Category Archives: News

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.”

Heritage Textile Mill Introduces Menopause Training

A 240-year-old heritage textile mill based in Stanningley, West Yorkshire, has introduced menopause training for employees in managerial roles across the business.

The training is part of AW Hainsworth’s commitment to wellbeing in the workplace, with the business setting out a significant investment strategy for employee wellbeing, over the next five years. The Company partnered with its Law Firm, Pannone Corporate of Manchester, which has established a training framework for managers and supervisors. This aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of menopause, assess and improve HR Policies and Procedures to ensure consistent support is offered and equip Managers with the knowledge and tools they need to support employees with menopause-related problems.

AW Hainsworth was established in 1783 and manufactures exquisite woollen cloth, high-performing textiles, and iconic fabrics for customers worldwide. The Royal Warrant Holder and textile manufacturer is the parent company of Hainsworth Fabric of a Nation, Hainsworth Protective Fabrics, Hainsworth Toptable, Natural Legacy by Hainsworth, John Atkinson, Hainsworth Technical Felt, Northern Rubber by Hainsworth, and Replin by Hainsworth.

Phil Pickard, a team leader at AW Hainsworth, found the training invaluable and explains: “I was at work one day and noticed that a colleague who I’ve known for a long time wasn’t her usual self and seemed quite upset. I asked her what was wrong, and it all came out – she was going through menopause and having a rough time at work because of it.”

“Having had the Menopause Training the week before, I asked how her job could be changed to suit her needs and put a plan together to help her going forward. The training really opened my eyes and helped me to understand how if someone going through menopause doesn’t have support, it could be critical to their well-being. It also gave me guidance as to how I, as a man, can speak to my female colleagues about this and offer support as best I can.”

In addition to menopause training, the business has also invested over £20,000 in mental health support, forming a partnership with Unmasked Mental Health of Halifax. Monthly sessions are held in the Mill, whereby members of the workforce can participate in insightful presentations and talks on mental health and well-being. The training has seen more than 10% of AW Hainsworth employees qualify as Mental Health First Aiders in the last year alone. The Business also provides free of charge private counselling within the Mill, to those who need this the most.

Amanda McLaren, Managing Director at AW Hainsworth, said: “By removing the stigma around mental illness and putting strategies and signposting in place, alongside the qualified support offered to us by our partners, I am hoping we can make a positive difference to many of our colleagues’ lives.”

To further support employee wellbeing and continue to make AW Hainsworth a desirable workplace, the business has also invested in improving and creating new shared spaces, enhancing internal communications channels, introducing awards for long service and ensuring the availability of free period products at its headquarters in Leeds.

Cricketing Legend Visits Jukebox Manufacturer

In his role as the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Australia, iconic former cricketer Lord Botham OBE visited Sound Leisure in Leeds. The manufacturer of classic jukeboxes, which has exported to Australia for over 20 years, has sold 15 of its jukeboxes to Australia in the last 12 months.

Employing more than 40 people at its Leeds head office and manufacturing centre, the £5m revenue family-owned Sound Leisure has again been named as an Export Champion for 2023 and sells 80% of its products overseas to customers in over 40 countries worldwide, including Australia, the US and Japan. Celebrities, royalty and famous athletes are among the buyers of its retro-design state of the art vinyl and digital jukeboxes.

“Sound Leisure is a mainly export business, and anytime we can move forward our knowledge of overseas markets, and share our experiences and insights with other exporters and businesses, we grab the opportunity,” said Sound Leisure director Mike Black.

Mr Black escorted Lord Botham on a tour of the firm’s state-of-the-art, 80,000 sq ft manufacturing facility, where he was shown how Sound Leisure classic jukeboxes are meticulously hand built by a team of skilled craftsmen.

Mike Black said: “It was great to welcome Lord Botham to our factory today and he was really impressed to see the levels of skill and craftsmanship that go into building these intricate and innovative machines which we have been producing here in Leeds for 45 years.”

“We’re a family-run British manufacturing business and exports, including to Australia, make up a huge amount of our business. We’re proud to have been named an Export Champion for the Northern Powerhouse once again this year by the Department of Business and Trade.”

Lord Botham’s role as trade envoy is an unpaid and voluntary one, aimed at boosting British business in Australia.

The factory tour was followed by an Export Champions round table, organised by the Department of Business and Trade and held at the Sound Leisure manufacturing facility.

