Category Archives: Member News

Funding Your Sustainable Goals networking event – Programme

Wednesday 17th May; Shropshire Wildlife Trust, 193 Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, SY2 6AH

09:30 – 10:00: Registration, exhibition and networking
10:00 – 10:10: Introduction (Adrian Platt, MMBEN Chair)
10:10 – 10:40: Understanding our natural capital: the true value of your natural assets (Adams Koshy, Eftec)
10:40 – 11:00: The Green Business Fund – how to access sustainability funding (Charlotte Houldsworth, Carbon Trust)
11:00 – 11:30: Coffee and networking
11:30 – 11:50: The Business Growth Programme – greening your supply chain and help with other environmental improvements (Tracey Flint, Marches Growth Hub)
11:50 – 12:10: Case Study: The business benefits of sponsoring conservation delivery – the Merefest experience (Andrea Richardson, Clarke’s Solicitors)
12:10 – 12:30: An Environmental Exit Strategy (Vicki McKenzie, McKenzie Law)
12:30 – 12:40: Closing comments (Tom Hayek, MMBEN Coordinator)
12:45 – 14:00: Lunch and networking

As always our next event has been chosen by a vote from our member businesses.  You wanted to know more about what funding is available to help deliver the environmental and sustainability goals that many of you are moving towards (at an increasing pace!).  We have brought together an eclectic programme that we hope will help to answer this question from a variety of angles.

The first presentation will be given by Eftec, the UK’s leading environmental economics consultancy, who will give an overview of how to value the environmental assets (or natural capital) that your business has.  Either side of our first networking coffee break, we then have sustainability funding experts from Carbon Trust and Marches Growth Hub who will talk about the funding available to improve your sustainability profile before 2 of our member businesses will explore some more ‘interesting’ ways of funding environmental improvements in our area.

Booking is essential for this event and there are also opportunities for businesses to exhibit at the event. Please email or call us on 01743 284274 to book or discuss in more detail. Please also feel free to forward this information to any of your business contacts who may also be interested in attending.

When booking, please let us know if you have any mobility issues or dietary requirements.

Sponsored By: Funding Your Sustainable Goals networking event - Programme


Poundland tycoon to be guest at county ‘Oscars’

The Shropshire-based entrepreneur whose Poundland retail empire made him a multi-millionaire will be sharing his top tips for success at this summer’s county business ‘Oscars’.

Steven Smith (pictured below), who now lives in a £6 million mansion near Bridgnorth with its own pool, bar and helipad, will deliver the keynote address at the 17th annual Shropshire Business Awards.

Tickets are now on sale for the black-tie evening, at Telford’s International Centre on Friday June 23, when the Shropshire Company of the Year, plus a host of other winners, will be crowned.

Richard Sheehan, chief executive of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce which organises the event, said: “Since its launch back in 2001, the Shropshire Business Awards has been famed as the largest celebration of our county’s business success.

“A key part of the night is always the quality of high-profile guest speakers, and we are delighted to add Steven to that list in 2017. He is an outstanding speaker, and an outstanding businessman, with strong connections to our area.”

More than eight out of 10 British shoppers have been into a Poundland store since Steven launched the company in 1990.

Steven’s theory was that there is no such thing as bad products, only bad prices.  He was proved right, when they took £13,000 on their first day and he sold his business for an astonishing £50 million in 2002.  The industry is now worth a staggering £5 billion.

The idea of Poundland was born when Steven started work on his parents’ Bilston market stall in the West Midlands at the age of 14.

He noticed that sometimes they made more money from items in the 10p to £1 box than from the takings of everything else on the stall. He left school at 16, and set up his first shop at 17.

Steven and his wife Tracy worked hard when they set up the first store, stacking shelves by day and sleeping in a van overnight outside because they couldn’t afford a hotel.

As a child, money was tight, but selling was clearly in his blood. He and his family lived with his grandparents as a child until his parents eventually took him to live in a flat – he can still remember having to share one portion of chicken and chips between them and smelling urine in the graffiti covered lifts.

He says he never forgets his roots, and is keen to give something back to other business people looking to expand and succeed.

