Tag Archives: mental health

Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd | Merry Christmas from the Aardvarks!

Merry Christmas from the Aardvark Burrow

Merry Christmas from the Aardvark Burrow

We would like to wish all our customers, suppliers, referrers and business friends a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and successful New Year 2020!

2019 has been another memorable year for Aardvark Marketing. We’ve started working with some fantastic new customers as well as celebrating some long-standing partnerships. We’ve been winners of more Technology Innovator awards for Social Media and Outsourced Marketing Solutions in June, as well as winning an inaugural Content Creator award in July. We won a Midlands Enterprise award in September and there is a further award in the pipeline for the end of the year.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Aardvark Marketing win prestigious Technology Innovator award for 4th year running

 

 

 

 

 

We continue to support ambitious business owners with The Manufacturing Growth Programme and through the Worcestershire Accelerator programme, which ended in June but which we hope to see back in 2020.

Many of you have also followed and generously supported Mark Smith of Lloyds Bank with his campaign to raise over £26,000 for Mental Health UK. A big thank you to anyone who contributed by coming along to a seminar, attended the fundraising events or just liked and shared our social media posts.  We are delighted that Mark hit his fundraising target. Marks Mental Health Marathon has contributed to many companies making real changes in the workplace and, on a personal note, I would like to thank all those corporate sponsors who agreed to an interview with me – I enjoyed every one!  The final event of the year was a candlelit Carol service at All Saints in Worcester, and it was lovely to talk to so many supporters and to support the causes of Mental Health and the Worcester Foodbank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd | Proud to sponsor Marks Mental Health Marathon

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Gill and Chris

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Things Mark learned from trekking in Cambodia

Things Mark learned from trekking in Cambodia

Mark Smith completed this challenge in October.  I was lucky enough to grab some time over  breakfast to talk about the trek itself. Here are some of his most memorable moments and observations:

 

 

 

 

 

1.Team spirit really, really works!

The hardest day was day 3 – a 16 mile walk with 1600 foot climb in 40 degree heat and very, very humid. The previous day the local guides had been chopping down the undergrowth to allow the group to get through the thick vegetation.  Sometimes we walked through sand and streams – it’s really tough walking on the sand. The support and encouragement  of the rest of the group was all that kept some people going yet everyone made it safely to the end of the day.

2. Blisters!

No need to say more here – some were so large I was seriously alarmed.

 

 

 

 

 

3. The scenery was stunning.

Most of the villages had Buddhist temples and we were able to camp in the shelter of their  pagodas. Because of the remote location, the water supply was often coloured. It was a treat to be able to take a dip in a river on the evening of day three. We didn’t really notice many insects but the size, colour and variety of the dragonflies and butterflies were amazing. Angkor Wat itself was an amazing experience and it is a major site for archaeological discoveries.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants |Traditional Cambodian house on stilts

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Cambodians are incredibly welcoming.

The hospitality of the people was great. The children were on their school holidays, so would greet us as we approached their villages. They were always smiling.  We gave out hundreds of pencils so they could use them in school! One day of the walk it rained so hard everyone had to walk through running water. A local family offered shelter from a thunderstorm  in their house built on stilts. Everyone squeezed into the living room of their two bedroom house and all the mattresses were bundled into the smaller room so that everyone had enough room to sit down. After a couple of hours the storm abated and the walk could continue but everybody  left feeling very grateful for local hospitality.

5. Food is basic but delicious.

The variety of fruit and veg was huge, with most evening meals stews containing either rice or noodles. The local bananas were tiny and their oranges were coloured green.

6. There are no bin collections

This was a sad observation – it’s caused by visiting tourists. Any dropped  litter – mainly plastic water bottles and energy bar wrappers – is swept up by the local villagers, but simply deposited at the boundary between villages as there is no local infrastructure in place to collect or recycle waste.

7. Personal organisation

The challenge of doing this trek as a diabetic is do-able. Blood tests, insulin injections and tablets CAN all be managed in a jungle if you are sufficiently focused and organised!

