxis and vans that do not meet the standards will be charged daily £8 to the enter the CAZ, while non-compliant HGVs, buses and coaches will be subject to a £50 daily charge.

All vehicles must meet the following fuel type criteria if they are to avoid the charge:

  • Euro VI diesel or newer, which applies to most diesel engines registered after September 1 2015;
  • Euro 4 standard or newer for petrol vehicles – or LPG added to original petrol engine, which applies to most new registrations after 1 January 2006;
  • Euro 6 gas standard or better;
  • All fully electric or hydrogen fuel cell;
  • Hybrid electric are compliant if they meet the relevant criteria for diesel or petrol engines.

If drivers are unsure about the Euro band of their vehicle, they are advised to contact the manufacturer directly. The Government is currently developing a number plate checker which will provide the Euro band. It is anticipated this will go live by Q4 this year.

Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “The Clean Air Zone will represent a significant change in terms of the way people travel around the city, so it is important that those who rely on the use of vehicles for their business are able to make the necessary preparations and access the relevant support ahead of its implementation in January 2020.

“The Business Breathes website provides a valuable one-stop shop for fleet managers and self-employed drivers to access the information they need to make the switch to greener, cleaner transport options, ensuring Birmingham stays open for business while also helping the city achieve cleaner air for those who live and work here.”

The CAZ will encompass all roads within the A4540 Middleway ring road and vehicle number recognition will be used to identify vehicles that do not meet the standards.

For more details, visit: businessbreathes.co.uk

Keele University won medals in three categories at the annual The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) Competitions held at Warwick University on 26th and 27th March 2019.

The first win for Keele University was a Bronze Medal for Pastry Chef James Jefferies’ impressive cakes served in the Afternoon Tea Challenge at the Salon Culinaire. Creating four sweet items for an afternoon tea menu. James ‘choices were Bitter Chocolate & Peanut Brownie, Lemon Meringue Pot, Tonka Bean Choux Bun and Ginger, Apricot & Sultana Flapjack.

Sous Chef Kim Barnish, brought home the first Gold Medal for the eventing in the Grab ‘n’ Go Challenge where competitors were asked to produce a savoury hand-held snack and a dessert which must be allergen free. For the savoury snack, Kim chose a rolled flatbread filled and baked with mildly spiced coronation style chicken and for the dessert she created a typical Sicilian cannolo without any dairy products and utilising gluten free flour. At the awards dinner the pressure was on as Kim had won a similar event at last year’s competition. Always ready to deliver, Kim rose to the top of the leader board winning a Gold medal for Keele.

It was then the turn of the Cook and Serve Team Adrian Ascina, James Tudor & James Eardley to bring the second win of the evening. Creating a menu from pre selected ingredients, this was cooked and served for a table of four guests. 

Adrian, who has only competed once before this event, was asked to serve a pre-dinner drink which was Bombay Sapphire Gin with Spiced Tonic Water flavoured with Kaffir Lime Leaf. His precise and attentive front of house skills ensured the team outshone all others and he was awarded with Best Service on the day.

Attending the awards dinner, Adrian Lowe, General Manager for Keele Hall commented: “It was a fantastic evening to see our competitors win over tough competition.  Academic venues have great talent within their food and beverage teams, and this demonstrates the creativity we have with our catering services.”

 

Bodyline Clinic, the North West’s number one prescription weight loss company, is transforming lives with successfully guiding over 300 people in Stoke-on-Trent to achieve their weight loss goals since opening their doors only a matter of months ago.

Based on Festival Park, the women-owned weight loss business, which is the only UK organisation to hold both CQC and Home Office regulated status, are feeling the love from the Stoke community since they arrived.

“The Stoke opening came from Bodyline customers asking for a clinic to be on their doorstep. We saw many clients travelling some distance to visit us and as a business, we always listen to feedback and saw a gap in the market in Stoke. We have had a great welcome and feel very much at home since we opened our doors last year”, says Managing Director Sally Turner, who has owned and grown the business since she opened her first clinic over 15 years ago.

Each clinic is operated by a medical team that is overseen by the clinical director who is also an NHS consultant in public health.

The clinics offer advice and guidance on lifestyle, nutrition, diet and exercise, with each client receiving a tailored weight-loss plan and weight-loss-aid medication to enable them to achieve their weight loss goals.