He was voted Britain’s Best Boss a few year ago and is ambassador for the RBS/NatWest Entrepreneur Spark. He is also a Retail Ombudsman, where his job is to oversee the department in London responsible to dealing with complaints from consumers and retailers over the UK.

Want to hear what Steven Smith has to say? To book your seat for the Shropshire Business Awards 2017, go to the website

Entries for the awards close on May 5.

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Supersonic car is a soaraway success at TCAT

The supersonic car which is aiming to break the world land speed record proved a huge hit during its week-long stay at Telford College of Arts and Technology.

More than 700 students from a host of schools and colleges were involved in the Bloodhound project, an interactive touring roadshow country promoting the value of careers in engineering.

Bloodhound is planning to become the first car to smash through the 1,000mph barrier, and is due to begin its first test runs in the south of England this summer.

As well as getting to see the vehicle itself, TCAT students also built and raced their own miniature rocket-powered cars under the watchful eye of Bloodhound engineers.

It was all part of a busy week of activities, centred around the promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.

The highlight of the week was a visit from Bloodhound project director Richard Noble, who held the world land speed record from 1983 to 1997.

He told a gathering of students and businesses: “We are in a fascinating time in life, as the procedure to sign us out of the EU begins, and our country has to change, big time.

“We hardly manufacture in our country at all now. Our manufacturing is just about 8% of gross domestic product, whereas it should be 20% or 25%.

“This represents a fantastic opportunity for the next generation, because Britain is going to be on its own, and we’ve got to show the world what we can really do.”

The TCAT Bloodhound week attracted interest from the TV, radio and print media, and the college organising team said it was a huge success.

TCAT principal Ian Clinton said: “The Bloodhound team laid on a fantastic week of educational activities – both for our own students, and those from other local schools too.

“We held morning workshops for up to 400 students from TCAT’s feeder schools, giving them the chance to hear about the car, and learn from the Bloodhound team.

“And around 300 of our own TCAT engineering and technology students worked with the engineers on the Bloodhound Model Rocket Car Challenge, where they built and raced rocket-powered cars.”

Local schools which got involved in the project included Burton Borough in Newport, Charlton and Ercall Wood in Wellington, and Holy Trinity Academy at Priorslee.

TCAT also hosted well-attended fact-finding events for businesses, and parents.

The Bloodhound car is the product of eight years of research, design and manufacturing, involving over 350 companies and universities.

At full speed, the supersonic car will cover a mile in 3.6 seconds – that’s the equivalent of 4.5 football pitches laid end-to-end, every second.

Mr Clinton said: “We were delighted to be able to give students from across the Telford & Wrekin area the chance to experience this cutting-edge technology, and to learn from the best in the business.

“The Bloodhound ambassadors are playing a key role in helping young people to make positive career choices by giving real-life context to their STEM studies.”

You can find out more about TCAT’s range of courses at a Specialist Open Event on April 26, from 4.30pm to 6.30pm. For more details, see

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Organisations join forces for the first time for THE Business Event 2017

Shropshire’s business support organisations are joining forces for the first time in 2017 for an unmissable event aimed at helping county enterprises grow and thrive.

The Business Event 2017 will be the largest event dedicated to supporting businesses in every sector, no matter what size they are, in Shropshire.

Organised by the Marches LEP in partnership with the Marches Growth Hub, Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, The Business Event 2017 will be held at Telford International Centre on May 11.

The Business Event 2017 will feature keynote speakers running multi-million turnover businesses in the region sharing their inspiring stories of success; presentations on using digital and social media to increase sales and engage customers; workshops on export, business rates and skills and clinics on access to finance and funding.

It will kick off with a the biggest express networking breakfast ever held in the county as Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses combine to offer businesses a chance to expand their networks.

LEP Director Gill Hamer said: “This is a first for Shropshire, which is why it is THE event businesses should be attending. We are bringing the county’s business support organisations, information and help under the same roof for the first time, making it easier for businesses to access the support they need to grow their business.

“We also wanted businesses to be inspired and hear how other companies have achieved success, with home-grown entrepreneurs not only telling their story but also giving their tips on growing a business.”

