All posts by Linda Andrews

Richard Grafton Interiors Celebrates New Designer & Investment

Richard Grafton Interiors showroom in Wetherby is celebrating its third birthday with the appointment of experienced interior designer Rosie Tangi as it invests in a £75,000 contemporary new look for its high-profile showroom in the market town.

Rosie, who has ten years’ experience in interior design, returns to the Richard Grafton Interiors team having spent five years working for the business before taking a career break in 2018 to have her children.

Having worked in the Harrogate showroom, Rosie moved across to Richard Grafton Interiors’ showroom in Ilkley. In her new role, she will be based at the Wetherby showroom, joining well-known interior design specialists Donna Schofield and Karen Draper who manage the showroom, supported by Leona Connelly.

After completely redeveloping a historic premises on the high street three years ago and opening in the midst of Covid restrictions, the Yorkshire interiors, architecture and design business is taking the opportunity to re-launch its Wetherby showroom with an updated, contemporary look. Clients, old and new, are invited to enjoy a shopping weekend on Friday 23rd June and Saturday 24th June and see the brand-new room sets for themselves.

Comprising a fully-furnished dining room, sitting room, bathroom and bedroom, the room sets showcase the company’s hand-crafted cabinetry offer and designer furniture as well as its huge range of design-led interiors products, including unusual pieces sourced from the Maison & Objet Design Show in Paris. The showroom also features a design studio equipped with hundreds of fabrics, wall coverings and flooring libraries.

Director Charlotte Grafton comments: “Having been part of the Richard Grafton team for five years, we are well-aware of Rosie’s talents and passion for interior design – we’re genuinely delighted that she has chosen to re-join us. With her experience of working with younger clients, she adds strength in depth to our Wetherby designers, and her flair for classic contemporary looks fits perfectly with the Richard Grafton style and our clients’ tastes.”

“Over the last three years, our Wetherby showroom has built a loyal following from within the town and surrounding areas. We’re keen to expand our architectural design capabilities, including our kitchen, bathroom, dressing room and media cabinet offering, by growing the team here and continuing to invest in inspiring clients with the most up-to-date but classic room designs. Our ability to deliver complete, turnkey solutions, even on a large scale, is proving extremely popular with time-poor clients who are turning to us to provide all of their needs under one roof, from conception to project management. We’re even seeing Yorkshire-based clients coming to us for international projects, designing interiors for their holiday homes from France to the Caribbean!”

Rosie adds: “Returning to Richard Grafton Interiors feels like coming home. I’m exciting to be working with the fantastic team in Wetherby to develop our following here, and look forward to bringing our design expertise to a younger market who we believe will be inspired by the diverse range of installations and interior design-led products showcased in our stunning new room sets.”

Eddisons Confirms Over £4m For Buildings Improvements

Property consultant Eddisons, which is headquartered in Leeds, has secured more than £20m of funding to improve buildings at schools across the UK, including more than £4m for Yorkshire schools, in the latest round of the Government’s Condition Improvement Fund (CIF).

Education sector specialist Eddisons has raised more than £200m in school funding over recent years and the latest round of secured funding for projects in Yorkshire includes £350,000 for the Yorkshire Collaborative Academies Trust to carry out fire safety and roofing works, and over £700,000 to fund a roofing project and asbestos removal for the Brooksbank School in Elland.

Ian Harrington, head of Eddisons specialist education team, said: “This is another year of fantastic results for both our clients and the team.”

“However, the success also highlights once again the fact that education is one of the more poorly funded sectors, with 2,000 projects unsuccessful in their bids in this round of funding alone.”

“We will continue to work with those schools and academies that were unsuccessful, to offer guidance on future bids, as well as offering advice on other funding opportunities that are available. With the total CIF pot remaining unchanged on last year, despite base rate inflation being at 11% and construction inflation nearer 30%, it was one the most fiercely competitive rounds of funding we’ve experienced.”

The CIF programme is an annual round of bidding under which academy schools and colleges can apply for funding for the upkeep and improvement of their buildings and to fund expansion projects for schools that have been rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. In total, the Department for Education received funding requests for over 3,000 projects this year, with 1,033 projects across 859 academies being allocated a share of the £456m.