Sally continued: “We welcome people from all walks of life through our doors, but they all have one thing in common, they’re lifelong dieters who are struggling with their weight. They have often exhausted all other usual routes and are still unable to shift those pounds. With our team of 25 clinicians, doctors and nurses we have the right skills, knowledge and products to help people lose the weight for good in a safe environment.”

Tracy Ritchings, clinic manager, at Stoke said: “We have already received such brilliant feedback from our clients, and we can proudly say we have helped them wave goodbye to total of 70 stone since we opened, and we look forward to adding to that ongoing total in every clinic session.”

“We know that hunger is such a huge factor in why diets continue to fail, but with our medication we can guarantee the pangs of hunger don’t exist, enabling those who have battled with their weight for most of the lives the chance to turn it around with our ongoing support.

“At Bodyline we are also at the forefront of developing high quality supplements, with our inhouse pharmacists designing and expanding our range of wellness products – such as our recently launch B12 and D3 sprays. We’ve also seen lots of excitement around our new weight loss injection, Bodyline’s SlimPen, also known as Saxenda, with individuals losing weight quicker and easier than ever before.”

 

The Donna Louise has welcomed local businessman, Nathan Walton as its new Director of Income Generation & Marketing.

Having previously been a Trustee, and through taking part in a number of fundraising events and challenges over the years, raising over £110,000 to support the families who rely on the services provided by the hospice, Nathan is no stranger to The Donna Louise. Not only that, he was one of twelve intrepid team-mates who took part in last year’s gruelling Tower to Tower challenge, a 4-day cycle, row and walk from Paris to London without sleep.

Nathan said, “As a long-time supporter of The Donna Louise, I’ve seen first-hand the wonderful and invaluable support that the hospice offers to so many local families, and have been fortunate enough to get to know many of them, and the wonderful team who care for them, over the years.”

Widely known across the region for his business knowledge and connections, Nathan was previously Managing Director of JSW Insurance Services, a company which he co-founded and led to success for almost 14 years. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience that will be invaluable to The Donna Louise as the team forge ahead with an exciting period of development.

Commenting on his new role at The Donna Louise, Nathan added, “I’m delighted to join The Donna Louise team. It’s a huge privilege and I’m proud to be joining such a fantastic, motivated team. I’m especially excited to be joining the charity at such an important time with the development of our services for young adults and look forward to using the knowledge, skills and connections I have gained in the business world to help this incredible charity thrive even further.”

Businesses in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire have been provided with ‘much-needed breathing space’ following last night’s announcement from Brussels.  Leaders from the European Union (EU) granted a six-month flexible extension – until 31 October – to Brexit, where the UK could leave the EU at any time before that date if the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Deal is accepted by UK MPs.

As it stands the Withdrawal Deal has previously been rejected by MPs on three occasions and this is the second extension to the Brexit process the UK has sought to clear the impasse currently in Parliament.

Details of the extension emerged in the early hours of this morning after five hours of talks, where the European Council reiterated that this ‘extension’ comes with some caveats;

  • The extension is “only as long as necessary” and “no longer than 31st October” to allow the PM to bring her deal back to Parliament and get it passed.
  • The UK “must hold the elections to the European Parliament” and if it fails to do this or the UK decides not to take part, the UK will leave on 1st June.
  • The European Council has again stated that the deal on the table, the withdrawal agreement, is not up for renegotiation.
  • If the PM gets her deal through Parliament, this extension might be ended earlier than October.

So, is this a trick or treat?

Is it a treat?

Due to the political impasse the UK was set to leave with a no deal Brexit as of 11:00pm tomorrow. The UK now has an additional six months to find a way forward in Parliament or consider other options available to it. This is much needed breathing space for many UK businesses who rely on an orderly exit from the EU.

Is it a trick?

While this extension provides some breathing space for businesses and many businesses across the country will be relieved that there is no longer a risk of the UK leaving the EU in a chaotic, no-deal Brexit at 11pm on Friday, politically, October 31st does not solve anything in Parliament. Many firms will consider this an extension of the political uncertainty and impasse in Parliament. The Government cannot afford to leave finding a solution to Brexit that Parliament will actually support to the last minute, again.