Chatting to different members of the group revealed a variety of reasons for taking part and many had either suffered themselves from mental illness or seen close family members suffer. The group came from many different functions in the bank and many different pay grades but all were united in their commitment to raising money for this good cause. The 70 people in the two groups raised over 1/2 million pounds for Mental Health UK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It ‘s been a  real pleasure and a privilege  for me to  work alongside and support  the amazing Mark Smith with #MarksMentalHealthMarathon this year. Chris and I are  delighted that he has personally raised over £26,000 to date for this great cause of mental health. The seminars provided some great practical tips for the local  business community. It’s been fun meeting and interviewing all his local business sponsors and supporters. Thanks, Mark, for asking us to share a small part of your  personal project.

Gill Hutchinson

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Simon Davies of Spectra group

Meet our co-sponsor Simon Davies of Spectra group

Meet our co-sponsor Simon Davies of Spectra group

Spectra group has just been awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation for its ‘Slingshot’ communications system. Spectra started when Simon moved into civilian life after 24 years in the army, where he worked in IT and communications in the Royal Signals. The business was initially set up as a one-man band, but now employs 35 people in Kingstone, Herefordshire.

The Queen’s Award is highly contested and is a noteworthy recognition of the outstanding commercial success that Spectra has achieved with their revolutionary system, SlingShot®.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Simon Davies of Spectra group

 

 

 

 

 

SlingShot is a lightweight device that delivers game-changing capabilities to existing military and civilian radio networks.  When connected to military or commercial UHF/VHF radios, Slingshot extends their range from under 50 miles to potentially 1000s of miles by utilising the commercial satellite network. Versatile enough to be used in aircraft, vehicles, maritime platforms and by individuals on the ground, Spectra is successfully marketing SlingShot internationally for military and non-military use, such as emergency services and disaster-relief, with a capability that has proved to be of critical importance and has undoubtedly contributed to the saving of lives.

Simon has built the company around quality products and services using radio and satellite technology. For their customers in the defence & security or the emergency services, communication is vital – it must work the first time, every time. “Failure is not an option” says Simon.  As the company has grown, having the right calibre people in the business who share this vision of quality has become one of the major challenges for him. “We’re fairly lucky” he says “our staff have stayed around, and one third of them have been here for over 10 years, but we are always on the lookout for good people.

A second challenge is that which comes from working in the defence sector; where politics and defence budgets are closely aligned. Spectra sell to customers all over the globe, but it can occasionally take several years from meeting a new potential customer to getting everything agreed. “Budgeting within these organisations can be done 1, 2 or even 3 years out, so there is a very long lead time before we start to supply them” explains Simon. The reputation of the company is important, as different organisations talk to each other and share information. The company has worked on recruiting proactive distributors, who know individual countries and the business customs, culture and practices they follow, to enable them to supply each new market.

Spectra understand their competitive advantage in their marketplace. “It’s very useful at times to be an SME” says Simon “it means we can be flexible and agile in our approach, in a way that’s not always possible within larger organisations”. A great example of this is their Slingshot system, which took just a week to get to a working prototype stage and was on sale in under 8 months. The beauty of this product is that, although the satellite technology that makes it work is complex, people operating it find it very simple to use in practice. This advantage means the product gets many word of mouth recommendations.

Simon decided to support Mark Mental Health Marathon when his HR manager attended the inspiring Mental Health – Practical help your business seminar at Hereford Cathedral School. “This is an issue we’ll all have to deal with” says Simon “Obviously, as an ex-military man you are very aware of the impact the work in Afghanistan and Iraq had on the mental health of the personnel who served, but this is an issue that is growing in the whole of our society.

The future for Spectra will be to continue to grow organically, as Simon has turned down several offers of acquisition from larger corporations. The need to attend many international trade shows means his diary is always full but Simon relaxes by following horse racing and is comfortable with the balance of work and relaxation he achieves in this beautiful part of Herefordshire..

Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd | Co sponsor Spectra Group

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Business Community Carol service at All Saints

A warm invitation to the Worcestershire Business Community Carol Service at All Saints

A warm invitation to the Worcestershire Business Community Carol Service at All Saints

As the year draws to a close we’re delighted to welcome you to the 2019 Worcestershire Business Community Carol Service at All Saints, in the heart of Worcester city centre.