Mr Harrington added: “The CIF bidding procedure is highly complex and Eddisons’ education team have built up huge knowledge and experience over the years to help deliver successful bids and projects that make a real difference to schools and to the people who study and work in them.”

“Every year the process of submitting a successful CIF bid becomes ever more competitive and we are really pleased to say that we have maintained our position as a key adviser to the education sector, with an excellent success rate for our bids.”

The successful projects will all get underway shortly and will be project managed by Eddisons.

Four Common Mental Health Myths in the Workplace

At some point during the year, one Briton in four is likely to experience a mental health issue, and there is no hiding that work conditions and environment can actively contribute to that figure.

Research carried out by Mind UK found that more than one worker in five (21%) has, at least once, called in sick to avoid stressful work situations. Not only that, but it also showed that 42% of UK employees have considered resigning because of their workplace’s negative influence on their mental health.

As a business owner, it’s crucial to make sure that your people are as happy and healthy as can be and that mental illness isn’t treated as a taboo subject. Sometimes, you may not have immediate control over what is causing your employees feelings of stress or anxiety, as they could be triggered by personal, family, or external factors. But on a whole, offering mental health support in the workplace can both enhance people’s morale and save UK businesses up to £8 billion annually.

Here, with Vicky Walker, Director of People at Westfield Health, we outline a few mental health myths that should be debunked in order to promote workplace wellbeing and create an open, supportive work environment.

Myth #1 Mental health conditions are a sign of weakness
First things first, it’s important to address the fact that people suffering from poor mental health are not weak. Mental illnesses are diagnosed medical conditions, rather than a sign of a fragile character.

There are several reasons why employees may be struggling with mental health problems, from work-related stress to day-to-day life troubles.

What’s more, some individuals may be more prone to developing these issues, as mental illnesses could be part of their family medical history, favoured by genes and biological factors.

If a worker confides to you that they are dealing with sentiments of stress, anxiety, or depression, you should recognise this as an act of personal strength. Sharing one’s feelings, especially if they are not positive, requires determination and courage. So, as the employer, make sure to take action to reduce stigma associated with mental health. This way, you can foster an empathetic environment to help all your people flourish in their roles.

Myth #2 People with mental health issues can’t do their jobs
Another misconception about people living with mental health conditions is that they are not able to carry out their job adequately. But the truth is that mental health issues may, in some scenarios, have little or no impact on an employee’s performance. This generally depends on the individual in question and the nature of the illness.

People experiencing sentiments of stress and anxiety may still be able to plough through, maintaining good productivity levels and attendance records. Working hard – or more than is expected – could even act, for someone, as an unhealthy coping mechanism, adopted to brush aside their condition. However, this doesn’t cure their struggles, and masking their issues could worsen their mental wellbeing in the long run.

It’s not always easy to spot whether one of your employees is battling with their mental health. Therefore, you may want to provide managers with useful guidance and training, which may help them detect any warning signs within their team. By doing so, you’ll give your team the necessary tools to nip a problem in the bud, intervening before it can escalate.

Myth #3 Pressure always improves productivity and performance
Some believe that pressure can drive employee performance, productivity, and efficiency. It can keep people on their toes, preserve their motivation levels, and help them achieve specific targets.
However, balance is vital. Excessive pressure can have the opposite effect, leading to a collapse in confidence and concentration. Also, people have different levels of tolerance for stress, meaning they respond differently to work pressure.

If the pressure becomes too much to handle, it can rapidly turn into a risk factor both for the employee and your business. One of the most frequent consequences is ‘presenteeism’, which refers to a loss in productivity when employees disengage because they are unwell without taking a leave of absence.

As a business owner, you can prevent this by ensuring your people are feeling enough pressure to motivate them to excel without overwhelming them. As well as benefitting your employees’ personal wellbeing, you’ll also nurture the efficiency of your company.

Myth #4 Managers can’t assist with mental health issues
Of course, managers are unlikely to have the medical expertise to guide people living with mental health through the recovery process. However, they can certainly make a difference when it comes to maximising their team’s wellbeing in the workplace.

In fact, there are several ways in which, as a manager or company owner, you can instil a positive work culture which accounts for mental health.