GNG Appoints New Commercial Director

Experienced sales director Richard Gretton has been appointed as commercial director at GNG Group as the West Yorkshire business continues to drive the growth of its consumer, contract and medical mattress division.

With over 25 years’ sales experience, Richard’s long track record includes working within the furniture industry. He joins from Hypnos Beds where he spent almost six years as global retail sales director. Prior to that, he was commercial director at Castelan Group where he launched new strategic services across the furniture, leisure and hotel markets. He also spent over three years as commercial development director at Homeserve plc as well as having been commercial director of Valspar UK.

A strong commercial and operational professional, Richard’s expertise includes marketing management, negotiation, business planning, market planning and operations management.

With purpose-built 40,000sq ft manufacturing facilities in Normanton, West Yorkshire, which opened just last year, GNG has grown into one of the leaders in British mattress manufacture, supplying retailers and hospitality providers across the UK as well as being an approved supplier to the NHS.

In his new role with GNG, Richard will lead the sales operation for the expanding mattress division which includes its Komfi vacuum-packed mattress brand, featuring recycled Ecofoam and luxury Sonlevo mattresses with unique TrueGel grid system technology.

“With his exceptional track record of success within the industry, Richard will play a pivotal role in spearheading the further growth of our mattress division,” says GNG Group managing director Darren Potterton. “Having increased capacity by over 300% with the opening of our Normanton facilities last summer, we have ambitious expansion plans to continue to build our customer base.”

“Richard’s appointment comes at a crucial time as we embark on the next chapter of planned growth in the UK. His strategic vision and business acumen, together with his industry insights and ability to forge strong relationships, will be instrumental in positioning our company to capitalise on emerging opportunities and further enhance our capabilities.”

Richard adds: “With a 40-year manufacturing heritage, GNG has become one of the leading names in British-made mattresses. Known for quality, service and product innovation, I am excited to be joining a fast-growing business where I believe I can make a real difference. While the company has made impressive progress in recent years, there are still new markets to be explored and I am looking forward to using my skills to bring GNG’s outstanding products to a wider audience.”

Headquartered in Normanton, GNG Group was established in 1987 and now employs more than 130 people across the group. It has become an international brand leader and supplier of foam-based products, primarily serving the medical, consumer and sports sectors.

Property Expert Reveals New Build Come With Defects

Whilst there’s no such thing as an issue-free home, new build properties are popular amongst Yorkshire homeowners because they’re viewed as a “safer bet”. But this damaging misconception is causing thousands of new build homeowners to move into a home that is masked with nasty surprises that can cost thousands of pounds, and years to rectify, according to Yorkshire-born property expert James Brook FRICS.

Research by Home Builders Federation (HBF) has revealed that 95% of new build properties come with at least 1 defect, with common issues including poor plastering, bad brickwork and damaged windows.

One Yorkshire family recently found 180 faults with their new build home and were eventually forced out due to flooding. The property, which was purchased for £350,000, had faulty windows and doors that wouldn’t open properly and a faulty boiler.

These results are validated by the work of Novello Chartered Surveyors, co-founded by James Brook FRICS, whose surveys suggest that more than half of new-build properties are hiding defects, even though they’ve never had a previous owner.

James Brook FRICS said“ New builds are particularly popular amongst first-time buyers, who see them as a safer bet than older properties. However, the misconception that new builds are issue-free needs to be addressed so that all buyers can make an informed decision before they purchase a new build property.”

“New builds usually come with a 10-year warranty designed to give prospective buyers peace of mind. But claiming on that warranty can be a nightmare for many buyers, with large housing developers doing everything they can to shift the blame away from themselves. Sites are given extremely tight deadlines to complete the houses, leaving them susceptible to both cosmetic and series issues”

Many buyers don’t think it’s necessary to hire a chartered surveyor to conduct a snagging list or a RICS homebuyer report for a new build – after all, it’s new which means there shouldn’t be anything wrong with it. Yet alarmingly, a recent report highlighted that the average new build snagging list contained between 50 and 150 defects.

James said “When you move into a new build property, it should be in immaculate condition, however, this often isn’t the case. We’ve seen many buyers hit with nasty surprises and huge repair costs for issues that could have been identified and rectified at the very start of the buying process.”

“Buying a house is the most expensive purchase most people will ever make in their lives. Yet it’s a process that has an overwhelming amount of conflicting information. If you are looking at buying a new build, you deserve a property that has been built to the highest standards and is free of issues.”