Our friends at All Saints have kindly agreed to host what will be a fabulous event, so come and join us on Tuesday, 10th December to celebrate the festive season, catch up with friends and soak up the traditional candle-lit atmosphere at All Saints Church.

The Carol Service is the final event of 2019 which has seen your kind support help Lloyds Bank raise over £25,000 for Mental Health UK.  Thank you to everyone who has taken part in our awareness seminars, quizzes, art exhibitions and to those who have corporately or personally donated during the year.  Your encouragement has been hugely valued.This is our opportunity to say ‘thank-you’ and to bring together the Worcestershire business community to celebrate all that is good in this marvellous county.

This will be Lloyds Bank’s final 2019 event in support of Mental Health UK, where the huge generosity of the business community has raised over £25,000. Thank you for your
marvellous support! Mindful of the local needs of the county, there will be opportunity to support the Worcester Foodbank at a really important time of the year.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Worcester Foodbank Christmas appeal

 

 

 

 

So we can make sure we have enough prosecco, nibbles and mulled-wine for everyone, please let us know how many from your business would like to come along and we’ll see you
there! Please email mark Smith  Mark.Smith5@lloydsbanking.com with your business name and the contact email(s) of those attending.

Agenda

5pm        Doors open, soak up the Christmas atmosphere and enjoy a glass of Prosecco

6pm        Candlelit service with your favourite carols, readings and the All Saints Christmas Choir

7 – 8pm  Christmas nibbles, mulled wine and a chance to chat with friends and business contacts you may not have seen for far too long!

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd | Co sponsors Tudor Building Supplies

Meet co-sponsor Darren Burge of Tudor Building Supplies

Meet co-sponsor Darren Burge of Tudor Building Supplies

  1. You often hear MDs of successful companies say, “My door is always open”. For the team at Tudors Building Supplies, that is literally true because the office door is propped, permanently, open and a warm welcome awaits you when you say hello to Darren. In fact, when I visited the builders’ merchant on Burcott Road in Hereford, no fewer than four people had already said hello to me and offered help whilst I was just getting from my car to his office! For me, it sums up Tudors perfectly – these people run a large, complex business on family friendly principles, and they really do know all their customers inside out.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd | Tudor Building Supplies donate to Marks mental health marathon

 

 

 

 

 

 

The business has grown from the original timber business in 1993, complete with sawmill, when there were 8 people working there. Today they supply ‘bricks and blocks’, roofing, kitchens and bathrooms with a staff of 48 across three sites in Hereford. It’s managed by the ‘gang of four’ (Darren, David Wilkins, Paul Hann and John Davies) all local to the Hereford area, who went through a management buy of out of business in 2008. It was during the buy out that they first worked with Mark Smith at Lloyds Bank and they have valued his advice and support ever since.

The directors, who are all very modest about their business success, attribute it to being a trusted, local Herefordian supplier. They know literally hundreds of their customers, most of them are small and medium sized family builders, always dealing with them on first name terms. A customers’ personal phone call to a director will result in a short conversation to agree the best specification of product followed by a confirmation to ship it to ‘the usual address’ at an agreed time. Despite trading with several thousand customers, a director will have an in-depth knowledge of every one. “It’s not possible for us to be the cheapest supplier for every product, every time” says Darren “so we always offer a fair deal plus great customer service –  something you cannot always get from buying online – and we’ll always get something for a customer if it isn’t in stock. We’re also reasonable about putting things right if necessary, although this is very rarely required “. The team are happy to do a local site visit to help a customer solve particular building challenges and they have expertise in dealing with repairs to many of the heritage buildings around the county. By building long term, trusted advisor status in the trade, the staff have established Tudors at the heart centre of the local Herefordshire community.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants Ltd | Co-sponsor Tudors Building Supplies showroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

I asked what happens if they don’t all agree about a business decision, since the shares in the business are equal, with no-one holding a majority interest. “Real honesty is important” was the answer from Darren “and we usually have a chat over a pint and resolve the issue”. In fact, the only issue that keeps him awake at night is the future for their staff should there be an unexpected downturn in the housing market. As ‘family’, people are the most important factor in running this business.