For example, you can create open forums that allow employees to voice their concerns and feelings, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

Embedding mental health into your organisation will encourage workers to talk freely about their personal and professional problems. This means that any worry can be addressed from the outset, so timely support can be offered while avoiding unwanted consequences. What’s more, it will help create a work environment where people are aware, sensitive, and respectful of the pressures faced by their colleagues.

There are many myths surrounding mental health in the workplace.

Some employers may view mental illnesses as a ‘weakness’, whereas others may believe that those living with mental health conditions aren’t able to fulfil their job roles. But more often than not, this is simply not true.

This is why it’s crucial for owners and managers to embrace a work culture that fights mental health stigma and focuses on their people’s wellbeing. Ultimately, by creating a supportive, empathetic environment, you’re bound to always get the best out of your team.

Wakefield market to relocate

Wakefield’s outdoor market is set to relocate as exciting plans for the city centre start to take shape.

From Thursday 29 June, the market will move from the Cathedral precinct to Teall Way – creating a retail link between the city’s two main and busiest shopping areas.

Councillor Michael Graham, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Growth said: “This gives Wakefield market a permanent home, on a well-established route in the city and, as this was the preferred location for traders, we’re really pleased the move is underway.”

The new location offers space for all existing traders, and they will no longer need to move when events take place in the city centre.

New stall covers and branding will also be designed to improve the look and feel of the market for current traders and shoppers, and to hopefully attract new, exciting independent traders and customers to try Wakefield market.

The move paves the way for work to start on the creation of a new multi-use entertainment area with seating, lighting and trees in the Cathedral precinct for hosting open-air events, festivals and other family entertainment.

The city centre is undergoing exciting transformation to meet changing consumer demands and business trends. It will bring new growth in residential, retail, culture, and entertainment services to stimulate the local economy and make the city a more vibrant place.

Councillor Graham added “We know that times are tough for many of our traders, and we hope this move will help boost their business, attract new traders and in turn benefit the local economy.”

“Our regeneration plans for the city will make a real difference to residents, visitors and business giving everyone more reasons to be here in our city.”

Robinsons Brewery Completes Largest Investment On Inn

Following the acquisition of six Individual Inns pubs in 2019, family brewers – Robinsons Brewery – have completed an extensive renovation the Tempest Arms, a 17th century inn situated on the edge of the picturesque Yorkshire Dales – their largest pub investment to date. Following a five-month closure, the Inn now presents a brand new look, including a full refurbishment of its 21 guest bedrooms.

William Robinson, Joint Managing Director at Robinsons Brewery, commented: “It was always very important to retain the character and heritage of the pub, and simply enhance its original features. This investment represents our dedication to our estate where we have further investments planned during the remainder of the year.”

Internally, the Tempest now offers a new semi-private dining room beside the restaurant area, featuring a beautifully restored trestle table for 10 – the perfect space for a private function accompanied with delicious food, proudly made with the freshest, seasonal produce.

The stunning bar, re-designed as the pub’s focal point and hub for its loyal and local community. It is the ideal base to enjoy Robinsons’ award-winning cask ales, lagers and spirits from around the world.

The new design, generating a ‘farmhouse’ feel throughout, features original reclaimed furniture upholstered in an array of beautiful fabrics, with atmospheric lighting forming the perfect ambience. Stone walls were carefully cleaned, beams lovingly restored and original fireplaces retained.

21 bedrooms have benefitted from complete makeovers, designed with a mid-century feel that reflects the beautiful surrounding countryside to provide a calming, serene environment for guests.

A colour palette of warm neutrals and an aged pink to the rooms was carefully selected, paired with various textured fabrics and a simple lighting design, all with the theme of nature in mind. Artwork by Yorkshire Artist Sue Lawson adorns the bedroom walls, complementing the scheme perfectly and giving a nod to the local landscapes.

Popular with weddings and celebrations, the Tempest also boasts an impressive function room, the perfect space for wedding receptions and other functions.

Externally, a spaciously paved courtyard garden (which sits between the bedrooms and the main bar and restaurant) shows off remarkable country planting, lantern lighting and brand new wooden dining furniture; the ideal spot to relax and take in the rolling countryside views with friends or family.