The Business Event 2017 will hear from Edward Grainger, of the world’s leading provider of aluminium casting solutions to the automotive and motorsport markets, including Formula 1. More speakers will be announced this month.

The event will have a dedicated Business Support Zone, with specialist advisers on hand for 1-2-1 sessions on exactly what’s available for individual businesses including information on grants, mentoring and international trade.

The Marches LEP will also launch its annual report at the event, and give an overview on how £104m is being invested in the region in infrastructure, jobs and homes creating projects which aim to remove barriers to economic growth.

Organisations including the Department for International Trade, West Mercia Police, University Centre Shrewsbury and the University of Wolverhampton, will have information stalls at the event to demonstrate how they can support business.

Chairman of the LEP Graham Wynn said: “The Business Event 2017 is the first time the various business networks and organisations have worked in partnership for an event of this kind which is dedicated to business support.

“It’s a valuable opportunity to make contacts, find out what help and support is available and get some real practical advice and insight into how to grow your business.”

To register to attend The Business Event at Telford International Centre on May 11, visit

Midland Computers Becomes a Microsoft Authorized Education Partner

Midland Computers earns distinction through commitment to academic customers.

Midland Computers, today announced it has become a Microsoft Authorized Education Partner (AEP), demonstrating its ability to meet Microsoft academic customers’ evolving needs in today’s dynamic business environment. To earn a Microsoft AEP authorization, partners must complete a test to prove their level of academic licensing and market expertise.

The AEP program is designed to train participating resellers on Microsoft’s Academic licensing, authorize them to purchase and resell Microsoft Academic licenses, and demonstrate to potential customers that they are approved and knowledgeable academic partners.

“This Microsoft AEP authorization shows our commitment and specialism in the academic IT marketplace and demonstrates our knowledge of Microsoft and its academic products,” said Nick Dodd – Sales Manager. “We hope to accelerate our academic customers’ successes by serving as technology advisors for their IT requirements.”

“By becoming AEPs, partners show themselves to be committed and trained in providing discounted Microsoft academic products to the education market,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Education for Microsoft Corp.’s Worldwide Public Sector. “This authorization, along with our other education partner initiatives, gives our partners recognition of their areas of expertise and our academic customers the confidence that they are buying from academic IT specialists.”

The Microsoft AEP Program is designed to authorize and equip organizations that deliver academic products and services through the Microsoft platform with the training, resources and support they need to provide their customers with superior experiences and outcomes.

Midland Computers are a Telford based IT support company, specialising in a range of services from cloud hosting, virtualisation, business continuity and more. They are a Microsoft Gold Partner and take pride in delivering the best IT solutions for business and education with their comprehensive technology services, hardware, data centre and ongoing support.

Property sharing has its pitfalls

Shropshire homeowners who rent out their spare room could be asking for trouble, according to a local insurance expert.

Dave Williams, of Henshalls Insurance Brokers in Newport and Shrewsbury, said not only could the homeowner be contravening their mortgage or lease conditions, they could also invalidate their home insurance policy.

“Nearly 80,000 homeowners in the UK earn extra cash by using property sharing services such as Airbnb, but by letting out available rooms you could actually be risking everything.

“Most leases have a condition that the property cannot be used as anything other than a private residence, but if you let spare rooms to paying guests, you could face losing your lease altogether.

“And even if you are allowed to let your property, you could still be jeopardising your insurance policy if you don’t inform your insurer about your plans to host – if they find out you’ve been sub-letting rooms, they could refuse to pay out if you make a claim.”

Mr Williams said some property sharing services offered a “host guarantee” just in case something should go wrong while a guest was renting the space.

“But this guarantee should not be treated as a replacement for home or tenants’ insurance.

“In fact, generally, the guarantee will not protect your cash, your pets, or cover reasonable wear and tear, or common areas, and there is only limited protection included for jewellery, collectibles and art work.

“If you are seriously thinking about letting your property through a property sharing service, make sure you check your lease or mortgage first to see if it’s permitted.

“And review your home insurance to verify whether you would be covered if you should have to make a claim.

“Existing policies can be amended to allow for a property sharing arrangement, but the changes will need to be made before you let the tenants in, not once they’re in residence.”