Aardvark Marketing Consultanst Ltd | Co sponsors Tudors Building Supplies

 

 

 

 

 

The business has changed over the years, adding more products and retail showrooms for garden landscaping, kitchens and bathrooms, which means they are also open to the public, but their customer knowledge and great service has remained a constant. Behind the scenes there has been investment in new facilities such as showrooms and improving the layout of the yard, and a state-of-the-art stock and finance IT system has recently been installed.  This helps Tudors remain competitive on prices in a very competitive marketplace.

It’s not possible to maintain outstanding customer service without the right staff in place and, over the years, Tudors have recruited and retained the best staff at the core of their business. Their management style and training opportunities result in staff staying with the business and gradually assuming greater responsibility and new roles. People that joined as drivers or apprentices are now managers in the sales office or running some of the retail showrooms. Staff stay because of the friendly workplace atmosphere and the approachability of their managers, making the workplace feel like one big family. That real open-door policy means staff can talk to a director, at any time in the working day, simply by popping their head around the door and asking for a few minutes of their time. “In the past we’ve been able to help and support members of the team when they hit a personal issue, whether this is due to physical or mental health, or a family matter” explains Darren “so we think we’re pretty approachable”.

Community is very important to Tudors; they are very generous donating both their time and money to local charities. Darren is a big supporter of St Michael’s Hospice and Tudor sponsor their quarterly magazine. Tudors regularly send teams to support many charity golf days or quizzes and there will be a competitive team presence at the Marks Mental Health Hereford quiz night. Often, it’s practical help that’s required rather than donations and the Tudor team are happy to do their bit for a local school fete by donating something for the raffle. These guys are really part of the fabric of Hereford, not simply another large national company.

So, whether you are a trade or DIY customer, you can be sure of getting friendly advice from the guys at Tudors when they ask you “How can I help?”

Aardvark Marketing Consultants Lts | Tudors Building Supplies logo

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 4

Jeremy Houghton art exhibition supports Marks Mental Health Marathon

Jeremy Houghton art exhibition supports Marks Mental Health Marathon

Aardvark Marketing are proud to sponsor Marks Mental Health Marathon. This week, Mark Smith is delighted to announce that renowned local artist Jeremy Houghton will be exhibiting his latest works of art at Webbs of Wychbold on Thursday, 17th October and donating a percentage of his sales to the charity, Mental Health UK.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 1“Jeremy and I were friends at school and have known each other for over 30 years” says Ed Webb, “so of course we’re very pleased we can help Mental Health UK by hosting this exciting fundraising event here at Webbs.”   As a large local employer, Webbs takes the mental health of its employees seriously, with a variety of support available for all staff. Webbs have just been recognised with an ’Excellence in Wellbeing Award’ through the Great Places to Work scheme.

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 2Jeremy Houghton is a British painter whose work attempts to capture movement and journeys. With a career marked by contrasting experiences and places (he studied in France and then worked for a number of years in South Africa), as well as a long-standing commitment to the countryside, Houghton’s work spans a broad spectrum – from the arresting drama of dynamic sports to the ever-changing patterns of migrating flamingos.

 

 

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 3Since he began to paint full-time in the mid-2000s, Houghton has divided his practice between creating standalone pieces in the studio using reference photographs and sketches and producing work via documentary residences. Over the last ten years he has been invited to detail the life of a number of high-profile communities, from those at Windsor Castle and Highgrove to last year’s Wimbledon championships, and the competitors at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Last year, inspired by the centenary of the RAF he sketched former airmen from WW2. With each of these projects Houghton is interested in getting beyond public perception, documenting instead the everyday scenes that characterise an event or place.

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 4Although Houghton’s focus ranges quite widely, his technique remains a constant. Emphasis on painted shapes of light and space, (or unpainted paper with his watercolours), contrasting against areas of liquid colour enables his subjects to shimmer in the liminal territory between figuration and abstraction. With extraneous detail removed, the paintings are also hard to place, giving them an ahistorical quality that serves to underline their fluidity.

 

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks mental health Marathon, Jeremy Houghton event 5Houghton continually explores the potential of negative space to represent light, and often references ma, the concept in Japanese aesthetics that translates roughly as ‘gap’ or ‘pause’, and which in traditional practice helps balance the relationship between different areas of an image. This focus on the space between things lends his paintings, even when they are of something as solid as a horse or a racing boat, a surprising delicacy. Houghton holds his subjects on a very thin, almost invisible line between motion and the ability to transcend time.