“Working with a chartered surveyor before the contracts are exchanged is the only way you can avoid potential heartache with a new build. It’s a chartered surveyor’s job to give honest, impartial, advice about a new build properly. Unlike an estate agent or property developer, they have no vested interest in the outcome.”

“Though it may cost you an extra £1000 or so to get a snagging list or RICS homebuyer report conducted by a chartered surveyor, it will save you thousands of pounds in the long run if the survey comes back with issues. It also gives you leverage to renegotiate with the housing developer to get the issues rectified before you move in.”

Yorkshire CCC stars in surprise Leeds school visit

A group of pupils had a very special surprise from Yorkshire players this week.

Yorkshire CCC captain Shan Masood and seam bowling all-rounder Ben Mike made a surprise visit to The Ruth Gorse Academy to celebrate and inspire youngsters who are part of the academy’s ‘excellence in sport’ program.

As part of the visit the cricket stars took part in a coaching session delivered by the Yorkshire Cricket Board, alongside 20 pupils.

Masood said: “I think it’s really important to give back – firstly to help support the community and secondly to help the game to grow. Sport connects people and communities from different backgrounds all around the world. That’s what makes it so special.”

“I’m really grateful to the school and to Yorkshire for giving me this opportunity to come here, spend some time with the young people, and give something back.”

“In this world the best you can have is the support of each other and seeing the students smiling and having fun – those are the things that you want.”

Currently The Ruth Gorse Academy supports around 20 students in the ‘sport in excellence’ programme, across a range of sports including football, boxing, tennis, Irish dancing and its ‘Big 3’ sports of volleyball, rowing and karate.

Ruby and Naby are both part of the rowing programme and expressed how much they had enjoyed taking part in the cricket session.

Ruby said: “I’ve really enjoyed today and my favourite part was having a go at batting. Being part of an inner-city school means that we are quite limited to what opportunities we get so to be able to play cricket here today means a lot.”

“Being able to take part in sport has given opportunities to me and it has opened me to a world that I would never have expected – hopefully I will go far in the future of sport.”

Naby, added the best bit of today was getting to play with professionals and learn from them.

He said: “The fact that two professional cricket stars came over here has been great. They helped us learn more about cricket and today has helped inspire us. Sport for me is brilliant.”

Another highlight of the academy visit was a Q & A with the students and Masood and Mike followed by an autograph signing session.

Mike said: “It was a really great visit. It was nice to take part and show the students some cricket. I think it is massively important to inspire young people. I know with cricket there can be a lot of barriers to entry – it’s sometimes seen as a sport that is very elite… so it’s nice to come into urban areas like this and introduce cricket to them.”

“There are some real superstars here – they were saying one of the pupils can deadlift 180kg – he would be a good fast bowler – he’s got the build for it.”

“It was great to see that some of the girls were hitting it further than the boys. With a little bit of coaching, I could see some of them coming a long way.”

Students at The Ruth Gorse Academy are able to access exceptional opportunities to take part in extra-curricular activities. As well as the extensive health and fitness clubs run by the PE department, students have the chance to access a wide range of free of charge activities.

Charlotte Ball, Curriculum Leader of PE at The Ruth Gorse Academy, said: “This is an absolutely incredible experience for our students.”

“We are an inner-city school – we have a diverse school community and sport is very much at the heart of our academy. Sport is used as a vehicle for success.”

“Cricket is a sport we are hoping to expand further, and an event like this can start a conversation with students. Cricket is on our curriculum and we look at ways that we can make it accessible and work for us here, regardless of us not having a field in which to play – but we want to offer it to all of our students.”

“It’s incredible for us to see how excited they are to meet the Yorkshire players and be able to play alongside them it really is an excellent opportunity for them. We want to open doors for our students and ultimately let them experience as many different sports as they possibly can.”

Yorkshire CCC’s Performance Pathway has been a key building block in ensuring the Club is encouraging greater access to cricket for young people across the county. Across boys and girls age groups, the programme has introduced measures including removal of match fees, the provision of kit and winter coaching free of charge, alongside the creation of an accessible hardship fund for those that require further financial support.

Over the past year, these changes have seen the 940 young people come through the Performance Pathway, with a notable upswing in participation and engagement from people from diverse backgrounds.

The results demonstrate that focused investment on providing equity of opportunity and driving inclusivity can lead to strong results in a relatively short timeframe.

Econ & Volvo Launch Electric Vehicle

Econ Engineering, the UK’s leading manufacturer of winter maintenance and highways vehicles, has launched its latest innovation a revolutionary electric gritter.