SCAT joins chamber patron scheme …

Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology (SCAT) is the latest organisation to become a patron member of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce.

The renowned college on London Road in Shrewsbury has around   full and part time students, hosting a diverse range of courses from general building trades, IT, computing and accounting, through creative media and photography, to teaching, travel and tourism.

SCAT principal, Lyn Surgeon, said: “Shrewsbury Colleges Group is delighted to become patrons of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce as we recognise the importance of fully understanding employers’ needs, connecting with business and ensuring that we work together to develop the skills required for a high performing and sustainable workforce in the future.”

Chamber chief executive, Richard Sheehan, commented: “We are thrilled that a long standing and successful institution such as Shrewsbury College has decided to become a patron of the chamber as this clearly demonstrates the value put on the patron scheme throughout both the region’s business and educational community.

“Our patrons are highly regarded and their continued support enables us to provide a far greater and diverse range of services to large and small businesses across the county, also adding a higher level of expertise and experience to share throughout all industry sectors.”

Pictured, from left, Richard Sheehan and patron chairman Nick Jones with Lyn Surgeon (principal) and vice principal Catherine Armstrong, at Shrewsbury College.

NEW CHAMBER PATRON, SHREWSBURY COLLEGE, SCAT,  Richard Sheehan, Nick Jones, Lyn Surgeon, Catherine Armstrong.

NEW CHAMBER PATRON, SHREWSBURY COLLEGE, SCAT, Richard Sheehan, Nick Jones, Lyn Surgeon, Catherine Armstrong.

Bright idea aids county charity …

Two Shropshire Chamber members have worked together on a factory’s energy saving scheme that has also resulted in the provision of a special vehicle for the county’s voluntary search and rescue unit.

TSI Packing, of Telford has invested over £25,000 in a new energy efficient LED lighting system for its 37,000 square feet factory on Halesfield 21.

The company has been producing transit packaging, corrugated boxes and bespoke cases for export items and other goods since 1979, currently employing a staff of 18.

Managing director, Victoria Watson-Smyth, said: “We are always concerned about the environment and keen to be managing a sustainable business, which in turn will also provide long term cost savings for the company.”

Funding and design of the new lighting was carried out by not-for-profit organisation EcoSave UK, based at Cartmel Drive, in Shrewsbury, who are specialists in renewable technology and cost saving, having saved nearly £1million for clients to date. Once they have completed their projects they then donate profits back into charitable organisations.

EcoSave UK managing director Nathan Badger, commented: “The system installed will provide a 66% saving for the firm during its usage period over their previous setup, cutting their lighting costs by over £8,000 per year, together with a huge reduction in CO2 emissions.

“The latest technology LED lighting provides an excellent working environment for staff, being closer to natural daylight, reducing glare, is anti-flickering and automatically dims down in bright sunshine, to make even more efficiency savings.

“Being a community interest company we are delighted that TSI Packing are using these savings to fund a new vehicle for local charity organisation West Mercia Search & Rescue, based in Shrewsbury, who provide regional rapid response volunteers and equipment, when requested to do so by the Police.”

Other charities supported by funds saved by EcoSave UK schemes include Telford Food Bank, YMCA Wellington and the British Red Cross.

Shropshire chamber are supporting a local matched grant called BEEP, Business Energy Efficiency Program, where 40%funding is available for energy saving projects. Ecosave UK managed to secure the first local grant for TSI Packing.



PICTURED: The new search and rescue vehicle at TSI Packing in Telford with, from left, Nathan Badger, Search and Rescue trustee Matt Weaver and Victoria Watson-Smyth.

Shropshire home owners warned of new inheritance tax break pitfalls

Shropshire home owners planning to take advantage of a valuable new tax break on what they leave to their children are being warned to study the rules carefully, amid the risk of losing thousands of pounds.

Gary Priest from MFG Solicitors

Gary Priest from MFG Solicitors

Leading tax and trusts lawyer Gary Priest, a partner at Telford and Ludlow law firm mfg Solicitors, has flagged the issue after becoming concerned that too many people will think they are automatically better off by the changes to inheritance tax coming into force in April this year.

