An Inspirational Talk

Today I had the pleasure in attending the annual National Sales Conference which was being held at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. It was the first time I’d attended this event.

Over 500 people turned out for a jam packed day of talks, seminars and networking. There were some good topics and presenters (there were also some that weren’t as good…..sorry), but the best was definitely saved until the end.

Sir Clive Woodward spoke for just under an hour about his time as Head Coach of England Rugby when they won the World Cup. What an inspirational chap. He spoke about the DNA of Champions, and how he worked with his squad, helping them to be crowned champs. It was such a perfect way to end the day. I came away buzzed from his lasting words, and it was great to hear his tales and experiences. I just loved to hear all the positivity.

If you ever get the chance to hear him talk, my advice would be make time in your diary.

(Thanks to my buddy Butler from the Meeting Industry Association for arranging my ticket for the day).

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Hard Work & Dedication

As many of you will know, just over 4 years ago I was a ‘fatty bum bum’. Weighing in at 19 stone. A poor diet. Very rarely exercising (I couldn’t run a bath, let alone a race!). The photo proves it (I hate this photo).

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But hard work and dedication pays off. I’m finishing the year feeling fit and healthy. Running 25+ miles a week. A healthy diet, and weighing in at 12 stone. Quite simply I feel awesome.

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2018 will be an exciting year for me, as I will compete in the Blackpool Marathon in April. I sure with my positive mental attitude and concise training plan, I will succeed.

Its just proof that you can really do anything if you put your mind to it.

I love the saying:

“If you believe you can, or you believe you can’t, you’re probably right!”

Here’s to a healthy and happy 2018.


Count Your Blessings

As I walked through town today, I was shocked by the number of homeless people I saw either sitting on the cold concrete floor with their life belongings next to them; slumped in store doorways with only cardboard boxes as a shelter; or cocooned in their sleeping bag on a park bench. I suppose it hits home more at this time of year, as the temperature plummets and we all watch people spending money they haven’t actually got (a figure I heard today was £8bn was spent on Black Friday this year – that’s obscene).

My home town is no different to any other though. It’s certainly not as bad as the big cities, and nowhere close to what you see in London. But it doesn’t make it any easier. I have many times purchased hot drink and food for these folk, but I can’t help continually asking questions in my head about their situation.

How, firstly, have they ever got to this stage? Automatically I think drugs, drink, money, crime etc has lead them to this. Is this right? Could it just be a case of bad luck and life dealing them a continuos bad hand?

I ask myself, how have they not got anyone in their network to call upon? Family? Friends? Old neighbours or acquaintances?

I’m cynical – I never give them hard cash, I automatically think it will get spent on things that are not good for their body – rather than a warm Greggs sausage roll and a cuppa. Am I wrong to think that? I’d much prefer to treat them to something they need. But I look at the pile of sandwiches, drinks, biscuits that are sometimes next to them, and think they could eat better than some with a roof over their head.

I feel sad when I see anyone alone in the street. The Christian in me wants to talk, help, support, and make right the situation for them. But I know for every one person I try to help, there’d be dozens more. I feel for the poor animals that are also dragged into this lifestyle. Is it fair on them? What life is it for these animals? I know they probably offer a reassuring love and companionship to the guys on the street, but is it right?

So what is it that homeless person actually wants or needs? Food? Drink? Bed for the night? Employment? A hot shower? Clothes & blankets? I’d love to ask the question, but have no idea how it would be received.

I never look down on them. I try very hard not to judge. You do not know what goes on in people’s lives and shouldn’t pass judgement until you know the facts.

I am an extremely positive person, and also consider myself to be very lucky with family and close friends who I would like to think would never allow me to ever come close to the scenarios these poor homeless people must be suffering everyday. But this makes me feel sad that to get a stage of complete homelessness, only a plastic bag of belongings; one layer of clothing; and the worry everyday of whether they’ll actually wake from their cold slumber.

So, how can it change? Is this just the norm now – and what we must all appreciate in society?

I regularly think that the world is more and more messed up everyday. Individuals that are paid huge amounts of money for what they do (we all know the industries this applies to). The way money is shared around does seem a little top heavy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure plenty of that cash gets filtered down to well deserved charitable causes, but there will just never be enough to make things right will there?

I for one, know I could never manage life on the streets. Not even for one night I’m sure. It must be awful. I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I don’t have to worry about what clothes to wear, how to keep warm, or when I can take my next hot shower. I’ve worked hard in life, so I deserve the lifestyle I have created for myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel saddened as I walk through town each week.

I don’t know what your thoughts are about our homelessness situation, the people and animals affected by it, and what you might already do to help the situation (if anything). Would be great to hear your thoughts.

I will continue to support where I can. After all that’s what human beings were put on this earth for – to help each other. I hope that God continues to look over these unfortunate people and keeps them safe and warm, especially this Christmastime.

God bless you all. Be thankful for everything you have folks, no matter how big or small.

(For ref: Image taken from Google for visual effect. I didn’t start snapping people on the street, I’m not that insensitive!)