 

Marks Mental Health Marathon was started by Mark Smith of Lloyds bank, who is raising money for Mental Health UK to allow them to support more people going through challenging times with mental health issues. He is organising a series of local seminars for business owners to learn more about the practical steps they can take in their business to support their teams should they encounter someone in need of help.

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Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Meet co-sponsor of Marks Mental Health Marathon Rev Dr Rich Johnson

How can I serve? Meet co-sponsor Rev Dr Rich Johnson

How can I serve? Meet co-sponsor Rev Dr Rich Johnson

The Rev Dr Rich Johnson talks about modern ministry and mental health

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Meet co-sponsor of Marks Mental Health Marathon Rev Dr Rich Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

The parish of All Saints at the heart of Worcester city is one of the oldest in the city.  It now uses two buildings. St Helen’s, a 15th century church building occupies a site used for worship since Roman times. You may have seen the scaffold wrap artwork on the High Street earlier this year, part of a Heritage Lottery Fund project that enabled much needed stonework repairs to be made. All Saints on Deansway is the historic parish church built into the city walls in Norman times.  Worship services are now held in both buildings. Although the buildings are steeped in history, there is absolutely nothing old fashioned about this very modern pastoral team with it’s drive and enthusiasm for creating social support in the community.

The church is now one of the largest in the Diocese of Worcester, not only with many adults, but welcoming students, teenagers and children into the community. After the second world war many of the houses in the parish were demolished, scattering the previous community of dockers and porcelain workers and their families, so the congregation fell. Today the church, with its own distinctive style of less formal, contemporary worship, has gone from strength to strength.

Rich brings his own leadership style to his role, heading up a team of “brilliant” and committed individuals, whether they are volunteers or staff. He describes his methods as “equip, envision, empower and release”.  He’s currently supporting Mark Smith of Lloyds Bank to give back to the business community as well as raising money for Mental Health UK. Mark has set himself a target for fundraising but also important to him is that business leaders and managers in his area know more about Mental Health issues and have some clear guidance to follow if necessary. It was at one of these seminars for business that I met Rich, who had come to both learn more from the speakers and to support Mark and his project. The seminars address practical steps such as how to spot potential problems in their own teams and how to provide the right supportive working environment to minimise the impact on that individual, their colleagues and their families.

By supporting others, All Saints seeks to serve the Worcester community in so many ways. A key question Rich asks when evaluating how the church is developing is “If we shut down overnight, would the city miss us?”.   Increasingly, the answer is yes.  Rich and his team work with people who have the vision, commitment and passion to succeed and help them with practical support to get projects started and developed. In this way the church set up and now runs the Worcester Foodbank, Worcester Street Pastors, supports homeless people, those fostering and adopting, schools, colleges and individual students with mental health resilience courses. The Foodbank even provides necessities such as school shoes and toys for birthdays and at Christmas to children whose families would otherwise genuinely struggle to get by.

The list of organisations where Rich and his team are known and respected is large and includes the County Council, local schools, Worcester Community Trust, Worcester BID, local business leaders, local MP’s, local police etc. By building networks across these organisations, the church is collaborating with others to help achieve something that is both worthwhile and makes a real difference to local people. Rich sees his role as a trusted partner not only to listen and participate but also to challenge. He talks to me about Desmond Tutu, who said “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” Because the Church is uniquely placed to talk with all these organisations, it’s able to bring its in-depth, local knowledge of the causes of the issues that adversely affect individuals and their families in modern life. This understanding allows them to ask the ‘awkward’ or ‘brave’ questions of politicians and civic authorities so that their decision making is better informed.

For so many people in need of social support networks, poor mental health is a common denominator. Rich works hard to listen and understand why so many people, not just our students, teenagers and young people are struggling. It’s clear that social media and the pressure of growing up in the public eye has much to answer for. Rich talks about digital addiction, hyperconsumerism, eating disorders, self-harming issues, anxiety and depression and believes it’s this central issue of defining our identity and who we are for ourselves that is important. We almost need to learn to define ourselves and our worth in society without constant reference to how we appear to others online. He plays a very active role in listening to youngsters, works closely with local schools, colleges and universities and some of his team actively provide support and counselling to help youngsters understand themselves better and be comfortable with their identity.