The change, which was an election pledge by the Conservative party, can potentially save families up to £140,000 in inheritance tax.

The tax amendment is known as the Residential Nil Rate Band (RNRB) and gives people an additional tax allowance that applies to their home.  The new allowance is being introduced in April, although the full benefit will not be available until 2020/21.

However, Mr Priest says people across the county must look carefully at their existing arrangements as certain types of wills and discretionary trusts can still incur very hefty inheritance tax.

He said: “As with all tax rules, the devil is in the detail, and we are advising people to be extremely careful with their calculations with the change only months away.

“For a start, RNRB is only available where the main residence passes to a very narrow range of beneficiaries such as to children or other descendants on death. It is also only claimable where the net estate is less than £2.2 million.

“Discretionary trusts need a lot of care to be taken. In some cases this can mean the additional tax saving is forfeit and on top of that, there are complicated rules about the RNRB for people who downsize their property and release some of the value.

“I’d advise all married couples here in Shropshire to take advice and carefully review their wills to ensure they don’t lose out on the significant benefit this tax break offers.

“Equally, they must also be careful they aren’t stung by an unexpected or larger tax bill which can happen if they don’t fully understand the new rules.”

G H Davies & Son become latest sponsors of The Shrewsbury Club

Shropshire’s leading supplier of granite, slate, marble and quartz is the latest local company to sponsor a popular county venue which hosts top international tennis tournaments.

Pictured at The Shrewsbury Club is marketing manager Jon Gidney, back left, with Rik Richards, the managing director of new sponsors G H Davies & Son, and, front, Tim Richards, the company’s operations director, and finance director Beth Wilson.

Pictured at The Shrewsbury Club is marketing manager Jon Gidney, back left, with Rik Richards, the managing director of new sponsors G H Davies & Son, and, front, Tim Richards, the company’s operations director, and finance director Beth Wilson.

The Shrewsbury Club, which also offers some of the most impressive fitness facilities in the county, is delighted to have attracted the support of G H Davies & Son.

Based in Shrewsbury, G H Davies, established in 1872, is one of the oldest and most successful privately owned granite importation, memorial design and manufacturing companies in the country.

Jon Gidney, the marketing manager at The Shrewsbury Club, said: “We are delighted to welcome G H Davies & Son as one of our main club sponsors.

“At The Shrewsbury Club we exclusively form mutually beneficial associations with brands in various business sectors. G H Davies & Son is certainly a great business which is local and in a sector that doesn’t compete with any of our other sponsors. We are proud to form this association and would like to thank the company for their involvement and support.”

Rik Richards, the managing director of G H Davies & Son, added: “I have personally been a member at The Shrewsbury Club for many years. With the outstanding facilities offered and dedicated staff, it has established itself as the premier family friendly health club in Shropshire and we, as a local business, are delighted to become a headline sponsor and associate ourselves with this fantastic club.”

As part of their sponsorship, G H Davies & Son will promote their brand at the Shrewsbury Club, including a large banner alongside the indoor tennis courts.

They also have exclusive sponsorship of indoor court No 1, with branding on either side of the net and at the far end of the court. Their logo appears on the club’s new #WinnersWall, a popular feature during the recent Aegon GB Pro-Series men’s tennis tournament, which saw a crowd of around 500 spectators enjoy the final.

All of the sponsors at the Shrewsbury Club are promoted via the club’s website while sponsors are also able to promote their products or services at a discounted rate for the benefit of
The Shrewsbury Club’s members, which currently number more than 2,300 people.

The Shrewsbury Club’s impressive facilities include a 20-metre swimming pool, 70-station gymnasium and 14 tennis courts while they also offer more than 80 fitness classes a week and an extensive children’s activity programme making it the perfect venue for all the family to enjoy an active lifestyle. The club, based on Sundorne Road, also features The Hub restaurant, which has a fully licensed bar, free WiFi and an adults only lounge.

Pictured at The Shrewsbury Club is marketing manager Jon Gidney, back left, with Rik Richards, the managing director of new sponsors G H Davies & Son, and, front, Tim Richards, the company’s operations director, and finance director Beth Wilson.