Sheffield charity receives a £9k boost from Switalskis

Leading specialist centre for children with cerebral palsy and motor disorders, Paces, has received a £9.1k donation from Switalskis, to support its work with children, adults and families in the region.

The donation by Switalskis will be used to provide Paces’ community with additional conductive education equipment. The equipment will support them in developing life-changing skills such as walking, sitting, standing, communication, eating and gaining greater independence.

Says David Hall, corporate partnership manager at Paces, “Switalskis has supported Paces for many years and we are constantly blown away by their generosity and their commitment to changing the lives of the children and adults who access Paces. Without teams like theirs we would not be able to continue to grow, reach more families and ultimately impact even more children and adults for the better, changing lives every single day. A huge thank you to the whole team at Switalskis, their support, hard work and generosity is incredible!”

Switalskis works closely with Paces professionally and two of its directors, including Suzanne Munroe, head of the clinical negligence department, have served as trustees for the charity.

Says Suzanne Munroe, “We have a deep connection with the remarkable work Paces carries out and the families the charity assists. Paces provides a safe and enjoyable environment where visitors can form lifelong friendships, and we have witnessed first-hand the profound difference the Paces team makes in the lives of families. We are thrilled to contribute to the important work the charity does across the region, providing comprehensive support that transforms the lives of families, children, and adults living with neurological conditions.”

Leading Property Auctioneers Merge

Two of the north’s largest property auction houses, North-West based Pugh and South Yorkshire based Mark Jenkinson, are combining their online property auction listings from this month.

Mark Jenkinson, which has been based in Sheffield for over 125 years, was acquired by Eddisons earlier this year, joining Pugh which was bought by Eddisons in 2016. Between them the two firms have sold a wide range of commercial, residential and land assets worth £94m in the last year.

Combining the lots of both auction houses, under the Pugh brand and as part of Eddisons, will provide a more extensive list of investment opportunities across the regions.

Pugh managing director Paul Thompson said: “This is an exciting development for our business and reinforces our strength and leading position in the northern property auction market. Combining the two very capable teams ensures we continue to deliver a high performing service to our selling and buying customers.”

Mark Jenkinson senior partner, Adrian Little, added: “Working with Pugh, as part of Eddisons, gives us a superb geographic reach, unrivalled market insight and a vast network of buyers and sellers.”

“The personalised customer service our clients have always enjoyed will be backed by cutting-edge technology and strategic marketing support.”

From Sofa to Sailboat!

Forget about ‘Couch to 5K’; a leisure sailor and his inexperienced ex-Team GB crewmate are moving from their sofas onto a tiny 17ft sailboat to cross the Atlantic Ocean in aid of charity.

In December 2023, John-Kenneth D Habbershaw, who was born and raised in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire and his crewmate Farris Collins will take on an incredible challenge as they cross 3000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, unassisted in a tiny upcycled 50-year-old ‘Leisure 17’ sailboat, which has been nicknamed their ‘dinghy with a lid’.

The pair aim to raise £100,000 in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, Mind, MS-UK, and St Helena Hospice.

The skipper, John-Kenneth D Habbershaw (40), a Marine Surveyor/Electrician, is a leisure sailor of thirteen years and he has honed his skills on the North Sea and East Coast. In addition, he’ll use the technical knowledge he’s gained during nine years as a consultant for record-breaking world Atlantic and Pacific Ocean Rowing teams. John-Kenneth was previously a volunteer in the Blue Light Emergency Services until his health led to his retirement from that role.

Joining him as First Mate is Farris Collins (25), an ex-Team-GB four times gold medal Commonwealth, and a bronze medal World Championship Powerlifter. Farris is completely inexperienced when it comes to sailing but is no stranger to pushing himself to the limit. He draws on his experience on various fundraising expeditions, including climbing Kilimanjaro and Mt Toubkal and completing a half marathon.

Farris added: “I have never sailed before, so this will be a massive challenge for me. But I am determined to give it my all, and I am confident we can make it across. We would like to thank everyone who has supported us so far, and we hope that people will continue to donate to our fundraising page.”