Striking the right balance between being helpful and being a prophetic challenge can be difficult and it’s possible for the public, outside the church, to dismiss the role of a church because it is often perceived as judgemental or interfering. Rich believes that to help someone you need to be there in the same room and to accept that no-one person or organisation will have all the answers. Their role is to offer some solutions, invite people in and become a part of the answer. For example, by listening to many young people who come to an individual drop in, he can give anonymous feedback to a school leader about issues that could be part of their Personal, Health and Social education (PSE) syllabus. Young people are therefore getting a chance to explore and learn about something that has affected or will affect them or their peers, so they are better prepared for the future. The team also talk to parents, for example by providing workshops helping parents understand how to help their kids navigate the digital world safely or attending a parents evening at a school. It’s exploring and implementing these very practical steps that have transformed this ministry.

“The first step to helping is to be empathetic” says Rich.” Everyone has experienced times when they are stressed, anxious or are feeling low in themselves. It’s when people are put in situations, often beyond their control, that cause a change from occasional worries into something more chronic and serious that they need more specialised help”. Many in society have lost the traditional family support networks, so the Church’s pastoral team need to be listening and thinking, ‘what can we do differently that will improve matters?’ because we are all in this together. By doing this humbly and consistently, over time, we build the credibility and permission to get involved.

This team certainly make a difference to Worcester and their work never stands still. After discussion with Mark Smith, he will be extending a very warm welcome to the business community with a special Carol service on 10th December at 6 o clock in All Saints – we hope to see many readers of this blog join us then.

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | Marks Mental health Marathon - Rev Dr Rich Johnson talks about the mental health seminar

 

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Meet our co-sponsors – Tom Blencowe and Imogen Heath of RLUK

Meet our co-sponsors – Tom Blencowe and Imogen Heath of RLUK

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people…

“Diversify or die” is the business mantra of Tom Blencowe, CEO of RLUK group. He believes in today’s fast-moving world of retail, being quick off the block with new ideas and having a flexible approach is the key to long term success. Labels Shopping is certainly in a challenging marketplace, with the toll of failures in big name, big brand high street retailers happening at almost frightening speed. “It’s become almost impossible to predict future retail trends,” says Tom, “which is proving difficult even for even the bigger retailers to do; we’ve always focused on moving forwards rather than staying still, reacting quickly and flexibly to changing market and local conditions”.

I met up with Tom and Imogen Heath, Commercial Director, in their impressive Labels shopping outlet at Ross on Wye. The business has changed over the years, outgrowing the original country store, developing new business models and adding new attractions to make Labels Shopping a better experience. The shopping centre has a enticing mix of outlets – over 50 brands of clothing, plus accessories,shoes, luggage, home furnishings, furniture and giftware.

It’s also a real foodies’s paradise, with a tempting array of brands and lots of local produce in the Food Emporium, Farm shop and local butcher. Fruit, vegetables and free-range eggs for the shop comes from their own local farm, as well as meat from the small numbers of sheep, Tamworth and Welsh pigs. Eating out options onsite include the café, with lovely views of the Herefordshire countryside and the Seafood bar.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Inside the Gateway cinema at Labels

The latest addition is the Gateway – a 50-seater cinema with comfy Anemone red leather sofas, where you can watch a movie, a streamlined live opera, pop concert or ballet or enjoy live theatre. You can tuck into a meal before a matinee or evening performance or just relax in the bar beforehand. The business plans on having more comedy nights and foreign films into the future, building up new audiences. Much of the upper ground floor of the building is being developed to be an entertainment and leisure space and there are exciting plans in the pipeline to add more health and wellness options – a hair and beauty salon, a health foods store plus physio and therapy space.