This latest innovation is an Electric Quick Change Body (E-QCB), which is a zero-emissions solution that reduces carbon footprint and noise pollution. The prototype features Econ’s innovative demountable bodywork, which uses hydraulic rams to enable the vehicle to switch from gritting to tipping in just 15 minutes, thanks to a choice of different body options developed in-house by Econ.

The first in this new ‘Econ Zero’ range is a fully operational prototype built on a 19-tonne Volvo FE Electric 4×2 chassis. Its development follows a period of close partnership working between Econ Engineering’s R&D team, and product specialists from Volvo Trucks UK & Ireland, and dealer Crossroads Truck & Bus.

Jonathan Lupton, Managing Director at Econ Engineering, said: “We’re excited to finally introduce the E-QCB to the market with Volvo. We have spent a long time developing the new E-QCB, undertaking comprehensive redesigns and trialling it, to ensure that we can offer a fully electric solution for our customers that can be used all-year round.”

“The vehicle operates best in urban environments, where daily mileage is typically less than some longer distance motorways or rural routes. As it is easy to switch body types with this model, customers can benefit from operating the vehicle all year-round. We are committed to continuing to evolve our Zero Range, and other renewable energy innovations, as the UK’s infrastructure develops in support of this.

This first Volvo FE E-QCB has been unveiled at the Econ stand at Cold Comfort 2023 in Harrogate, a specialist conference and exhibition dedicated to winter highway maintenance services.

Christian Coolsaet, Managing Director of Volvo Trucks UK & Ireland, adds: “Every part of the transport sector needs to have its sights set on achieving net zero, and gritting and snowploughing is no exception. The team at Econ has developed an exceptional new product with our FE Electric chassis at its heart; this is going to allow gritter fleets to reap the benefits of operating cleaner, quieter and more efficient trucks.”

Crucially for drivers, the new FE Electric offers an improved working environment due to less vibrations and almost silent operation, allowing them to better focus on the road ahead. The Volvo powertrain, with two electric motors combined with a two-speed gearbox, offers an ultra-smooth driving experience, with power delivery handled by a unique traction control system developed to master slippery surfaces.

Econ is a Yorkshire-based company, which has been at the forefront of winter maintenance vehicle solutions for over 50 years. It designs and manufactures gritters and other vehicles that are widely used by local authorities and private contractors across the UK.

Strong Financial Results From CLOUD NINE

Leading global hair and beauty brand, CLOUD NINE, has revealed a strong set of financial results for the year ending December 2022, with turnover of c£35m and a record profit before tax, up 20 per cent on the previous year.

The firm, which employs a 60+ strong workforce at its North Yorkshire headquarters in Harrogate, has credited its strong set of results to a combination of continued growth in the UK, significant growth in Australia and New Zealand and the strengthening of its online and in-store presence. It now has new retail partnerships in all of these territories, including with Boots and Pretty Little Thing in the UK; Shaver Shop Group in Australia and Farmers in New Zealand.

The launch of new products, successful targeted marketing campaigns and charity partnerships have also played their part, despite a challenging economic backdrop and rising raw material costs.

During the year, the company formed a partnership with The Little Princess Trust, with sales of its special ‘Royal Blue Collection’ and other internal team fundraising events raising over £50,000 for the charity, which donates real hair wigs to children and young people who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment and other conditions. The group has also generated hair donations of over 74 inches.

CEO Martin Rae, who launched CLOUD NINE with his brother Gavin in 2009 and was named as the Sunday Times’ Most Ambitious Business Leader for 2022, said: “This is a very pleasing set of results which cements our position as one of the world’s leading hair and beauty brands.”

“We are very proud of everything we have achieved, with the ultimate aim of providing the tools to help people feel like the best version of themselves, which is what we are most passionate about.”

“We are also very passionate about the environment. We launched the industry’s first hair iron recycling scheme, which has saved over 2,800kg of hair styling tools from landfill so far.”

“We also offer customers the opportunity to purchase products in 100% recyclable Eco Boxes which, alongside being kinder to the environment, enables us to plant trees as part of our Ecologi partnership. In 2022 we reached the milestone of planting 300,000 trees.”

“We also launched a new partnership with Clean Hub, to help recover and safely dispose of plastic before it makes its way into our seas and oceans. This, alongside the sale of eco-friendly water bottles and bamboo brushes, helps to reduce the plastic waste impact on the environment.”