Their journey will take approximately six weeks and cover a distance of over 3000 miles from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean. The brave duo will face numerous challenges, including unpredictable weather, rough seas, and isolation. The upcycled boat is being specially modified for the ocean crossing. It will also use some of the latest marine technologies and renewable energy equipment to make the expedition as safe as possible and without reliance on fossil fuels. The project follows advice from ‘The Green Blue’, an RYA/British Marine joint environmental program.

Forging A New Link Between Nature & Town

Planning permission for Rotherham Council’s public park along the River Don, Riverside Gardens, has been granted.

Plans put forward by the Council include a pedestrianised walk through from the flagship Forge Island development and a public space which will be suitable for a wide range of ages.

Using a mixture of soft and hard landscaping, Riverside Gardens will be a gateway to the heart of the town centre. It will offer residents a place to socialise and relax close to new amenities such as the Arc Cinema, a 69-roomed hotel, and a range of restaurants and bars on Forge Island, which is being delivered in partnership with nationwide placemaker, Muse.

It will offer residents a play area for children and a range of seating so that they can enjoy views along the river.

Following on from the success of the nearby fish pass on Masbrough weir, the scheme will also support local wildlife by providing bat boxes and a tunnelled sand martin box along the river side.

Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Councillor David Sheppard, said: “Riverside Gardens will transform an underused site to fantastic public space which will allow residents to connect with the river and nature. It will be a great addition to the green spaces in the town centre, providing nearby residents with a space where they can meet and feel the benefits of nature. I am glad to see that the riverside, home to some of our favourite wildlife, will be easily accessed and enjoyed by all members of our communities.”

The scheme will be funded by the Future High Streets Fund following on from the Council’s successful bid for a total of £12.6m for numerous public realm schemes in the town centre.

Riverside Gardens will complement the wider Town Centre Regeneration Masterplan to bring major investment into the heart of Rotherham’s cultural and leisure quarter, and town centre housing.

Along with the Riverside Gardens scheme, other redevelopments in the Master Plan will begin soon. Other out of use buildings which overlook Riverside Gardens will also be redeveloped as part of the Culture and Leisure Quarter which supports the needs of residents.

Rotherham Council’s Assistant Director of Planning, Regeneration and Transport, Simon Moss, said: “More and more people are choosing to move into the town centre, thanks to the fantastic range of housing available at the nearby Westgate Chambers, Milford Rise, Westgate Riverside and Wellgate Place. With increasing numbers of people coming into the town centre, it makes business more viable and we are already starting to see new and independent businesses investing in Rotherham.”

Sport England Funding Supports Park Improvements

Parks and local green spaces in Calderdale are set to benefit from £500,000 of funding from Sport England, to support a range of improvements.

Calderdale Council, through the Active Calderdale local delivery pilot, has received confirmation from Sport England that its bid for funding has been successful. The £500,000 grant will support the Active Calderdale initiative and be used for improvements in parks to create safe, accessible, and attractive spaces that will make it easier for more people to be physically active.

The funding will be used in areas which will particularly benefit from support, encouraging physical activity in local communities.

The work will be a partnership between Calderdale Council and local communities and will involve the many organisations that already help parks and green spaces be used for the good of Calderdale communities. This includes other public sector organisations, and local friends groups, who will be instrumental in the process.

The funding will complement existing work taking place in the borough, such as the ongoing improvements at Shroggs Park, where investment is helping the Council, the Friends Group and local residents deliver a programme of improvements designed to make the area more welcoming, more attractive and more accessible, whilst ensuring that the work is also sustainable.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Councillor Tim Swift, said:

“Our parks and green spaces play an important role in supporting people’s health and wellbeing. This is something which was particularly evident during the COVID pandemic as we saw more people using local parks for their physical and mental health.”

“We want to encourage people to continue to enjoy local green spaces by working with communities to make these spaces more accessible and creating safe, welcoming areas, which in turn will support physical activity.”

“This funding from Sport England will allow us to continue and enhance our long-standing commitment to reducing inequalities and supports our Active Calderdale mission for people to be physically active in any way they choose.”

Lisa Dodd-Mayne, Executive Director – Place, at Sport England, said:
“Sport England is excited to make this investment as part of the work to improve Calderdale’s parks and help meet the needs of its local communities. The lessons from this investment will help Calderdale to make their parks more attractive and inclusive spaces for people to use, especially for people who have not used them in the past.”