Tom has seen many changes to the site over the years, from the original purchase of the site and developing a purpose-built building to developing the office block. Originally the offices were going to be run as a hot desking/flexible working option, but a couple of organisations snapped up the site for new offices, so the plan was changed, and this now provides the group with rental income. It’s this ability of the management team to adapt and offer something new and exciting at the park that has underpinned their success.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | The Gateway cinema bar at Labels

Imogen explained how the shopping business had changed in the 5 years she’s been working there. “We moved from a concession model to a tenant basis in 2015 on the lower ground floor, which gives a more stable income and have retained some space for our own brands, as with, for example, the Food Emporium.” The cinema has a superb state of the art sound system and Tom designed the space.  “The popularity of the opera and ballet performances are due to the quality of the sound” she says “and the events sell out really fast, so you have to be quick to get tickets”.  She’s also a believer is surrounding herself with a strong team and the group employ an expert from the film industry to plan the diverse events calendar. The July and August programme includes magic, puppet theatre, vintage cars, craft workshops, or you could try the story time and illustration workshop with children’s’ author Hannah Shaw.

Tom and Mark Smith go back many years and they have developed a strong partnership based on mutual respect. “I really enjoy working with Mark” says Tom, “as we can have a chat about life as well as talk business”. We’re pleased to be supporting Mark in raising money for Mental Health, which Tom knows from experience of working as an architect in hospitals, has been a poor relation to physical illness in the health service for years. On 2nd October Labels are generously hosting a Mental Health– Practical Help For You & Your Business seminar in the cinema. The business is also involved in fundraising for a local charity as Teenagers In Crisis are their chosen charity of for 2019. On 9th October, they will be hosting two fashion shows, with some of the teenagers who have used the helpline becoming their models for the day.

Naturally, I couldn’t leave Labels without indulging in a little retail therapy involving clothes and puddings and I’m sure every visitor will feel the same about this treasure trove on our doorsteps!

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Labels

If you would like to read more about Mark’s Mental Health Marathon please click here.

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Meet Rob Bartup of GB Liners, one of our co-sponsors

Meet Rob Bartup of GB Liners, one of our co-sponsors

We are proud to be sponsoring Mark Smith in his Mental Health Marathon as he takes on the Cambodian jungle later in the year. We are also delighted to be supporting Mark alongside some truly outstanding people…

Keeping the family business on the road through the peaks and troughs of economic cycles isn’t easy, but MD Rob Bartup takes everything in his stride and has resilience written all over him.

The business was started as Bartups of Brighton by his grandfather in 1923. His father came into the business after being in the RAF and having ended up in a PoW camp in the Middle East in 1944. Coming home aged just 26, he was dispatched to manage the ‘Hereford office’, which then had just one van. He remained working at GB Liners until he passed away in 1995. Rob has always worked in the business, although he was tempted by a several job offers in accountancy after finishing University and has one regret – that he might have preferred taking up the law as a profession

.Marks Mental Health Marathon | GB Liners 3

Rob took over the Hereford office in 1975, when the team had grown to about 15 and there were half a dozen removal vans in two locations – Hereford and Brighton. Today their dedicated staff operate a fleet of 90 vehicles from 11 UK offices. The network has grown by acquisition of smaller businesses – not always at opportune moments – and frequently when tough competition had drawn smaller competitors into serious cashflow difficulties. The sites at Bristol and Cheltenham were the first to be taken over when the owners went bust, their Hereford site merged into GB Liners Hereford.  Leeds was another smaller, 2 van business which was acquired next; then came Manchester, ‘a difficult’ start up’ according to Rob. A warehouse storage site in Cirencester was later bought and a branch established. Loughborough and Edinburgh followed, then a business in St Helens which was merged into the Manchester office. Aberdeen was bought at the height of the North Sea oil and gas boon, only to present problems in 2007/08 as the oil price crashed. The last acquisition was of a sales office in Paris, to help manage growing demand for intercontinental business. Rob denies there is an overall ‘grand plan’ however is currently on the lookout for strategically placed acquisitions in the Northeast, East or South.