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Another Great Show

Last week I had the pleasure of representing Pride of Britain Hotels at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, as I have done for the last couple of years. As always, it was a wonderful week. The long days and tiring heat were made easier with the company of the wonderful PoB members that joined me on the stand; the great co-exhibitors which became my ‘family’ for the week; and of course the wonderful public that took out time to come and chat. It’s not difficult talking to people about something I have so much belief in, and so much passion about. I am a very lucky individual indeed.

Those that know me, will appreciate how hot the show must have been in the week, for me to actually lose my jacket – the heat inside the pavilion was certainly no for the faint hearted. I made sure I had my Pride of Britain silver pin badge on my waistcoat though (as always) so normal brand awareness standards remained in place!

Next week sees me do it all over again at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. Why not come and say hello if you are visiting. We will be with our friends in the Country Living Pavillion.

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Why did it take me nearly 40 years to visit!!??

I am embarrassed to say that up until mid-2016 I had never ventured north of the border into Scotland. Then a client of mine started some projects in Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen, and before I knew it I was becoming a bit of regular visitor.

I also enjoyed a holiday in September 2016 to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula (West Coast) for a week – and experienced the true beauty of Scotland. I had a fantastic time, and thought this couldn’t be beaten, that was until recently when I made a 500+mile trip to visit The Torridon hotel (Pride of Britain Hotels) in the Scottish Highlands. I was blessed with the weather for my whole trip, so I got to see the scenery at its best – but cannot believe there is a more beautiful place in the British Isles than here.

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The Torridon

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Bedroom Views don’t get much better than this…

Breath-taking views; still lochs; snow topped mountains; an abundance of wildlife; stunning sunsets – and above all, complete tranquillity. I have never been anywhere so relaxing. There was something satisfying about not being able to download emails whilst hundreds of feet up a mountain. After all, you wouldn’t want it to disturb the enjoyment of listening to the gentle trickle of water through the hills, or the occasional cuckoo.

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The British Isles has some wonderful locations – but this area of Scotland, has to top it for me. Will I be back?…..without a doubt!

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Pride

Some might say I have the best job in the world working for Pride of Britain Hotels……I would have to agree. I take my ‘Brand Compliance’ role (or the Brand Police!) for the collection very seriously, and I am immensely proud to be part of this wonderful collection. I thoroughly enjoy visiting the properties; learning about the hotels and the local areas; and working with a great bunch of hoteliers that really do believe in great hospitality.

This week marked a landmark for me. I can now proudly say that I have visited all of the current members in the collection – in England, Wales and Scotland. No easy task, and one that may not have been completed by many others (if any). Thousands of miles, but each and every one worth it, when at the end is a stunning Pride of Britain hotel member.

Pride of Britain Hotels is a collection of (never more than) 50 independent, mostly family-owned hotels in some of the most beautiful locations around the British Isles. Each has its own distinctive style and character, and all are run by people with a passion for great hospitality.

I genuinely believe that the Pride of Britain brand is more widely known now through my gentle persuasion and commitment, and I am passionate about growing the awareness further to help our members.

Should you not have stumbled upon this collection, I will forgive you, but waste no time in checking out the beautiful properties on offer https://www.prideofbritainhotels.com/

Do I have a favourite?….. I couldn’t possibly say! ;o)

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It’s the little things in life (or a room) that matter….

Whether it be for work or pleasure, I have spent many nights’ away at B&B’s and hotels all over the UK in last 12 months. I get used to being away from MAUN HQ, and have most things I could need in my overnight bag. I’m never without my phone charger, spare clothes to cover most occasions, or
my shoe shining kit – all just some of my stay-away-from-home essentials.Although I plan and prepare, one thing I have noticed during my visits, is the difference in bedroom designs and amenities offered in the rooms. It makes me wonder whether the designers, or even the owners/proprietors stay over at the establishments and experience it as a guest? Perhaps only then would they fully understand the true feedback of a guest stay, and the possible need for some simple solutions…..

  • How about a kettle that actually fits under a tap, so it can be filled easily. Or even a plug near the tea/coffee tray so it doesn’t mean backwards and forwards to the cups with hot water.
  • What about a plug socket next to the bed? People with Apple devices will appreciate the need to charge your phone on a regular basis (overnight) to maintain enough battery power for the next day. 
  • Bath towels big enough to do a proper wrap-around of your body (I could understand this would have been a bigger issue for the old ‘larger’ Stu, but surely the slimmer, leaner Stu should not have issues?).

On a positive note – I’m easily pleased. If I am welcomed to a room that offers fresh milk as standard (for a nice MAUNing cuppa) – that’s always a bonus! I’m sure I’m not the only one that hates the milk in the ‘jiggers’.
I once stayed over at my parents house, and offered them (cheeky) feedback of how to make my ‘business’ stay there more enjoyable. Needless to say to say they took all my comments on board and made changes for my next stay the following week! Admittedly the rate offered there was much more preferential than other establishments I have stayed at this year!! Haha.

What are the things that you like/dislike the most when you stay away from home?
Who gets it right in your opinion? Do tell….