Rob appreciates the role of Mark Smith at Lloyds Bank in these considerable number of property acquisitions. Some have had complex compliance requirements; others have gone through in a remarkably smooth and speedy manner. What’s been valuable is knowing at an early stage whether the interest shown by GB Liners would be likely to lead to a successful purchase, and a great deal of time, effort and energy hasn’t been expended on those unlikely to fly. Mark has given sage advice and has an ability to explain in simple language the intricacies of some of the things GB Liners have tried to do.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | GB Liners 1

The housing market and the removals business follows what Rob refers to as the ‘the economic cycle magnified many times over’. There are times when house sales are buoyant, and their existing staff and removal vans literally cannot cope with the high volume of consumer demand. At times of economic downturn, the opposite happens. “2008-09 was the worst” says Rob, “when nothing was happening”. He also recalls recessions in 1979 – 81, the introduction of the 3-day week and describes 1988-1992 as ‘extremely horrible.’ The business has always had to stash the cash at peak capacity and then watch it pour out in the downturns when the few business opportunities available get drawn into ‘silly price’ competition.

The challenge of new regulation changes and politics is never far away. The imminent introduction of Clean Air Zones around the country will have a severe impact. GB Liners managed the introduction of London’s’ Congestion zone by moving the vehicles around between offices, with newer models that complied with changing regulation on diesel engines used there. In the very near future, new zones could potentially be introduced in Bristol, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Leeds. Rob predicts that Manchester will introduce restrictions. This makes life difficult for a business that has a vehicle  lifecycle of 15 years, as they’ll either have to be replaced early (and the old ones cannot be sold off as their residual value will be lowered) or customers will have pay a surcharge of about £100 per day if it involves a congestion zone.

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Currently GB Liners has about one third of its business coming from moves across Europe, so Brexit could have a huge impact on the business. The scale of the challenge getting goods moved through the channel ports is huge, with the number of staff at customs agents reduced from a pre single market peak of 3,000 to around 150 people today in just five agencies. This could potentially mean each person having to process 12,000 consignments per day! Rob explained that even the planned ‘Simplified Transit Procedure’ wasn’t finalised yet and would require paperwork to be processed both before and after the movement of the removal vans. Without advance notice of what would be required it’s difficult for the business managers to put Brexit plans in place.

GB Liners have adapted to every change in the past and will, no doubt be equally successful in the future, whatever the economic and political climate. Over the years, the managers and teams have pulled together to share ideas and solutions and Rob is very proud of his staff who have stayed with the firm through thick and thin. GB Liners takes pride in their excellent service delivered by very dedicated people. “One thing I’ve learned, says Rob, “is that the cost of putting something right is unbearable, so we work very hard at making sure things are right first time. The reputation of the company for their high-quality service is our most important asset”.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Sponsor GB Liners

Marks Mental Health marathon | GB Liners

If you would like to read more about Mark’s Mental Health Marathon please click here.

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The Lloyds Bank 2019 Big Quiz Evening in aid of Mental Health UK at Hereford Cathedral School

The Lloyds Bank 2019 Big Quiz Evening in aid of Mental Health UK at Hereford Cathedral School

Pit-your-wits against some of the finest minds in the county…and a few from over the border, too! Our (extra!)ordinary quiz masters, Richard and Ian, will keep us on our toes with a variety of entertaining subject rounds so dust off the grey matter, brush up on your musical memories and keep your eyes on topical new items in the days leading up to the quiz!

2019’s Big Quiz Evening supports Lloyds Bank’s Charity of the Year – Mental Health UK and locally we’re aiming to raise £25K for this great cause. You can read more here.

Date: Thursday, 12th September

Time: 6.30 – 10.45 pm

Venue: Zimmerman Main Hall, Church Street, Hereford, HR1 2NG

Agenda:

6.30 pm for a 7 pm start.
Get your team of 4 masterminds together – £60 per table.

Bring your own picnic supper and enjoy a night-out with the food you enjoy!

Cash bar, raffle, silent auction and winning prizes!

If you’ve been before, you know you enjoyed it! If you’ve never come along,where have you been – we’ve missed you! Tables will book quickly – get in early!

To enter a team, send your £60 donation via the Just Giving link below, then email your team name to Mark.Smith5@Lloydsbanking.com and put The Lloyds Bank 2019 Hereford Big Quiz Evening in your email.

Mark Smith is aiming to raise a staggering £25,000 for Mental Health UK for his forthcoming Cambodian trek, please come along to the quiz evening and have a great time, while supporting a brilliant charity.

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